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What I learnt from Kit Kemp and how it can help you get your home the way you want it

I was lucky enough to hear Kit Kemp speak a few days ago at London Design Week 2016, held each Spring and centred around the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour. I’m told she doesn’t do many talks; this one sold out in two days but I leapt at the chance to hear her speak and managed to get a ticket.

Kit Kemp speaking to Giles Kime at London Design Week 2016. Image from @DesignCentreCH on twitter

Kit Kemp has a wonderful way of putting together colourful, fascinating rooms, and I have long admired her work. She designs the interiors for Firmdale Hotels, the hotel group she co-owns with her husband.  The group includes several hotels in London (Covent Garden Hotel, Charlotte St Hotel, Ham Yard Hotel to name but three), and one in New York (Crosby Street Hotel) with another on the way. Read more about her here. Here’s some tips I learnt from Kit that I thought I’d share with you to help you get your home the way you want it.

Start with what you love

If you start here, you can’t go too far wrong. Let what you love and your core values be the foundation of everything in your home. If you’re not sure what your values are, or what you love, keep a scrapbook, put everything in it that you come across that you like. Images, sketch things, words, photos. Any subject, not just interiors. Look back over it from time to time and the themes will appear, these themes show you what you love/value/are attracted to.  Whenever you’re looking for new things for your home, bear these values and themes in mind.

Showcase fabric on headboards

A headboard provides an ideal opportunity to show off a beautiful fabric to full effect. All too often a fabric is gathered to make curtains, or wrapped around furniture in the form of upholstery. A headboard allows you to use the fabric flat, and as you need far less of it than for curtains, it can be an economical way to use it.

Frame unusual items

Why not frame plates, shoe collections, balls, anything that you like or means something to you… Kit is a big fan of collections of items. Framing collected items pulls a collection together and adds more weight to it. Framing 3D items with a black felt background really makes the item pop.

One room at a time

Even if your whole home needs an overhaul, work on one room at a time. Spend however long you’ve got, in a short space of time, trawling for inspiration for that room only. Include at least one trip out, if you can, wandering around design districts such as Chelsea Harbour, the Kings Road, Fulham Road, Tottenham Court Road etc (or if you’re not in London, try the Home and Fabric departments in your local department store, fabric shops, furniture shops, local restaurants and hotels, textile museums…). Flick through magazines (home, fashion, gardening, anything!), Pinterest, Houzz etc. Anything you like, get a sample, snap a quick picture, take a screenshot, rip it out… Don’t analyse too much while you’re collecting, just keep going. Then sit down at home and look for the themes. Your room will start to appear. You can then build on this foundation to search for the remaining things you need, and create a unique look that you’ll love.

Don’t be afraid of failure

This piece of advice applies to so much more than just interior design! Rarely is failure so catastrophic that recovery is impossible. If you don’t try daring things, you are unlikely to end up with a remarkable room or home… (Or a remarkable experience… holiday… life…). Try it, if it doesn’t work, learn from it and move on.

Some excellent tips here. Thank you, Kit, for an inspirational, entertaining and colourful talk, and for your generous advice from which we can all benefit.

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