Inside the world of Interior Design

Procurement: What We Do To Make Life Easier

Procurement: What We do To make life easier

Interior Design isn’t just all glitz and glam, there is a hell of a lot that goes on behind the scenes that most people wouldn’t even be aware of, let alone know how to tackle it.

Like most interior designers, procurement is a big part of the service we offer for our clients. This is one of the most time consuming parts of the project and takes a lot of organising. After we have settled on a design that the client loves, we get to work ordering all of the beautiful pieces. These can come from all over the world, with various lead times, so it is vital we order them at the right time and to the right place. Some things can be ordered in time to go straight into the clients property. Whilst others may need to be stored elsewhere prior to final installation. And it’s not just the furnishings and decoration we order, we also order the majority of the items the builders need. Lights (and drivers), bathroom fixtures and fittings, flooring, windows, etc. all need to be ordered and delivered at specific times and in a specific order throughout the project. For things that need to arrive towards the end of the project, we can organise them to be stored and then brought into the property at the correct time.


Usually when we order items for our clients, we order for them to be delivered to a storage warehouse. This allows things to be kept in a safe place where they wont be damaged, a building site is not a place for a bespoke calf-skin pouf to live… On arrival the items are expertly checked for damages to make sure all your pieces are in tip top condition! Storing them at a warehouse means that we are able to receive much larger items, such as palette deliveries. It also means that if you’re living on site whilst the work is being carried out, your home isn’t over run with huge cardboard boxes, as well as being part building site, part dwelling.

Just a few of the deliveries for one of our projects...

Just a few of the deliveries for one of our projects…


As we buy everything for you, we have a copy of all of your receipts. This means that you have access to all your receipts for life. Your beautiful kettle has gone caput before its warranty? Not to worry, all you need to do is contact us and we’ll get you a copy of your receipt no problem! Gone are the days that you had to spend hours routing through your important receipt box (if you have one), to find it’d been thrown out with the box.

Trade Discounts and Fees

Many of our suppliers offer interior designers a trade discount when buying items for our clients. This discount can range from 20%-50%, which we always pass onto the price we charge our clients.

We do charge a 20% buying fee on top of each item we purchase, which can sound a little daunting. However, as we get larger discounts from some suppliers and not so large from others, it usually works out very similar to the retail pricing, if not cheaper. Also, this fee covers the handling of all your new items, sorting the items, organising delivery, and the installation of all your lovely new items. So although there is an extra fee, usually this equates to the same price you would pay, with the added bonus of stress free purchasing, storing, sorting and installing. So many headaches avoided!




How to Update a Property Without it Jarring

modernised period home

Before and After: An updated bathroom in one of our recent projects

Modernising and updating the interior of a period property is a delicate juggling act. Whilst most people who buy older houses love the heritage features, like cornicing, coving, large windows and feature fireplaces, there is a danger of just repeating ‘original features’. You often see people (and yes, some very unoriginal Interior Designers) using a mock 18th century toilet in a Georgian townhouse, combined with replica wallpaper and faux gas lamps. The overall effect is that you are living in a museum, not a comfortable modern home. The other danger is to go too modern, Sharp, square toilets and taps never look nice in houses where the walls are completely straight and the ceilings are higher than the room is wide.

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Household Storage

Household Storage

The age old problem of household storage is an all too familiar story. Whether you are a jet-setter and need somewhere to store those awkward and bulky cases, or whether your family is expanding and you need somewhere to hide away all lose little people toys and games, everyone has the same experience. But as we all know, space isn’t always easy to conjure up, and it can be difficult to have the imagination to envisage the possibilities. Many of our projects and clients have the same problem, and so seek out our help and advice.

Hallway Storage

One of our clients was particularly keen on have great amounts of storage in his home, as he travelled a lot and often had lots of family to stay with him. Therefore the need for storage of plenty of clothes, coats and suitcases was paramount. The hallway in particular provided us with a great opportunity to create some beautiful built in storage. It not only left the space of the hallway untouched and spacious, but also was completely invisible and blends in seamlessly with the panelling around the rest of the hall.

