Kelly Hoppen Writes For The Blog

I’m thrilled to introduce you to this month’s Guest Blogger, the self-styled Queen of Taupe Kelly Hoppen herself……. *round of applause*. Now our Kel, as she has never, ever been known, ever, doesn’t need much introduction. She has worked on everything from the Beckham’s London house to all sorts of yachts and, of course, The Great Interior Design Challenge, where I met her last year for my annual interview shindig. And I’ll say this for Our Kel (I’ll make this a thing) she has a proper sense of humour and is much more relaxed and funny than you might expect.

So after the interview, I asked if she would like to be a guest blogger. And there was a bit of thing about her people needing to talk to …. well me basically. And there was to-ing and fro-ing and eventually after several months, Kelly wrote the following post. About her signature style, which you may want to mock as taupe but which is actually about decorating with neutrals. And about her mistakes. Well, not actually her mistakes as such, more the acknowledgement that she has made them. Anyway, over to …. drumroll… our Kel:

Two ways to get my signature style

Taupe! I’ve earned the moniker “the Queen of Taupe”, and am proud of this – I couldn’t imagine designing a home without it. Neutrals will always be the foundation of my interiors, and being neither warm, nor cool taupe interacts perfectly with other neutrals such as sand, cream, and pure white to add warmth and create contrast.

Space, and clean lines. I’m not a fan of a cluttered ambience, and over-decorating can make the home appear claustrophobic, making the space feel smaller than it is. I tend to work in grids, geometric lines give a sense order and help the room appear balanced. Don’t be afraid of space. Coco Chanel famously said “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off,” and the same can be said for a room. I put a room together the way I would put an outfit – adding and taking away until it comes together perfectly.

One thing I always include in a project

 Art or photography. It’s a way to really add a personal touch, and deliver a particular message about a space. Art is always thought-provoking. I’ve collected photography all my life – I love it. My brother, Michael, has a gallery and has taught me everything I know about photography. Art really is a matter of preference and taste, so I work closely alongside clients to ensure I’m really capturing their essence. Personally, I have a very eclectic mix.

One thing I’ve included in my own home

Texture. A fundamental part of my design is the combination of textures, as this is what will truly give a home warmth and depth. Contrasting textures also promote balance, and play a significant part in creating a certain mood within the home. The brilliant thing is that textures can be found anywhere from cushions and throws, to vases and plants, and the combining these will allow you to create beautiful layers in your home. Once you have introduced texture, you will find that pops of bright colour aren’t always necessary.

The mistake I learned from

When I started out, my first job was designing a kitchen, which I did pretty much upside down. I managed to fix my mistakes and as a result, I got another job. Everyone makes mistakes early on in the career, but it’s how we learn. Since then, fingers crossed, I’ve never had any major design disaster that I couldn’t fix or find a solution for.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I couldn’t agree more regarding the comments on fixing mistakes. I ‘upcycle’ furniture for want of a better word (when I started out over 20 years ago recycling was barely a thing). I always say that the most important expertise I’ve gained over the years is how to get myself out of trouble. I must have encountered almost every disaster possible, and when it’s a business you don’t have the option to take it to the tip and buy something else, although I have been sorely tempted on numerous occasions!

  2. I like the take on fixing mistakes – the guy who taught me Cabinet Making said he’d never known anyone to make as many cock-ups as me, but he’d also never known anyone as good as me at getting out of them afterwards…….Still making furniture 30 years on, so its all turned out ok.

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