Why a passion for interior design and the beauty of the Llyn Peninsula lured Rob David away from life as a TV soap star
Tell us of your life before interior design
I had quite an idyllic childhood on the Llyn Peninsula and my special place as a child was an old derelict water mill that was on the family farm – I used to go there and dream that maybe I’d live there one day. I also dreamed of becoming an actor and studied performing arts at university. After graduating in 1983 I went straight down to Cardiff, knowing that a new TV channel, S4C, was starting. I got a part in a new soap opera, Coleg, where I played a rather spoilt brat! For the next 12 years I was in work rather than out, though there were times of ‘resting’, when I would pick up a paint brush and decorate my fellow actors’ homes (at their request of course!). By 1995 I was on yet another soap opera, Pobol y Cwm, playing a rather seedy character called Dave. I’d already transformed several houses in Cardiff and was getting increasingly disillusioned with acting, so I asked to be written out of the soap to follow my second ambition to be an interior designer.
How did you end up running your own company on the Llyn?
I sold my house in Cardiff to finance a one-year course in New York (where else?!). The city has influenced my work tremendously, in the use of strong block colours, and linear and clean lines. I gained a Certificate in Interior Design and returned to Blighty where I was shocked to find no work and nowhere to live! Fortunately, the BBC were recruiting for a new makeover programme to follow their series Changing Rooms. This was to be a network daytime programme called Real Rooms. I got the job as a designer/presenter and this gave me the confidence to start my own company, Rob David Interior Design, at the turn of the millennium. I moved from Cardiff to Bury in Lancashire, having met Carl (my partner now of 17 years), and began returning to the Llyn Peninsula after both my parents passed away. I inherited the farm, and the derelict mill I used to visit as a child which we renovated so we could live on the Llyn. Carl persuaded me that “coming home” was the right thing to do, for us and also my future career – I think he was right!
Which projects are you most proud of?
In 2012 I renovated and refurbished The Ship Hotel in Aberdaron. The Ship was once owned by my grandmother, who left the property in 1910… spooky! In 2014, I refurbished Becws Islyn – a thatched bakery in Aberdaron. I had high tea there with Charles and Camilla, believe it or not! I’m also proud of the transformation of Cofi Roc in Caernarfon to Copa Bar and Diner, and of converting Iago Barns near Aberdaron into high-end holiday cottages.
What do you love most about the area?
I love the variety that the seasons offer and the overwhelming sense of safety. It’s a tremendous place to work and relax and it has so much Celtic history and heritage – it’s a stronghold for the Welsh culture and language. The coastline’s packed with coves and beaches.
Where do you go for a bite to eat?
My favourite place for food is Twnti Seafood Restaurant in Rhyd-y-clafdy. It has the best locally caught lobster! And the best local bread is at Becws Islyn in Aberdaron. Criccieth is also a good place for foodies. It has several great eateries, including Mei’s Fusion Food (one I refurbished) and a wonderful curry house called The Spice Bank on the High Street in the old Midland Bank.
What’s your favourite spot on the coast?
Without a doubt, it’s the view from Uwchmynydd toward Bardsey Island at the western end of the Llyn. It’s quite magical and spellbinding, especially at summer solstice. From here, on a clear day you can just make out the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. My favourite beach is Whistling Sands (Porth Oer in Welsh) – the sand makes a high pitched sound as you walk on it!
Rob David Art & Design, Melin Cefn Llanfair, Rhydyclafdy, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 7YW. Tel: 01758740125. www.robdavidinteriordesign.com
Scroll down for pictures of Rob’s work…
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