How to find an interior designer, with 60-Minute Makeover star John Amabile


We visit 60-Minute Makeover star John Amabile to chat through the interior design process – how to find a designer and how to avoid wasting money

Interior designer and TV personality John Amabile is celebrated for his time on ITV’s 60-Minute Makeover, where his keen eye for detail, contagious smile and charming nature captured the heart of the nation.

As a qualified interior designer, John brought industry experience to the cast, with a practical understanding of what it takes to transform a home – something he explains was “an absolute necessity amongst the frilly, high-energy, time-crunching world of TV home makeovers. Even in the most hectic episodes, I knew what I was doing!”

John Amabile on set of 60-Minute Makeover
IMAGE | John Amabile. The interior design star with Peter Andre on 60-Minute Makeover (left), behind the scenes with the videographers (middle), John sports a kilt in an episode of 60-Minute Makeover (right)

After 40 years in the industry, the designer is proud to boast a portfolio of luxury commercial and residential designs, including the eclectic Park Quadrant Residences, mid-century-inspired Kirkhouse Inn and cosy lodge escapes in Oban.

He may have a playful approach to interior design, but John’s work is always considered and strategic. “I am dedicated to crafting spaces that reflect the individuality of each client, which means every step is laid out with clarity from the beginning.”

Here, John leads us through the interior design process, starting with how to choose a designer, then how to identify your style and finally, how to avoid expensive mishaps.

Why do I need an interior designer?

John Amabile in his design studio
IMAGE | Courtesy of John Amabile Design

An interior designer is creative for you; we brainstorm for you, we source everything for you – and we have the best contacts and partners to ensure you get the most out of your budget.

One of my first jobs after graduating in the ’80s was for a boutique design consultancy next to Harrods. The curtains in that building cost more than my yearly salary and I remember thinking, is interior design just for those with big budgets? Surely design should be for everybody…

The interior design market continually changes and it’s our job as professionals to make that market accessible for everybody.

How can I be sure that the designer understands my vision?

Interior design mood board
IMAGE | Courtesy of John Amabile Design. Concept and mood board layout

Search for your interior designer in the same way you would for a new relationship. You need to get to know each other and make sure your tastes match, so consultations are key.

There should be clarity, transparency, flexibility and an openness to explore changes in the early stages of the design process.

A way that we like to be clear with our clients is through concept boards and mind mapping. Tools like these provide context; a visual representation of dreams and musings.

At this stage, we will explore your budget and set expectations for what can be achieved. We will never pressure you to spend more, but we will tell you what can and can’t be achieved.

What are the stages of the interior design process?

Interior design mood board
IMAGE | Courtesy of John Amabile Design. Design Diaries showing the mood boarding process

Engagement, concept and management.

First, we have a consultation to establish a connection and discuss the exciting possibilities for your space. As interior designers, we aim to get to know you better and understand the project brief, your preferences and goals.

Following that initial consultation, we tend to turn concept into design and produce mood boards detailing all goods as well as spatial planning and 3D floor plans.

The interior designers will oversee the projects, liaise with contractors and architects and once we have settled on a design that the client loves, we get to work ordering all pieces to ensure on-site timing and deliveries are precise.

Here’s a little intel – at John Amabile Design, we’re prepping the launch of our new Mood Board Express service, which offers virtual design consultations then production of a mood board/design scheme along with a shopping list and floor plan.

This is all for a set fee, making the interior design process easy.

How do I avoid expensive mishaps?

Interior design step-by-step process
IMAGE | Courtesy of John Amabile Design. Design diary showing the floor-planning process

It doesn’t matter how much money you have, because we will plan effectively to help you spend it wisely.

When making design choices, think of the longevity – is it good quality, does it suit the space, do I love it enough to last for years? Wastefulness is bad for budget and bad for the planet.

You can also avoid expensive mistakes by checking your measurements! Then double check them and then check them again.

The number of times, even on 60-Minute Makeover, that I’ve had to take the window out to fit the sofa in, is ridiculous. I created a children’s clothing changing room once and wanted to hang ponies above it like a fairground attraction. But I didn’t check the scale properly and people were bumping their heads on these sculptures!

As a joiner says, measure twice, cut once. Measure twice, install once.

What not to do

Try not to use Pinterest too much! We don’t want you to fill your head with ideas that just won’t work with the shape, layout and dimensions of your home. You’re better going through the mood boarding process with your designer to ensure that everything will fit.

Most importantly, don’t panic! Trust in us, our process and our expertise. We’re here to help our clients dream interiors come to life.

Words from the team at John Amabile Design

The team at John Amabile Design Studio
IMAGE | Courtesy of John Amabile Design. The dream team at John’s namesake interior design: Claudia Capaldi (left), Hannah Gibson (right), John Amabile (middle)

The John Amabile Design team is driven by a shared passion for the art of interior transformation – and doing it with honesty and integrity. “Our mission is clear,” John says. “We want to get to know our client and really explore their visions so that we can use their money wisely, creating an environment that they can instantly feel at home in.”

“What sets us apart is our ability to blend together creativity, technical know-how, and client-focused project management,” says senior designer Claudia Capaldi, who is inspired by the shape and form of Nordic design.

Claudia continues, “We all have different inspirations and styles that we use in harmony to create designs that are sleek yet expressive; refined yet flamboyant. Our USP is that we can work across disciplines to create homes that are unique.”

Junior designer Hannah Gibson says, “We understand that a space is more than just a project; it’s a collaborative journey. By exploring the process with transparency and being open to input from our clients, we ensure that design dreams come to life with precision and excellence.”

Inspired by the John Amabile Design style? Explore their Essentials collection and find a list of services here.

John Amabile Design

Unit 2

5 Douglas Street


G62 6PA

Visit the John Amabile Design website | Follow John Amabile Design on Instagram | Follow John Amabile Design on Facebook

Looking for more design inspiration? Read our interview with Scotland’s Home of the Year’s Anna Campbell-Jones, where we explore her colourful home in Glasgow.

Inside the colourful life and home of Anna Campbell-Jones

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