Kelly Hoppen’s guide to living room design

Hoppen on linear designs, lingerie curtains and her living room secrets in an exclusive interview with Annie Deakin

Kelly has chosen Barker and Stonehouse Newcastle upon Tyne to launch her first full Kelly Hoppen furniture concept store. www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk

1) ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS: Creating a living room is not just a matter of buying a sofa and a coffee table. You must decide what you want your living room for. Look at the space, see how you want it to work and do a floorplan. Is it to be formal or informal? What colours do you want? Do you want a TV in there? Do you have particular items that you want it to work around? Think about where the main seating will be; what the view into another part of the room and beyond in to the garden, kitchen or other area will be; how many seating zones you need.

2) USE GEOMETRY FOR YOUR LAYOUT: The way I see things is linear so I look at the lines of a room. In my head, I see a 3D graph and I place things into it. I run from one axis to another. Where are the windows and how do they relate to the fireplace, the doors and the other features? This gives you the beginnings of the layout.

3) MAXIMISE NATURAL LIGHT: The most important thing in a living room is natural light. I like to keep the windows as open as possible. This is why I don’t interline curtains; you should not cover your windows. The fabric on the window is to frame it during the day and to make you feel more secure inside at night so people can’t see in. Make the most of natural light with sheer curtains, which filter the light softly while providing privacy.

4) CONSIDER WINDOW TREATMENTS: I never use blinds in a sitting room. It is usually a more formal room so I think curtains work better. Curtains can be changed according to your mood or the seasons. I love simple iron curtain poles as they are understated and elegant, and do not detract from the fabric or overpower the room.

5) ZONE YOUR SEATING: Graceful living in a large open space can be kept intimate by the placement of furniture in three zones. A seating area designed for socialising, a cosy area for relaxing in front of the fire and a reading area at the other end of the room.

4) CHOOSE COLOUR OR BLACK AND WHITE: Glamour is the chief ingredient in my own living space, where the monochromatic palette has created a serene vision of photographic perfection, fulfilling my aim to make my living room seem like a stunning black-and-white picture.

5) THINK WALL DECOR: Art is such an essential and personal ingredient. I am crazy for photography and especially love images with glamorous women, such as Jessica in Lace Dress by Louise Bobbe, from Stephanie Hoppen.

6) WHY WOOD FLOORING WORKS: Flooring must be timeless, and not a fashion statement, as it will be down for a long time and is beyond expensive to change. My personal preference is wooden floors because I suffer from allergies. I think rugs on wooden flooring look more contemporary than carpets. I use low-level lighting on floors as it creates better shadows.

7) LAYER THE LIGHTING: I spend a lot of time on lighting. You must think how your living room will look at night and at daytime. A well-lit room will always have its own wow-and-welcome factor, however modest its features or decoration, but a room where the lighting has not received due care will never sing out, whatever the decoration. The more you can vary and control the lighting the better. A critical piece of underwear to a room’s outerwear, lighting gives its own kind of structure, spirit and energy.

8) CREATE OPTICAL ILLUSIONS: I use mirrors a lot – they make small rooms feel bigger. I love oversized mirrors and accent mirrors that sit on floors. But you have to be careful when using mirrors. You’ve got to remember that they are reflecting something so make sure you like what they are facing.

9) BE MULTI-FUNCTIONAL: Living rooms can be integrated into an open-plan design just as effectively as they can be separately grand. They can be appointed as a series of places to sit, read and relax, and be as right for a party as for nights in with friends.

10) MIX TEXTURES: I like to mix fabrics that shock each other so I might make a curtain from utilitarian fabrics and border it with lace or lingerie silks.

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

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