Kelly Hoppen interview

The interview: Kelly Hoppen

London’s world-famous ‘Queen of Interiors’ talks to Angela Sara West about her illustrious career, how our homes can improve our wellbeing, and her tips on trends for 2021…

Kelly Hoppen’s cool ‘n’ contemporary signature stamp is emblazoned on homes worldwide, with many in south west London and Surrey, as well as hotels, private jets and superyachts. Having achieved iconic status, the interiors queen is THE go-to designer to the stars, counting close friends the Beckhams, and the Chelsea-based Lampards among her A-list clientele.

She’s won countless awards for her work, topped with an MBE and then a CBE for her contribution to the UK as an entrepreneurial and self-made female business owner. Kelly’s big break came at 16, when her father’s friend asked her to design his kitchen. “It was my first assignment and I haven’t looked back since,” she says. “The passion grew stronger and the projects bigger!”

When she’s not donning her interior design hat, popping up on our screens as an interiors expert or championing and mentoring entrepreneurs, she’s designing products for her collaborative home and commercial ranges including Joseph Giles, and her modish homeware line for QVC. Her furniture designs can also be found at Andrew Martin’s flagship Chelsea showroom.

Oh, and she’s also often busy writing books, despite her struggles with dyslexia. Penned in lockdown, she’s just announced she’ll be releasing a new title in the spring, Essential Style Solutions for Every Home. “It’s a manual that everyone with any design scheme can use to create their ideal home,” she says. “It’s full of all of my tried-and tested techniques to curate a beautiful and functional home and I purposefully made this book small in size so that you can easily carry it around to consult when visiting showrooms and stores.”

When at home in London, Kelly says her own home life is all about cosiness and serenity. “I like to feel a sense of harmony in my house, cocooned in comfort and surrounded by gorgeous pieces that I have discovered and acquired over the years, in order to create that sense of calm and relaxation,” she reveals. “The best feeling is breathing a sigh of relief as you step inside the door, to a home that really fits like a glove. It’s so important to capture that feeling when I’m working with all of my clients. For me, that’s what accessories do… they act like jewellery; they’re the finishing touch bringing everything together, telling your story in your home…”

Kelly Hoppen interior (c) Mel Yates
Kelly Hoppen Interiors

The lockdowns really brought this idea of the home as a sanctuary to the fore. “We’ve all spent an unprecedented amount of time in our homes over the past year, and it’s so important that the home is a relaxing sanctuary and escape from the anxiety of the current times.”

“ I think great design will come out of the pandemic. It’s certainly given me that push to become more creative with space. Even very limited space can be exciting and different. Collaborations will be important, too, and design communities… People have to support people.”

Our homes also now need to serve us in many different ways. “We’ve been forced to work, exercise and socialise from home, and ‘zoning’ an open-plan living space to separate the home office from the kids’ play area and chill-out zone is really helpful to avoid stepping on each other’s toes and to keep a productive and positive mindset,” Kelly says.

Crittall-style windows and doors will be a huge trend in 2021. “Not only are they a perfect way to ‘zone’ an open-plan space whilst maintaining a natural flow, they allow so much natural daylight into the room and elevate the feeling of spaciousness.”

She advises on adding plants aplenty: “I find that a lovely way to feel connected to nature and the outdoors is to have copious amounts of plants and flowers throughout your home. However, don’t fear if you don’t have green fingers – nowadays, you can get amazing-quality artificial plants; I especially love using artificial eucalyptus in different-sized vases to bring the feeling of nature into a space.”

She says statement design pieces will be a key feature of 2021 trends, especially with lighting. “Huge centre ceiling lights will be popular, and will be paired with hidden up-lighting for a warmer glow in bedrooms and living rooms. Hanging lights are a beautiful way to make an impact in a room, whilst still offering a soft and homely feel. Larger beds are also a key way to make a statement, as well as making a bedroom appear bigger whilst fulfilling our need for comfort.”

