Meet St Albans interior designer - and social media sensation - Emma Kosh

PUBLISHED: 11:10 22 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:33 22 July 2016

Emma tends to execute her craziest ideas in her own home,

Emma tends to execute her craziest ideas in her own home, "as I know I can take it".

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Emma Kosh caused a stir on local Facebook group St Albans Mums earlier this year, when a post about her home’s striking interior went viral.

Interior designer Emma KoshInterior designer Emma Kosh

Her house in Bernards Heath was on the market at the time, and a fan of Emma’s artistry shared the Right Move link with the rest of the group, who were wowed by her handiwork. Oblivious Emma, 33, was busily working out at her Zumba class at the time, unaware of the impact her home was having.

The mum-of-two is now renting in the town centre with husband Alex, daughters Roxie, six, and Kiki-Beau, three, and their Sharpei dog, Topaz, waiting for their Marshalswick purchase to complete. Emma tells Jane Howdle about Facebook fame, fake cow heads and working with Mr Tumble...

Emma's former home in Bernards Heath, St AlbansEmma's former home in Bernards Heath, St Albans

How did you feel when you found out the St Albans mums were all going mad for your home?

It’s not often I am without my phone but I hadn’t taken it to Zumba that particular night. When I returned from my class my husband said, “I think you may want to check your phone, it’s been going crazy”. That’s when I discovered that my house and its decor had gone mildly viral.

Plans are afoot to convert the loft in Emma's new home in MarshalswickPlans are afoot to convert the loft in Emma's new home in Marshalswick

How did you feel when you read the posts?

Social media can be a fickle friend but I was so touched by all the lovely comments and posts. I couldn’t believe that someone I didn’t know had been moved to share my house with the other St Albans mums. The decor in my house is a bit like looking into my mind, so it’s deeply personal, I was thrilled that so many people enjoyed something I had created just for us.

Was there an immediate spike in interest from new clients?

Emma's no fan of minimalism, saying Emma's no fan of minimalism, saying "If that is your preferred style I am not your girl"

I haven’t seen an impact... yet, but it has got my name out there and I am sure people will bear me in mind should they decide they need an interior designer. It is not a service that everyone needs, there are a lot of creative mums in St Albans and hopefully I have inspired them to try new things in their homes.

Was your house still on the market at the time of the Facebook post?

The open day was planned for the following Saturday, so it came at the perfect time. We had 16 viewings on the day and had sold the house by the following Tuesday, two weeks from the board going up.

Emma's bold use of colour has won her many admirersEmma's bold use of colour has won her many admirers

You used to work for the BBC – what was that like?

Honestly, it was some of the best years of my life. I started out as work experience at the studios in Borehamwood where they film EastEnders – seeing Dot Cotton and Peggy Mitchell in the canteen was an early highlight. I worked for CBeebies and when the department moved to Television Centre I moved with it. Arriving to work each day with my BBC pass felt like a true rite of passage – like I’d made it. I made some lifelong friends there.

Which shows did you work on?

I worked with Mr Tumble on several things, including Something Special. I also worked on CBeebies and CBBC Presentation – the bits that link the programmes on the channels – among other things. Eight years ago I was part of the hand-picked team that launched the format that remains today, the CBBC office. We had a tight-knit team, including the presenter Ed Petrie and a cactus called Oucho, every day brought hilarity of some sort, it was one of the best jobs in the world. I went on maternity leave with my first daughter and everything shifted up north to Manchester, and so it ends...

What made you decide on a career change?

Interior design has been in my bones since being a teenager, I have had subscriptions to home magazines since then and used to love programmes like Changing Rooms. I used to think it odd that my friends didn’t rearrange their bedrooms as much as I did. When I had my children I made a decision to turn my passion into a career, I could retrain at my own pace and working for myself gave me the flexibility to fit my work around all the things a mum has to do.

Where do you get your ideas?

I wish I knew! It’s something that develops naturally, I may find a piece of wallpaper or a nick-nack I love and it just grows from there into a scheme. Client design is different of course, because you have to use them as your inspiration. I start picking out and saving things I know they would love from the moment I meet them. Even if a job doesn’t come to fruition I still see things and think, “So-and-so would love that” and snap it, just in case.

What do you love most about your job?

I really enjoy the sourcing and shopping for all the pieces that will tie the scheme together. I love the thrill of seeing months of hard work coming together when a room or project is finished, knowing you’ve put your mark on a space that others will live in and enjoy for years to come is really satisfying. The positivity that comes my way after a job is complete from clients and tradesmen validates that I made the right decision when I became a designer.

How would you describe your style?

I love colour and pattern used in the right way, there is such a delicious choice available that there really is no excuse to exist inside a beige cave. I love the clothes from the 1940s and ‘50s and this retro styling does influence my design preferences as I have a penchant for polka dots. My personal design style is an expression of my personality, I am a sucker for kitsch, any friendly looking gnome will find a happy place to live in my home. Flamingos and pineapples also play a massive role; my friends always say that when they see a flamingo they think of me. I like that.

What’s the craziest design you’ve ever implemented?

I tend to execute my craziest ideas in my own home as I know I can take it! It has to be client appropriate. I currently have a faux taxidermy cow head protruding into my dining area, gold polka dots in my hallway and have already purchased a faux camel head complete with rainbow pom-poms for my new office. When I was fifteen I insisted my parents paint my room red, orange and yellow complete with red and orange woodwork, looking back that seems crazy but I loved it - it was my (not so restful) haven.

What kind of design do you hate the most?

Minimalism, if that is your preferred style I am not your girl. It goes against everything I find visually interesting, it makes me want to be mischievous, break in and splash paint all over the walls.

Whose house would you love to make over?

I would love to work for Lena Dunham (creator of HBO series Girls). She has such sass and her attitude to being a woman in this world is really inspirational – plus she’s hilarious and I think we’d have a ball.

Have you had any celeb clients?

Not yet, but I did used to dress sets for Mr Tumble if that counts? He is a massive fan of spots too, actually.

Finally, what’s the house you’re buying like?

It’s a completely renovated Nash property, so saves us the aggravation of building work and allows me to get cracking with all the fun parts - decorating. We do plan on converting the loft though, so we will end up being in a 5-bed - lots of blank walls for me to sort!

Find out more about Emma at www.emmakosh.co.uk

Pictures courtesy of Claire Lane Photograhpy (www.clairelanephotography.com) and Louise Saunders (www.louisesaunders.co.uk)

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