Kelly Hoppen Interview

Kelly HoppenRead StyleNest’s Five Minutes With Kelly Hoppen interview – one of Britain’s most successful interior designers.

From her first job designing acclaimed chef Gary Rhode’s restaurant to dreaming up the first class cabins in British Airways’ planes; interior designer Kelly Hoppen has had a glistening career. To top it off the South African-born British designer was awarded the uppermost accolade of an MBE back in 2009.

Known for her signature black, white and taupe colour palette; Kelly’s design attitude is clean, chic and sophisticated. She recently teamed up with bespoke interiors company, Smallbone to design a stunning range of kitchen wear, so StyleNest caught up with Kelly to find out all about the collection and steal some of her style tips.

You’ve just launched a kitchen collection with Smallbone. Tell us about the partnership and how it came about?

Having designed so many homes, I knew what I wanted in a kitchen. Firstly, I wanted to work with the best craftspeople, namely Smallbone of Devizes.  Secondly, as the hub of the home and the most important room in the house, I wanted to give people something with depth and interest, that they could make their own, yet give them some guidelines and help to create a stunning look. I created a palette of colours and textures that can be layered, so it doesn’t look ‘hard’ or too functional. Working with Smallbone has been a pleasure and their expertise and knowledge have made my ambitions reality. The kitchen collection is my first collaboration with Smallbone, but not the last.

Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?

I love the whole collection but some of my favourite pieces are Chain Mail shelving unit and the Mondrian dresser. It is so tactile and different and really gives the kitchen a modern feel.

What was it that got you interested in design and interiors?

My mother used to say that I always had an eye for interior design, ever since I was little. I used to move furniture around and want to visit show homes. I  really believe it was what I was destined to do.

How would you describe your own design style at home?

My style at home is very East-meets-West with vintage inspired aspects and all the rooms are in my signature colour palette of black, white, and taupe.

Who or what inspires you in your work?

I find inspiration from so many aspects of everyday life, from the people around me especially my daughter and family, to different cultures and travel. I’m also inspired by my love for the Eastern way of life and philosophy. Individuals  like Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan who  have stuck to their brand and philosophy for years creating longevity and timeless design are inspirational too.

What’s the quickest and easiest way to update a tired room?

Change the bed linen, add a great throw and accessorise to suit the season. For example, in the colder months use a faux fur throw to update your living room. Another great way to liven up the bedroom is to change the lighting scheme, add a beautiful lamp or up lighters which will bring part of the room to life.

The interiors industry is known for being fiercely competitive. Do you have any advice for women thinking about starting up their own interiors business?

The only advice I have is to believe in yourself and stick to your vision. Allow yourself to be creatively inspired by everything around and follow your gut. I’m an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and I am forever explaining to people that if you don’t believe in yourself, how is anybody else meant to believe in you? If you have confidence in your ability and designs, paired with hard work and determination you will go far.

When you’re not working how do you relax?

I like spending time in the country with my boyfriend and family as it helps to clear my head. Recently I have also started to enjoy cooking. My daughter wrote a fantastic alkaline guide and recipe book called Honestly Healthy which has got me interested in cooking – its very therapeutic.

What are your top London hotspots for eating, shopping and drinking?

I love markets and always find the time to visit them to find hidden gems. My favourite ones are Portobello, Alfie’s and Columbia Road. I also like shopping in Notting Hill and eating out there too. There’s a great pizza restaurant called Otto where I get gluten free pizzas, and I love going to The Notting Hill Arts Club and The Electric.

You’ve achieved so much over your career including an MBE in 2009. Did you ever expect to be so successful in your field?

I have always believed in myself but being honored with an MBE was an incredible feeling of accomplishment.

Can you give our readers some top tips on how to transform a room using lighting?

The more lighting and more choices you have, the better it is to create and build the mood in a space. For instance, by using floor lighting you create a more serene atmosphere, whereas spotlights create a more bright and vibrant feel.

Have you got any storage ideas you can share that are both practical and stylish?

Storage is such an important element of a home and often gets overlooked. I would recommend investing in great high gloss units. These will reflect light, which creates the illusion of space. Clutter is the enemy; you have to be ultra-tidy.

Fashion wise, what brands do you love?

I love Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, Matches and Joseph. I also love my stepdaughter Savannah Miller’s new collection for Nelly – I’ve just bought a load of items and I’m so proud of her.

What could you never travel without?

A good book, at the moment I’m reading The Magic. I also always have my Rodial Glam Balm Moisturiser, Fruitein Revitalizing Greens Sachets and my daughter’s delicious Honestly Healthy granola bars.

For more information on the Kelly Hoppen for Smallbone collection visit


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