I’ve been following Ashley Sutcliffe on Twitter for a good long while now and when he contacted me to ask if I’d like to feature him on The Design Sheppard I jumped at the opportunity. Ashley has over 10 years of experience working in retail and customer service and 10 years of design training to Masters level. He has worked for lighting, furniture and home accessory retailers and has developed a knack for being able to source and provide the perfect items to complement or create the perfect look or design for any taste. He is the founder of the shop Live Like The Boy which is based in Colne in Lancashire but he also sells his wares online so make sure you check out his website. I wanted to find out more about ‘The Boy’ and luckily Ashley agreed to answer my prying questions. Here is what he had to say…
What is your background? Tell us about the boy?
Well ‘The Boy’ is not as mysterious as others may have you believe! I have lots of female friends so I have always been dubbed ‘the boy’ whenever we are together. I am interested in style and design, in every possible aspect of my life. I like to think I have a keen eye for, and a genuine interest in, style and design. It was during a meal with friends that one of them quipped “I want to Live Like the Boy” when they were admiring my personal style and without a second thought the name stuck as a business venture.
Interestingly you used to lecture in knitting. Can you enlighten us on that?
Yes that’s right, I’ve taught literally hundreds of people to knit over the past 4 years. I am a qualified teacher and my background is in textiles. I studied a BA in Textile Crafts where I specialised in constructed textiles using knitting techniques, and then I went on to do an MA too. I LOVE to share skills and hope to do some more teaching even if its a few workshops here in Live Like the Boy HQ as the shop has become known.
When did you decide to set up your shop? Has it always been a dream of yours?
A series of events led me to doing a few interior design jobs and having access to some great interior products. I designed the interior of a big local farm shop and bistro and they had a spare space where I approached them about opening a pop-up shop with some of my products and they agreed. I have always dreamed of having my own shop and have worked in retail for many years, I just didn’t expect to have my own shop at the age of 27 ( I honestly feel 19 though!)
What was the idea behind the shop? Your philosophy if you like?
The idea of the shop is to bring lots of different styles and elements together in a colourful and rebellious way. Interiors are built by collecting patterns, textures and functional items that really appeal to us and mean something to us. So I have tried to avoid the shop being too fixed in any particular style but I do have a thing for retro, mid-century and Scandinavian design so I guess if I’m doing the buying and collecting this will always come through. That said I maintain that I won’t have anything in the shop that I don’t like myself and wouldn’t have in my own house.
So what kind of things do you sell in your shop? What is special about the pieces?
I sell wallpapers, paint, furniture (old and new) decorators props and some very useful practical things too like storage tins, mugs and cushions. I always choose items with strong identity, a cushion with bold print like those made by Mini Moderns will add instant style to a bland sofa. I always look out for distinctive one-off pieces like aluminium kitchen units, old enamelware, wooden chairs that have built up a patina only achieved through years of use. Ultimately it has to look distinctive and characterful.
How do you go about finding all the vintage treasures that you stock? Where do you find them?
I visit every car boot sale, jumble sale, charity shop, junk shop and anywhere else that may have vintage treasures including me making cheeky offers on things when I’m in people’s houses. I always make a point of introducing myself to people too, if they know what I’m looking for they do tend to help by giving me a shout if they have something I might be interested in or offer me bulk buy deals as a trader.
How would you describe the Live Like The Boy aesthetic?
The Live Like the Boy aesthetic is comfortable, colourful and a bit retro. I always thought of myself as a minimalist but actually I’m more of a maximalist but it has to be organised and well curated! Chaotic stuff is clutter, curated stuff is a gallery.
What has had the most influence on your style and your approach to design?
I have been lucky over the years to visit many houses as part of my work both in the UK and abroad and the most interesting houses have always been ones where the house reflects the person, where it looks like the person exploded onto the walls and only an industrial cleaner could remove their style. I read lots of magazines and blogs and won’t reject an idea or concept; everything (design or product) has a use and function but just in the right context.
What are your top tips for people looking to create their perfect interior scheme at home?
Make it personal, if you like it then you have it and forget what anyone else thinks. Don’t rush it, a home isn’t built over a weekend or even in 6 months, a house can be created in that time but a home should grow with your life and your experiences, reflecting as you go. Be prepared to compromise a little bit of comfort if the style will be a lot better. A home that makes you smile and feel wonderful just by looking at it will be just as effective with a slightly smaller sofa than you had dreamed.
And finally we have to ask about your assistant Stanley.
Stanley is miniature dachshund who is just approaching his first birthday. He keeps me company and also keeps me calm when I’m stressing, we just go for a little walk and all is well with the world. I am biased but he is adorably sweet and he goes everywhere with me, from council meetings (I’m heavily involved with my local community) to clients’ homes and offices through to long car journeys. We are quite the team in fact!
All Photography Courtesy of Kat Weatherill