A North woman will go up against some of the world’s most successful interior designers after her work on a Tyneside venue received international acclaim.
Julie Chambers has designed some of Newcastle’s most popular bars and restaurants, including Mr Lynch, As You Like It and Nancy’s Bordello.
Now her work on the city’s bar-and-bowling venue, Lane 7, has won her a nomination in the International Restaurant and Bar Awards.
The awards will see Mrs Chambers, a former Newcastle College student from Wallsend in North Tyneside, up against interiors designers from across the world, including Japan, Dubai and America.
It is a huge achievement for the 38-year-old who has built her business up from “never being able to get a job”.
Mrs Chambers said: “I spent about five years working for interior design companies in London. I even did some work for the BBC designing sets for programmes like the Alistair McGowan Show and a few sitcoms.
“Then about 10 years ago, I decided to move back up to the North East. I was just a one-woman operation and was convinced I would never be able to get a job.”
Mrs Chambers break came when she was asked to design the home of entrepreneur Duncan Fisher. He was so impressed with the results, he went on to employ the young mother in designing his city bars and restaurants, including Mr Lynch.
She said: “I was so busy, particularly with a two-year-old son. In fact, I designed one place with Finlay attached to my hip.”
As her reputation grew, the designer came to the attention of Tim Wilks who had big plans for a former car garage on St James’ Boulevard.
Mr Wilks said: “We brought Julie in quite late on in the day, but we had a good idea of what we wanted to achieve with her.”
Working together, the pair came up with an “industrial New York” feel to convert the garage into restaurant-bar-bowling alley, Lane 7.
Mrs Chambers said: “Tim had a clear idea about where he wanted to go and then things evolved as we got going. It was important we kept that old industrial feel about the place and we went on to add more reclaimed furnishings.
“Everything in there was bought with love and most of it came from local suppliers. The lamps above the main tables actually come from a ship - and they are bomb proof, while the entrance flooring is reclaimed from a school.”
The International Restaurant and Bar awards are now in their sixth year and celebrate some of the world’s top architects, designers and hospitality operators.
Mrs Chambers added: “It seems strange that little old me, just a girl from Wallsend, will be up against some of the biggest names in the industry. I don’t really go in for awards and had to be told to enter, so it’s all a bit foreign.”
Mr Wilks added: “Julie was fantastic to work with. She did not try to drive home her views and was really open to different ideas. Obviously, we’re delighted with the results and the fact she’s been nominated for this.”
The awards will be held at the Old Truman Brewery in London on September 25.