Grand Designs

We are just one roll of carpet and a corner sofa away from declaring the new Michelsberg showroom open for business.

There’s been no room for pashmina-clad designers flouncing about on this job and even Karen, my architect, rolled her sleeves-up and got stuck in despite a broken finger.

Huge thanks must go to my father-in-law, Les, who has done much of the shop-fitting. He’s a motorbike riding man’s-man, with a garden shed rammed with more tools than B&Q, and I’ve actually seen him hammer nails into wood with his bare hands and crush a wasp to death with his fingers.

This is in stark contrast to myself, someone who releases spiders back into the wild and has more shoes than screwdrivers. It’s been quite a journey for both of us and there’s no doubt we’ve bonded.

He took me to Homebase to buy my first power-tool (a Black & Decker Compact Mouse Sander) and I convinced him, over a bottle of 15 year old Glenlivit, to try using some hand-cream (“Unusually Rich-But-Not-Greasy-At-All-Hand Cream”) generously provided by my neighbour Abi, who runs Kiehls, just below me.

Having a good relationship with your neighbours in vital and luckily I have that in spades with Jack at Jefferey West. He recently asked me to make him a waistcoat for the Victoria Quarter’s Mad Hatter’s Tea party last Thursday and I think it turned out rather well.

It’s a flamboyant, double breasted number with peak lapels and ribbed silk buttons. The cloth is scarlet doeskin, exactly the same as that worn by Prince William on his wedding to the rather gorgeous Kate Middleton, and was produced by A W Hainsworth & Sons Ltd just down the road in Pudsey.

It’s a family run firm, led by Thomas Hainsworth, and is one of the few mills remaining who carry out every stage of the manufacturing process, from raw wool selection to finishing.

It won’t be long before my opening party on Thursday 23rd June, and as well as my loyal customers, I’ve invited friends, family and folk in the textile trade to celebrate what is the start of a new chapter for me and the business.

A great idea of Karen’s was to create a montage in the waiting room made up of customer testimonials and when I emailed them to ask for a few words, was overwhelmed with the response.

It’s been absolutely thrilling watching Karen’s vision come to life and I’m chuffed to bits with the finished space. It’s everything I wanted and more besides. My suit’s have clearly got a lot to live up to!