Interiors insider: Bee Osborn

Inchbald-trained Bee Osborn is an interior designer who lives in London with her three daughters and art dealer husband. She is currently working on the refurbishment of the iconic Hotel St Barth Isle de France, which is part of the Oetker Collection. Osborn talks to Annie Deakin about lighting, Kit Kemp and design tricks.

I get excited about… transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Seeing the space and visualizing what it could look like and then going on to achieve that is so exciting.

My favourite city for buying furniture and art is… Paris, Left Bank. I love browsing in the art galleries and antique shops off the Rue des Saints-Peres in St. Germain. Dipping into Du Bout Du Monde and Blanc d’Ivoire is fun for those less expensive pieces.

My design philosophy is… elegance, combining classical and modern styles in a calm, comfortable environment. We all lead such busy lives and therefore it is so important to create a space to ease stress and relax in. I have a particular love of symmetry, which is integral to my style.

The design project I’m most proud of is… Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France.

The most unusual interior I have created is… creating a spa out of an underground car park in a house in the South of France.

My biggest design challenge was… making a concrete house in Hong Kong with low ceilings and no features look pretty, comfortable and inviting. We put in a new wooden central staircase, added loads of features and clever design tricks to create a lovely space incorporating all up-to-date creature comforts.

My advice for a beginner interior designer is… only work with people you really like. I know this sounds like a luxury but I believe it pays in the end. You spend a lot of time together so it helps to be on the same wavelength.

The most common decorating mistake is… not paying enough attention to lighting. It is so often underestimated which is a shame as it can make or break any environment. Pockets of light add drama and effect but also warmth.

The first thing I do when I start a design job is... get to know my client and their lifestyle and listen avidly.

For style advice, I call… Charles Worthington. He has impeccable style and incredible vision.

I admire… Kit Kemp on the design scene. Her hotels are genius. I admire Veere Grenney for his fabrics and decorating style. Steven Gambrel is my favourite US designer, classical but in a modern way.

For interiors shopping, I rely on… Flamant, William Yeoward, Julian Chichester, Restoration Hardware and alluring French shops.

For inspiration, I go to… Maison d’Objet in Paris, which is held in January and September each year. The stands are incredible and hugely inspiring. I like to read Architectural Digest which has projects that think outside the box, with amazing scale.

I’m not a fan of… the current trend of mid 20 century British furniture as I find it too angular and not very attractive. I don’t usually go with the current trend but tend to stick with what I love which is classical style furniture with a modern twist.

I find French style… so enticing and it doesn’t seem to date.

I love… the grey palate with strong accent colours. I’m also really enjoying the geometric fabrics from Tissus d’Helene. They cross the boundaries of being soft but with clean lines in stunning colours.

The most creative decade of design was… 16 century Italian, Palladio and 1960s for the fun innovative designs.

The last hotel I stayed in was… Villa d’Este on Lake Como. It is a very romantic and elegant hotel, grandly positioned on the edge of the water with a floating pool in the lake. It was such a treat to stay there.

The most beautiful hotels are… Isle de France and also Villa Marie in St Tropez, JK Place in Capri and North Island in the Seychelles. They all offer understated luxury and comfort in stunning surroundings.

The key difference between decorating a home and hotel is… creating an aesthetically beautiful space with hardwearing finishes to cope with excessive wear and tear. This can be tricky and certainly requires a lot of thought and planning.

My dream project would be… to work on a complete new build, creating something from scratch. It’s always been a dream to build my own house, which I think is the ultimate design challenge and I admire anyone who has done it.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for sofa and interior design website mydeco.com.

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