The images below indicate exactly where the built in cupboards are located (highlighted in blue). If you would like to see the rest of this project click here

Under-Stair Storage

A place that is often not utilised to its full potential is the space under stairs. It is usually and awkward shape and not quite big enough to make it liveable, which makes it a perfect place for storage. One of our latest projects, our clients needed extra storage for bikes and children’s toys and games. As they are undergoing a basement renovation, the space under their stairs was rendered null and void, and so provided the best spot to squeeze in that much needed storage for their growing family.

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How Technology Can Improve Your Christmas

It’s good to be weary of gadgets that claims to make your life easier, especially around Christmas. They’re often big, bulky, difficult to clean and only really serve a single purpose. There are, however, many new products hitting the market which are genuinely useful around the holiday season, as they save you more of that rare commodity – time. And they aren’t season specific, they just happen to be most useful when you are most in need.

My top pick would be a steam oven. These have been around for a few years. The commercial ones have largely been streets ahead of the domestic ones, but now they’ve caught up. A good steam oven is like your KitchenAid. It’s eye-wateringly expensive and you’re likely to only use have the functions. They’ve gained a lot of popularity due to their ability to get pastries and cakes to rise with less fat, but let’s be honest, also less taste. Forget the healthy aspect, it isn’t what Christmas is all about. The steam function acts as a permanent baster , so you pop your turkey in and never need to open the door again. New models can link to the wifi so you can be swinging your heart out at church and quickly turn up the heat for that final hour’s skin crisping. The extra moisture also makes cooking goose or duck a less challenging prospect, and if you splash out for a really good fillet of beef instead, then they sous vide so you can be guaranteed that melt-in-the-mouth texture.

My second pick would be a universal induction hob. These are exactly like normal induction hobs, but they don’t have set heating points, they just heat any suitable pans placed anywhere on the surface. So you can have as many pans as you can fit, and keep moving them around so they all fit. A small screen will allow you to individually change the temperature of each one, fantastically useful for when you have 4 pots on the go and need to sneak the small pan of peas on somewhere for 5 minutes. Great for having everything warm whilst you’re eating, ready for seconds…

My other suggestion would be the humble slow cooker. Once a symbol of 70s faddiness, they are now reborn as a shiny, easy-to-clean, wifi linked, indispensable gadget. They make fantastic sprouts, sauces, soups and dips, and all the hard work has been done the day before. Throughout the year they are great for producing home cooked meals on evenings when you are back late, and the long cooking time usually makes the cheaper cuts more feasible so they are great on the pocket.

Happy holidays!


Shutters: How to Pick the Perfect Shutters for Your Project

Shutters: How to Pick the Perfect Shutters for Your Project

Although shutters are extremely on trend at the moment, they have a timeless style that can easily hold their elegance throughout the years. Our team here at Kia Designs is particularly excited as we have got the opportunity to include this beautiful and trendy way of dressing windows into one of our current designs.

But it isn’t always easy to decide which style of shutters would be best suited for your home. Lots of different elements should be considered when choosing how to dress your window. For example, if you want to install shutters in a room that has a lot of moisture, e.g. a bathroom, then it is important to factor this in when choosing the material your shutter will be made in. Another big consideration the actual style of shutters, and with so many to choose from you might find it a little bewildering. Here’s where we can step in and show you a few things that will help you when picking the perfect shutters for your room, taking style and material into consideration.

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Refresh Your Christmas Wreath

The Christmas adverts have been on for quite some time, and the shops have that familiar cheer… The 1st of December has arrived so we can finally get our Christmas on, guilt free!

