An Interview with the Queens of Curtains, Winser and Hill
At Dimpsey Glamping we confess to having our favourites in terms of style, and we adore one such pair of ladies in the rather classy form of Winser and Hill.
Friends Elizabeth and Susannah are the creative brains behind Dimpsey’s curtains and soft furnishings, and, more recently, a new project by Dimpsey owner Emma. Dimmet in Devon is Emma’s latest location to be styled up for visitors, launching in 2017, and the Winser and Hill ladies have had real input into this new and different project.
Susannah and Elizabeth pride themselves on the quality of their handmade curtains, cushions and blinds, and rightly so. Specialising in hand sewn, lined and interlined curtains and blinds, they can also make all those other things that create the final look, such as cushions, window seats, headboards and valances. Genius!
So, let’s find out a little more about these delightful friends.
We met 10 years ago, when both our husbands were serving in the army (at Sandhurst). We had an instant connection with our mutual love of fabrics and interior decorating. our friendship was secured during long dog walks, during which we talked endlessly about what we could do once our husbands left the army. We have both “followed the flag”, and lived in over 30 houses between us in places such as Australia, Canada , Berlin and Malaysia. Every time we moved into a new army house, the paint pots and sewing machines would come out, so that we could turn it into something we wanted to live in. Before she married, Susannah worked for an interior designer in London, Elizabeth trained as a nanny, and continued to work with children.
2. What brought you together to begin to design curtains?
Both of us had made curtains for people over the years, but neither us felt we wanted it pursue it on our own as it was a bit solitary. When our husbands left the army, and we finally settled in our own homes, we serendipitously found ourselves living 15 minutes apart. Susannah and her husband undertook a major renovation of a cottage, and Elizabeth settled with her husband in an old school house.
Susannah’s sister had recently moved to a beautiful old manor house, and she threw down the gauntlet, were we ready to start the business we had talked about for so long. We took the plunge and Winser and Hill was formed. We took ourselves off to a professional curtain making course, to hone our skills, and prepare us for the nitty gritty of running a business.
3. Who or what are your inspirations?
We love French 18th century textiles, the softness and bleached colours of a piece of antique fabric is always inspiring. We also enjoy the fun elements and pure colours of more contemporary design; in fact it’s rare that we don’t feel inspired by a piece of fabric. National Trust Houses, galleries and exhibitions all have their own appeal, and often have us imagining life either above or below stairs. We have a collection of House and Garden magazines that go back as far as 1980, and despite what our husbands think, we do actually look at them!
4. What have been your favourite projects?
We have loved working on Emma’s projects; they are totally different from our usual jobs, and they have really challenged our normal aesthetic. We have also recently been working on a flat in London for a client who is seriously downsizing. Finding ways to incorporate some of her beloved old fabrics by re making them into updated curtains and blinds has been very rewarding. We are currently working with a client who is redoing a house after 15 years and it’s been really exciting helping her choose not only window treatments but furniture too. The house has featured in some TV programmes, so we felt we knew it before our first visit!
5. What’s your key demographic?
Clients who understand proper curtains and appreciate a really personal service. They probably won’t want everything new all at once, just to subtly update their home. They are prepared to pay for quality bespoke workmanship, but also will be prepared to re work something if the fabric is still good.
6. What are your favourite home/design magazines?
Country living, Homes and Gardens, House and Garden, World of Interiors, Country Life all have appeal!
7. How and where do you work together and what is your process (do you have particular areas that you enjoy?)
We work in a purpose-built workroom in Babcary in Somerset. Depending on deadlines and volume of work we do three to six days a week. We keep regular hours, always starting by 9.30am, with a break at lunchtime to walk the dogs in the surrounding water meadows. If we are lucky, a client may want a meeting with us in the Red Lion, the lovely village pub! We normally finish at 5pm, but if we want to get something finished we will often work into the evening.
8. Why would someone come to you for curtains?
We really listen to clients, and help them overcome any awkward windows. We are very good a working within a budget – years as army wives has given us both the ability to make something look good without spending a fortune. Our clients appreciate the fact that we can supply fabric from most of the major fabric houses, or we are extremely happy for them to source their own. We sell our workmanship rather than products.
9. Anything else you would like to add?
We love the variety of our work, and often think back to when we first met and having our own business was a pipedream. We feel really lucky to be living and working in such a lovely part of the country.
Thank you ladies, for a very insightful interview and we look forward to sharing your work at Dimmet! Carry on being fabulous!