Interiors with Sarah Jane Nielsen, owner and director of Sarah Jane Nielsen Limited, at Staveley.

I feel as if our feet are not touching the ground this January. I am sure most are in a similar predicament as January disappears into February. Is it those green shoots…? Or is it just panic in the hospitality sector? We are certainly not complaining and are very grateful we will all see the evidence of our toil very soon. Last Thursday brought our first surge of real excitement as new designs start to flourish. Boy it makes the tricky stuff so worthwhile. We will have finished projects produced in ridiculously tight time frames due to everyone mucking in together, great management, skill and the inevitable element of luck. Our project planning is (nearly) meticulous. What can go wrong when all is designed, approved, ordered and on its way? Don’t ask, this stage never ceases to amaze. We can’t say there is a great deal of thanks going out to some of our suppliers, especially those across the pond. These darling design houses have such long lead times in the first place they obviously think they hail from their own god-like universe as they casually announce 12-14 weeks for woven bamboo. We can’t help raising our eyes skyward in the knowledge that they are probably waiting for it to be hand woven in India or the far east at a mere fraction of the cost provided to us, once it eventually gets here. Heaven forbid it arrive on our shores wrong in any way, never mind when they decide to announce discontinued wallpapers when the decorator is standing up a ladder with his paste brush at the ready and three days to complete. Believe it, or not. It is not really that easy to find another product with the same qualities as the original. Not in my book anyway. I guess some think it should be simple, to select a new fabric, wall covering or leather trim; what’s the problem? Our problem is the amount of time it took to put together the scheme to complete its own unique vision means that nearly okay is not okay enough. My selection process means I will continue looking for that ‘perfect’ colour co-ordination, tone or texture to complement and complete the room until it is agreeable in my mind. If one item has to alter, then it upsets the equilibrium of the whole package. One fabric leads to a change in chair style or pelmet shape, carpet design detail or paint colour. The knock on effect is huge. And naturally this is something the client doesn’t really want to hear about. The only saving grace is if we can offer a suitable alternative in an even tighter time frame than the first. Then all may be acceptable. Talking perspiration! The raised blood temperature and pressure on the trades and their site managers reaches crescendo. Heavy trades are manoeuvring out the front door backwards, clearing their dust and dirt as they go while electricians and plumbers negotiate the painter’s ladders for second fix. The best bit is how efficient the vacuuming is prior to the carpet underlay trapping all in sundry beneath it. What the eye doesn’t see?