Chris Carroll from TLC Interiors
Website: TLC Interiors
Style Sourcebook Profile: TLC Interiors
Anyone who knows a thing or two about Style Sourcebook knows that we love making design accessible to everyone. It was a no-brainer then, that we had to include Chris Carroll from TLC Interiors, as one of our Style Makers. At the center of TLC Interiors ethos is the notion of “Affordable Designer Style”. As he so eloquently puts it, “TLC Interiors is a ‘real homes for real people’ kinda business”. We love Chris’s authentic and down-to-earth approach to his business and the way he makes design feel achievable and realistic for all. Chris not only runs a successful interior design blog, but he also does his own interior design and styling projects, has been a presenter and personality on various television shows, and has been involved in some pretty impressive media engagements (yes, we too questioned how he manages to fit this all into his schedule)! In our Style Maker interview with him, we discuss how he started his interior blog, why he’s so passionate about providing affordable design solutions to his clients, and how he uses mood boards when creating his interior design concepts (plus lots more).
It’s so great to have you on Style Edit, Chris! Tell us a bit about yourself and how TLC Interiors came to be.
I started TLC Interiors eight years ago. What I love about the biz is that it’s an interior design studio but also a home style blog. There aren’t a lot of those around. I love that we make over homes for real people on the daily and then share all of our style secrets with over 100,000 blog readers each month. It’s a true passion; to make design easy for people to understand, to cut through the snootiness that the industry can sometimes bring with it, and show people how to create a home they can be proud of.
You’re based in Melbourne and have road the wave of lockdowns alongside us. How are you and how have you managed to stay sane during these somewhat crazy and unknown times?
I don’t know that I have stayed sane! The TLC Interiors biz is always a busy one, but the Covid crisis made it so much busier. People were spending more time at home wanting to make over their spaces, so the design side of the biz skyrocketed even more and the blog readership grew too. We’re still riding the wave, and finally, we’re hiring staff and will soon move into an office space (at present it’s just myself doing all the creative and my partner Gavin running the ops and logistics from our home office).
You’ve achieved quite a lot in your career and have been a part of some big-name programs such as Sunrise, Sky News, and The Morning Show – what’s it like working in media?
I’d say… not as glam you think it is. It takes a lot of work and hustle to get onto these shows and a lot of prep goes into what ends up being a three-minute segment. But it is enjoyable. I’ve done a lot of TV, event hosting, and video content for brands and it’s been really fun to take the message of attainable design and put it out there in video form.
We absolutely love some of the mood boards you’ve created using our mood board tool. How important do you think using a mood board in the initial stages of your design projects are?
I never work on a design project without mood boarding every single room. The entire process would fall apart without it. Mood boards allow me to work out the final design I want to present to the client, but it also allows them to understand how all of the furniture and decor will work side-by-side in the space. You can’t beat that kind of visual. I’ve tried physical mood boards in the past and they’ve never worked. Clients don’t get it as much as they get seeing the room mood board online.
It’s evident that you’re quite passionate about providing affordable interior solutions for people. Why is this important to you and what are some of your top tips when it comes to creating a beautiful interior that doesn’t break the budget?
I hate that design is seen in some circles as only for the wealthy. I’m all about skimp-meets-splurge. That’s my design ethos, really. I say it’s always best to invest in any comfort pieces (sofa, armchair, mattress), then have a blend with all the other elements. Sometimes you want to drop $500 on a weird decorative object, and I say go for it, Just pull back in another area. Low-price bedding can be surprisingly good. That’s been my biggest surprise over the years.
What would be your advice to someone wanting to get into the interior design industry but isn’t too sure where to begin?
I would say, study in some capacity. I know there’s a ton of on-the-job training, and I learned so much after I graduated and got into the real world, but the study gives you a foundation to work from. I would also focus on creating a website and social media channels with content that’ll get people to find you online. The industry has changed, and SEO is so important in having potential clients find your website. Online is everything.
