Fashion bible Vogue and the Daily Telegraph are among those raving about a new interior design duo based in
St Clements.
Trunk Creative, made up of architect Camilla Leech and Sarah Ellison, have turned shabby chic into what they describe as “shabby urban”.
There is nothing twee or cutesy about the looks they have created for a top hair salon, the complete gutting, extension and re-build of a listed town-house town and makeover of a warehouse apartment.
Rather, their style has an edgy urban chic feel, helped by the fact Ms Ellison lives in fashionable east London.
Projects range from those with a budget of £10,000 to £250,000 and everything in between.
A couple of months ago they finished designing the interior of celebrity crimper George Northwood’s new salon in London’s west end.
He looks after the hair of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Transformers star and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and TV presenter Alexa Chung and so the finished result was much lauded in the Daily Telegraph’s beauty section and Vogue.
Another project included refurbishing a loft apartment in east London, including a new stainless-steel kitchen, zoning and making the most of the natural light.
Ms Leech, who lives in Oxford’s Marston Ferry Road, studied architecture at what was Oxford Polytechnic, including a year working in Washington DC as part of
her course.
Once qualified, she worked for a number of practices in Oxford including ADP and Berman Guedes Stretton. 
Early on, she specialised in restoration and was involved in a number of schemes for period or listed houses, colleges and
schools in Oxford, including St Edward’s and St John’s College.
After taking time out to have children, now teenagers, and following a divorce, she decided to refresh her skills and focus on her real passion for interiors by signing up for a two-year course at an interior design college in London.
That was where she met Ms Ellison, whose previous career in events and big corporate organisations, including Virgin and
The Guardian, give her expertise in project management, budgeting and client liaison.
She was already interested in interior design and had used her skills to refurbish her own homes over the years, before going on the course.
They began by designing for friends, then friends of friends and before they knew it, the business had taken off.
Ms Leech said: “There are only two of us in Trunk Creative but we have complementary skills.
“Sarah is incredible at what she does and I am very good at what I do.”
Switching from architecture to interior design has been a smooth transition, she explained. “I changed camps. A lot of architects look down on interior designers but it is an incredibly difficult discipline.
“And if we meet an architect on a job who is bolshie, I can discuss plans with them at their level and they suddenly change attitude.
“My architectural training also means I can talk to builders on site about materials they are using and sketch drawings in front of clients.”
Both are keen to use reclaimed wood, other materials and ‘upcycled’ furniture wherever possible, both for eco-reasons but also because it can give a strikingly individual look.
They spend hours sourcing fabrics, materials, furniture and other items from flea markets, auctions and young, unknown designers, to dress a room.
In one recent project, they used an ordinary £25 Ikea table but gave it a makeover to give it a designer look.
But they do encourage clients to splash out sometimes, such as on one beautiful designer lighting fixture, or exquisite handmade kitchen worktop to make a stunning centrepiece.
The two women Skype on a daily basis and meet up to three times a week to discuss projects and Ms Leech believes working from Oxford and London keeps them fresh.
She says she is spending more hours working on Trunk than she did when she was employed.
But she added: “I decided to take on the interior design diploma because it was something I had always wanted to do.
“The children were older and I thought ‘this is my chance’. It turned out to be one of the hardest things I have ever done but love that the business is taking off and am prepared to put the hours in.”