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A Cool Way to Furnish Your Home

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July 1, 2008


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Receiving the keys to your Mallorcan property is just the beginning. Next comes turning that apartment, villa or finca into a dream Mediterranean home. But as many people have discovered, finding high quality furnishings and fittings here can be time-consuming and frustrating. And do you really want to visit countless stores in a potentially fruitless search, when you could be enjoying your time on the island? Surprisingly, perhaps, it wasn’t the commercial potential that prompted the latest development in the business of Mallorca-based interior designer and home stylist Justine Knox. Although she’s clearly a clever businesswoman – as well as a talented interior designer – she’s driven by the philosophy of offering a helpful service that meets her clients’ needs, and her service-oriented attitude is evident in conversation.

“My clients were paying me as a designer,” explains Justine. “But increasingly, as I was finishing projects, I was also being asked to provide basic household essentials such as vacuum cleaners, toasters and kettles, to save them having to do this. I knew there had to be a solution that would save them money.”

Like many busy creative people, Justine uses air travel time for thinking and planning. She travels at least once a month to visit European manufacturers, and trade fairs and events, to be aware of upcoming trends in interiors and new product lines. During one such flight, she had the idea of a central source of quality furnishings and household goods on Mallorca – easily accessible from anywhere. The idea for – a “one stop shop” for owners of property on Mallorca – was born. The success of Knox Design, which has a spacious showroom in Santa Ponsa, means Justine has some bulk-buying power, due to the excellent relationships she’s built with several international suppliers of furnishings and home accessories. Her idea for the website was clear, although it took some time to get the idea off the ground. Then the project suffered a serious delay because the initial web designer was unable to put the site’s payment facility in place.

Thanks to the technical expertise of David Mars of Bright Multimedia, Justine’s user-friendly website is now in operation. Products are categorised under headings such as “Sweet Dreams”, “Store and More”, “Splash Out”, “Bon Appetit” and “The Great Outdoors”. Each category is sub-divided for quick and easy navigation. In fact, it’s possible to furnish and fit an entire home sitting at your computer. “I’ve geared the site to the needs of owners of second homes who lack the time and perhaps language skills to equip their homes easily,” she says. “As soon as people have their property keys or sign the option contract and know the completion date, they can go online and buy what they need.”

Because many people are wary of quality issues when buying online, Justine is offering recognised and respected brands such as WMF, Brabantia, Nespresso, Gloster and Weber, along with high quality goods like Egyptian cotton bedlinen. Items can be ordered and securely paid for online and either delivered to the customer or collected from the company’s showroom. Delivery times are shown for each item. “Unlike many shopping websites, the contact details include a phone number,” explains Justine, revealing more of her customer-focused approach to business. “It’s very important to be able to speak to a human being if you have questions or need some expert advice.”

A respected interior designer and home stylist, with more than 20 years’ experience in the homes and interiors business on Mallorca, Justine has always looked to respond to the needs of the market. Extensively trained by Ann Maurice – known to UK TV viewers as the “House Doctor” – she’s progressed from “home staging” (enhancing the appearance of a property for sale or rent, to ensure maximum appeal to prospective purchasers) to offering the complete home project service undertaken today for many of her discerning clients.

Over the past five years, she’s concentrated on designing and creating comfortable and stylish holiday homes – often from a blank canvas – for second-home owners. She’s only recently started to advertise her services, hoping to raise awareness of the new website. And for the future? Knox Design has seven in-house employees and Justine envisages taking on two more by September.

Later, she plans to create three furniture “packages” for the website – combinations of furniture and accessories for even easier selection. Similar packages for household linens, kitchens and bathrooms could follow. The website service might also be extended to owners of property on other Balearic islands. “It’s exciting, but daunting at the same time,” Justine admits. “I’m hoping for plenty of client feedback, so that it develops into a really helpful and mutually rewarding service.”

That dream home is just a few clicks away…

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Jan Edwards

Jan Edwards

An ex-BBC radio presenter/journalist living on the cosmopolitan island of Mallorca, who is assistant editor for the luxury lifestyle publication abcMallorca. Her main writing interests are in travel, food and interviewing interesting people and well-known celebrities. Jan blogs about her finca lifestyle and contributes articles to some well-known publications in the UK.