British interior designer Kelly Hoppen has a truly jet-set lifestyle. After completing the redecoration of Victoria and David Beckham's new Los Angeles digs, Kelly, the author of Kelly Hoppen Home ($50, Little, Brown and Company, 2007), flew home to London for a brief stay -- to service a wide range of residential and commercial clients, teach design at the Kelly Hoppen Design School, and create tableware for Wedgwood. Then, she was off to Barcelona to put finishing touches on a boutique hotel she's decorating, just one of her many international projects. Fortunately for us, Kelly found some time to talk about how you, too, can attain the simple sophistication for which she's famous.
Style at Home In the foreword of Kelly Hoppen Home, you reflect on the time you spent at your grandmother's home in South Africa. How did those sojourns influence your decorating approach?
Kelly Hoppen While I was writing the book, it became apparent how big a part of my life my grandmother's house was; everything from the antiques to the flowers moved me. But I realized her house was a home that was created over the years, with love. It wasn't what I call an "instant home," with a ready-made lifestyle that doesn't take collections and belongings into consideration. As I get older, I find I'm more in favour of using what you already own and being creative about incorporating items with personal meaning for an eclectic mix of old and new.
S@H Comfort is a word we use a lot when talking about our homes, yet it's still so often associated with overstuffed sofas. What does it mean to you?
KH It's the complete opposite of overstuffed. But that's my own personal taste. Comfort is a feeling that we all get from different things. It's the same with luxury: for some, it's silk and gold tassels, and for others, it might be flannel. A room has to fit you, just like clothing has to, since what suits one person won't suit another. Figuring out what sits right with you, and with your lifestyle and tastes, is really the biggest secret to successful interior design. I tell my students to approach their rooms the way they would their wardrobe. Once, I had a woman in my class who just couldn't visualize the room she was redecorating, which really upset her. So I went away and thought about how I could help her. I came back and told her she looked good and asked how she'd come up with her outfit. She said, "I was lying in bed, and I pictured various ensembles." I told her to visualize her room in the same way, layering and accessorizing until it felt right.
S@H Simple and sophisticated seem to be the watchwords of the Kelly Hoppen look. Are you happy with those descriptions of your work?
KH My design philosophy is to create Zen-like, harmonious interiors. Each one has to have a tranquil essence, which is an Asian influence. I noticed that I felt chilled-out in Japan -- a country with a good infrastructure, including highly structured roads and transit lines. That very structure calms and creates harmony, which is liberating. Similarly, my designs are highly planned, streamlined and efficient, which frees up space for fun elements, like a round chair suspended from the ceiling, or an unexpected mixture of textures.
Image courtesy of Nick Haddow
S@H Your name has become an adjective: the Kelly Hoppen style. How do you feel about becoming a brand?
KH I love it! Can we say I'm "Hoppen-izing" the nation? We all know that trends come and go, as do stores and designers catering to trends. But then there are brands, like Ralph Lauren and, hopefully, mine that have a philosophy and an accompanying approach that are timeless. Yes, there are changes, and new items being added, but the overall look remains the same. For instance, you know when something is Ralph Lauren, and I guess you know when something is Kelly Hoppen!
Doing the Hoppen
We asked hot British interior designer Kelly Hoppen to tell us how she creates her signature look.
Create a plan, keeping in mind the function of the room and the storage
needs. A well-planned clutter-free room is the starting point for everything decorative.
Use taupes and cream, adding metallic and brightly hued accessories.
Layer textures, sticking to a monochromatic palette. Sofas and chairs upholstered in suede and velvet look great together. Upping the texture factor is as easy as adding chenille and silk pillows and throws.
Introduce the unexpected. "I love circular pieces right now," says Kelly, who also likes interesting doors.
Image courtesy of Nick Haddow