Case Study: Suzie Tipple
Sep 1, 2023
Suzie Tipple turned her lifelong passion for interiors into a career designing them for other people. When it came to transforming her own home – a Victorian detached house in fleet that’s been used as a filming and photoshoot location – she stuck to her overriding ethos of finding potential in not-so obvious locations, creating two bathrooms in a ‘glass box’ extension. Here, Suzie shares the story behind the project, and outlines why Bert & May tiles were the perfect finishing touch..
Full name: Suzie Tipple
Occupation: Interior Designer
Style and location of your property: Victorian detached house with unusually bright blue shutters which give it a colonial/Mediterranean look in Fleet, Hampshire.
Who lives there: Myself and James, our three teenage children Evie, Casper and Coco, and our pets – Hetty, the Hungarian vizsla, Pig, the miniature sausage dog, and Lucy the cat.
How would you describe your interior design style?
Eclectic and colourful with fun and quirky vintage furniture and accessories. My palette, however, is pretty consistent – I generally opt for a white base to which I add greens, greys, and blues, with yellow or gold touches.
Have you always had a passion for interiors?
Yes, I have ALWAYS had a love for interior design and styling rooms! We laugh that I have ‘furnituritis’ – a self-styled condition compelling a person to be forever moving furniture around to try out different looks.
I’ve done this all my life – since I was a little girl shifting a heavy desk or bed around in my room to try things in different places. Furnituritis can strike at any time; I can be in bed at midnight and convince myself that our sofa looks better in the study and off I go to move it!
What made you decide to become an interior designer?
I formally trained to become an interior designer a few years ago and now focus on domestic projects.
My clients tend to be families living in their ‘forever homes’ who are looking to upgrade the design of their rooms – sometimes this involves a new wallpaper and other times we’re bashing through walls to turn an erstwhile baby’s room into a glamorous master bedroom ensuite. I love finding solutions to interior dilemmas and helping people see the potential in a space that they thought couldn’t work for them.
What’s it like having a location house?
I love shoot days at my home! I find them thrilling from start to finish. Seeing the big trucks and vans pull up, full of equipment and props is exciting. It feels like there’s so much promise for something really exciting to be created. And, for it to be happening under my roof, makes me happy. Seeing the end result – be it still fashion shots or cleverly edited filmed footage set in my home, makes all the tidying and cleaning worth it!
I’m often asked to style-up my rooms for the shoot, which I absolutely love to do! August has been busy getting the house dressed for Christmas to support magazine features!
Onto your bathroom project… What did you do and why?
Our bathroom extension was our lockdown project. As I wasn’t able to work on anything else at the time, it gave me the chance to throw all my love and attention to it, and I’m delighted with the result.
We extended our house by building over a single-story part of the kitchen below and adding a ‘glass box’ to the bedrooms above to create two ensuite bathrooms.
Every room in our house is dual aspect so we were able to open up one window and create an entrance to the new bathroom. Eager to maximise the light coming into the bedroom, we wanted the bathroom to have large windows. The idea of it being almost all glass came to me when I was sitting in a friend’s kitchen orangery, and I wondered if we could have a similar style but on the first floor of our home. Light is a priority for me, and I always design rooms with this foremost in my thoughts. But, of course, a bathroom has many considerations in terms of modesty so I knew the idea of a glass box may be controversial with local planning. Luckily it passed on the one condition that we added opaque glass to the more ‘obvious’ windows!
What were your main sources of inspiration for the project?
I wanted the bathroom to feel like it connected with the outside space. We’re surrounded by mature trees that are the backdrop to the bathroom – like a living wallpaper enjoyed through the large expanse of glass. The space needed to feel airy and fresh to create that feeling of almost floating among those trees.
Which Bert & May products did you use?
I had been swooning over the Bert & May website from the beginning of the project; I knew I wanted encaustic tiles to bring in that beautiful organic ‘chalky’ look. The Green Majadas were a clear favourite: the green chimes with the outside space and the geometric design is bold and timeless. Each tile is handmade, and in my opinion, that exquisite attention to detail shines through.
What do you think they add to the space?
Oh, they are without doubt, the hero of the bathroom! It’s quite a luxurious room anyway because of the large expanse of windows and the space (it certainly feels larger than it needs to be, which gives it a sense of joyful decadence), but the stand-out element of the room is the tiles. Running them up the shower wall elevates the design of the room and gives a sense of flow and unification. It makes the space seem even bigger.
How did you hear about Bert & May?
I think it was probably via Pinterest. I must have seen a beautiful bathroom and followed the links to discover who supplied the tiles and found the company that way. Now I know the brand, I wouldn’t use anyone else! Bert & May is always on my mood boards when I’m sharing ideas with clients. I know that the products are high quality and the designs and colour palette are beautiful, and always a little unusual, and clients will be delighted with the end result. I only have to present my client with a sample of a tile, and they’re sold!
You used to run an antiques business – do you still have a passion for antiques?
Yes! I still love antiques and can’t drive past an antiques shop without stopping to have a little look inside. You just never know what you’re going to discover. It’s thrilling.
I always include vintage and antique items in my room designs for clients, and my own house is full of treasures that I have picked up from antique fairs, flea markets and even car boot sales. I’m not an antiques snob, I like quirky items which intrigue me or make me smile.
Do you have any advice for novices who would like to include antique pieces in their homes but don’t know where to start?
My top tip is to visit a big antiques fair where you can browse many different stalls without any obligation to buy. iacf.co.uk runs big fairs around the country and they’re always fun to visit. For anyone near London, sunburyantiques.com is a must – the events run twice a month and are a lovely way to spend a morning. Also, my lovely pal (with whom I ran my little antiques shop) has a wonderful online shop – rocktheheirloom.com / @rocktheheirloom and she also sources items for clients which is a godsend if you’re searching for something specific
Where are your go-to spots for amazing interior finds?
For wallpapers, I’m never disappointed by Christopher Farr; for (non-vintage) furniture, I love Loaf sofas and anything from Heal’s. I’m obsessed with The Rug Company and now have five of their designs in my own home. For window dressings, I recommend Hillarys –I’m an ambassador for the company and have been very lucky to trial and test many of its products in my house, and I’m so impressed by the range and quality.
Follow @housewithblueshutters for more information about Suzie and how to hire her home for photo, TV and film shoots.