Meet The Designer Sisters
Sisters and best friends, Sophie and Abbie Schofield, are carving out new highly successful careers together in a business based in the Ribble Valley. Photography: Kathryn Taylor
Following their father into the plumbing and building industry is not something that sisters Sophie and Abbie Schofield ever anticipated, however a new-found passion for the family business, coupled with a keen eye for design is now what is setting them apart as leading bathroom designers.
Based at their showroom and studio in Clitheroe, over the past two-and-a-half years the sisters have carved out a niche – combining a flair for cutting edge design with an unrivalled knowledge of Europe’s most iconic bathroom brands, to create designer rooms marrying style and function.
“Our father has worked in plumbing for the past 35 years – so perhaps bathrooms have always been in our blood,” explains Sophie. “We certainly never expected to be having in-depth conversations with him about water pressures, soil stacks and joist positioning, but this understanding of construction and plumbing is absolutely crucial to the design process. We are just as at home in a hard hat on a building site or home renovation as we are in the studio.
“We’ve both had a love of design and interiors since a young age – and it’s something that bonded us together.”
Previously, the sisters have carved out successful careers in other industries – Sophie has a background in branding and marketing and Abbie in luxury goods sales and customer relations management.
“In 2018 we realised that there was a real gap in the market – homeowners and developers in the north were crying out for so much more than a run of the mill bathroom. They wanted carefully thought-out, cutting edge design, quality craftsmanship and high-end fixtures and finishes along with a showroom where they could touch and feel the products. We knew that we could add a completely new dimension to interior design in the region, so we joined forces to share our passion for creating truly unique spaces.”
With a shared passion for design and a complementary skill set from their previous careers, it was a natural step for the sisters to go into business together.
“Our dad has always been a role model – he set up his business at 18 and instilled an entrepreneurial spirit and a work ethic in us from a young age,” explains Sophie.
Being close in age the duo have always been close as sisters as well as being best friends: “It is this bond that means we can each tell instantly what mood the other is in without even talking, and we can often, almost telepathically, understand what each other means or wants done with very little background information required. This is highly unusual in the workplace, but hugely advantageous,” says Abbie.
As designers, the sisters love to get under the skin of every project, gaining an in-depth understanding of the space and the challenges the project may present.
“This is why it is so important that from the very beginning we understand every nuance of the bathroom we are designing.
“Some people come to us with a very clear vision of what they want, while other clients have a completely blank canvas and want to be excited and inspired. We enjoy really getting to know them so we have a clear understanding of their lifestyles, how they use their home and what they want from their bathroom. People at different life stages, different size families, even different hobbies and interests really do use their bathrooms in different ways, so it is important to us that we marry our designs with the individuals using the space.
“We also work with developers looking to wow prospective buyers, as well as other designers who partner with us for our insight and understanding of luxury bathrooms.”
Since lockdown in March the sisters have noticed a real shift in how people view their homes and the design details that they are demanding. “People have been spending so much time at home this year, and with travel a lot more restricted, people have been diverting their disposable income or savings towards home improvements,” says Abbie.
From a design perspective Abbie and Sophie are using a lot more darker tones in bathrooms this year as people look for a space which offers them the ultimate escape. Now more than ever, clients want their bathroom to be a sanctuary, a completely different space to the rest of their home.
“We have been using a lot of clever lighting details, interesting brassware in matte black or brushed gold and wood finishes to create really subtle but luxurious finishing touches.
“Looking ahead to 2021 we are starting to see coloured ceramic in pastels coming through, matte white brassware, coloured marble effect tiles and alternatives to ceramic basins – in glass or pressurised solid surfaces. The darker tones will continue to be popular, but pastels will really start to become a dominant design trend too – possibly reflecting a growing optimism as we start to leave the realities of 2020 behind.”
Sophie and Abbie are the founders and managing directors of Ribble Valley Bathrooms