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Emma has created her own safe sanctuary. By Kate Thompson


“If this past year has taught us anything it’s that our homes need to be a safe and happy little haven from all the craziness of the world,” said Emma Blay.

Her delightful central Southsea flat reflects the creative flair she brought to her previous role at the now sadly closed Knight and Lee store.

Until its demise, Emma worked as a visual merchandiser dressing the windows and creating eye-catching displays.

While COVID-19 has put plans to reboot her career as a decorator and interior advisor temporarily on hold, she has taken the time to concentrate on her own four walls.

As you can see from the photos, she’s not afraid to have a bit of fun creating relaxed spaces and displaying much loved items.

“I have always felt it is important to surround your home with things that make you happy; if I have a dress or cool shoes that remind me of a special memory or day out, then why keep them hidden away in a wardrobe? I’d much rather wake up and see them and smile,” said Emma, who studied fashion and printed textiles at Winchester School of Art .

She bought her flat three years ago. It was an ex-rental property, but she wasn’t daunted by the tired looking interiors and storage heaters.

“It was in a pretty disgusting state but I knew it was the place for me. I loved the location, the huge windows, and high ceilings,” she explained.


The look and feel has been created on a budget. Second-hand items were snapped up and given a new lease of life, and where she did need to spend on new items like the free- standing bath, she saved money by making her purchase on Black Friday.

“I have always loved making a home. Even as a child I spent hours arranging toys and knick-knacks in my bedroom.

“I would do the same at my friends’ houses –their mums thought I was great because I would tidy their rooms and I loved nothing more than to make it look good,” she revealed.

“Practically everything in my flat is second-hand. My first purchase in Southsea was the black lacquer wardrobe from Bellamy’s (a shop I miss hugely).

“I have never spent much on any of my furnishings and love anything with peeling paint or distressed patina. I found the chrome sink for my bathroom at a salvage yard,” she said.

Emma has some great advice for lifting your mood during the lockdown – why not re-arrange your room?

“Some people have their furniture in the same place for years but I’m forever changing things around.

“At New Year I altered my lounge and moved my sofa – it’s only a small thing but it can really lift you up,” she said.

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