That’s Clever!

Ever wanted a secret passageway?

‘A house with a secret passageway’ tops most people’s “lotto win dream house” list. They feature largely in the children’s literature and adventure films that dominate people’s formative years. Later in life you might really see the appeal of being able to sneak out a lover, bump someone on the head and make a swift exit, or you might want to be ready to conceal a priest at short notice…

A more 21st century friendly secret passage usually leads to a private bathroom, office or walk-in wardrobe. It’s more about uninterrupted clean lines and reflective spaces than secrecy. On the occasions we are commissioned to build a secret room, it’s more likely to be for shoes than a 50 Shades of Grey style chamber. Pity.

At Kia Designs, we’ve used hidden rooms in several builds as a means of problem solving. Older fire regulations usually stipulated that you need a door between each room and the main entrance, and before open plan living became popular, entrance halls were all the rage, even in the smallest flats. The combination of the two tended to result in a hall of doors, all identical and very confusing for guests. We also can’t tell you the number of flats we went into that would have a large storage cupboard in the hall, covered by a “room door’, designed to give the impression you have another bedroom. This style of layout is impractical and aesthetically unappealing. It’s also wasteful in small spaces.

We were recently faced with this situation in a 1 bed Chelsea pied-à-terre, which contained a very large hallway, filled with 6 identical doors, leading to a: cupboard, a W/C, a bathroom, a bedroom, the living room and a kitchen. We made subtle changes to the layout which not only made the flat feel a lot bigger, but freed up a lot more usable space and made the area more visually interesting. Firstly, we combined the kitchen and living room and thus removed the need for 1 door. We also borrowed from the overly generous entrance space to add to a newly combined and now much larger bathroom and W/C, which also left enough space to add a utility room with linen and winter sports store. Down another door. 4 doors still seems too many, so the bedroom door was cleverly hidden behind a full length mirror. This looked fantastic, was extremely practical, and made the bedroom a far more private space. This is an easy trick you can do in your own home (just check that your door can support the weight of a mirror and that it is firmly attached!). The client was still a little short on storage space, so our pièce de résistance:  the new utility room door became fully working bookcase, swung easily on reinforced steel hinges.

Secret passageway

2 of the rooms have been cleverly concealed behind useful objects

secret room

The bookcase easily swings away to reveal the hidden utility space

Another client requested bedroom access to a family bathroom, so we created a secret passage, along a walk-through wardrobe, hidden seamlessly behind the storage units in the master suite. We playfully referred to this as the ‘lover’s retreat’.

secret rooms



These weren’t particularly expensive solutions, and have great practical value. And they are super fun. Why not consider being more playful and inventive with your home…

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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.

2) Discussions

Where we get into the nitty gritty on every part of the design. When you first sign up to Basecamp you will see that there are pre-designed discussions for each part of the house. The first thing you’ll want to do is drop in your inspiration for your new home into the appropriate room. Got a Pinterest board for your master bedroom? Pop a link into the discussion and hit ‘send’. It’s that easy!

3) To-dos

These can be made by any member of the team and then assigned to any member. Need an update on the new height of the worktop to send to the kitchen supplier by the end of the day? Make a to-do and task it to the builder on site with a clear deadline. They’ll also get an email reminder.

4) Files

Every single file, image, pdf, spreadsheet etc will be held here. You can browse through them, discuss and label them (several times!) and can easily access them at any point in the project.

5)Text documents

Information that needs to be easily accessed is stored here. We’ll have all the phone numbers of people you might want to contact, on and off site, and all the technical specifications associated with the design. We’ll also have copies of your contract, notes from all our meetings and copies of legal or insurance documentation associate with your project.


Basecamp’s search feature means you can search the entire project quickly and easily (no trawling through 2000 emails – we’ve all been there!). The discussion feature can operate through your email, it’s quick, easy and can get through 95% of business firewalls.

If you’d like to be updated in real time, you can subscribe to the RSS fee via the link at the bottom of the page. Basecamp has everything you need to keep you fully informed and up-to-date with your project, whilst breaking it down into manageable and digestible portions. We wouldn’t live without it!

