Risby Homes

Meet the Risby team: Jo Allen, interior designer

Welcome to our latest blog series: ‘meet the Risby team’! As an independent, family-run business, we think it’s important to be familiar with who you’re dealing with. For example, who chooses the interiors for a Risby show home? Who am I speaking with when I call Risby? Who manages each development, and how? Keep an eye on our blog to find out all about the different members of the team, helping give you peace of mind when buying a Risby home.

Hi Jo, we’d love to hear how you started out as an interior designer. How did you get into the industry?

It developed over a long period of time really, but it started with my love for interiors.

After seeing how I’d decorated my own home, friends and family would often ask for advice and soon, I was helping them to choose their own furniture and colour schemes.

Being a very practical person, I decided to try my hand at making a career out of my passion. And I succeeded!

How did you come to work for Risby?

I started working with Risby after I helped managing director Mark Barrett and his wife Sally to decorate their home. I must have done a good job, as they offered me a job designing their development show homes.

It helped that we got along really well, and I’m great at working to a budget – which is important when decorating a home as it can be easy to get carried away!

That was seven years ago. Since then, I’ve worked on all of Risby’s show homes, decorating each to demonstrate their full potential.

How do you design a show home?

It’s important that I put myself in the mind frame of someone that would live in the house I’m designing. Do I have children? What do I like to do in my spare time? Is entertaining important to me?

There’s a very fine line between creating a space that feels like a home and making the house too personal, so it’s essential to keep any décor inoffensive and appealing to a wider audience whilst still standing out from the crowd. As you can imagine, this can be difficult to achieve!

Sourcing the right furniture and deciding on colour schemes is also important. To help with this some of the team visit The Furniture Show in Birmingham each year to keep on top of the latest trends and suppliers.

The great thing about working with Risby is that the team leave me to my own creative devices. They trust me to design a show home that makes a statement, whilst still being on brief. This makes each project more exciting than the last.

Do you have a favourite development?

I really enjoyed decorating the show homes for Shepherd’s Rest in Beverley. There’s such a great choice of homes to choose from for all budgets, so I liked giving each one a different personality.

I particularly liked working with the bi-fold doors in the kitchen areas as they create so much light on the ground floor. It was also fun working with features like secret doors within the latest house types – this sort of thing really sets Risby apart from other developers.

Do you have any top tips for house buyers hoping to decorate their homes to show home standard?

The right choice of wallpaper can make a huge difference when decorating your home. Introducing colour and pattern brings life to an otherwise plain space, and can be as high or low impact as you like.

If you’re not ready to take the plunge with a feature wall, you can instead invest in an interesting piece of art to draw the eye. Artwork of local landscapes are always a brilliant addition to an otherwise clear space as they give a real personal feel to your home and reflect the space often just ten minutes from your home.

Speaking of artwork, you’re also a successful artist – tell us about your work

My art is very textured, layering paints with a pallet knife to create a rustic feel. I would describe it as almost like a sculpture on a canvas, very structured and eye-catching.

I started painting during lockdown, creating art for members of my family. They had a great response, and soon I was receiving commissions for people looking for artwork for their homes! As an interior designer I find it easy to create something that works well in a specific room, keeping to both colour schemes and the buyer’s requests.

My artwork is also currently being displayed at a lockdown art exhibition on Humber Street in Hull city centre, which is amazing for me. As a fairly new artist, receiving praise from others in the industry is lovely and a huge confidence boost. I’ve even managed to sell most of my work. I sold seven in the first weekend alone!

Wykeland has been amazing. The team have helped me to display my work to the public, and it’s currently on display each weekend during August, on a Saturday from 10am-5pm and on a Sunday from 10am-4pm.

You can find Jo’s latest artwork at pop-up space two of the lockdown art exhibition on Humber Street. Visit her Instagram page here.