Interior Design Blog

Kia is an award winning London interior designer based in the South East. Her studio takes on projects from around the world.

How-To Guide: Introducing Natural Light

It’s more than obvious that colors and brightness have influence on the mood and overall image of the space. When there are a limited number of windows and you are struggling with dark space, here are a few  design tricks that will help you introduce some natural lighting into your apartment!

1.Don’t be afraid of color. Although neutral colors like white, sandy, taupe and grey can make a room seems bigger in general terms, splashes of yellow or orange on accent pillows or a  bold pink blanket will make it look much brighter! So don’t be afraid of adding a strong accent color to break a continuum of neutrals.

DSC_0035 Project 9 - Pied-a-terre - Image 4

2.Window treatment matters. When choosing curtains or panels for your window, take in consideration not only how will they look through the day, but also the year, during autumn and winter. Choosing dark colors may not be a great idea. They  will attract  attention to the windows, but also make them visually smaller. In cases of small living rooms, pick sheer curtains rather than strong, textured fabrics.

Paddington Bedroom Design Paddington Interior Design

3.Reflective surfaces. Starting with  mirrors, which should be placed in an area where they can reflect direct natural light, all the way to the  reflective finish of the flooring or wardrobe doors. Anywhere  where there is an opportunity to have a reflection and potential ray of light, just do it. Try to make it fit in with the rest of the interior design  .

DSC_0028 Project 1 - Mayfair - Image 8

4.Clever light sources. Of course, adding more artificial light is an option, but the best way to do it is setting the light source inside or under furniture, so it can create a great ambient light. There are a lot of options to do that, starting from dropped ceiling and kitchen cabinets   to small reading lights under the shelves. The sooner you think about setting them up (sometimes, it is worth consideration while you are still in the process of refurbishment) the better.

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5.Consider remodeling. If you’re an owner and looking to stay where you are for a long time, consider knocking out one or two walls, creating a  open kitchen or open lounge. It does make a huge difference. Try to hire a professional to do that, as he would inform you which walls can safely be removed and how to lay out the space better to get the most out of it.

Paddington Interior Design  Project 3 - Marylebone - Image 3

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5 Steps To Choose A Perfect Wood Flooring

When it comes to wood flooring, there are so many types, finishes and colours that it may be overwhelming and hard to make a decision. But before you jump in into the stunning vision of your living room with a dark, maple floor, let’s get some details sorted out.

Go to the showroom. Pictures of wood samples you see in a  magazine or website, even if they are big, don’t give justice to it. It is always better to see it laid down on the floor surface! As always, the size of the room  is one of the most important criteria when choosing elements for your new home. Dark flooring is elegant and sophisticated, but would it work in small bedroom? Before any purchase, have a look around different showrooms. Most of them will not only have samples of materials, but will display actual flooring in sample rooms, so you can get idea how will it look in bedroom or living room.

Paddington Wardrobe Design Residential Interior Designer

Choose the right type of wood. Not all types of wood are good for all surfaces. It is always a good idea to prepare all the info about the space you want the flooring in before heading to wood supplier or a showroom. You have to take into consideration how will you use the floor. Is there a possibility of it getting scratched or will your dog  run through the room when going outside? Will  you be wearing outdoor boots or trying out your new stilettos there as well? All of these have huge impact on the decision! Even if the walnut floor looks stunning, it may be worth it to go  for a more durable and long-lasting material for the entrance hall.

House Build - Dining Room - sm Project 3 - Notting Hill - Image 1

Choose a finish. Do you want your floor to look natural? Choose oil finish, but remember, you will have to paint it every 5 years! Would you prefer a durable and easy to maintain floor ? Take lacquer finish, you won’t have to improve or paint or do any other work for 20 years , but the effect is totally different. All of the finishes have pluses and minuses, it all boils down to your needs and expectations, so just pick wisely and don’t hesitate to ask a specialist for help.

_DSC0278 (edited 1) Project 2 - Earls Court - Image 7

Choose your colour. We know that you love the walnut flooring you’ve seen in your friend’s living room, but will it look ok in a smaller bedroom on the top floor of your flat? That depends.  You have to think about the scale, what looks good in wide and large surfaces doesn’t always work in small and compact rooms. Take into  consideration the overall look  and volume of it. Also, keep in mind that colour of the flooring will look different in different spaces. A large, bright living room will look stunning with dark flooring, but for tiny bedrooms it maybe too intense.

