First Meeting

Creating A Kitchen That Isn’t A Kitchen

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 13.46.35One of our current projects has a very exciting feature – a kitchen that blends seamlessly into the lounge. The client loved the large open space, but didn’t want to feel like they were sitting in or relaxing next to the kitchen.

The first thing to do when integrating or disguising any object is to break it up into little parts. We’ve used different materials to clad different areas of the design. The island has been clad in a stunning burl wood, and is on raised feet, making it look far more like a dresser or sideboard. The sink unit is then painted in lighter colours which blend in more with the wallpaper, and the marble surface actually goes all the way up the sides of the window, cladding out the whole box, rather than just having a splash back. We’ve made the most of a quirky bit of space, where the building window juts out, and madScreen Shot 2016-06-30 at 13.45.56e it part of the design, throwing out conventional proportions.

The cupboarding is clad in a polished metal, which is very unusual in kitchens – intact our kitchen company, Roundhouse are making the finish specially for us. It will be highly durable and light reflective, so should make a stunning, unique surface. Inside the cupboards is more countertop and surface area, hidden away so that you don’t have acres of marble top visible in the room. A whole coffee station complete with quoter tap and appliances waits patiently behind the doors, adding to the clutter free look of the space.

We’ve used lighting that would more commonly be found in a lounge or bedroom. But not using function specific lighting, you can really change the mood  of a space. Here it instantly looks for informal and relaxed. If you were looking over from the sofa, you would just think this is an extension of the same room.

The island countertop is very special. We’ve gone for a mixed blue marble, which reminds us of a Van Gogh. It balances nice with the large oil painting which will go on the wall behind it. The blend of tones in the stone is quite remarkable, and it’s a bold colour most people would find too dominating for a kitchen.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 13.54.57 art,vangogh,,blue,painting,starrynight-d21f549d4e557dd5561e02524ec64ce9_h

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Behind the kitchen will stand a wall of mosaic tiles in a flower pattern, akin to a dutch still life, to continue the art theme. This will be the dominant feature of the room and you’ll completely forget that you’re making scrambled eggs in your living room and think you’re in a great grotto somewhere in Southern Italy. We’ve enjoyed placing it in such an unusual setting, not only for the attention it will receive, but also for the amusement it should bring.


Relocating to the UK? You Need To Read This

Moving to vibrant London?

Most people only think of hiring a residential interior designer when they buy or want to renovate, but it can be a really useful service for renters too.

Hampstead village is a great place for families

If you are being sent to, or coming back to the UK, Kia Designs can  help, and we can even handle everything from this end so that by the time you land on these shores your temporary home is all ready to go. Just let us see the floor plans and a few photos, and tell us which items of furniture you are shipping, give us a good idea of the quantity of your belongings and some style inspiration and we’ll purchase any necessary items for you and decorate it to your taste. We won’t do any wallpaper or painting or breach your tenancy agreement in any way. Because this is a light re-decoration we’ll only use products with a very short lead time, so we can move very quickly. This service will save you the hassle of arriving in an unfamiliar place and having to look for a sofa and dining table after a long day acclimatising to a new job.

This can be a very affordable way to adjust to new surroundings, you’ll just pay the design fee and a small buying fee, and then you
nters too. Rental properties can struggle to feel like a home, and if you know you are only going to be posted to the UK for 3 or so years it can be hard to find the motivation to settle in and make it feel like yours.  are ready to have your new boss over for drinks, and spend your early weekends out exploring this great city.

Call us today to hear how we can made the move a stress and hassle free experience for numerous relocating families and expats. We can handle your new home no matter where you are in the world…

Put your feet up and let us do the hard work!

Before and After

We often get asked to provide before and after photos on our website. We’d love to do so, but it’s problematic. On the one hand, without showing how we have transformed a space, we can’t get full credit for it. For all you know, looking at the finished picture, we might have just put up some wallpaper and curtains and slapped a vase on a console table. In reality that space may have originally been a boarded-up, decommissioned dumb waiter shaft. But on the other hand, some people have a hard time translating before and after images, as we have changed the space so much it becomes unrecognisable and the photos bear very little or no resemblance to each other.

For example, here are 3 areas of a project we have recently completed (although the “after” photos were taken a few weeks before finishing). Even though the transformations are quite dramatic, the images are taken from the same position and you can see that some features remain.

before and after bathroom

See more of the transformation

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I want to restyle my house but don’t know where to start

Completely restyling your home can be daunting if you’re just unhappy with its current state but haven’t given much thought to how it should look. Lots of professions can be called upon for logistical help, or you might have clearer ideas on how you use the property and what doesn’t work, but don’t know how do you go about coming up with a design scheme.

