Micaela Sharp is an interior designer, upholsterer and upcycler who has just become the first black Changing Rooms presenter. She first appeared on our screens in BBC One’s Flipping Profit, and made it to the semi-finals of BBC Two’s Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr. We caught up with her to discover what a day in her life is like.
Micaela Sharp grew up in a family who taught her carpentry and sewing. When she decided to become self-employed, a friend suggested she try upholstery. After going on a course and learning to upholster, it proved the ideal career, and Micaela set up her own business. She now heads up an upholstery team, who both upholster family favourite furniture and work on commercial projects. Micaela also runs an online upholstery masterclass course with Create Academy, which launches next month.
Moving into TV too, Micaela first appeared in our living rooms in the BBC One show Flipping Profit. Here she purchased chairs and sofas needing upholstery, then competed against well-known auctioneers and market traders to make the most profit. She has also appeared on Children’s BBC’s Junk Rescue, transforming a cable wheel into a mushroom chair which now features on every show during storytime. She’s a regular expert on Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Weekend on ITV and also appeared on Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr on BBC Two, making it to the semi-finals. Then in 2021, Micaela joined the team of expert makers in a brand new series for Discovery+ called Kings of the Wood. She returned this year for the show’s second series.
And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, Micaela Sharp recently became the first-ever black interior designer on Changing Rooms. The hugely popular interior design series returns to Channel 4 this summer. Understandably, Micaela’s extremely busy right now, but kindly gave us ten minutes of her time to tell us what a day in her life is like…
Micaela Sharp: the interview
What time do you wake up in the morning?
Around 8am, but I do love a lie in if I can squeeze one in.
What’s your morning routine?
After brushing my teeth, I start the day with a quick meditation. If I have time, I also do a 20 minute online pilates workout. Then I shower, get dressed into something colourful and have a healthy breakfast.
We’re sure every day is different, but what might a typical work day look like?
My days vary a huge amount depending on whether I’m working from home, out on client visits or filming. I could be writing my magazine column for Reclaim Magazine. I could be designing a room for an interior design client or overseeing my upholstery and curtain business. Usually it’s a mix of all of them.
When you meet a client who wants you to upholster a piece of furniture for the first time, what sorts of things do you ask them?
Usually we start by discussing the piece, where it sits in their home and what stories are attached to it. Then we discuss the cost of labour and how much fabric is needed. Once they have a clear idea of price, the fun can start with discussing fabrics and patterns, and I can advise on the best their budget can buy.
How does the design process continue from this point onwards?
Once we have an idea of patterns and colours they like I post them some sample fabrics to choose from. My courier collects the item and my team or I get to work on stripping it back for its transformation.
Micaela Sharp: the interview
Is designing upholstery for clients as Micaela Sharp a collaborative process, or do clients tend to leave the decisions up to you?
It’s always collaborative, because clients know what they like and don’t like, and what will work in their home. I like to steer towards pattern or bolder colour because I believe if a piece is bespoke it should stand out. This might be the only piece they ever get reupholstered and it could last a lifetime. So I want them to have a good experience and to get lots of compliments on their unique item!
Do you have suppliers or brands you particularly love to use and would recommend? If so, which ones?
I love Linwood as the fabrics are made for upholstery or drapery. That means they’re already inherently fire retardant and durable. The colourways and patterns are really on trend too.
The Sanderson Group has every base covered between their different brands (William Morris, Archive, Zoffany etc) so they are a great go-to.
Congratulations, Micaela Sharp, on becoming the first black designer to be part of Changing Rooms. When did you get the news and how did you react?
I got the news in May and I was quite speechless! I’ve grown up watching the show and can remember snuggling up on the sofa with my family to critique the rooms and colour choices. Being the first black designer for the show is really important to me for so many reasons. I want to inspire young people watching who might not be from creative families and who might not have considered being a designer. I have an image of me as a child on the sofa watching and I want to do her proud.
What does a day of filming look like?
It’s a long day because the turnaround time for each project is so quick. That means processes don’t always happen in the traditional order in terms of decorating. For example, the skirting might be painted after the new carpet is down. But the team of trades are phenomenally talented and work incredibly hard to get the rooms done and to a really high standard. My favourite time is lunch when I can take a breather and assess the progress. As well as filming, I make a lot per episode because I like my designs to have lots of bespoke elements – and, of course, lots of upholstery.
Micaela Sharp: the interview
Which three interior design rules do you live by?
I don’t subscribe to too many rules. If you love it, have it in your home!
But I would say think carefully about what you already have. Can it be upcycled, reimagined or even swapped to another room? This is a much more sustainable way of designing.
Layer up patterns the same way as you would layer colours. Think about the types of patterns you like (stripes, florals, geometrics etc), the scale of each (mix small repeats with large scale) and the colours (don’t match too much instead work with complementary colours).
Quality over quantity. Rather than buying a load of cheap accessories from high street stores, I prefer to take my time to curate pieces that have meaning. Either from family heirlooms, cherry picked items from antique markets or finding pieces from local independent artisans.
What do your evenings involve?
I’m newly single, so most nights I’m home watching design shows, reading design magazines or drawing up dream schemes. Luckily I love my own company! I’m a big foodie so I’m very often out for dinner with friends in London at the weekends.
How do you wind down for the evening?
I usually take off my makeup and use a gua sha stone to relieve any facial tension. Then I cook something tasty while listening to music, and sometimes I’ll even have a little dance!
What’s your bedtime routine and what time do you sleep?
I’m in bed by 10pm, and usually asleep about an hour later. Shamefully I spend that hour looking at social media and that’s a habit I’d love to change. I’m trying to swap to reading but I do love a Instagram scroll!
And with that, Micaela Sharp is off to continue her busy day. We’re looking forward to watching her on Changing Rooms (Channel 4, Wednesdays at 8pm).
Want to read another Day in the Life feature? Then here’s interior designer Nicki Bamford-Bowes’ interview.