In Conversation: Inside the mind of Kerry Rutter, The Joyful Home Company
Photos: The Joyful Home Company
“..create the home that inspires you, motivates you and reflects you. It’s not about fashions or trends, but creating a space in which you can feel pure joy”
Thinking about your creative journey, what led you into becoming an upholsterer?
I was in the process of selling my last business (a vintage camper van hire company) and was pondering what I could do next when I stumbled upon an image of the most beautiful vintage chair which had been reupholstered in a stunning floral velvet and I just thought I’d love to be able to do that. From there it literally was a snap decision, I googled the nearest upholstery college, phoned up and arranged to go see it that day and signed up on the spot. I studied at The Upholstery Skills Centre and completed the AMUSF Diploma Course, which is in 3 stages, and covers everything from a simple drop in seat to rebuilding an armchair from the frame up, using only traditional upholstery techniques.
What was your very first job?
I worked as a waitress in a Wimpy bar, now that ages me! I then moved onto to a bakers and other retail jobs. Whilst at college I worked at the local bingo hall, which was great fun.
Your work is eye-catching and fearless, who, or what inspires you?
You have summed up exactly how I want people to perceive my work. I don’t have a particular person who’s style I love as I have such an eclectic taste. I do however love the original Dutch Masters style of painters, big statement flowers arrangements depicted against dark inky backgrounds and I think the way I stage some of my product photography reflects that. On the flip side I’m all about colour, and more colour, patterns and mixing styles and I’ve tried to bring this through in the way I market my brand. My absolute favourite Instagram account is not actually an interiors one but a party shop, @ohhappydaypartyshop. I could look at their pictures all day, I just love the sense of fun and the colour palettes, but with a quirky edge. This is what I wanted to bring to The Joyful Home Co., it’s a work in progress.
What is behind the Philosophy of Joy? Was there a lack of something out there that prompted you to do things differently?
I’ve always loved vintage things and I wanted to use my upholstery skills to bring them back to life but I was bored of seeing the same colour palettes and designs over and over again. I wanted to bring a fun, happy vibe to the interiors world, and to the way I marketed the Joyful Home Company on our social platforms. The overall philosophy is that.
We believe that your home should bring you happiness and you should feel free to create the home that inspires you, motivates you and reflects you. It’s not about fashions or trends, but creating a space in which you can feel pure joy.
Our tag line is Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Happy. Not bad words to live by.
Which do you enjoy most about your work, why?
My favourite part of my job is the design meetings with my clients. I love showing them the fabric & wallpaper collections and making suggestions of what could look incredible.
Any stand out project or client?
I’ve been really fortunate in attracting lots of my ideal clients, those that want to make a statement in their homes so its really hard to pick just one but I’d have to say the lovely Liz who purchased both a vintage wingback sofa and a set of cinema seats from me, and then commissioned me to reupholster them for her, has probably been instrumental in helping me on my journey. She was bold in her fabric choices and this made for stunning results. A lot of my work comes via my Instagram account so being able to create stand out pieces and share them is so important to my brand.
I see you have Donald for company in your workshop, but do you ever feel isolated?
Donald is a Basset Hound, a rescue from Romania. I think the entrepreneurial life is often lonely. I’m lucky enough to have the wonderful Kata from @studio_twentyseven as one of my workshop neighbours. It is so nice to be able to pop in for a cup of tea and to lift each other up when the going is tough or at this time of year to have a moan about how freezing our studios are!! I’m also part of several woman in business amazing groups such as @thecovengirlgang and @southwoodsocialhub. Although they are mostly online, the support I get from other amazing woman out there doing their thing is just the best. They inspire me to keep moving forward with my brand.
Your dream project would be…?
I don’t know that I have a dream project but I definitely have a few goals I’d love to achieve. The next step would be to employ someone part time to assist in the studio, both with some of prep work for the upholstery but also all the other parts of the brand, staging work for photography, sourcing vintage items, ordering fabric etc, basically I need an extra pair of hands to keep up with demand. Longer term I’d love to have a retail space of my own, where I could sell my statement vintage furniture, alongside my upholstery services and of course share the love of all the beautiful wallpapers we sell….
There is something that makes you feel quite vulnerable about sharing your dreams and goals but you know what I’d absolutely feel like was the pinnacle…to have a pop up in Liberty selling my vintage cinema seats in the most stunning of patterned velvets. There I’ve said it and put it out in the universe, now I just need to make it happen.
What are you reading / watching?
I’ve just finished watching The Crown on Netflix, I love looking at the sets, especially those depicting the inside of Buckingham Palace, they are staggering. I’d of loved to have worked on set design for film or TV.
Your guilty pleasure?
Made In Chelsea, although I’m far too old to be watching it lol.