In 2022 we worked with interior designer and project manager Sarah-Jane Cousens on a renovation and redesign project in Padstow, Cornwall. Owner of Just A Little Build, Sarah-Jane works with her clients to oversee the smooth sailing of house renovation and new build projects, adding her own stylistic touch and advice throughout. We chatted with Sarah-Jane about how JALB came into fruition, where her inspiration comes from and plans for the future. 

Can you tell us a bit about the beginnings of Just A Little Build?

Just A Little Build started out in 2016 when we moved out of our family home and into a static caravan on the front drive. We embarked on a not-so-little house renovation project which involved a complete refurbishment and the rebuilding of most of the rear of our property!

I documented our build journey via my blog and Instagram which grew and developed into the brand that is now JALB Interiors. Having completed my own projects and shared them via my feed, I now work for clients to design and project manage their house renovations/ new builds.

Where does your interior design inspiration come from across the different projects that you work on?

Inspiration can come from so many different elements which, if merged together successfully, can create a cohesive, emotive and impressive design outcome. I like to take inspiration from our surroundings. It could be from the natural colours of the land, sky, trees and wildlife, or from the urban streets and historic buildings of city living. Our surroundings provide us with colour, culture, history and mood – all areas that can inspire us within our home designs.

My inspiration also comes from industry professionals, design icons and people that I follow on social media. Pinterest and Instagram are my go-to social apps to check out the latest posts from the people I enjoy following.

Lastly, artwork is a such a key inspiration for me. It can be the muse to a room design and aid the colour palette and general vibe for the whole scheme.

What happens when a client starts working with you? Do you start with mood boards, a walk-through, recommending suppliers etc?

I always like to start the design process by meeting the client and stepping inside the project. I believe it is so important to be inside the space that needs re-designing. To see it, feel it and to understand the needs, wants and likes of a client, all help to solidify the brief. From there, concept design boards are developed which consider the layout, function and ‘look and feel’ of the proposed design.

Shore Lodge moodboard

Which projects have you worked on in collaboration with Coast Creative?

Last year, I worked on a 4 bed town house renovation project in central Padstow, Cornwall. Nick and the team at Coast Creative were involved in the kitchen and utility room re-design. It involved a full strip-out of the old units, appliances, floors, wallpaper and lighting and an install of a newly designed glass cabinet/ shaker kitchen with sawn edge oak base units and wall-to-wall quartz stone splash-backs.

The property had lovely tall ceilings so this was something we wanted to embrace and emphasise. We introduced taller than average wall hung units with glass front doors (a nod to the Victorian era) and then mixed up the look with sawn edge base door fronts for a further nod to more traditional coastal elements. There was a real mix in the cabinetry design within this project but one that worked really well.

I am also hoping to be able to work with Coast Creative again on a project that I have recently started.

Do you have a favourite part of the planning process?

I love getting into the detail of things! Spacial planning can make or break a room design, especially in highly functional rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms, so this area of the planning process is something I enjoy getting into the detail of.

The 3D digital render of the design and the finished product

Are there any trends you’re predicting for interior design in the coming year?

• Sustainable living will continue to be a key focus within interior design, home construction and innovation.

• Feature stone (worktops, splash-backs, table tops) with an emphasis on dramatic veins, patterns and colour.

• Wood panelling (traditional, contemporary and reclaimed) to provide textural details on internal wall spaces.

• Arches – arched doors have become big news in architecture trends for extensions and renovations, and the gentle curves are softening the hardened edges that have proliferated for so long.

Do you have any exciting plans for Just A Little Build in 2023?

I have a few big projects due to kick off this year which involve full house re-designs/ new builds and in various design styles which will push me slightly out of my comfort zone. I also hope to develop a few of my own ‘JALB pieces’ that will be key design additions within my upcoming projects. 

To find out more about the Padstow project we worked on with Sarah-Jane, click here to view the case study