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it's Karen from Olli&Lime

Monday, 26 January 2009 by Irene Hoofs

How nice for us to get a chance to see some before & after images and some tips about renovating from the very nice people from Olli&Lime ... husband and wife team, Andy and Karen who live in the UK, are the founders of Olli&Lime ... a superb brand for children's bedroom furnishings ... 'very contemporary but with a touch of retro' ... currently there are three collections for you available billie, george and egg, but I'm sure there will be many more in the future ...  please meet and enjoy Andy and Karen's house ...
{the hal in renovation}
1. ) What kind of house do you live in and with whom and why did you decide to renovate? Who made the layout/design for the new floorplan and how long did it take from beginning to end?

My husband Andy and I live in a pre-war house, converted into flats in the 1980s. We viewed the property in April last year and instantly saw huge potential. The previous owner was an elderly gentleman who had done virtually nothing since the conversion. It needed a lot of work, but the large windows and high ceilings instantly gave a feeling of space and volume. We loved the leafy location, on the outskirts of the town, and the place just felt right. So, we decided to roll up our sleeves and renovate. We spent hours every night, while the sale was going through, sketching floor plans and visualizing what our new home would look like. We originally wanted to knock down every wall in the flat, making it completely open plan, but we ran into problems with this idea. Our builder explained it would be a huge hassle and cost to remove the load-bearing walls, so we worked around them, opening it up as much as we could. We bought the flat at the start of May and the builders did most of the structural work in about three weeks. A week later we moved in! The hardwood floor hadn’t been laid but the rest was pretty much done.
{New hallway and entrance}
2.)Wow, this looks fabulous … can you tell us a bit more about finding your inspiration, ideas or examples you used? What are the major difference with the old hallway?

We love the volume offered by loft-style living, but this isn’t something you get much of in our small English town. I guess most of our inspiration comes from visits we’ve made to the US in the last few years. We’ve been to Boston several times and always spend the weekends touring open houses. We’ve seen some amazing loft spaces and wanted to create something with a similar feel. Originally the hall had several doors dividing the space, which just seemed unnecessary. We took them out and expanded the width to really open up the space and improve the flow.
{new livingroom}
3.) a beautiful livingroom with a very daring wallpaper … where did you find it? Can you describe your style and why you are attracted to this style? 

Our taste is very contemporary but with a touch of retro, hence the wallpaper. We saw it years ago and loved it. I’ve kept a swatch in my cupboard all this time (I keep a lot of stuff in there – postcards, wrapping paper etc – it’s great for inspiration). Anyway, we saw an opportunity to make a real statement so this was the obvious choice. The paper is from Graham and Brown.
{living room details}
4.) When I look at your house and your gorgeous Olli&Lime collection it occurs to me that you really like the colors green, brown and orange … is there a particular reason why?

When we first met, I was working on a project for Andy; he was my client! We talked and found we shared a passion for the color brown! Odd I know, but that’s kind of what created the spark and got us together! I also love green; specifically that green in between lime and olive, it’s such a beautiful color; summery yet muted. Andy loves orange, so I guess our designs and our home reflect this! Thankfully it all goes together well. We just design products we love and hope that others share our taste!
{kitchen renovation}
5.) What was important for you when deciding on the new lay-out for the kitchen?  Were there any unexpected problems … and where did you go shopping for the new kitchen cabinets? 

Were there any unexpected problems … and where did you go shopping for the new kitchen cabinets?The kitchen layout was decided for us really. With a huge window at one end and a door at the other, it had to be gallery style. We wanted tall cupboards one side to hide the boiler and fridge/freezer, so chose minimal gloss white units with clean lines. We decided to have some fun with the opposite side and add some brightly colored doors. Andy wanted orange and I wanted brown, so we had a bit of a stalemate. Then we noticed our local trade place had these lime green doors so we settled on those. I’m glad we did.
{new kitchen}
6.) Yes and Lime it is, love it, so bright and unique … who designed the kitchen and what was really important for you to have in the new kitchen … is there anything you forgot in the new kitchen you still would like to add or have done differently?

I guess we designed the kitchen. All we really did was choose elements we thought would work together well. The countertop is always an interesting talking point, as it wasn’t really our first choice. We wanted it to be really thick and chunky, so stone seemed the obvious material. We got a quote from a really high-end kitchen design shop but the countertop came in more expensive than the rest of the kitchen and appliances put together! So we did some research and came up with a cheaper solution.
Our builder is an ex-chef and has that creative edge, so when we suggested a poured concrete top, he was up for having a go. We are so glad we went down this route, although it took about five different products to seal the surface! It looks great now and is a real feature.
{office and living}
7.) Do you both work from home or is there another studio from where all the Olli&Lime products are being designed and made? What would a normal working day for you involve?

I work from home, where I design the products. I have huge cupboards that house boxes and boxes of samples, fabric, ribbons, wallpaper, sketches etc. I’m constantly rummaging through them for inspiration! We have UK-based suppliers who handle the production to our specification. Our screen printers are in London and our converters are just outside Manchester, so I often travel to see them, along with our retail contacts. Andy works to market Olli & Lime, alongside some other clients, so isn’t always at home. When he is here he gets relegated to the living room, which I think he quite likes!
Although pretty spacious, our place only has two bedrooms. So, as our family grows we’ll need to move Olli & Lime to a separate studio. I dream of converting an old warehouse and I am always on the look out for our next renovation project!
{dressingroom renovations}
8.)Who came up with the idea to open up the bedroom and create this walk-in closet?

The closet started life as an en-suite. Although it would have been nice to retain this, the master bathroom is only next-door, so it seemed a bit of a waste. When the builders took down the false wall the bedroom felt so much bigger, so we decided to keep it open. Our next plan is to build a 10ft high wall of shelves to house my bags and shoes plus Andy’s ever-growing collection of retro trainers!


{new dressingroom}
9.) When all the renovations were done, what was something you really never expected to be so hard? Any tips or advice you can give us when planning on renovating … perhaps some sources that really helped you?

We did a lot of the stripping out and preparation ourselves, along with all the decorating. I guess it was this that proved to be harder than we imagined. The ceilings and the walls are pretty high so painting them was hard work and seemed to go on forever. Other than that we found it a pleasure and very satisfying. The builders made things easy though and did a great job, on time and on budget, so we were extremely lucky! If you can get all of the structural work done before you move in, all the better, but I would say live in a place for a while before you make any radical decorating decisions or major purchases, as it’s best to get a feel for how you use the space first.O&L_bedroom

10.) When going to bed tonight as a couple, who are also working together during the day on your fantastic brand Olli&Lime … what parts of your work are forbidden to discuss here  … and finally what will you both be dreaming about when thinking of Ollie&Lime’s future … 
Unfortunately nothing seems to be off limits. We are terrible at switching off! We work all of the time and if we aren’t working we are thinking about work. Thankfully we love what we do, so it’s a pleasure (most of the time). We recognize that running a business is very demanding, particularly in the early stages. Focusing on work is just what you have to do to make it a success. We do try to take one day off at the weekend, get out of the house and do something nice, trying to forget about work for a while.
I dream of opening a studio on the East Coast of America, of starting a family there and having a creative life. I’d love Olli & Lime to continue to grow, establishing more retailers in North America and Australia. We are warehousing in the USA from this summer, so we’re getting closer to our dream every day. I just feel so lucky to be doing something I love!


..Olli&Lime online shop..

..Olli&Lime blog..

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