You not only run the TLC Interior Blog but you also work on your own interior projects, are a presenter for various brands, collaborate with some of the top industry brands and suppliers but you’ve also written your own book (we’re tired even thinking about all of that). How do you find the balance between work and play and make sure you’re looking after yourself?
That’s something I’ve not done well since I started the biz, truth be told. Anyone running a successful small business will tell you that the first few years are grueling. And mine have been. But now that we’re hiring staff and moving into an office space things should balance out a bit. But I’m also always striving for that next achievement so I’ll probably always run at this pace (I know it’s not good for me though!).
On that note, what have been some of your biggest career highlights to date?
There have been a few when I look back. In eight years, I’ve created (from nothing) a thriving interior design business that gets a constant stream of clients with absolutely no advertising spend. I’ve created a successful blog with over 100,000 monthly readers, authored a book (Sydney Precincts is its name), have worked as a presenter and MC for over 6 years, and have starred in a TV series (Changing Rooms on Channel 10). I’m pretty proud of all of that.
A lot of our audience share their mood boards and work on their social media accounts. Do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to creating content for social media?
Tag tag tag! So many people don’t tag the brand’s products they use when posting to social media. I do it all the time and am so transparent with who I’m using for a project. You want the brand to share your content; it’ll bring you more followers! Just always been open and honest and giving too. People are following you for info or inspo. Give them both and you’ll have an engaged audience.
"I hate that design is seen in some circles as only for the wealthy. I’m all about skimp-meets-splurge. That’s my design ethos, really. I say it’s always best to invest in any comfort pieces (sofa, armchair, mattress), then have a blend with all the other elements."
- Chris Carroll, TLC Interiors
You have quite a large following, both on social media and also on your blog. What’s your secret to success and how do you remain motivated and inspired in what can seem like a competitive and demanding industry at times?
I always like to remind myself why I do this. It’s always about real design, attainable design, keeping it honest with the audience, showing them how to do things, and sharing things with them. It’s really easy to fall into traps where you don’t know what to post about. When that happens I just ask myself “What do you want to read?” or “What are you actually honestly loving right now?” and then post about that. I am my audience at the end of the day. I live how they live.
Where are some of your favourite homeware and furniture stores to shop at?
My home is such a blend of brands and price points, the same as I do with my design clients. Bedding from Lorraine Lea, Furniture from Molmic, Coco Republic, Globewest, Life Interiors. But then I have stuff from IKEA, West Elm, Kmart. I honestly just buy what works and what I love. I have a $1600 mirror alongside a $79 drinks cabinet. Very high-meets-low.
If you could describe your style in three words what would they be?
Clean, Effortless, Sophisticated.
With renovating, sometimes it can be hard to know which room, to begin with. In your opinion, what would be your priority rooms/elements to renovate first?
Kitchens and bathrooms are going to give you the most benefit in terms of looks meeting usability. So, I would start there if you’re going to reno your entire home. But also look at your floorplan. If you can knock down a few walls to open up a space and/or let in more light, it’s a no-brainer.
Where is your go-to place when you need to find inspiration for an upcoming project?
I’m constantly screenshotting from Instagram, watch every interior design show known to man, and follow a few designers who I love like Genevieve Gorder, Bobby Berk, Emily Henderson, Jeremiah Brent. I tend to look overseas for inspo because locally there can be a lot of repetition. Everyone is doing the same thing.
And last but not least, what can we expect to see next for you and TLC Interiors? Do you have any exciting projects or collaborations that you’re working on and can share with us?
With some staff coming on board I’d like to grow the brand more so that we can share a lot more from inside our projects. There’s just not enough time with the two of us to document everything and deliver it to the audience. Expect more blog posts, more brand collaborations, and more video content. I’d like TLC Interiors to be the go-to place for all things home, with no stone unturned.
"I never work on a design project without mood boarding every single room. The entire process would fall apart without it. Mood boards allow me to work out the final design I want to present to the client, but it also allows them to understand how all of the furniture and decor will work side-by-side in the space."
- Chris Carroll, TLC Interiors