We thought we’d kick of this festive period with a how to on Christmas Wreaths. Whether you want to create a completely new scheme for your Christmas interior, or just looking to refresh your old wreath and rekindle that magical Christmas sparkle, here’s some festive tips to get you ready and prepped for the season of cheer…

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Spotlight On: BeatWoven

BeatWoven was born through professional dancer and weaver Nadia-Anne Rickett’s love for the evocative nature of music. Music has the ability to ignite strong emotions from within and transport us to specific times and places. When Nadia-Anne first started weaving, she got the impression that her loom was an instrument, giving her the idea of combining her two interests.

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Creating a Gender Neutral Children’s Room

We often get asked to do children’s rooms and we love them – they are so exciting. Not just because we get to be excited over cuddly toys again but because we get to create a space that children open their eyes in each and every morning. We feel that is a pretty special job and we take it very seriously. That’s why we don’t want to limit those little gorgeous eyes to only one colour, we want to create Gender Neutral Children’s Room.

Children’s rooms do not need to be blue or pink, they can be any colour in the rainbow – or the whole rainbow. Before your child can make their own decisions on what colours they are most drawn to it is nice to be able to give them a lot of choice and an open book. This doesn’t mean that you have to go bland – anything but – it means that you can switch things up and break those stereotypes.  Blue isn’t always for a boys room and pink isn’t always for girls. Let’s mix things up and give you a few options for those amazing gender neutral rooms that are going to inspire your little ones to interact with colour in a much more healthy way. These are a few themes that are a great starting space for any childrens room.

We have mostly focused on accessories as they are a good place to introduce different elements and easy to update if your little boy decides he wants a little more princess in his room or your little girl wants to explore space from her bed each night. Oh, and most of these are from small individual creators.

Everything from Magical, Pirates, and superheroes…let’s get excited

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Hidden Parts Of Images – Things Behind The Design

Good design is effortless, it hides the bad or frustrating parts of a home and highlights the parts that you have fallen in love with. Most homes struggle with storage, even the largest home needs good storage. With these images we take you behind the design to the hidden parts of the image, the parts that make the designs look so effortless.

From hidden passages, secret rooms and electronic opening cupboards we adore creating something a little bit special and different for each and every one of our clients


Here, in our Chelsea project, to avoid an entrance hall becoming awash with doors we make the entrance to the utility and sports store a secdsc_0670-low-resret swinging bookcase. The case in hung on metal casters, so it’s also a functioning bookcase, not a fake. The mechanism is soft closing and super easy to open. Hopefully this makes doing the laundry a little more enjoyable!









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Spotlight on: Sian Zeng

We had a great time at Decorex last month, and it is still igniting excitement amongst our team! Especially when we have anew projects that gives us the opportunity to use the products that we have seen and absolutely love.

One of those products was the work of Sian Zeng, who designs and create stunning wall coverings. Zeng was a graduate from Central Saint Martins and won the Elle Decoration Young Talent of the Year Award for 2010/2011 and Maison et Objet Les Découvertes prize in 2015. Since then she has been designing and crafting her wall coverings in her London Studio, with a focus not only traditional but cutting edge and innovative techniques.

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The Rise of Patterned Flooring

Here at Kia Designs we adore patterned flooring. From a simple herringbone to a complex basket weave we have admired them all and clients are responding to it more with each passing month, we are seeing the rise of patterned flooring. There are many trends that come and go but we hope that patterned flooring is one that sticks around, especially as there are more and more beautiful options becoming available.

Patterned flooring is appearing in wood, mosaic, marble and ceramic. We have been mixing it up with our flooring choices putting a gorgeous honeycomb together with an engineered wood – it was a challenge to install (as you can see in the bottom right!) but the overall effect was definitely well worth it. Our contractor couldn’t have been more proud to be able to show off this finish to his family when we were doing a walk around of the property.

Marble is often the go-to when you think of patterned flooring. The herringbone floor of Sketch always jumps to my mind when thinking about patterned floors however it can often not be the easiest of materials to look after and can be easily damaged. For this reason we have recently looked in to porcelain replacements in high traffic areas.