Swiss Cottage Interior Design Islington - Image 1 - Sm2

Think about space. Moisture is one of the most important criteria to consider while choosing wooden flooring. You have to remember that wood is a natural and organic material, and it has its own ‘life’, which means, depending on moisture level, heat and other conditions, it can change its width or even crack. When you are ordering the floor, don’t forget to mention that to the specialists! Sometimes even small details can make a huge difference and save you tons of money!

DSC_0086 (2) Project 9 - Pied-a-terre - Image 2

And remember another thing! With the technology  is available on the market, you have pretty much endless opportunities in choosing wood flooring.  Whether  you would like to have it in the bathroom or in the sauna, there is always a special type of wood, or protection method that will allow you to actually have that done. So just dream big and talk to the specialists.  They will help you make your dreams spaces come true!

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6 Steps To Choose Perfect Fabrics For Your Home

Whether you are planning to change the colour of your cushions or you want to re-decorate your whole living room, choosing fabrics may actually be a difficult decision. Colours and patterns can make a really big difference in a space when they are used correctly. Use our 6 step  design guide, to create stylish and stunning interiors.

1. Ask the showroom assistant. Stylists who work in showrooms and design centres know about fabrics   more than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help regarding fabric specifications or advice about colours.

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2. Be prepared. Some  textiles are suitable for cushions, but won’t work for  sofas or beds, as they may not be as durable. All the information regarding specific use and   resistance is on the label, so read it carefully or ask a specialist for help.

Mood board Greys Swiss Cottage Interior Design

3.Know what you need. Google your inspiration, prepare a Pinterest board, or find a picture in a magazine   that shows what you like, so you will have a bit of an idea of what are you looking for, even if this narrows your research to neutral patterned sofa fabrics, you will still have a million textiles to choose from, but the more detailed your questions are, the better the  chance that  you will find what you need.

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4.Bring your colour palette. With the number  of colours and variations of shades  in beige alone, it would be good to bring samples of wallpaper, flooring or paint colours and choose a fabric that will go with all of it. Just remember  that artificial lights may change the perception of the colour in the apartment. ( Usually it looks much darker) so to be on the safe side, always pick a shade brighter than what looks good in the shop.

#100 -  34/35 Prince's Courtmood board grey fabrics colors

5.Think about the scale. When you pick fabrics for pillows, you do not have to worry, because those are easy  to change. However, if you are upgrading your sofa or the headboard of your bed, try to imagine this material on a much larger scale, as it will totally change the situation!

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6. Hire a specialist. Going to fabrics showrooms or design centres with an endless number of samples can be very overwhelming. Products which vary in terms of colours, thickness, style can make you feel dizzy, especially when you look at them for hours. Try to find a specialist, an interior designer or decorator who will have an overall vision for your space and will pick a few samples which will work best for your space. You will save loads of time and energy  for things that are even more fun!

DSC_0017 Project-1---Mayfair---Image-4

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Putting In A Spiral Staircase

London projects are often short on space for everything, and this can include even staircases for this reason spiral staircases are becoming a more popular choice. The design of them can range from the extremely inspiring to the downright dull and everything in between.

Every item in a design doesn’t have to be a feature piece, imagine wearing all your favourite items of clothing at the same time and you can imagine how horrific that would look, every item of the design needs to provide a sense of balance and all help to serve the same end design aesthetic.

This video from CANAL architectural shows just some of the care and attention that is put in to the design and manufacture of a stunning bespoke staircase.

In one of our projects this is particularly important.  The project is in Baker Street and had previously been part of a larger building. It is a Grade II listed building located within the Dorset Square Conservation Area. The building forms part of a long terrace of houses constructed as part of the Portman Estate during 1815-20.

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The project is on the top two floors of the property and was created during a conversion in the mid-1970s. It is believed that at this time was stripped of almost all its period features and so it doesn’t have a huge amount of interest.  At this time the original staircase was taken out and a spiral staircase was put in, this was a necessity of the design because the space is now extremely small.

For the space it works but it doesn’t inspire the kind of wow factor that we are looking for in the entrance hall.  The project below gives a better idea of the kid of wow factor we are looking for form a staircase. This is CANAL Architectures Park Gate Spiral project and although it is a commercial property it would also work fantastically well in a residential setting.


The design also provides a much safer design for a property like this as the stairs would go fully out the walls in each direction, providing larger stairs for children and also taking away the openness that can often be daunting when spiral staircases have spindles.


