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My journey into interior design

Who am I?

Hi! My name is Abbie, I’m a self confessed perfectionist and victim of imposter syndrome. This concoction makes me put 111% into everything I do and it's what makes me tick. I live in the wonderful city of Plymouth, Devon, with my husband and 6 year old son. I am obsessed with interior design and recently took the plunge to set up my own boutique interior design business, Feather&Fossil Interior Design.

Photo of myself- Abbie Downey, in my maximalist living room

How did I get into interior design?

My passion for interior design stems from my childhood. My dad is a painter and could always be found doing a 60 minute makeover on our family home, decorating to keep up with the latest trends; including faux wood beams and wall hanging copper pans in a small 2 up, 2 down terrace house! There were some positives to his antics though, including a full 101 Dalmatians themed bedroom, complete with giant Dalmatians hand painted on the walls, for one of my birthdays.

Childhood bedroom from the 1990s. Yellow decor, matching curtain and bedding set. childrens toys, winnie the pooh
One of my childhood bedrooms from the 1990's

You can see maximalism has been my design style since a young age!! Bright yellow, overloaded shelves, matching fabrics and a lot of Winnie the Pooh!

childhood home in the 1990s, country cottage style decor
One of the many examples of my Dads interiors experiments in my childhood home

I don't know if I'm laughing or crying at the Country Cottage styling in my childhood home here. Whats amazing though is many pieces in this picture are still in my family today, not the curtains though fortunately!

My extended family are also very artistic. My grandad was a casual artist and would often spend time teaching me how to draw and paint. His signature style? The eerie forest trees of Dartmoor…I’m still working on perfecting my technique. I also had a strong influence from my Auntie, who pursued her own passion in Fine Art. My Auntie could see my interest in art and design from a young age and we would often take trips to galleries and museums. She gave me the opportunity to experience art, architecture, and photography. I have many fond memories of being awed by the buildings and spaces I visited and how both the design of those places, and the artwork inside, made me feel. My Auntie would always let me buy a little postcard or ornament from the gift shop to take home and create my own gallery. This allowed me, as a young child, to remember there is so much out there to be inspired by and aspire to.

Since being young I have always struggled to ‘pick a route’ between art and academia. I was fortunate enough in school to be able to explore both avenues, and excel in them too. However, when it came to the decision of picking a route for university, and what at the time seemed like the rest of my life long days, I battled with which was the right decision. I decided to enrol into a degree in Nutrition and that paved the way for me to achieve a masters degree and work in numerous health roles including project management, community engagement, health commissioning, and population health. Throughout these roles I had always kept my artistic muscle flexed by hunting for, and upcycling, furniture to add personality to our bland rented homes. After years of working in London and sitting by the Thames in the ‘2 weeks of British summer’ and hiking around Richmond Park, the yearn to be back in the real outdoors, and the splendour of Devon's beaches and moorland, was enough to relocate back to Plymouth, where I bought my first family home. A beautiful Edwardian property, the only snag…it was a monotonous mid terrace full of creams and browns. After years of renting and not being allowed to decorate, or personalise my homes, I was ready to be let loose on the paint tins and colour carousel. After two years of renovations amid COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, cue family picnics on the living room floor and slow cookers plugged into the bedroom, we arrived at a maximalist monument that is a true reflection of our family personality.

And so fast forward to today and I am now an eager entrepreneur single handedly leading the charge on Feather&Fossil Interior Design. I have taken my learning from working in project management and the fast paced, ever changing, NHS environment, and applied it to building my brand and developing my USP to stand out from the crowd in the world of interior design.

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