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The next level

Words by Dan Warden

Bringing luxury holidays to life for more than 14 years, the launch of Gems Interiors was the natural evolution for one of Cornwall’s household staycation experts.

Cornish Gems was founded almost 15 years ago by Managing Co-Directors Julianne Shelton and Nadia Macer-Wright. It was their shared interest in property and luxury markets, innate entrepreneurial spirits and a love for Cornwall, combining with their employment history in hospitality, operations and sales, that sparked the beginning of this impressive business’ story. They identified a gap in the market for a holiday letting agency whose core focus was on the luxury experience – one that could provide property owners with a complete management service by taking care of their home and managing the guest check-ins, cleaning and maintenance.

The Gems experience has evolved greatly over the years, so much so that the brand now employs over 100 staff. This is down to Julianne, Nadia and the team’s determination to remain a one-stop shop by providing a full turnkey experience for property owners. In fact, it is this ethos that brought to fruition the launch of Gems Interiors in 2019 – an arm of the business that, only two years on, has really taken off with more and more property owners signing up for the team to help create their own unique Cornish Gem.

So what is Gems Interiors? Julianne explains: “We offer our loyal and new owners an exclusive, competitively priced, in-house interior design service, all under one brand. With nearly 15 years in the industry and a highly experienced team, we implicitly understand what it takes to make a holiday home a success. We deliver exacting standards and create inspiring luxury interiors to capture guests’ imagination and encourage them to repeat book and share recommendations.”

With such experience, the ‘Gems’ approach to this new service is steeped in practicality – the natural result of more than a decade at the top of their industry. Julianne continues: “We seek to source items that will withstand heavy rental occupancy and won’t require frequent replenishing.” And it’s not only interior design they offer, either. In fact, says Julianne: “We have helped clients create inviting external spaces to enhance guest appeal, too.”

As I speak with Julianne, I’m intrigued to know the values that sit at the core of this exemplary brand, of which, she tells me, there are five. “Firstly, passion; we are passionate about Cornwall, about holidays and about luxury properties. This passion is encompassed in each interior design scheme, creating unique identities for each property. Integrity too – we are honest, open, caring and fair and people trust us to adhere to our word. Transparency is key, updating our clients as we go; we have their best interests at heart and will always do the best we can for them.”

Additional to these are excellence (which is clear from the images featured here), loyalty (developing and retaining long-term relationships with owners, guests and suppliers) and, fundamentally, an entrepreneurial spirit. “We strive to continuously drive the business forward through nurturing talent and empowering our team to innovate and improve,” says Julianne. “In fact, one of our most recent members of the Gems Interiors team started out as an intern one day a week, which has since evolved into a full-time paid position!”

Since launch, the interiors side of the business has certainly proven popular. But what impact has it had on the wider Cornish Gems brand? “The interior design team reduces a significant workload for property owners during the onboarding process,” says Julianne. “In addition, the team aims to expedite the speed in which properties can go on the rental market via the Cornish Gems website and start generating an income. The Gems Interiors team are really efficient in furnishing and dressing properties within a narrow timeframe in order to meet photoshoot deadlines, ultimately ensuring the photographs stand out from the crowd and properties ‘go live’ as soon as possible.”

Being positioned on the front line of their industry, I take the opportunity to ask Julianne what it takes to design the perfect holiday home. What are holiday makers looking for, and how have these criteria changed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic? “Our guests expect luxury, high-quality interiors and exteriors,” says Julianne. “We are enormously proud to boast such a wide range of properties.” And she’s right – the variety within the Gems portfolio is vast! While some guests prefer family friendly, bright and colourful schemes, there are others who prefer more organic ‘zen’ interiors, and others who are seeking something completely different. Cornish Gems caters to them all, and Gems Interiors is now playing an integral part in that achievement. But it’s not always easy, explains Julianne. “Sourcing quality furnishings, within budget and stock availability, is a continuous balancing act. We’re fortunate to have a diverse (and growing) supplier list to deliver ‘design briefs’ and meet client expectations.”

With an understanding that it has long been the dream of many owners to create a luxury home in Cornwall that not only works for them and their families, but also offers a healthy return on investment, the Gems Interiors and portfolio team support and guide owners throughout the onboarding stage to help shape the look, practicality and durability of each Cornish Gem. This, Julianne tells me, creates standout appeal online that meets – and often exceeds – guests’ luxury expectations. “By closely following our blueprint to creating a Cornish Gem, this is a great foundation to deliver desired results,” says Julianne, and with myriad experts on hand, it’s no surprise that more and more owners are entrusting to the team their stunning Cornish homes.

As a potential Gems Interior client, there are three levels of service available. There is the ‘Simple Gem’, which offers interior design concept and consultancy, followed by the ‘Intermediate Gem’, which covers concept and consultancy, with the added benefit of plans and design. Finally, for the all-in-one package, there is the ‘Complete Gem’. As you’d expect, this covers absolutely everything, from concept, to design, to implementation. Of the three, I really want to see what a ‘Complete Gem’ looks like, and Julianne is more than happy to oblige. She shows me to West Pine Lodge, an absolutely stunning addition to the Cornish Gems portfolio, and a stand-out example of what Gems Interiors is all about.

A brand-new, state-of-the-art architectural property offering Californian beach house vibes, West Pine Lodge nestles on the north Cornwall coast, on the edge of Tehidy, offering great accessibility to the beaches of Portreath and Porthtowan. “Our busy clients initially started to furnish the property themselves, but upon joining Cornish Gems, discovered our cost-effective in-house interior design offering,” explains Julianne.

“Following the initial consultation with the Gems Interiors team, our clients quickly received room-by-room concept boards and an itemised quote. The owners loved the designs and signed them off immediately, with no changes!”

The rest, is history – the team quickly went to order on the scheme, organising it all into storage before completing the installation this autumn. The finished result is absolutely spectacular, served up as food for thought for anybody considering how best to make the most of their holiday home – to bring to life a Cornish Gem of their very own.


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