Lara O’Donnell loves taking on a challenge and finding a solution. The Newcastle-based interior designer has certainly had plenty of experience with both in the past few months after launching her own business, Tailored HQ, at the end of April.
With a team of two other interior designers, Jessica Neeson and Caitlin Stevenson, and several other staff members, Lara works to provide a unique solution tailored to each client’s tastes.
After initially graduating with a degree in architecture, Lara spent several years working in the field in Sydney before a move to Newcastle inspired her to renovate her own career. She completed a course online and has spent the past six years working as an interior designer, firstly within her own business and then as part of a larger company.
But a desire to branch out on her own again and offer something different to the Newcastle community saw Lara establish Tailored HQ at the start of 2017.
The business specialises in creating custom furniture, joinery, window coverings and accessories for clients, as well as providing interior design consultations.
“You can only go so far working for someone else, I wanted to branch out and do more of my own style, go in a different direction than what Newcastle has had previously,” Lara said.
“We do a lot of custom products. A lot of the time people find custom things challenging, and I’m just trying to make it easier.
“We do a lot of lampshades to order, or if people want to revamp chairs or make little cushions or table runners, even a full lounge or rugs, it’s about being able to fit the space and acknowledge that you can do whatever you want.
“We want people to know there is an option rather than just ready-made furniture and accessories from retail stores.
“It’s really fun showing them new things that they didn’t know existed. That’s actually one of my favourite aspects, and it could be something as simple as a different type of blind, which is a revelation to them."
“Educating people is really quite fun.”
While Tailored HQ offers in-home consultations in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley, the Central and Mid Coasts, as well as e-interiors for those further afield, customers can also visit their showroom in Hunter Street, Newcastle.
On display is an ever-changing range of products and accessories designed to excite and inspire, while customers can also browse through Tailored HQ’s extensive fabric library to find the perfect pattern or texture to suit their tastes.
Lara said increasing numbers of people were engaging interior designers to help them create a “point of difference” in their interiors, with jobs ranging in size from creating a few custom cushions or refurbishing existing furniture to completing a full fit-out.
“People like a point of difference and this is how they’re achieving it,” she said.
“They know they want something different, but they don’t know how to do that or where to go to get the product. The thing that we have and can offer is access to all these amazing suppliers, and we do try and stick to Australian suppliers and manufacturers if we can.
“People get a bit worried, they think their project’s not big enough, but you can engage an interior designer for a small project as well, which is why we also do things like cushions and lampshades.
“We’re actually getting quite of a lot of requests for re-covering chairs.
“It might have been an heirloom or their mum’s or grandma’s chair; it’s got a point of difference for them, they love it, they just want to make it more contemporary or usable.
“We have a large fabric library here, people can come in and pick the fabric and we’ve got a local upholsterer we work with to complete the job.
“Every job is different, and sometimes it’s just about building their own confidence as well, people can’t make a decision, and that’s why they have a designer, to have someone else to bounce ideas off or go yes or no.
“We can always recommend the best solutions to any issues, there’s always an answer out there, and we endeavour to find it whatever way we can.”