Meet our interior designer, Sarah Beasley. Sarah worked for the Savoy Group and headed up in-house design at Claridge’s before going independent. She is currently working with various retirement accommodation operators on new projects and refurbishments in addition to working with The Priory Group, corporate clients on office redesigns and private individual residential clients.
We asked her a few questions about her work at The Vale.
Sarah, how did you bring your experience in luxury hotels to The Vale?
It’s interesting because actually, contrary to what you might think, there aren’t that many differences in terms of approach between hotels and retirement villages. Neither residents nor their families want to live somewhere where taste isn’t a factor. So the environments need to be aspirational, which means I approach them in a similar way. The Vale definitely wanted that luxurious hotel feel, and to create an environment that residents are proud of.
Where does the approach differ?
It’s a balancing act because you want a place that feels exciting to live in or visit, like a hotel, but that feels comfortable and homely too. In hotels you can have things that are a bit edgy and uncomfortable, and that’s OK for a few days. But when you want to put your feet up and watch TV, you need furniture that’s super comfortable. It’s one of the things I love about this job – making spaces modern and interesting while comfortable and homely is quite a balancing act. I like to think we manage it! It is in the little design details that may not be obvious, but which really matter when you are designing for an older or more mature person, such as chair seat heights.
How did you come up with the designs?
The project team was well established when I came on board. The Development Director and architect had already done a lot of this groundwork. It’s the details that make something feel luxurious. The architect had paid attention to all the small details like the beautifully designed doors with a good grain and a walnut finish, and the cornicing and skirting are really nice and simple. That pared back, elegant look has a lovely art deco feel which I took as the starting point for my designs. When everything has already been ripped out, and you’re not starting with a blank canvas, it can go either way! In this case, I was delighted with what had already been done.
To begin with I had a meeting with the Development Director, Carole, and took along some photos of existing work as ideas and we took it from there. We had a very similar vision. We worked on CGIs and I put together schemes – first the restaurant, then the reception area, the main corridors, lounge and library.
What are the standout elements at The Vale?
The views from the top apartments are amazing. You can see all the way to the City. There is a lot of good technology for helping people stay independent while keeping them safe. The team at The Vale are really ahead of the game with this.
The restaurant is lovely. It’s got big glass doors that open onto a terrace with wonderful views so when the weather’s good you can sit out and have a drink or a meal. The whole space is light and feels fresh and uplifting. It’s also got a bar and the idea is more sociable bistro than formal restaurant. I love the wallpaper, which is really striking but in quite neutral colours. Pops of colour come from the upholstery, which gives it a modern, urban feel. The library and lounge are lovely too, but will be much cosier places to sit and chat, have a meeting, play cards or read the papers.
What about the apartments?
I designed the show apartment to give people an idea of how things can look. Often people are downsizing and apartments can be are much smaller than the home they’re leaving. If people’s furniture is too big, we can get smaller replacements or advise them on what would work. We can even visit them at home if they are local to help decide what might work in their apartment. Similarly, if people are unsure what to order for their new home, whether it’s furniture or curtains, I or one of my colleagues can help.