The entrance hall of our Knightsbridge Interior Design project is a fantastic example of this, not only does it use a porcelain for the main marble effect squares but the wood that criss-crosses across it is also a porcelain replacement. Meaning that this entrance hall will be gorgeous for years to come.

We have some exciting projects being photographed over the next few weeks and we can’t wait to show you some more patterned floors that completely transform their rooms.

Let There be Light: The Sky’s the Limit

There are 2 good investments I keep my eye out for. 1, short term, is to find the darkest period houses. The Georgian gems and Victorian terraces that give you eye strain almost the moment you enter. The other is long term: find nice country houses with stunning views blighted by power lines and towers. They’ll bury them eventually. I hope.

Nearly everyone sights ‘lots of natural light’ as a key requirement of a new home. Georgian homes are popular purely because they have high ceilings which house large windows and let light flooding in. Because we have built up and around, many of these buildings core have become very dark and dingy. The stairwells aren’t large enough for a skylight to flood light down, and the can be listed, so including a light shaft or well all the way down can be problematic.


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Getting a Handle on the Situation – Design Details

If you are going to splurge anywhere, do it on fixtures and fittings. Light switches, handles, drawer runners etc. Things you touch everyday. You’ll appreciate the quality and workmanship, they’ll last forever and you’ll notice them more than you think.

bespoke handles

Handles from Anthropologie that we recently put in our Regent’s Park project.

Next time you are getting a new wardrobe or chest of drawers why not think about pimping your handles. Even your basic Ikea can be greatly improved and individualised but a new set of handles. You can completely change the feel and look of a piece – a pair of iron or metal handles will instantly make something look industrial (like the Buster and Punch ones below), or you can make something look crafted and exotic with some handmade clay buttons, like those from Anthropologie. Lots of reclamation stores will sell recycled, or upcycled vintage pieces. It can be really fun to mix and match styles – go for old world, traditional handles on a modern cupboard, or really contemporary pieces for vintage furniture.

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Your Guide to Upholstery Jargon: The Martindale Test

Guide to Upholstery Jargon: The Martindale Test

Knightsbridge Upholstered Chairs

Knightsbridge Upholstered Chairs

With a multitude fabrics in various designs, colours and patterns, picking which fabric works with your scheme can be an exciting but also overwhelming experience! And with all those  codes, numbers and terms that reside on the back of samples, it can seem like there’s a lot to learn. When I started, I didn’t know my FR code from my rub count.. But have no fear! To follow are a few post on certain terms that might bewilder you. First up, the Martindale Test.

The Martindale Test: Also know as the Rub Test

This is a test that measures the durability and suitability of fabrics. During the test, the fabric is put under a certain amount of tension. Little round pads of wire or hardened wool are then rubbed repeatedly in a circular motion until the fabric shows a considerable amount of visible wear and tear. The tests results in a number called the rub count, which essentially is the amount of rubs the fabric can withstand before wearing through.

The higher the rub count, the heavier duty the fabric and the more durable it is.

under 10,000 Rub Count: Suitable for Decorative furnishings, e.g. cushions, trimmings etc.

10,000-15,000 Rub Count: Suitable for Light Domestic use, e.g. furniture that is used only on occasion 

15,000-20,000 Rub Count: Suitable for General Domestic use, e.g. the main furniture that is used in your home, however, not advised for furniture with moving parts like recliners

25,000-30,000 Rub Count: Suitable for Heavy Domestic use e.g. furniture with moving parts, and light commercial use.

30,000 Plus Rub Count: Suitable for Heavy Duty Commercial use and domestic use,that will incur a lot of traffic.

Hopefully you now have a much better idea of what kind of fabric you’ll need for your own specific project! Stay tuned for more Upholstery Jargon Busters still to come!

