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

I ALWAYS knew we would have to be versatile with our design services to secure enough project work to enable business survival in England’s eclectic north west, with no local track record.

It’s taken a few years, but after the excitement of travel and design experience in some of the most obscure locations, with some of the more individual and unique types of client whether it was a Middle Eastern palace for a sheik or an ambassador’s dacha in the Lenin Hills, Moscow. We are now happily established here in the Lake District with a diverse portfolio of local clients and an interesting array of quirky rental and investment properties throughout our National Park and its boarders.

We are aware there are many considerations to be met when a potential property owner looks at investing in such an area. Budgets are very rarely open books (those days have gone - damn!).

As lovers of the Lakes, clients are obviously sold on the environment and their future lifestyles, but there are the obvious pitfalls, such as the maintenance, management and secured rental which can put people off. What is great to see this year is that these issues are being positively overcome through research and a competitive market. And let’s face it it’s the same anywhere, so when you do find yourself just the right property offering the potential you visualise for yourself, then that’s when to take the plunge.

There are a series of choices and decisions that have to be made and values to be met; there are budgets to work to. The spend that is comfortable for you, may not be comfortable for your neighbour. Whether your plan is to enjoy your Lakeland space for now, forever or later in the future - we aim to steer our clients towards taking the right valued route for them.

There is so much internally, and externally, to consider which may enhance your property to obtain the returns needed or the personal finished result hoped for at the end of the day. There is always the concern of overspend as most are looking for this return on investment, of course. However, I wouldn’t be despondent if that value fluctuates while you are actually just living and enjoying the space.

We like to take individuals through their wish list and then prioritise. Help them imagine, with or without? Some elements can come later down the track, some may be better and more cost effective to include now, rather than returning to a building site. Your decisions may be purely cosmetic; however, they are all valuable and necessary.

So my advice is to start by spending time in the property. Sit quietly on those newly acquired floorboards and imagine. Then develop those ideas, allocate the budget and apply the detail within that budget. All too often the finishing budget has been swallowed up by the build.