And Kelly recommends shopping for antiques to add character in an eco-friendly way. “There are incredible statement pieces to be found in vintage shops; with the urgency for sustainable living growing, investing in statement antique items will become an increasingly popular and resourceful way to reuse and recycle when curating a space.”

One of the main ways that the pandemic has already impacted on design is in the area of hygiene. “At Kelly Hoppen Interiors, we have worked in Asia for 25 years, and increasingly the UK and the rest of the world is adopting the hygienic design measures that have long been popular in Asia. Going forward, designers will factor specifically-dedicated rooms for washing and sanitizing into their projects, and utilise more easy-to-clean materials with minimal grooves or indentations. The necessity of having facemasks, sanitisers and shoe covers in the house will mean more of us investing in beautiful baskets or vases to store these essentials in a stylish way.”

Work out for wellbeing

When it comes to her wellbeing, Kelly always focuses on the positive… and has a rule: “ I work out every morning… it helps set me up for the day. Starting the day with exercise and without my ‘phone is a non-compromise.” Stylish Kelly, now 61, looks incredible. Her tips? “Sleep and drinking loads of water are essential with my workload. Also, my daughter, Natasha, is a cooking author, and has taught me many delicious and healthy recipes.”

Like many other famous faces, Kelly recently took a moment to reset herself, closing her eyes and switching off from the world as part of the virtual #TAKEAMOMENT4MIND campaign, spearheaded by Richmond-based photographer Ray Burmiston in aid of the mental health charity Mind. She also wants to help motivate others. “During lockdowns especially, I really want to help people stay positive and feel less alone, so I post daily videos on Instagram, chatting to my followers and giving a little advice and encouragement for the day. If it helps even one person feel better and more motivated, then it’s all worth it!”

Charity focus

Kelly’s an avid campaigner for antibullying and supports The Diana Award, the only charity set up in memory of the Princess of Wales, with her belief that young people have the power to change the world. The charity fosters, develops and inspires positive change in the lives of young people.

She also plays her part in protecting the planet. “I was thrilled to become an ambassador for Cool Earth and to be working closely with people such as Dame Vivienne Westwood to help halt rainforest destruction and climate change,” she says. She adds that sustainability is hugely important to both her and her business. “Sustainability is a running theme, and we are likely to see consumers move more away from throwaway interiors, and just like fashion, people will lean more towards timeless investment pieces.”

As a dedicated supporter of good causes and the championing and nurturing of young entrepreneurs, Kelly is also an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and sits on their committee, cultivating young talent and inspiring young people to pursue their business ideas. “Helping young people to realise their dreams and be mentored to live the lives they deserve has been one of the greatest achievements in my career,” she says.

Kelly Hoppen’s Home Styling Tips

  • In Kelly’s eyes, cramming a room full of different colours can overcrowd it… “A room is a beautiful thing, a space to make your own, and I feel that neutral colour palettes always complement best.”
  • What makes a room work? “ Textures… I’m all about texture and adore the mood, depth and layers it creates. Linen, velvets and leather are materials that I use a lot, and I love using accessories in these textures to add the perfect amount of sensuality and depth. Materials like velvet and suede absorb light and create warmth, while silks and satins appear cool and alluring.”
  • Getting the lighting right is crucial, helping to set the tone. “More styles mean more mood choices, so plan more than you need. Natural light is always best but isn’t always an option, so beautiful lamps and uplighters help bring a room to life. And consider your design decisions from different viewpoints.”
  • Go the extra mile. “It’s not always about designing the room to perfection, but looking at the project as a whole and how everything works together. The finishing touches; artwork… lighting… photographs… right down to the scent of the room, are vital. Art and personal stamp are key.”
  • Limited budget? “Revamp! Give your home a second life with a lick of paint or shuffle around existing furniture. It’s possible to substitute expensive materials with more affordable ones which are just as sophisticated, and mix textures to result in a high-end look.”
  • And what should no home be without? “A dash of personality…your home is YOUR home and should fit your lifestyle like a great pair of jeans!” 



The Pantone Colours of the Year 

Interior design for how we live now