You can find out more about Basecamp for yourself here

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Interior Design in London

Storage Solutions

There are certain challenges the Interior Design in London brings you.  Even in the most luxurious of houses space is usually an issue which means that storage is also an issue.  Most of our projects tend to be in London so we get very good at building in storage that is both pretty and functional


This looks like your typical cloakroom however, those cupboards underneath the sink are actually housing a washing machine and dryer.  We designed the room so that all the doors can also come off easily so that both the washing machine and tumble dryer can easily pull out (avoiding the toilet nicely) for ease of maintenance.  The sink was also specially thought about, we wanted something that didn’t look too small on the vast work top so we picked a sink design that was low line but very wide so that the proportions worked perfectly.  We used the same measurements for the mirror above the sink and used wall lights so give the room beautiful light.  The cupboard above the toilet holds all the usual items you would need in both a cloakroom as well as everything needed for the laundry but is all nicely hidden away.

DSC_0018-cropped (2)

This project we often have many comments on.  The platform was extended to be able to house the kingsize bed, however rather than waste the space underneath the platform we designed a large (and very deep) chest of draws to help house all the clients clothes.  The bottom drawers are extra deep for thick winter wear and extra bedding.  We also have cleverly hidden panels behind the bed that open and allow even more storage.

Project 2 - Earls Court - Image 6

Making sure that every space is used is extremely important.  This under stairs area could have easily just been a plain wall, however this custom built bookcase means that this area can be used as a reading area.

Do you often look around and wonder if your home could have better storage?  Are you buying a new property and are wondering if you are going to be able to fit all your ‘stuff’ in?  Please feel free to contact us regarding your project

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Daring hotel in Vienna

Within cities, there are always a number of hotels popping up left, right, and center.  A lot of the time they are built on relatively small sites and need to be extremely unique and eye-catching if they are to gain any real traction.  This hotel in Vienna succeeds on both counts:

The sleek, curvy design stands out in contrast to the surrounding architecture, but somehow manages to fit in seamlessly.  The curved nature of the hotel also works nicely within the interior:

The curve in the corner gives the room a far more open feel and makes the room a lot less stuffy (an ailment that affects many hotel rooms).  The architect has clearly taken a risk by deciding upon oval windows:

There is little doubt that these windows, which are a microcosm of the hotel’s look, insert a distinct look into the overall makeup of the hotel and give it an edge in a very crowded market place.

Credit: Freshome

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Vespa chairs – you will want one!

How does this stack up when compared with your office chair?




Although not necessarily synonymous with my generation, the Vespa is undeniably iconic, and in the form of a chair, it is guaranteed to turn some heads.  It may even be funkier in white:


Also, as luck would have it, I actually need a new desk chair and these Vespa chairs look like they will make the my day


Credit: Belybel

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Item of the day: John Houshmand Coffee Table

There are times when you see an item and it quite wonderfully brings together two very different dynamics.  Traditionally, coffee tables were made of wood and people did not much question whether this was the optimum material for such a piece of furniture.  Moving on in history, we started to see far more glass coffee tables which ranged from super-sleek to appallingly naff, but I believe this item takes the best of both worlds:

The imperfection of the wood mixed with the seamless nature of the glass is very eye-catching and something that I could very much imagine in a lobby (although it would also make significant waves in a large enough living room!)

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Customised swing!

There is likely nothing that instantly transforms people into ‘big kids’ quicker than an indoor swing!  We have wanted to put an indoor swing into many projects but they are very much dependent upon having ceiling joists in convenient places (chance has been against us each time in this regard!).  However, if you are going to go for an indoor swing you have to get something really special (not just a plank attached to two pieces of rope!).  Perhaps something like this …

What I really like about this product is how you can customise the swing to fit in with your own personality.  The seat, for example, can be altered:

As can the rope:

Being able to make a design feature such as this so personal certainly adds to its appeal but just remember, you cannot just screw this into a ceiling!!!

