Coundon-based Decorating Centre Online (DCO) has expanded its team of customer experience specialists by welcoming a global award winning Latte art champion Sarah Dickinson to its 17-strong team, as part of its strategic growth plans to build sales to over £6m by 2022.

With the interiors market flourishing over the past 18 months, the rapidly scaling business has ramped up its recruitment drive ahead of the opening of its second premises in County Durham, which will house online operations and provide additional click and collect services.

The third generation family owners Helen Johnson and Matt Goddard invested in the budding designer by funding a 12-month Design Institute Diploma in Interior Design course to support Sarah’s career aspirations and to underpin plans to offer customers a bespoke interior design consultation service.

Gateshead-born Sarah, 32, and the only UK recipient of the international Global Latte Art Champion title during her time at Costa, was keen to explore her creative flare for decorating and interior design.

“I’ve gone from blending coffee and creating Latte art to blending paint and creating beautiful amalgamations for customers’ homes as part of my new role at DCO,” she said.

“I’ve always been creative and after I bought my house as a bit of a project, I realised I had a talent for beautifully transforming rooms and that working in the design and decorating industry would be the right career path for me.

“I have a natural flare for design and I’ve found that often DIY novices like to have the personal touch when it comes to knowing where to start with redecorating as it can be a minefield.

“By doing my diploma, I am able to offer specialist interior design advice by pairing products and colour matching to help achieve the look they dream of and hopefully make it less daunting for them.”

With a new home styling studio accessible within the Coundon-based premises, DCO will use the space to dress a modelled room rotating seasonal ideas and trends – both as an in-store customer showroom and for its growing online community – whilst supporting small, local, independent businesses by displaying their homeware products and accessories.

Director Helen Johnson said: “We are passionate about providing the training our staff need to fulfil their aspirations which ultimately helps to give us the capacity to improve our business offering.

“Consumers have found a new appreciation of home décor and the space they need especially since the start of the pandemic with more people being confined to the same four walls. To be able to give them even more specialist advice and inspiration to make the best of their space is fundamental to us to support the evolving needs of our customers.”

Last year saw DCO’s turnover grow by 300% and it has already exceeded its target for this year of £3.8m, thanks to its growing online digital-native DIY-er and loyal customer base of professional tradesmen.

The store stocks a comprehensive range of products across all departments, comprising paint, wallpapers including DCO’s exclusive range, and decorating essentials.