The Interior Architect with Designs on Island Living

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Caryl TerlezkiThe Island’s newest and arguably most glamorous interior design service has recently been unveiled by PHG Cowes. Cath Ouston has been chatting to interior architect Caryl Terlezki to find out what brings her to work on the Isle of Wight.

“I simply love the beach and being by the sea”, explains Caryl, who spent her early twenties working on yachts around the Med and Caribbean; and then went on to spend the past two-and-a-half decades dividing her time living and working between the British Virgin Islands, The Hamptons and the French West Indies. Caryl’s career as an interior architect began at Kingston University in the 1980s and since then it has seen her run style magazines, construction companies and receive commissions for projects all over the world ranging from boutique hotels and luxury spas to private residences such as Richard Branson’s home on Necker Island.

Five years ago however, Welsh-born Caryl gave up her jet-setting lifestyle and returned home to the UK to manage several interior design projects through her London-based company Design Stuff UK, plus various home furnishings and accessories projects as well. Her latest venture is teaming up with PHG Cowes ( to offer an exclusive interior design service for the Island.

On her return to the UK Caryl set up home in Wales, having discovered the perfect place to call home in the village of Aberporth – where she had spent many a happy holiday as a teenager. Describing the house she bought, she says “It was a run down two bedroom bungalow but its position was what mattered to me, over-looking Cardigan Bay with views up to Snowdonia. Plus it had a really happy vibe to it which is always the perfect foundation to build your dream home on. I just couldn’t resist it.”

The next challenge she faced was how to apply her style of design which had developed whilst beach-hopping around the world, to her new corner of Wales. In fact, her home draws on influences from both areas, with the end result being a three bedroom house that is spacious, light and airy. Local materials such as slate and oak have been used throughout, plus it now also boasts a veranda which stretches around the house taking full advantage of the spectacular views and really linking the house with its surroundings. The finished product perfectly reflects Caryl’s taste for functional design with an ultra-relaxing, beach theme tying all the rooms together.

Here Caryl shares with us some insights into her world as an interior architect.

Describe the service you are providing at PHG Cowes?

“The owner Dawn Townend and I are introducing an interior design service that will be available for homes, businesses and yacht interiors. The store will also be selling more design led products for sale, including interior and exterior lighting, fabrics and soft furnishings. We will also be using the services of Island based suppliers wherever possible and I’m looking forward to getting to know and working with all the amazing craftsmen and artisans over there.”

As Dawn adds, “Caryl & I met around 7 years ago and struck up a friendship based on a love of similar things and I was excited by her design philosophy and ideas – I think she also recognised something in me that I didn’t know was there! We have spoken often about doing a project together and when I reached the point of needing to change things here, to shake it up, we felt that the time to do something together was now! Working with Caryl has enabled me to hone the space with utilitarian principles and develop a more considered aesthetic and I’m looking forward to our first collaborative interior design project together.”

How would you describe your style?

“It’s functional but also relaxed and individual with a quirky, nautical twist. I love wood that’s painted white, it’s very much influenced by my life in the Caribbean and the shabby-chic style of the Hamptons.”

How do you go about creating the perfect interior space for someone else? 

“I go with my instincts and gut-feeling when I am talking to my clients or developing an idea. The real fun is working out the design for the specific person, to get to what they really want to live with or look at every day. It’s essential to listen to a client’s ideas, often they think that they have to keep to a specific style but I like to mix up their various themes and bind them all together which results in a more eclectic but individual result. I am notorious for things that don’t match and I rarely do two of anything.”

What are your top tips for transforming a space on a budget?

“Keep to a simple palette of colours as a backdrop, and a small selection of materials so that you don’t cheapen the concept. I prefer to use original vintage pieces, which have integrity and an enduring design that can be sourced from fairs and markets. Also, take time to layer the interior rather than make a mass purchase just to fill in spaces. It’s so important that a home is a reflection of its inhabitants, otherwise it’s just a house. The French for souvenir means memories and they should be an essential element of your home.”

5. What’s next for you?

“I’m always busy and that is exactly how I like it. Other than continuing to develop my business, I’m working on converting some commercial properties for residential use along the south coast and I am about to re-design an old pub into a gastro B&B. I spend most of my time travelling; between my partner Phil who is based in Brighton, my work in London and our home in Wales. Plus now I can add to that time spent on the Isle of Wight ferry!”

6. What motivates you to keep so busy?

“Inquisitiveness; the love of finding or developing new products; pulling it all together; understanding people’s strengths and limitations. It is all of these things, but the joy for me is meeting all kinds of fascinating, wonderful and talented people. With these characters – the designers, makers and artisans – nothing is immediate or assumed. Perhaps that is the hardest part of what I do, but it is also the most rewarding.”