The best answer is to research. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, and you don’t need to go out and buy lots of expensive glossy magazines. Look around your current home, which items do you most like or cherish? Why? You’ll probably be keeping them so they are a good place to start. Next, a quick browse through an image collective, like Pinterest, should help you narrow in. You don’t even need to set up an account (though doing so will be very helpful later, as you can share it with your designer and builders). The tags on each image should help you develop some design vocabulary. Now you’ll know that you like ‘shaker’ style kitchens and ‘mid-century modern sideboards’. A good designer can create a whole scheme based on 1 or 2 images and an eloquent client. It won’t be time consuming, they’ll go away and do drawings based on your initial conversation, and then meet back with you and tweak anything you aren’t happy with. You can be as involved as you like to be, but we find once most clients start seeing things they’ve liked adapted to their own home and way of life, the process flows very smoothly and even the most design unconscious, colourblind clients get very excited.

Scheme research tools

Scheme research tools

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Why We Don’t Offer Space Planning

We often get asked by prospective clients if we will just do ‘space planning’. The answer is always no. It’s a service that architects offer, and many designers will do a space planning consultation for a small fee. It’s usually requested when doing an extension or conversion, to see if you can fit everything you want in. The problem with it, for us, is that when we create homes we aren’t just plonking together “a sofa” with “a TV” and “a coffee table”. Each of these things will be specific pieces, with different sizes and shapes, and until you know which exact sofa you want to buy, space planning is a fairly useless endeavour. The TV you buy will have an optimum viewing distance and height, you’ll need to select a sofa that works with it, or vice versa, or you’ll get neck strain and headaches and wonder why. We consider exactly how you live – if you always eat dinner in front of the TV, you’ll need a higher, closer, table so we can reduce the space needed. If you always have a cup of tea in your hand, we’ll want to widen the walkways between furniture so that you don’t bump into things and spill it.

There is no ‘set’ or ‘average’ size of furniture for living spaces. A good interior designer will be creating a scheme that all relates to each other. Before we purchase any items for you, we’ll be checking they all work together, both functionally and aesthetically – making sure the rug you like is the right size and that you aren’t tripping over it or catching it on a chair leg.

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How To Prepare For Your First Design Meeting

interior design inspiration

Gathering images that you like is a crucial part of getting your ideas across to a designer

The majority of people who contact us looking for interior design services are on what we refer to as ‘second wave’ research. That means they have already spoken to several designers and then gone away and done further research and gathered all the necessary documentation and then sort out new designers. This is a bit of a waste of everybody’s time. A designer can’t really tell you anything unless you know of and can provide certain details, so you won’t get anything out of the meeting. And once you’ve gathered all those items, you rarely go back to the original designer (nobody knows why, but statistically this tends to happen. Probably because once you’ve really thought about what you want you might find a designer who looks a better fit, or because you were disappointed that no one could give you a proper quote or solid information). Often clients will come to us before purchasing a property, so by the time they have actually managed to get the keys and decide on a budget, they might well have forgotten which designer they liked best. On average people see 6 designers before settling.

So what are these key things which interior Designs require:


Rough ones are fine. Estate agents drawings are rarely to scale, but they are fine for basic quoting purposes. You’ll want something that highlights where service hatches and structural walls are located. These can often be untouchable, and so will influence what your designer and builder can do.

2. Inspiration

We recommend setting up a Houzz account, as it is the most interiors driven site. Pinterest is also useful, as are scraps from magazines. Getting a good idea of the style and finish you are trying to achieve is very helpful for us when quoting.

3. Information about your building

When you tell us your address at initial contact, we’ll do some primary research on the area, but it’s much better if you can also let us know if it is a listed building, in a conservation area, in a portered flat with no parking access etc. This is more helpful for timeframes than quotes, but it will influence the design and there will be cost implications.

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How Long Will My Build Take? Basic Refresh

In our last post we mentioned some of the major variables that determine build time.

We can narrow it down depending on what type of redesign you require. We generally break our designs into 3 categories: Design without construction, Some construction work, and full renovation/new build.


