This month we are interviewing a very special guest, Emily Todhunter co-founder of Todhunter Earle. Emily, alongside Kate Earle, founded Todhunter Earle in 1998 following an already astonishing career beginning in the states. Since then they have built up the design studio to a cheerful and highly focussed team of 15 interior designers and have worked on projects around the world. The studio is renowned for creating sensitive and beautiful interiors in country homes, townhouses, chalets and boutique hotels around the world.

Emily began her career after graduating, setting up a paint effects business in New York. It was here she began to draw the attention of both the public and some of the biggest names in the interior design world. She worked on designing the interiors for public spaces before taking her skills back to London. We draw on this interior design expertise in this interview to find out what it takes to be at the forefront of her field.

Excitingly, Todhunter Earle have just released a beautiful coffee table book, Modern English, showcasing 18 of their landmark projects. The book is split into three sections – Town, Country and Abroad featuring stunning photographs of each project. Alongside these images, there are descriptions provided by respected interiors author and journalist, Helen Chislett, focusing on the pivotal factors and challenges faced during the design process. To help show this process the book includesspecially commissioned illustrations by renowned watercolourist Marianne Topham. Emily and Kate hope that their book will inspire future designers and DIY enthusiasts alike.

You recently released your own interior design book. How do you use books to influence or inspire your own interior design work?

It’s such a wonderful feeling when you first see your own book. So many hours, days, weeks go into it and of course years of work. I do hope that our book is a source of inspiration to the designers of the future in the same way as books have been for us. It was only a few years ago that Pinterest and Instagram didn’t exist and all we had to draw on for inspiration were magazines and books. There’s no substitute really and I would encourage all young interior designers to look at old books as well as recent ones. You can pick up ideas that may be out of date now but with imagination can be revived and could be the next “trend” … better to be ahead of the curve than just rehash someone else’s ideas.

You founded your firm, Todhunter Earle in 1988, what is your advice for young interior designers today?

Don’t get too hooked to your computer, get out and see as much as you can. Visit old houses and get a feel for good proportions. Travel, read and draw – everyone can draw if they try. 

Some people have spent the last eighteen months in small flats or houses, what interior design tricks or tips would you suggest to make these spaces seem bigger?

Our flat in London is tiny… I made it look bigger by having an L shaped sofa. It uses the corner of the room which is often wasted space.

What is your favourite way to utilise books in your projects, whether that be libraries or in other spaces?

Books immediately make rooms feel cosy and add depth – you can use them everywhere to add interest and atmosphere. They work wonders in dining rooms … conversations always seem to be more interesting in a room when there are books around.

Ultimate Library would like to thank both Emily Todhunter for agreeing to be our expert of the month and the Todhunter Earle team for all their assistance.