For a slightly softer look that still looks to solve safety issues we may have with a spiral staircase Wapping Lane project from Spiral Staircases.  Their description of it is perfect

“A powder coated white central column with white painted timber balustrade incorporating the capping handrail linked with solid oak treads and risers, all without a visible fixing.

This feature staircase makes a bold statement in this luxury penthouse apartment – the staircase rises from the living area to a roof terrace with tremendous views across London.”

It is this kind of bold statement that we are looking at for the entrance way, we will see which kind of staircase makes its way in to the final design.

Thank you to CANAL and Spiral Staircases for the use of their images to be able to illustrate the best in spiral staircase design.

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8 Ways An Interior 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

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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.

2. We know how to use items properly

And we know how to make sure the contractor has all the information they need to be able to install it quickly and easily. We have done this often hundreds of times and can avoid not only a lot of questions but also ‘advice’ from contractors when they are looking for the easiest route but not the best one for the design


3. We try and not make mistakes so projects flow well

Problems happen, no one is going to say they don’t but we are in the perfect position to be able to fix them quickly as easily.

4. We have insider knowledge on what people are looking for in their homes

Worried that your designs are going to damage the property values? Our clients have often just bought a new home and so we are constantly hearing all the design ideas that they like and the items that they simply wish weren’t there.

5. We have hundreds of in the know people we can talk to

We don’t know it all, it often takes days of research to make sure something will work within a design and we have hundreds of professionals that we work with to be able to create these our designs.  Don’t expect the best designs to come from an idea that just popped in to your head, it is all about the preparation and we spend a lot of our time thinking through all the design ideas.  Putting your designer on the spot will not give you the best ideas please give them the time to be able to carefully consider whether it’s right for your design.

Source: Cedia Flyer

Source: Cedia Flyer

6. We do this all day, every day, it’s our job to make sure we are using the best items

Some things we will have used hundreds of times before, some will be the first time. However, we will have confidence that we are making an informed decision about those items.

7. Once bitten twice shy, we can be realistic about expectations of our suppliers

Yes, you may be able to find it cheaper online and you may be able to get a discount from your brother-in-laws cousin however if it turns up with the wrong fixings would you know? Would you know how to answer the contractors questions? Or would you be wasting your valuable time and possibly delaying the project in order to save a few pounds.  Many of our clients who have decided to purchase the items themselves end up heavily delaying projects


8. Discounts

As trade purchasers we receive discounts and we have spent many years cultivating our suppliers so we don’t just receive discounts but we receive a service level that we are happy with.  For us a well run project done within the budget can often be worth spending that little bit extra on as nothing is more expensive than a delayed project!

So there you are, 8 ways in which a designer will not only give you a gorgeous interior design but will also give you better value for money.



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Cornice Details For Low Ceilings

When designing for a property with low ceilings it can often be tempting to do away with cornice details thinking that they will make the ceiling seem lower.  However, they are a fantastic detail and by picking the correct one you can find that it will not only help to give a more finished look to the property but it will also add ceiling height.


More standard cornice designs are a 50/50 between the wall and the ceiling, meaning that they come down equal amounts on to the wall and up on to the ceiling however that doesn’t always need to be the case and going for something a little bit different could be perfect for your design.

These two cornice designs are more ceiling than wall designs this helps to add ceiling height to the room as your eye is often tricked in to assuming that the cornice design is more on the wall than the ceiling.  Obviously designs like this aren’t great for every kind of property however they will work fantastically for the Grade II listed property we are currently working on in Baker Street.

As you can see the ceiling height isn’t extremely low but it is something that want to improve.  We are going to be using lots of other clever tricks to be able to make windows look larger and ceilings look higher and the cornice design is just one of them

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We will also be opening up the built out eaves, giving us the beautiful original sloping walls on either sides of the windows. This is again an original feature and it is very important for us to be able to bring a lot of these original features back in to this property.

We are hoping to be able to install underfloor heating which would also eliminate the need for the radiators which would help to produce a less cluttered eye line and would mean we would be able to draw people’s eyes up to the ceiling with our gorgeous cornice design.  We will let you know how it turns out in a few months time!

