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Discover how Zulufish founders Caroline & Felix Milns approach a full-circle design and build project

Image courtesy of @zulufishuk

After renovating their one-bedroom apartment in Streatham, design visionaries and Zulufish founders Caroline and Felix Milns identified a gap in the market. They’d found brilliant builders with exceptional standards, but creative design wasn’t their forte.

So, they decided to combine Caroline’s flair for textile and interior design with Felix’s knowledge of architecture and construction to launch Zulufish in 2005. Offering a full range of interior design and architectural services alongside a comprehensive design and build package, Zulufish has progressed into an award-winning, full-spectrum service, creating beautiful spaces across the globe.

“The spaces we create don’t simply look fantastic, we design them to feel fantastic too.”

With over 25 years of experience at the cutting edge of design and interiors, Caroline and Felix share their top tips for creating a space, from planning the initial layouts to layering with finishing touches. 

Could you tell us more about your background and how you came to launch Zulufish?

Caroline: I have always been passionate about travelling, which has informed my design style and my deep love of colour and texture. Through my early career, I honed my skills in textile design, specialising in materials, techniques, craftsmanship and the refinement of colour. I started my professional journey as a textile designer for Monkwell Fabrics before progressing to manage a team of designers in the home design studio of John Lewis Partnership. 

In 2007, I re-trained as an interior designer, working for Helen Green and McVitty Interior Design Consultants, where I gained valuable experience working on residential and commercial projects. It was then that I realised my future was firmly in interior design, and I launched the interiors division of Zulufish.

Image courtesy of @zulufishuk

“I firmly believe that good design can not only transform your home or workspace, but it can also improve your mental health and quality of life.”

Caroline Milns, Co-Founder, Zulufish

Since then, we have won numerous interior design awards and created some truly memorable projects, from remarkable Croatian villas and high-end retail spaces to expansive family homes in London and beyond. I firmly believe that good design can not only transform your home or workspace, but it can also improve your mental health and quality of life.

Felix: I came to the industry by an unconventional route. When I founded Zulufish, I was working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster, specialising in travel, style and design. My day job involved reviewing many different hotels and residences, and I became very interested in design and construction.

At the same time, we began working on our own property developments, starting with a one-bedroom apartment in Streatham, where we converted the loft. We got the bug and soon began moving into a newly refurbished property each year. After completing five of these, we built a network of trusted builders who were great at delivering but not so good at design and customer service. That’s when we saw the potential of offering a design and build service to clients, and in 2005, Zulufish was born.

Image courtesy of @zulufishuk

Which interior design details do you spend the most time considering and why? (e.g. furnishings, hardware etc…)

Caroline: I would confidently say the devil is in the design, and all details are equally important to create a successful redesign. Without a doubt, our foremost focus area centres on the architectural details – linking the fabric of the building with interior design. These include features like cornice, architraves, fireplaces and foundational elements like flooring, hardware and joinery to provide the necessary backdrop to the show-stopping furniture and lighting.

Image courtesy of @zulufishuk

How do you make the most of natural light in a property that might struggle in this area?

Caroline: Often, we collaborate with our architectural department on Design and Build projects, where maximising natural light plays a pivotal role in the redesign. Our approach involves considering the entire space, including relocating walls and adding skylights and windows.

In cases where it is exclusively an interior design project and the structural elements are set, our focus shifts towards crafting a suitable colour palette, designing appropriate window treatments and strategically arranging furniture to enhance the natural light available in the property.

Zulufish’s sister company, HUX, focuses on creating bespoke kitchens, cabinetry and furniture – what do you look for when choosing handles/hardware for these projects?

Caroline: Choosing handles & hardware for joinery is usually a joint collaboration between Zulufish & HUX. We work closely with our clients to source the best hardware aesthetically, functionally and within budget. Typically, we follow the initial concept design as our guiding principle, seeking products that align seamlessly with this vision.

What are your top tips for experimenting with colour and texture?

Caroline: Experimenting with colour and texture is undeniably the most enjoyable part of the creative journey, especially when you are a colourist at heart!

As a colour enthusiast, I stay up-to-date with the latest trends in textiles, finishes and furniture, paying close attention to colour and technology.

I also enjoy using innovative textile techniques, experimenting with a wide array of wall finishes, and love to source new furniture shapes in every one of our projects.

Image courtesy of @zulufishuk

See more Zulufish projects by following them on Instagram, and head to our Interior Designer Secrets page for more tips, tricks and inspiration.

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