#designupnorth, Just me
comments 29

Third time lucky?

Disclaimer – If this is your first time reading my blog, then i’ll warn you that this isn’t probably the best one to start on. I mean, you’re free to read n’ all, you’re in charge. But this post is less about interiors and more about life stuff. I write these kind of posts a couple of times a year, so if you’re not in the mood to read the ramblings of a stranger, then I really won’t be offended. Otherwise, please…

I’ve been nominated for an award at this year’s Amara Interior Blog Awards. I wasn’t sure whether to accept the nomination or not as I have mixed feelings about these kind of things really. I’ve had to quash my ludicrous levels of cynicism and put down my safety blanket in order to accept the nomination and take part this year.

The Drawing Room

This will be the last time I throw my hat into the ring, so I felt the need to write a post about what the Amaras actually are and why i’ve decided to take part this year.

About the Amaras:

“The Amara Interior Blog Awards celebrates and engages with the most authoritative and respected bloggers in the interior blogging industry….. A concept first introduced in 2013, the Amara Interior Blog Awards include a series of phases throughout a three month period from nominations & voting, to shortlisting, and the project culminates in an annual awards ceremony attended by the shortlisted bloggers, sponsors and judges.

The first awards ceremony held in 2014 attracted much attention from the blogging industry with more blogs nominated than we could have imagined. Each year the campaign has grown in size and now in its fifth year, the 2018 awards will be even bigger still.”

Each nominee is placed into a different category, and finally, after 3 years of being nominated in the wrong category (one I could never ever win in a million years as I didn’t meet the criteria) i’ve finally landed a nomination for ‘Best Interior Designer Blog’. Result!

IBA Best Interior Design Blog

Now, this is an award that I would absolutely love to get shortlisted for and of course win if I even got that far. It would be a real honour to have the award next to my name, as my blog, despite being a side-line to my design work, makes up a huge part of Making Spaces. Not only does it document some of my projects, so you get to see the process and how this interior design lark all works in practice, the blog helps spread the word about how everyone can access good design. It’s written from the heart but also with a down to earth-ness you can only get from a northerner. The IBA’s are pretty London centric, as are most of the design-y events, shows and conferences that happen throughout the year. Which of course is why i’ve been flying the flag for #designupnorth since the very start of the blog. Oh how sweet it would be for the Best Interior Design blog to be won by a northerner for the first time, someone who still has a big dent in the rear bumper of her 11 year old Suzuki Swift.

So, if i’ve ever written anything that’s been remotely interesting, amusing, helpful, oh hell, inspiring even…. will you please help me to get shortlisted?

What do you mean, shortlisted?

Well there are three stages:

  1. Nominations (that’s where I am)
  2. Shortlisted (that’s where i’m trying to get to)
  3. Winner (well that would be pretty amazing, but I need you guys to help me to get to number 2 first!)

Ok, right. So what do you need to do to get shortlisted?

I need you to click this badge and vote for me. That’s it. It takes like, 15 seconds. Probably 15 minutes if you’re my mum.

Like I said, this will be the last time I put myself out there, as if I can’t get shortlisted after four years of designing as Making Spaces and three years of blogging about it, then I never will. I don’t have the biggest readership or following on social media, but you’re a pretty loyal bunch, so to get to the IBA’s with your help would mean so, so much. I know I come across as “not arsed” about a lot of this stuff, but deep down I would love for the last three year’s of writing, design and project sharing, to be acknowledged in some way.

Image – MADE.COM

To get to the shortlisted stages of the IBA’s means I get to go down to London for the awards ceremony. So what? I hear you cry, you must go down to London all the time? Well no, I don’t. I wasn’t sure whether to write this next bit, but it seems my fingers are still going. So here goes…

At Middleton Lodge, North Yorkshire

I’ve not been to London since 2015. You may have already guessed from previous posts that sometimes my head gets pretty anxious. I live with an anxiety disorder,  but manage it pretty well most days, like a lot of other people do, no doubt about that. It doesn’t stop me from being good at my job, if anything, it’s one of the reasons I am, but it does sometimes limit me, prevent me from saying yes to new experiences and can be a barrier to me putting myself “out there” (wherever “there” is). I avoid certain things or places, like being away from home or being in situations I can’t control. I don’t like to put a label on things, but it seems a low level agoraphobia has crept in over the past few years, like a tiny ninja wearing slippers.

I joke about never going out and living in my PJ’s a lot. Which is true, I do. But I go out all the time, a lot of my work involves me being in other people’s houses, so ya know, I have to actually go there. No big deal. But sometimes the journey or surroundings are too much. That 2015 visit to London was for the LivingEtc House tours. After being on the train from Leeds to London and making my way across the city, I had the worst panic attack on the tube, then on the bus which ended with me having to be carried off. It was totally embarrassing and just typing this has made me all hot and uncomfortable. I’ve been invited to so many interiors and design related events since then, but always declined, saying I was busy or couldn’t afford the train fare, but the truth is about 80% of those ‘No’s’ were just because I was shit scared of being in London and history repeating itself.