Minor construction work

For a ‘design without construction’ project, we are usually just injecting some life, or refreshing an existing layout. This can include putting in a new kitchen and bathroom (if the current arrangement isn’t changing too much), but generally doesn’t involve moving or removing walls. It can also include laying new flooring or reaccepting, but sometimes the entire floor can be transformed with a bit of buffing and different finish (from say, varnished to waxed). Because this work can be done relatively quickly, we will calculate the finishing date based on the longest lead time (the product with the slowest delivery date. Either because it has to be made from scratch or shipped from afar). Plus time for installing, cleaning, styling and some added contingency days. So that you/and us aren’t sitting in and waiting all day, every day for a stream of deliveries, we have everything delivered to our warehouse so it can be transported to your property all in one day. If you are having all your products ‘off the shelf’ we can turn the project in a matter of week, but usually these projects take about 3 months as most distributors and manufactures simply do not have the space to stock multiples of their designs, so it usually has to be assembled and shipped from their factories, which are usually on the continent. Likewise, a lot of lights and chandeliers are manufactured in multiple bits and when you buy one, someone at the factory starts work screwing it all together into larger pieces, which are then securely package and sent to you, where further assembly is required. That usually takes about a month.

So this is a rough guide to our timeline for non construction projects:

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Optimum Layouts and Adding Value

Many people think that adding rooms = adding value, but in London the opposite is more often true. Light and space is at such a premium that a good quality finish and optimum layout can often command the same, or higher, asking price.

Creating an open plan kitchen/living room is a very effective way to add value. The combined space is not only very fashionable but also more useable and useful, and in many cases adds more value than building out and increases a home’s saleability. The cost will depend largely on the structural considerations, but even if you are removing a supporting wall they are unlikely to be as high as an extension, and won’t require the same time and money concerned with planning consent.

A client came to us looking to update a flat he had owned for some time. The decor was rather tired, the layout didn’t really flow and he’d had trouble reconciling any design with the odd angled side wall.

Image 2016-01-24 16.17.24

Original Floor Plan

If you are going to “knock through” it’s important that you zone out each of the areas so they retain their function. You want each area to exude its own character, but work harmoniously with each other zone. The easiest way to do this is to pick 1 or 2 unifying design themes, usually something large like floor covering or wall colours, and then blend it with subtly different colours, textures and lighting in the individual areas.

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Basecamp and The Art of Project Management

All our projects are run through a web-based interior design project-management tool called Basecamp. This is our one-stop-shop for everything to do with your interior design project. It makes a quick and easy reference tool for all parties who are involved in any part of the design or construction of your beautiful home.

The main menu is broken down into the following parts

1) Latest Project Updates

Here you see a brief overview of the most recent activity within the project, with the author and time clearly labelled and a link to the specific post. This, combined with the ‘Events’ tab will keep you fully up to date with how the design is progressing. The Events tab can be accessed via the right-hand-side button.Upcoming events and important dates are also noted here. Clients, contractors, suppliers can all see the schedule and add to the list at any time. It’s your own personal calendar and all dates pertaining to the project will be there, including when you, or your designer may be out of the country. This can be handily synced to a Google or iCalendar.

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New Project – New Challenge

The scope of this project is to turn the new built 3 bedroom flat into modern and warm looking home. Although, each of the rooms have to have a separate function, overall the flat has to have an open layout and light, airy feeling. The question is, how to address those needs in the new built design scheme?

Having lived all over the world, our clients are used to having spacious and large apartments, London surprised them with a bit different apartment layouts.  They want the design to achieve a spacious-looking interior, that would feel open and light. With three bedrooms to be designed, clients wanted to transform one of them into office and working area (since they work from home two days a week), one of them in to a guest bedroom and the third to be their master suite.


The study is a perfect space to put additional storage for spare bedding or seasonal clothes. Also, if there is space for work to be easily put away, the room may be transformed into additional bedroom, creating a relaxing atmosphere for anyone using the room when it’s not a study. However, our priority in this space is minimalistic and modern desk, with a well designed chair. The other room would be a more traditional guest bedroom, that would create comfortable feel, allowing guests to own a bit of personal space.

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8 Ways A Designer Will Make The Most Out Of Your Budget

Interior Designers are professionals, we are accredited by the BIID and are given various different levels of membership.  Kia Sunda is a member of the BIID this means that she has over six years worth of experience in not only creating design schemes but also taking projects through from start to completion.  As a designer it is our job to not only create a stunning design but to also make the most out of our clients budget by knowing where to invest both time and money. Here are 8 small ways in which we do that

keeping to a budget

1. We don’t get dazzled by the newest items

Yes, we are always looking for new and innovative items however we won’t just use them for the sake of it.  We will carefully consider your overall design needs before putting a product in to your design.  If it’s not there it will be because there is an extremely good reason for it.  It is this expertise that you are ultimately paying for.

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Does the scale of my project really warrant an interior designer?

Even if you think you could accomplish the redesign, do you have the time and inclination? You need to be realistic about how much money you are willing to spend. Include in this estimate the cost of all raw materials, new furniture, labor for installations, and possibly a designer.

Remember to always be realistic and ask yourself can we accomplish the redesign and stay within my budget?