You’ve got Some FRONT: Modern Rugs of Mayfair

In the design industry, one sees all manor of creative and innovative products. It’s always lovely when a design has heritage, history and a story to tell. Recently, after a trip to the FRONT showroom in Chelsea Harbour we were blown away by the tale of how their stunning ‘Erased Heritage’ collection came into being. They tell it better than we would, so below is an account sent to us by the lovely Karisa from their Mayfair branch.


Erased Heritage by Jan Kath
The Erased Heritage collection pays homage to the traditional oriental carpet, taking inspiration from ancient patterns, techniques and standards of quality.
Over the course of history, every community, region and cultural group in the East has developed a particular style of carpet. With Erased Heritage, Jan is ensuring these ideas survive into the modern age. He is preserving not only ancient Persian ‘mother patterns’, but also their unique method of production. 

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Spotlight on: Carmen Almon

American Artist Carmen Almon makes the most exquisite hyper-real botanical structures. And far from being delicate models, her pieces are made from sturdy and durable wire and copper, fashioned into the most meticulous detail.  Artificial flowers have gained popularity in recent years, as technological advances make them more realistic and affordable, but Almon’s creations are works of art and make for a far more interesting centrepiece.


Originally inspired by the 18th Century collages of Mary Delany (on display in the British Museum), Almon began cutting sheets of copper into petals and soldering them together with brass fill to make them slightly raised 3D sculptures of flowers and plants. She then painted them with enamel and oil washes and the result was an instant hit.


Now living in France with her Sculptor husband Thierry Job, Almon hand crafts up to 4 plants a month, using nail scissors, pliers, cutters and paint. Recently she has begun adding a distinctive finishing touch to each plant – usually something like a ladybird or bug, hidden away. She says this helps to ‘fix the moment in time’, in the way a photo would.  Given the intensive labour involved in each creation, expect to see prices from £1200 – 35,000. Almon usually works to commission for private collectors although she does display at a few galleries, such as the Chinese Porcelain Company in New York and the Octavia Gallery in New Orleans.

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Gaining Your Marbles: From Paper to Walls

Marbling, once the reserve of antiquated booksellers and Venetian paper shops, has now hit the mainstream thanks to new advances in printing and imaging. Its organic patination and vivid colour contrasts make any surface interesting and luxurious.


Fabric from Designers Guild

Marbling is the art of creating colorful patterns by sprinkling and brushing colour pigments in a pan of oily or thinned water and then transferring this pattern to paper of fabric. It is believed to be invented in the thirteenth century Turkistan. This decorative art then spread to China, India and Persia and Anatolia. Seljuk and Ottoman calligraphers and artists used marbling to decorate books, imperial decrees, official correspondence and documents. New forms and techniques were perfected in the process and Turkey remained the center of marbling for many centuries until the 17th Century, when Italian paper merchants began producing papers for the European markets and Venice became the central hub of the marbled paper industry. 

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That’s Clever: Simple Storage Solutions

Clients always want more storage, and London housing always seems to be lacking in it. Here are some quick, cheap and easy solutions to add storage space to your home without gauging out under your stairs or ‘knocking through’.

Try a hanging cloak rack if you are short on floor space

cphanger_marble_600x800Floating racks hanging from the ceiling can accommodate all manor of coats, bags, scarves. You can load them up and then swing them aside when you want to move past. If you have very high ceilings you can even sit them on a pulley system and whisk them up and out of the way. You can also use them in places that don’t have a wall, or have wall that can’t support weight. They are also great for hanging close to baths and showers, in the bedroom to display accessories, or even in the kitchen hanging over the counter for tea towels and oven gloves. We particularly like the one from Copenhanger which comes in 3 colours and retails at a reasonable £170.

If that looks a little too rustic then you could try The Wardrope, designed by Veronika Wildgruber and Susanne Stofer, which uses porcelain hooks mounted on a rope, which can be adjusted by sliding them, and you can add as many as needed. The Wardrope screws into the ceiling (or can be hung from another hook) and you can chose to have a weight at the bottom of the rope to keep it under tension, if you’d rather it were tethered.