Credit: Svvving

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Radiators Can Be Funky Too

Whenever you can add a bit of additional interest to a primarily functional item it adds a level of intrigue to any design.  This product by ‘The Radiator Company’ incorporates LED lights into the radiators acrylic cover:

 Not only does this liven up what can otherwise be a relatively mundane item but it also provides a very useful secondary lighting which would be ideal for a late night visit to the kitchen!
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Unique ceiling unit

Recently it seems that we have been forever searching for chandeliers and general ceiling lighting and, after a while, it can seem that you have seen it all.  Having said that, this piece really captured my imagination given the fact that I have seen nothing like it on the market (and certainly nothing as elegant in such a style):



For me it is the intricacy of the piece which stands out; such intricacy will no doubt provide a soft ambient light which, combined
with the sleek design, creates a fantastic overall impression.
Credit: Designer Lights
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Products at Clerkenwell Design Week: Part 2

A lot of the time Interior Design can become very serious, overly so in fact, and it is necessary to lighten the mood with a more ‘fun’ product.  During Clerkenwell Design week we found some very cool lamps that are made out of action figures/toys – take a look:

The company in question (there is a link below) can make these out of one’s own childhood toys or can create a bespoke piece which fits your own specifications:

I am also impressed with, aside from the unique appeal of these pieces, the classy shade which would allow a piece like this to (cheekily) work in conjunction with more classy pieces:

Overall, I am very impressed and my start looking through my own toy box!

Credit: Evil Robot Designs

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Products at Clerkenwell Design Week: Part 1

Unfortunately this year we were only able to manage 1 day at Clerkenwell Design Week due to a number of projects being at a rather critical stage.  Thankfully, the one day that we choose was sun-drenched which certainly adds to the appeal of wandering between stalls and exhibitions.  For one of our current clients we were looking for decorative items which could potentially sit above a fireplace.  Obviously items such as mirrors and paintings are always an option but, at Clerkenwell Design Week, we found a very interesting piece by Fay McCaul which is made up of stitched white fibre optics which we sent through to the client in question:

This idea has also been manifested in a sculpture form:

What I really like about this work is its unpredictable nature as well as the clever combination of stitching and fibre optic lights.  There is certainly a gap in the market with regard to decorative items (aside from traditionally used ones) that can be placed above fireplaces and items such as Fay’s are, as a result, very refreshing.

Credit: Fay McCaul


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Villiers Console Table

We are currently working on a stunning property in Mayfair and were recently out in Chelsea looking for products that would reflect the property aptly.  One of the challenges with regard to this property is that it is necessary to find pieces which give a nod to the traditional features of the house whilst simultaneously spark interest.  This console table from Villiers ticks both boxes elegantly:


This piece is absolutely stunning and very much a piece of art in its own right.  Seeing as this piece will be in the entrance area it will set the tone for the entire house in a splendid and vivid manner.

Credit: Villiers

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Beautifully Streamlined South African Home

Perhaps it is something to do with living in England, but I always love seeing beautiful swimming pools/water features.  However, for the most part, such features are quite separate from their attaching homes.  In this case, however, it is almost as though the swimming pool is a part of the home and the results are undeniably stunning:

This union of ‘home and pool’ makes not only looks stunning but also adds a more social aspect to the pool area as those who do not wish to partake in the usual swimming pool horseplay can sit in (dry) comfort without being completely detached from the rest of the group.  This undoubtedly lends a more homely feel to an already stunning pool area:

With any design of this nature it is vital that a degree of practicality is adhered to.  In the case of a pool area being merged with the ‘home’ area it is vital that the home does not get soaked (especially in the case of an expensive sofa) and this area gives any guests ample opportunity and space to get dry before lazing on the owner’s sofa!

Credit: Freshome


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Why is a bag like a room?

Whilst in Selfridges the a few days ago a particular bag from Jimmy Choo caught our eye:


I guess there is little mystery as to why!  The brilliant yellow gleamed like gold on coal and simply refused to be ignored.  It is often shocking to me how many ‘designer bags’ do so little to differentiate themselves from their cheaper counterparts: obviously such a charge cannot be levied at this bag (not many bags can boast yellow python as a highlight!).  What can be learned from this bag is that even the most unbelievably vibrant colour can work amazingly as a highlight colour.  People are often afraid of using really vibrant colours as they feel that they can hijack an entire room but the trick is to offset such vibrant colours with more earthy tones (as the designer has done in the case of this bag).  In terms of a room this is an example of using vibrant colours to good affect:

Note how the vibrant yellow and greens are offset by the earthy nature of the wood – the moral of the story is that you can get away with a lot of flash as long as you employ it upon the correct backdrop!

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