Q & A: Fiona Watkins

5 Minutes with...

Fiona Watkins is the founder and Creative Director of Fiona Watkins Design. Fiona has worked in the interior design industry for more than twenty years and has specified Chase Erwin for several of her fantastic projects. We caught up with Fiona to learn more about her background, her projects and design inspiration.

Please tell us about your background and your career in interior design?

My background working in hotels gave me valuable insights in how to combine elegance and luxury with scale, which I’ve been able to transfer to the projects I work on in private homes. I’m originally from New Zealand and have also lived in Holland, so I bring a flavour of relaxed living coupled with cutting-edge European design to my work. I’m a member of the Historic Houses Association, so I’m just at home working in traditional period settings too. I’m a Registered Interior Designer of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) and regularly attend their CPD and networking events. I’m also a member the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).

Can you tell us about some of your recent work?

I’m lucky enough to work on projects that take me all over the world. We’re currently working on a superb new build project in Croatia, a stunning luxury villa in the most gorgeous setting with floor-to-ceiling glazed windows overlooking the sea.

I’m based in Cheshire so have worked on numerous beautiful projects in the Northwest, including a characterful barn conversion, an Edwardian Arts & Crafts house and a stunning contemporary new build.

I love working with talented craftspeople and artisans who can really add something individual to projects, such as the hand-painted cabinetry we commissioned in a recent Cheshire project and the bespoke arts and crafts hall cupboard made by a talented team of artisans in the Lake District.

How would you best describe your signature style?

I don’t have a signature style, as a studio our style is client driven, finding the balance between what our clients want and what the property needs. This quote by Tony Stavish sums it up perfectly “The key to great design is capturing the spirit of the client and the essence of the space”

Where do you find the inspiration for your schemes?

I find inspiration everywhere, particularly travel, my recent trips have taken me to Italy which has given me great ideas for a forthcoming project.

I’m also inspired by nature, taking inspiration from the glorious countryside and tranquil riverside walks around my home in rural Cheshire.

We’re delighted that you have chosen to specify Chase Erwin in several of your projects, tell us why?

Chase Erwin is a favourite of ours. Their heritage and inspiration is clear and is translated into their beautiful range of luxury, textural fabrics, I love how each collection has a story to tell. The colour palette is rooted in natural earth tones which is a core staple here at Fiona Watkins Design and quite often our starting point when embarking on a new scheme. The addition of subtle colours within the palette has added a new dimension to the range.

What makes Chase Erwin textiles stand out?

The brand to us stands for quality and this is evident throughout the collection, from smooth, flowing silks to chunky weaves. We love the versatility of the range and have used the fabrics in traditional country homes and modern city apartments, it crosses boundaries and styles but adds something special to all of our projects.

What is your favourite fabric from Chase Erwin?

Such a difficult question as I love so many fabrics for different reasons, and for different applications, but as I’m drawn to the more natural fibres, for curtains, for example, I would probably choose Aliana, the softest wool that drapes so beautifully, or Linus Linen, again a perfect draping fabric that looks just as wonderful lined or unlined.

Tell us about some of your projects which feature Chase Erwin textiles?


We used a textured wool mix upholstery fabric from Chase Erwin for these gorgeous armchairs in our contemporary new build project in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. This home is a modern style statement with a rendered finish and textured stone facade. The client enlisted our help to create an interior that reflected the exterior, so the textures in this fabric worked particularly well to create our desired calming yet comfortable and luxurious aesthetic.

Sheer Curtains

We chose the classic simplicity of this Chase Erwin fabric for sheer curtains in this new build property, part of a gated lake side development. The client brief was to bring a flavour of Mediterranean living to their home, reminiscent of their visits to a favourite villa. Using light and warm tones in the colour scheme as well as the extensive use of natural materials such as wood, linens and ceramics, combining practicality with simplicity, resulting in a stylish modern home.

Ceiling Pendant

We were commissioned by our client to help with the refurbishment of this Edwardian Arts & Crafts Home in Cheshire. The client wanted a neutral and calm environment that could also withstand family life, so we used hardwearing stain-resistant fabrics on the furniture and the stylish Mazarin for a luxurious rectangular lampshade suspended over the dining table.

A new extension was created to include a larger kitchen, dining/sitting room making this into a great family and entertaining space. The style had to flow throughout the house whilst still being sympathetic to its Arts and Crafts heritage.


The brief for this project was to create a sumptuous but cosy lounge for our clients to watch movies as a family but was also a space for entertaining friends. We chose the beautiful Mistral and Alda for cushions to add pattern and detail to the large plain fluted back sofas and also commissioned a Chaise Longue for this room in the soft and luxurious Embrace Dunes.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

We have several new projects about to start, the refurbishment of an Old Vicarage in the birthplace of Lewis Carroll and a striking new build arts and crafts home near the coast.

But most of all I’m looking forward to a long-awaited trip home to New Zealand at Christmas and plan to spend time hiking on the south island, soaking up the fresh air and gathering inspiration.

Thank you to Fiona for this insightful window into her world!