Kelly Hoppen: Rhapsody in beige

A vast space transformed into a triumph in taupe – it could only be the lair of Kelly Hoppen. She recalls how she brought home her signature style
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Two years ago, I got a bee in my bonnet about finding a new loft space, rather like those found in the Meatpacking District of New York. I knew I wasn't going to get that in Chelsea – where I was living, and where I had first moved to as a child emigrating from South Africa – but when it was suggested that I look at this apartment in Battersea, I just thought there was no way it was even worth seeing. I was adamant that I wouldn't cross the river, but in fact what I found as I walked in to this magnificent building was something I could not resist.

The site is a converted building, with 40ft ceilings, and a main room that's 80ft long. The whole place stretches nearly 60,000sq ft. It encapsulates everything I'd hoped for – the space, the room for imagination.

This home has a distinct feminine quality, with its curves and soft interior. My last place had a more masculine air, working with stronger lines and angles – in many ways more structured. As an interior designer, I'm wholly aware that each client is unique, with their own brief. When faced with myself as the client, I had to address what it is that I wanted from my home. In this case, I was in search of an eclectic space, a space that combines vintage pieces and contemporary design. And this certainly has more colour than my previous home. Most importantly, I wanted to create a home for myself and somewhere I could spend time with friends and family.

Piers Morgan said he thought this was one of the greatest flats he'd ever been to when he first came to a get-together here. I don't see it as a celeb hang-out, it's rather the case that I like hosting dinners for friends and, for this purpose, the apartment works perfectly.

What sets it apart from other properties in London is the huge main room. As you enter the apartment you're greeted by this incredibly grand gallery/hallway lined with straight-backed chairs and coloured with pieces from my extensive art collection.

To the left of the hall a door leads through to the main room, which includes the kitchen, dining room and living area. It's here that one of my key pieces – the bubble chair – hangs in a central position from the high beams. I picked it up from a great vintage shop in Camden. To the right of the hall another door leads to the bedroom and an en suite bathroom, behind which a staircase ascends to an incredible 60ft roof terrace that covers the entire area of the apartment. From here the cityscape views are rather spectacular.

Above the dining room stands the mezzanine, which acts as a guest bedroom (fully kitted with a comfy futon) or simply as a chill-out area positioned slightly away from the main passage of the apartment, creating a sense of comfortable isolation. The whole place was tailored to my taste and requirements; as such it's suitably flexible in its function.

My team built the roof terrace from scratch, restructured the interior space entirely and took away three or four bedrooms to create this open-plan effect. We re-plumbed, changed the lighting, laid new floors. I wanted to create a shell, a blank canvas if you like, that I could then rework to create my own tailored piece of art.

What makes the final product so fabulous is the way of living that it's granted me. I love to have gatherings at home, so the way the rooms fall in to each other is just ideal. When hosting a dinner party or having my daughter Natasha and step-daughters Savannah and Sienna [Hoppen was married to Ed Miller, father of the actress Sienna Miller, and her sister Savannah] round for dinner, I can potter around in the kitchen or direct the caterers as they assemble the meal, while the guests play cards, have drinks and listen to music. It's like we're all in the same space but not getting under each other's feet. There's so much going on within the apartment – the gym, the terrace, my dressing room – but it doesn't ever feel busy.

It's amazing to think of my home now compared with the condition it was in when I arrived. To accord this place with my standards was deemed a nine-month project, yet I managed to complete the work in only three! The buyers of my last home wanted to keep it very much as it was, so other than a few personal pieces, such as a dressing table and my art collection – much of which consists of my brother's photography – and of course my clothes, I pretty much left everything there.

This meant buying a lot of new pieces specifically for this space. I also have a storage unit which holds years' worth of treasured pieces, and I like to recycle things rather than abandoning my entire life when I move homes. Much of what makes a house a home is based on memory, so it's important to retain a sense of the past through photos, furniture or objets d'art.

This apartment is exactly what I needed over the last two years and I'm thrilled with what I've achieved, but recently my personal circumstances have changed and I expect to be looking for somewhere else in the very near future. Who knows exactly when and where that might be.

* Celebrity designer and 'Queen of Taupe', Kelly Hoppen lives in this stunning two-bedroom home in Battersea. She has won many awards, and published six books, including her latest, Kelly Hoppen Home: From Concept to Reality (Jacqui Small, £30)

This home is currently on the market for £5m, with Aldine Honey & Company, 020-7834 4901, www.aldinehoney.co.uk. Hoppen declined to comment on the sale

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