Living Beautifully: An Interview With Jess Clark at Unique Homestays

Behind The Scenes, Interview, Styling

HOLIDAY HOME DESIGN TIPS AND INSIDER INFORMATION FROM JESS CLARK, PROPERTY CURATOR AT UNIQUE HOMESTAYS.

It’s always such a joy to design holiday homes across the country with Unique Homestays. Jess Clark is an absolute hoot to work with and I spend a lot of the time belly laughing when we’re on the phone discussing projects! Jess has become recognised for her natural, relaxed style and down-to-earth approach to design and living and I hugely value her opinion when we’re working on holiday home design for Unique Homestays.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Jess’s design work, and was very excited to have the chance to interview her as the first guest for our new Living Beautifully series! Keep scrolling to read more about Jess and take a peek behind the scenes of her story.

firefly holiday home design in cornwall
Firefly, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

What was your very first job?

In an interior design capacity, Pixie Nook, a sleeps two cottage on Bodmin Moor. Having no interior design qualifications I doubted my ability to translate that which I’d created on the mood board into reality, and it was a steep learning curve that involved many a sleepless night – the pressure of spending someone else’s money never abates! – but the owner loved it! I’ll always find elements to critique at the end of a project, but I’m looking at each with such a critical eye it’s the nature of the job!

cotton tree holiday home bedoom in cornwall
The Cotton Tree, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

What is your proudest career achievement?

The Hide appearing on the front cover of Modern Rustic magazine and the feature within!

the hide holiday home living room in cornwall
The Hide, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

What upcoming UHS project are you most excited about?

I feel excited about each and every project I undertake for the company, the diversity is what keeps me here 15 years on! From beach huts in Cornwall to manor houses in Wales, there’s no set look and feel that defines the Unique Homestays experience.

Cotton tree holiday home living room with fireplace
The Cotton Tree, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

What does your creative process look like?

Chaotic! I love the conceptual side of things as much as the sourcing, and spend many hours seeking the perfect one-off find, hunting around reclamation yards is one of my favourite ways to spend a weekend! I’m a fairly canny spender and a firm believer that properties can be carefully curated without a break-the-bank budget. It’s in the time it takes to find these interesting pieces that the money is best-invested. 

little portion holiday home kitchen in cornwall
Little Portion, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

Could you share any essential things to include when designing a holiday home?

Whilst the homes that we feature are for guests to spend their holidays, we seek to create the antithesis of the ‘expected holiday home design’, so in a coastal abode, we would very much avoid stripy linen and ‘to the beach’ signage! Our guests are paying a premium to holiday at homes that they simply can’t find elsewhere, so for us, it’s all about the storytelling. It’s considering each and every piece that features within…in a rustic wooden cabin hand-crafted wall art, woven rugs, collated and collected furniture… it would be all very artisanal by nature.

Comfortable mattresses, sinkable sofas, roaring fires, and double-ended baths would be standard, so it’s more about creating a clear identity through the design choices that we make. Be brave in your design choices as guests are only spending a short amount of time in the properties that we market, and as such in being more experiential in the design choices that we make we will generate strong editorial coverage for the design in addition to elevating the tariffs that we can achieve.

the stack holiday home design kitchen and garden in cornwall
The Stack, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

What would be your dream purchase for your home?

An Ercol day bed!

the hide holiday home garden for unique homestays
Th Hide, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

What’s your favourite UHS property in the Cotswolds?

Dandelion as it’s a fusion of a traditional manor with a little bit of bonkers thrown in! It’s also the antithesis of most of the properties that I design, with vibrancy and pattern dominating the scheme.

the hatch living room holiday home design
The Hatch, Cornwall | Image © Unique Homestays www.uniquehomestays.com

Do you have a favourite source for interior design inspiration?

I’m constantly surrounded by inspirational homes, and each property that I visit will afford me an idea for a future project that I might undertake. I also spend many an hour on Instagram following designers, stylists and architects that inspire me.

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