TV presenter Sally Meen has managed a successful transition from breakfast television to a career designing home interiors for high profile clients in the entertainment industry.
Moving smoothly from the small screen into a creative role is no mean feat especially while raising a growing family but for Sally it was the perfect path to happiness, writes RiverTribe Editor Linda Duberley.
Sally Meen was the archetypal weather girl. Bright and breezy. Funny and glamorous. We all loved her as one of the team in the early days of GMTV. She was incredibly well suited for the role, combining clear presentation with a girl-next-door charm fundamental to middle market tele.
She was very successful. I loved watching her deliver the weather news in a way that seemed more friendly and accessible and now uncommon to present day forecasters since her departure from the TV studio.
“Most people in television want to be famous. When they succeed they do not want to come out of that golden, warm bubble. But I was never bothered by it all. I never used to play the game – being in the spot-light was never important to me.
“I am a typical Gemini – a home-bird. I have always loved my home and space. I always cared about design, comfort and creating the right kind of space. I was always doing up my homes while I built a career – so it was easy to turn an established side-line into a full-time job.”
She added, “Everybody else thinks it is a great job. It is interesting and you can get your hair and make-up done everyday but so much of it was not important to me. I put a much greater value on family and switching careers allowed me to make those around me a priority.
“I still get asked about presenting all the time but there’s really no contest. After I married I realised it would be a nightmare if I was away all the time. It was the right decision for me I can work from home and can put my family first. Anyway, why would I want to deal with high definition television at my age,” she said with the kind of humour that is a key feature of her personality.
Sally married for the second time at forty – after a long and successful career in TV – to leading talent agent Russ Lindsay, who lost his first wife, Caron Keating, to breast Cancer. Caron, the daughter of Gloria Hunniford, lost her battle with the disease in 2003, leaving Russ a widower with two young boys.
It was a story that moved millions. Caron, a former Blue Peter presenter, was a familiar face on British TV screens, tried treatments all over the world in an effort to beat Cancer. But to no avail. Her family was understandably devastated.
“I already knew Russ and – to some extent – his sons. When I met him again I could see he was in freefall. He had these two little boys. When our relationship began I knew I had to piss or get off the pot. I said to myself I am going to commit to this and I knew I had to support us all as a family. Interior design was a job I could do from home. I wanted to march to the beat of my own drum.”
Sally is a natural performer. Her original ambitions centred on ballet and drama. Her brother, actor Matthew Goode star of A Single Man, Downton Abbey and the Crown, clearly has the same genes. If she made a change it had to be something creative.
The perfume guru, Jo Malone, asked Sally to do up her flat and then the next one. Soon the commissions were flooding in.
Sally has a natural flair for seeing the potential in a home. It is not just a question of design. She has a genuine desire to deliver refurbishments that support family life. She has a passion for function and form.
“It is really just commons sense. I design spaces where families can be together. Given half a chance kids will disappear upstairs – so I believe first and foremost that I should create a big space with something for the whole family. A big TV, really good internet access – a cool space into which they can invite their friends.”
She can’t talk about her clients – discretion is all to someone like Sally – but they are amongst the biggest names in TV today. People who set the bar very high when it comes to letting someone do their design for living.
She retains her sense of drama. Delivering at the end of each project what she calls the “Tah Dah” moment. Micro-managing over what shade of teal the client might like is not her style. She delivers the finished room or house – and all her clients are satisfied. Her interiors are mostly in the area close by but have extended to Europe.
The Lindsay family live in Hampton and have been hugely happy on this stretch of the Thames. She is full of praise for Richmond saying it is a “brilliant spot.”
“To me, it should be the centre of the universe. There is so much here. Why go anywhere else.”
All four children, Russ Lindsay’s two boys, and the two girls they have together, have all been educated at Claremont School in Esher. It is a happy Tribe.
“This is a wonderful area for families. I am one of six – with four brothers and a sister. I come from Devon and I wanted to live somewhere green and by the river. This is perfection and I am very grateful. Television gave me a great deal – but my home gives me more.