The clean silhouette of Wardrope

If you’d like a more industrial look, Phos do one in polished stainless steel. 5 hooks rotate on an axis and the bar is rigid. Different types of hooks are also available, and the product was a ‘good design’ award earlier this year.t5-garderobe-2-440

If you would like to talk to a designer about unique and creative ways to gain storage in your property, call or email Kia Designs today for a free consultation.


Feeling Foxy? Try a Stylish Antiqued Mirror

The technique of foxing a mirror (artificially ageing it) is a time honoured tradition that is still as popular now as ever. The flattering light and soft focus image they reflect make them a luxurious addition to any interior, and as the genuine article (ravaged by time) becomes increasing rare, due to fragility, modern reproductions are just as atmospheric and far easier on the pocket.


Panel available from Glass of Bath

So how is it made:

An antiqued mirror is glass that has been ‘silvered’ (one side of it is merged with silver nitrite, or reflective element such as mercury. The vintage look is then created by damaging the silver surface using abrasive or chemical substances until it achieves an attractive patina. The result will always be unique.

As this effect can be applied to any glass, you can have antiqued splash-backs, shower panels, steps or glass sliding doors – any surface you desire that can be manufactured in a glass of some sort. The silvering can also be shaped, so you can achieve stunning curves or apply it to surface such as vases. Most commonly it is framed and used in places where it is more of a feature than a practical object. Great for admiring your outline, not so good for spotting food in your teeth.

As mirrored glass is usually created by a craftsman (although it’s a fun hobby and suitable for amateurs) there are a wide variety of finished available, different degrees of abrasion, colours, tints and decoupage, applied heavily or lightly will greatly diversify your product.

The current trend for mirrored glass is to decorate with tiles. Sicis have long been the master of the glass tile (just wait till you see the glass mosaic bathroom we are currently installing) but hot on their heels are design staples Fired Earth and new comers Original Style. Or you could stick with the experts at The Antique Mirror Company.

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Bert and May: From Tiles to Trendsetting

When former barrister Lee Thornley moved to Spain and decided to set up a hotel in 2008, he scavenged local reclaimed tiles and stone to build it. The interior was so admired he started an online reclamation company to sell similar items, sourced from local sites around Cadiz. Thornley struggled to meet demand, and so eventually set up with a local tile factory to produce modern looking cement tiles with old fashioned production methods, resulting in a timeless, sophisticated rustic aesthetic. And thus Bert and May was born. By 2013 there was a London showroom and the business blossomed into a desirable lifestyle brand, offering a large selection of its tiles, flooring, kitchens, bathrooms and paints. The company has also produced a pre-fab kit home which is available in 3 sizes, which has been incredibly popular with rural hoteliers. There is also 1 available (2 more coming soon) houseboat for nightly hire in London. ‘Bert’s Barge’ is moored in Hackney and requires a min 2 night stay. Occasionally they host supper parties on Thursday evening with a guest chef. See their website for details.


The company is now doing collaborations with other British brands, and current stock tiles designed by cult store Darkroom, who are doing a ‘design takeover’ of the barge this December. Furthermore, Bert and May are planning a collection of rugs and homewares with a similar aesthetic in 2017.

Bert and May kitchens and bathrooms have garnered a lot of press interest, looking stylish and individual whilst remaining practical and versatile. Kitchen doors come in brushed brass, painted ply, reclaimed timber or concrete. They also stock a range of kitchen fixtures, such as patinated taps and sink plugs. Quality is flawless, and the items feel sturdy and solid in hand.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-19-25-17 20160422_bertmay_02_kitchen_111_0

They also offer an interior design service, should you like to introduce any of their products into your home.

For more information about the company, click here, or alternatively, to discuss achieving a similar look in your home, call Kia Designs today for a free consultation.