Grand Designs judges wowed by Haywards Heath interior designer’s skills

A love of architecture and interiors inspired a Haywards Heath woman to start a new career - and it’s now led to top recognition for her skills.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 11:36 am

Former IT worker Alison Simandl switched her talents to interior design and has now won a major competition: The Great British Box Room at Grand Designs Live in Birmingham.

The Channel 4 TV series Grand Designs staged the live contest in which interior designers were asked to redesign a box room - and Alison took top place after judges, including Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, were wowed by her work.

“Often the forgotten room, or a dumping ground, they wanted designers to turn the box room into something interesting and unexpected,” said Alison.

Interior designer Alison Simandl with TV's Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud

“My design focuses on getting the most from a small space. What first appears as a fairly normal room - with wood panels softened with floral wallpaper, William Morris blinds, comfortable chair and a classic light - soon reveals its hidden gems.

“The wooden panelling opens to change the function of the room.”

Alison’s clever design showed ways in which the room could be used as an office, a guest bedroom, a home gym, a music room - and more.

“Everything in the room has been carefully selected to make sure they can perform multiple functions,”

Alison's winning design in the Great British Box Room at Grand Designs Live

All the judges commented on the intelligent design which had been thought through.

“They said I was brave with the colour choice but it gave a surprise and lighter space for the desk area,” said Alison.

“They all agreed that I had managed to take many ideas and bring it to a cohesive resolution.”

Alison, who has lived in Haywards Heath for nearly five years with her young family, studyied with the KLC School of Design in London after changing her career from IT.

She has launched her own interiors company - AS Design Interiors - with a range of services.

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