Personal projects

The shed reborn

27 Sep 2016

Earlier this year we moved the Design Room studio to new premises out on The Roseland. The move has been really positive, not only are we loving being so close to the coast, after 5 years in the shed at the bottom of the garden we are enjoying the novelty of having neighbours, especially the fabulous Da Bara Bakery cafe across the car park (although not visiting daily takes serious self-control!)


We had outgrown our little shed in Truro in terms of workspace but the space and location seemed perfect for creating a place to stay for holiday makers and business travellers. I have always been interested in interior design and love getting stuck into a new project - whether it’s at home or one of the shops Mr G and I have opened/ redeveloped over the years - so I thoroughly enjoyed creating ‘The Cabin’. 


It’s a funny thing, designing a new business for yourself rather than for a paying client - whilst you can ignore ‘the rules’ and be quite self-indulgent, it’s important not to lose sight of who your audience is and what kind of product/ service they are expecting. Thinking about your customers also helps focus your ideas, finding that balance between your own personal style and what works on a commercial level is sometimes tricky and can take time but if you want to create a unique, memorable business then doing your research and spending time fine-tuning your ideas is vital.


Creating a brand identity with a well-designed logo is a great way to ‘package' any type of business and so as well as having some ace professional photography done (thanks Sal!) I decided to use The Cabin as a new branding exercise, (I can’t help myself). Did we need a logo design to generate bookings? No. Does it help us stand out from the crowd. Yes, I believe so. Cornwall is not exactly short of holiday accommodation, so any hopes of getting on that first page of a Google search are pretty unrealistic for the likes of me with no marketing budget, and standing out on a platform like Airbnb - where many people are now opting for professional photography - is tough. A good logo can help you to look professional and target your business at the right audience, whilst a good name is memorable and more search engine friendly, whether you are Googling 'places to stay' or browsing properties on Airbnb. Setting yourself apart in a crowded market place is challenging - and I am not a marketing expert by any stretch - but I wholeheartedly believe that good design and photography are a huge asset to any business and a very worthwhile investment (I know, I know, of course I’m going to say that, it’s what I do!) However, I do genuinely believe that Sal’s fantastic photos of the cabin have directly impacted the number of bookings we’ve had - in a very positive way! Good photography not only shows the space off well but it conveys a feeling of what it is like to be there... what the light is like in the room... how comfy the bed looks… highlighting all of the little extra details… and so on.


Do people really care about design and photography when they are choosing a place to stay on holiday? That’s debatable I guess, and there are so many other influencing factors; location, value for money, customer feedback for instance, but I know that I, personally, am very  influenced by this kind of ‘packaging’ and I would be much more likely to book somewhere to stay based on beautiful photographs of well designed spaces. For me, if someone has gone to the effort of getting some professional photography/ design work done I expect good things from them in terms of service - it’s about sending the right message right from the off. Since the cabin has been up and running we’ve had some lovely feedback from guests and more often than not, it’s the little details that people pick up on. The attention to detail, that’s what will bring people back to stay again, that’s what people will tell their friends and family about, and that’s why I will always go the extra mile and focus on the finer details - because how you present your business to the rest of the world really does matter!


Have a look at the cabin on Airbnb, feel free to book a holiday or share with friends and family (promise I’ll leave you extra biscuits if you do!)


To see more of Sal’s awesome work have a peek at her portfolio site.


See also the work we did for Harbour to Horizon.


- Emma.





Posted in: Personal projects

100 Portraits

14 Jan 2016

My first love in photography when I was at college was photographing people. Over the years though I seem to have fallen out of the habit of taking portraits, concentrating more on commercial work and letting my own personal work slip by, getting lazy with my own practice which is not useful. 


So I've set myself a challenge during 2016 to take, as the title of this post suggests, 100 portraits. Just for the love of it and hopefully reconnecting myself with what initially attracted me to photography in the first place. I don't know where this project will end up, what will be become of the images and where it'll take me, but I'm loving the potential and openness of it, finding it slightly nerve-wracking and also very exciting. 


I kicked off this project with portrait #1 on Sunday 10th January with a very simple set up of natural window light and reflector. I made the most of a low winter sun filtering in through my patio doors at home. With thanks to Chris for being so patient whilst I set up the shot.


This project will be kept up to date over on my photography site: and do get in touch if you'd like to be a part of it. You get to keep a digital copy of your photo for non-commercial use.


~ Sal


Portrait of Chris Barnicoat


Portrait #1 Chris Barnicoat, actor

Posted in: pictures, Personal projects

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