Martin Nealon, partner of Yorkshire-based Angel Martin Interiors (angel-martin.com), has worked as a top-flight interior consultant for 30 years specialising in high-end domestic schemes. He is a registered member of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) and works on a range of traditional and modern projects across the globe.
Martin ensures that each project is approached with professional integrity and creative flair, designed specifically to the clients’ brief and budget from initial concept to completion. He has just finished his last week on site in preparation for the grand opening of his latest project; a Grade ll listed Country House.
I’m supposed to be having a day off but I’m aware this coming week is the final push to complete the project. I have a meeting in the morning with the team to run through the program, and then the pressure is on to ensure the project is 100% complete for the opening night on Saturday.
I meditate in the garden but I can’t clear my mind, so I go for a walk by the canal but I still can’t stop the countless thoughts that flood through my consciousness. I’ve done this a hundred times before, meticulous planning and hard work behind me, so I should be confident. The pressure to deliver in the final week is always daunting.
I have a restless night’s sleep…
The alarm is set for 7am but I’m wide awake by 5am. The drive to site is strangely relaxing. The site is looking good and this week is just a matter of focusing on the end result and motivating the team.
I trudge across the carpark to the site cabin in my site boots and hard hat. A sea of mud, a cold site cabin and a group of consultants who are also feeling the pressure makes this a very tense meeting. It’s a long hard day negotiating and ensuring everyone in the meeting has a common focus. Every consultant has their own priorities and the heated debates go on into the afternoon as I sit in the middle holding my ground. I have sold the client a vision of what could be done with this interior and now this is the most critical part of the program where everything must come together seamlessly without compromise.
I’m tired by the end of the day so I use the drive home as a quiet time to unwind and reflect on the day. My evening workout is replaced by a few hours following up on emails and an early night.
It’s 4am and I’m rudely awoken by the sound of my alarm, I have a flight to catch. I have a meeting in the Netherlands with a furniture supplier so I can check over the order before it’s shipped to site. I’m met at the airport by a chauffeur and whisked away to the showroom. I have been communicating with this company all year but this is the first time we have met.
The building is set between a network of canals, its modernist form seeming out of place in such tranquil surroundings. Entering the triple height glossy reception area, with a vintage Aston Martin to my right and a vintage E-Type Jaguar to my left, I thought they added a certain panache.
The receptionist greeted me like an old friend and ushered me into the showroom where I met Naomi who had been handling my order, it was lovely to finally meet her face to face.
The day progressed with a factory tour to see the furniture neatly arranged and ready to be dispatched, then dinner with two of the directors, whose enthusiasm for their product was almost overwhelming – in a nice way.
Back to reality in the morning!
I felt more relaxed today. There’s still a mountain to climb on site but seeing the furniture ready to ship gave me an air of confidence. I beat the rush hour arriving early, hard hat in place and striding confidently towards the building.
As I enter the house I feel the temperature drop. The gloomy rooms are clad in dust sheets and temporary lighting swings overhead casting shadows across the sheets. The air is full of the sound of drilling and grinding as the contractors finish the last of the heavy work, knowing this is the final day to get this done.
The schedule required all main trades out of the building to give a clean site ready for the delivery of furniture in the morning. I would have to stay up all night to pull us back on schedule so I made the call to my wife, Helen, to cancel our dinner reservation. Over 100 men were on site working across each other trying to finish their respective jobs – I found myself on my hands and knees with a wire brush cleaning off a fireplace ready for a coat of enamel. I look like a coal miner covered from head to foot in fine black dust. “It’s not like this on the television!” I thought to myself.
I arrived home in the early hours, exhausted but happy.
I was still tired from the day before but I needed to beat the rush hour this morning, so copious amounts of coffee and out of the door I go. Helen came with me today as she was worried about me driving, she could see my energy levels dropping as the week progressed. Today is a big day on site.
As expected, the efficient team from the Netherlands delivered the furniture on schedule and the day was spent unpacking and dressing the rooms. It was fantastic to see the rooms starting to pull together and resemble the mood boards I had first presented to the client. This is what the job is all about for me. I feel a great sense of pride as the interiors take shape.
The afternoon was spent hanging crystals on the chandeliers, 4570 to be precise. By the time we left site we were shattered.
To coin a phrase, there’s no rest for the wicked. The evening was booked for a board meeting with the team at the office to discuss the new project to be started in two weeks’ time, and the launch of our sister company 3D Interior Installation (3dinteriorillustration.co.uk).
Seeing what we had achieved this last week somehow gave me renewed energy. We had a full team in, finalising the soft furnishings, so I spent the day dashing from room to room micromanaging every aspect of the final fit.
We were almost done. Adjustment after adjustment ensued until the rooms were exactly as I wanted them. As afternoon turned into evening the pace was relentless; eventually my mind slowed as my energy levels faded and my body began to pay the price for the hectic pace of the week.
The job was finished and I climbed into the car, mind and body completely spent.
My first lie-in of the week and breakfast in bed, heaven!
No work today, a long walk on the canal, lunch at a local pub and a Reiki session in the afternoon to unwind and let go of all the tensions of the week. Tonight is the open evening.
My wife looks beautiful in the black dress she has bought for the occasion. We drive onto site through the grand renovated gates, past the gatehouse, and along the pristine cobble-lined drive towards the grand old house that has been my home for the last six months.
As we walk into the fully renovated building I feel a sense of pride. No workmen, and the dust sheets gone to reveal the beautifully carved paneling softly lit by the incandescent light from the crystal chandeliers. The plywood protectors on the floor have been removed to reveal the soft tones of the parquet floor beneath, whilst fires burn in the grand old fireplaces again. My wife’s hand slips into mine as she gently squeezes as a sign of affection and understanding for the passion I had for this project.
The drawing room is full of well-dressed people, the great and the good invited to be the first to experience the newly renovated interiors. They wander from room to room admiring the workmanship and murmuring appreciation, unaware of the chaos that brought this wonderful interior back from the brink of dereliction.
Each project takes more out of me that I would care to admit, but I could not imagine doing anything else. The sense of pride I have when an interior like this is completed is a truly wonderful feeling.
I have a week off now to catch up on paperwork and to start planning the next project with my team. If I were to sum up my working life it would be Inspiration, Passion, and Perspiration in that order – but I would not have it any other way…
To view all of the images in this feature, please visit http://indesignmagazine.co.uk/august-2017/