A Walk Through A Client's Design Journey During A Global Pandemic


This story begins in late 2019 when we were first appointed to work on an exciting new project in the Isle of Man. Weeks later, news of a global pandemic broke. Lockdowns followed. Businesses the world over were severely impacted, including many of our suppliers and some of our tradespeople too. Then, in March this year, came an extra blow. A giant cargo ship was stuck in the Suez Canal causing delays to deliveries of items and finishes destined for our client’s home. We were hit by unprecedented global challenges. But by taking a flexible approach and adapting where necessary, with clear communications throughout (often with the help of video platforms) and by maintaining a good working relationship with our incredible clients, we were able to navigate the hurdles and arrive at a positive outcome.

So how did we – based in the Lake District - come to be working in the Isle of Man? As with many of our introductions, we were delighted that this commission came to us through a word of mouth recommendation from a former client. Impressed by the timeless, classical elegance of a project we had completed in 2016 for her friends in Grasmere, she contacted us after having been inspired by what had been achieved there. So, when the time came to appoint a design team to work on her own home across the water in a small village near Douglas, she visited our Staveley studio to talk through her plans in total confidence. As is fundamental to our approach, this initial consultation stage was a critical first step in a journey of exploration, where we got to really understand the client’s vision and expectations.

In this case, as the property was some distance away, it was vital from the outset, that we were fully engaged with the client’s lifestyle, individual tastes and preferences. By the end of this first session, we had built up a clear picture and she was able to leave us happy with our creative concepts. The new project was born and we were left to progress the full schemes without the need for repeat visits from the client – which, with hindsight, was extremely fortunate given what was to come just around the corner.

Next came the on-site visit where we travelled to the Isle of Man to present our schemes in person and to carry out the all-important survey of the areas we had been briefed to work on. This was in the Autumn of 2019. We were full of joyful anticipation that the scheme we were all passionate about was about to come to life. Designs were ready, everything was in place and we were set to programme in our installation dates and arrange the trades.

But then, out of the blue, came Covid 19. And later, the Suez Canal tanker crisis. The impact on our Isle of Man project was devastating. We had been so nearly there! But the disruption to supply chains and to our installation and project management plans were all beyond our control - and what came along instead was a long period of re-planning, order alterations, re-sourcing where necessary, and re-reservations for materials, fabrics and other finishes including a bar top for the entertaining area. Luckily, we have excellent relations with our suppliers who were very supportive - and ultimately, with a few tweaks here and there, we were able to maintain the spirit and aesthetic of our original design ideas.

As normality began to return and deliveries of our essential project items and materials resumed, we found ourselves hit with another issue – where to hold everything until we could get back to the Isle of Man for installation? Happily, we found a storage facility nearby, which means that with so much uncertainty still around, we are now well prepared for unforeseen circumstances that might hit in the future.

Weeks of frustrating waiting had turned into months. There was very little anyone could do and we were so grateful that our client faced these unexpected challenges with patience and understanding. Everyone at Nielsen House was in awe at her resilience and positivity and in a highly stressful time, this certainly made our job a little easier.

Back at the studio, we kept communications open to regularly update the client on developments as they happened. Since the pandemic, we’ve become well practiced in using video conferencing platforms such as Teams and Zoom - and we were thankful that we were still able to present our designs in a visual way.

The date eventually came when the Isle of Man opened up again to visitors... we were back on track and the installation process could finally begin.

We’re thrilled to report that this story has a happy ending and most importantly, a happy client.

Coming soon… See our project photos and more detail on how we transformed this beautiful country home in an upcoming blog.

AddressNielsen House
Staveley Mill Yard
Phone01539 822433

Request a call

Enter your details below and we'll be in touch to discuss your project.

Your Details

We value your privacy and will not share your details.

© Nielsen House 2021. All rights reserved. Nielsen House is a trading name of Sarah Jane Nielsen Ltd. Sarah Jane Nielsen Ltd is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Mill House, Staveley Mill Yard, Staveley, Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 9LR. Registered number: 04736828.
Accept Cookies