Karen Knox

Out in Leeds at a recent No House Rules event

Getting shortlisted, would not only make me feel as proud as punch but would also make me travel back down to London. Whether I won or not, to replace those memories with more positive ones means I would have faced two rather large fears: Leaving my beloved Yorkshire AND putting myself out there.

So, over 1000 words later (bloody hell, that wasn’t meant to happen, sorry) please will you vote for me to get shortlisted for the #IBA18 Best Interior Designer Blog? I’d be ever so grateful.



  1. You’ve got my vote Karen. Every single post you write inspires me and I absolute love following all your design projects here. I had no idea you suffered so badly with anxiety! That makes everything you do and achieve even more impressive. I sincerely hope you get to the final and win that award. You truly deserve it!!!

  2. Just voted! Love your blog and updates. We’ve moved twice since you came to visit us in Ilkley and I always have your advice ringing in my ears! You have made me look at soaces very differently and given me the confidence to try new things. Good luck. Oh and maybe add a link or explanation of how people vote for you and how quick and easy it is. I didn’t realise it was as easy as clicking on the link and adding my name and email address! 1 minute max!

  3. Anonymous says

    I’m voting for you Karen. I love the blog and that your design ideas are accessible whilst being inspirational. Anxiety can be crippling and lonely – so thanks for speaking out about that too.

  4. Totally got our vote Karen! We hope you get the recognition you so richly deserve. All the very best from everyone at BestHeating.com

  5. Maria says

    Got my vote! Love how honest and expressive your blog posts are and I’m huge admirer of your work! As a designer living in Scotland, I understand all too well the opportunities that exist elsewhere. Hopefully #designupnorth can go even further north one day!!

    Good luck with the nomination. Believe that even if you do win, that title is minor in comparison to the inspiration you foster in every post!

  6. Anonymous says

    Have voted. Thank you for being so honest about anxiety – it’s even more impressive you’ve achieved so much.

  7. Brooke Copp-Barton says

    That’s awesome news Karen, well done you and thoroughly well deserved!! Vote cast. xx

  8. Pragya says

    Voted Karen! Wish you all the luck for winning this one. I’ve always loved your inspiring, humorous and honest-to-the-core posts. 🙂
    Whether or not about interiors, it’s always a pleasure to read ‘em.

  9. Anonymous says

    I did do the voty thing, even though I’m old it only took a minute, just sayin.

    Anxiety is a bugger of a thing, sorry it’s showing up for you but hats off that you are noticing it and taking your life forwards to where you want it to be.

    Your projects are amazing and I hope that after all the inspiration you have given to others that you get where you are going (to the top).

  10. Claire says

    Wishing you luck all the way from Vancouver, BC. You certainly deserve to be shortlisted Karen and you definitely have my vote! Your blog is by far my favorite, I can’t wait to read your posts when they pop up in my inbox.

  11. Laura Murray says

    100% you have got my vote! The only blog I really follow and that’s because it’s the flipping best around.

  12. Rita says

    You’re already a winner in my eyes, and I’m your worst client. Imagine how some of your better ones feel….

  13. Anonymous says

    Omg I totally ‘get’ the anxiety thing! I wonder if it is linked in some way to a creative brain? You totally ROCK! I’m voting and sharing right now!

  14. You’ve got my vote. You are a badass at your job and at blogging and I love you long time. Also, I get anxiety going to London too and much of the time, have to work myself up to doing it and will be sick for about 24 hours before. It’s shit. I get it. I wasn’t planning on going to the Amaras this year but if you need a plus one to hold your hand on the train down, I’m there for ya – just shout and I’ll pull on a fancy frock for you xx

    • Shenleyonthames says

      Kimberley, what a kind offer, I was wondering whether that was what would help and who could do it! And to both of you, do you know Jen Gotch and her podcast “Jen Gotch is OK – sometimes”. A successful entrepreneur, founder of Ban.do and very frank on mental health issues.

  15. Voted. Great post. You’ve hooked me into being a regular reader of your blog because I like your style – you have a way of putting colours and pieces together which look a lot more than the sum of their parts. My favourite bits, though, are the poets which give a bit of background on why things work – your piece on negative space, for example. You’re not just doing the ‘ta-da’ bit; you’re showing us how the trick works. It’s fab. And anxiety is shit. I fail to understand how an innocuous word like ‘anxiety’ can convey the full life-flattening effects of a full-on attack. Wrestle that demon to the ground.

  16. I’m so sorry to hear about your London experience, sadly I can relate as I’m known to decline opportunities that take me out of my safe zone, then I get very irritated at myself. I really hope you make it to the shortlist and to London for a fabulous experience! Voting for you straight away, as no one deserves that award more than you! ❤️️

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