Roger Wilson’s design studio is the latest in a long line of businesses established by an extremely entrepreneurial Culcavy family. Roger’s late father ran Island Dairies on the family farm and Roger and his mother Annetta ran for nine years a convenience store, which has now been sold to Centra.
After the sale of the shop, Annetta encouraged Roger to pursue his passion for architecture and design. He then studied 3D spatial design at Belfast Metropolitan College. There his lecturer, Raymond Evans, nurtured the passion and persuaded Roger to pursue it at degree level, which he did at Nottingham Trent University.
It was just two months ago that Roger launched his design studio business. Appropriately the studios operate from a converted barn, which demonstrates Roger’s abilities as an interior architect. The studios are located at Flatfield House in Culcavy, near Lisburn, where Annetta and Roger run a large guest house and self-catering apartments.
The core work of the design studio is as a ‘specifier’ for interior work to be conducted on listed and historic properties. Projects will typically include providing clients with advice on how to convert large old houses into apartments and designing new rooms to fit onto the outside of an existing building. Roger offers a full project management service for home conversions.
Although the business has only just been launched, Roger is already flat out supporting two clients. “People are looking for help with the design of nice homes,” explains Roger. “They want help with colours and the choice of fabrics, because they don’t know how to pull it all together. They have money, but they want to make sure the money is well spent. People are coming to me for advice on how to make their design choices.”
The location is a real asset, as guests – often from overseas – may visit the design studio while staying in Flatfield House. “People can see what I have done,” says Roger. It is his attention to detail that impresses visitors the most, he says. In addition, visitors can buy cushions and other artefacts and order furniture when visit him.
“There is a range of furniture that I can source for the customer,” continues Roger. “I obtain bespoke furniture that is made locally in Northern Ireland, made for the client. I try to keep things in Northern Ireland where I can, supporting local jobs. I can provide furniture of very high quality that is very competitively priced. I can get it made especially and delivered. Clients are getting the personal touch.”
Roger is clearly determined to make a success of this new venture – just as the other family businesses have been. “All my family run our own businesses,” says Roger. “We know nothing else.”