Lesley Kinney, Business Owner at Bespoke Decorative Finishes
Modern, stylish decorative solutions – making homes stunning and unique
I’ve decorated houses for Hollywood movie stars and American politicians, but I can’t tell you which ones! It’s a different world – very hush-hush and very glamorous – which I gave up to be here in the UK with my family.
After 14 years running Decorating Divas in the US, I returned home in 2012. My eldest boy had made me a grandma, and my mother wasn’t doing so well. I wanted to spend time with them and, to this day, I’m happy I made the right choice.
I’ve started again from scratch on this side of the Atlantic and I’m proud to be one of less than 10 people in the country with my highly specialised skill-set, which I first learned in the 1980s.
I was working in London after setting up a casino in West Africa when I saw an advert for a course in faux finishing. Doing adventurous things to your walls was very ‘in’ at the time. I started the training and, to my great delight, the tutor told me I had a knack for producing stunning marble, wood and stone effects.
Being a single mum, self-employment felt very scary, so I took a job running a pub and decorated part time – making a lot of fireplaces look like they were made of mahogany! I only got the chance to fully flex my creative muscles when I moved to the US in 1996.
Decorating was big business out there. With the encouragement of my friends, I set up on my own and enjoyed great success before heading home to be with my family.
Ordinary decorating jobs – painting and wallpapering – helped me get off the ground; then I connected with interior designers to show them what I can do with paper, paint and plaster.
Slowly, slowly, I’ve built things up and I’m optimistic about the future. Aged 64, I don’t drink or smoke and I can climb scaffolding with the best of them!
As experienced as I am, I’m constantly working on recognising my self-worth – particularly around pricing. My bespoke decorative skills are so rare and unusual I want to pass on them on, so I plan to move into training in the future.