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Extraordinary Rug Design

We are constantly designing new rugs (we even have a very exciting announcement regarding that coming soon) and every now and then you will get to design a rug that is not only stunning but that the client has been searching for without fully knowing it for years!  This is that rug. Designed to evoke the gorgeous patterns of natural marble they have a stunning movement to them that leaves you tracing the veins of the design with your eyes (or if you are lucky enough, with your hand) Here you can see the beautiful almost icy tones that flow through the design


For me rugs are just a wonderfully creative process, a chance for me to really channel all my inspiration. We often use rugs to pull together all of the pieces of a design that need to be tightly woven in to it.  I often liken a design to a piece of woven fabric, all the threads need to lap over criss crossing in and out of each other to create a tightly woven and intricate pattern.  Design is exactly the same, all the design elements are perfectly balanced and each piece individually may not look like much however when they are all woven together by a professional the finished product is simply breath taking.



All the design elements are perfectly balanced and each piece individually may not look like much however when they are all woven together by a professional the finished product is simply breath takin

This rug was created using not only several different colour but also two very different textures, silk and wool.  Silk is a stunning material to work with in rugs as it just oozes luxury, the feel of it and the way it sumptuously catches the light makes it a please to work with.  When silk is offset against the more muted tones of wool it creates a tantalising combination.  We have done many rugs before where both the silk and wool are dyed to the same colour however due to the inherent properties of both the colours that they pick up are extremely different.


If you are interested in some of our other designs you can see one of our designs here in our Baker Street Interior Design project and for more information about it you can read up about it Baker Street Lounge Design.


If you are interested in our rug designs we will be launching our own exclusive rug collection later this week.  If you sign up for our newsletter you will be sure to not only get all the latest information but also exclusive Newsletter only deals!

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How To Pick A Room Colour Scheme?

For many people, creating a room from scratch is fantastically exciting…at first.  It can quickly become difficult to see the wood from the trees – you spend a weekend traipsing round all the usual places looking for a sofa (of course, by about the third shop they all feel like the most comfortable thing you have ever had the pleasure of taking a seat on!) Psst… if you haven’t yet got your sofa problem sorted click here for our guide to ‘picking the perfect sofa‘ and we can help sort you out.

Picking Colours

Picking Colours

So you have managed to find the perfect sofa (a great starting point by the way) however you are now becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the selection of colours that said sofa comes in – do you go with a colour? or maybe you should stick to a neutral? or does that just sound too boring? Chances are that you haven’t really considered where are how exactly you are going to add colour in to the room – this is not uncommon for people to get a head of themselves and want to start buying before really considering what they want the finished room to look like.


So picking a colour… I have randomly picked a colour from my Pinterest colour inspiration board but the overall principle can (hopefully) be used for any colour scheme. Step one is finding an image of a colour that you would want to live in – this doesn’t need to be a room but can just be a gorgeous image that makes you think ‘yes that is the colour that makes me feel at home’

Greys, Blues and Turquoise

From Tracy Walkers Smith on Tumblr

So here it is, my inspiration for a room scheme – doesn’t look like much of a room at the moment but this scheme is going to be BEAUTIFUL!  What’s great about the above image is that is is very tonal, so it will allow us to bring in lots of different greys, blues and turquoises so that the scheme doesn’t look too manufactured or flat.

We need to decide what is going to be the focus point of the room, so for arguments sake we are going to say that we want to make a real statement with the sofa.  We have decided on the wallpaper for the main fireplace wall, that has a fantastic almost shell like pattern to it (see how small details slowly bring the design together?!) and we have gone with the central paint swatch for the rest of the walls.

Romo Tulipa Collection

Romo Tulipa Collection

These colours would work very well to bring in the bright blues and the many tonal colours that we are looking for in our inspiration.  What is always important to keep in mind is that you don’t need every single item to do a huge amount of the design.  The design is layered and woven together, you can have one item that literally is only there to bring in a small amount of your inspiration but each part is extremely important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

These fabrics would also be a beautiful addition to the colour scheme, again they are tonal and so aren’t too overpowering in the colours that they have in them.  They would work wonderfully layered together as a window dressing.

Picking a colour scheme needn’t be as stressful as you might think,  find some (or even one!) image that you like and pull out the colours, textures, lights etc that draws you in to that image.  These will be your starting points for an amazing design.

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The Evolution of A Spacial Design


When designing for properties in central London is is always important that you make the most of the space, this makes the spacial design extremely important.  Here we are redesigning a duplex apartment in a Grade II listed property in Baker Street, it has been used as student accommodation for years but now the clients want to revitalise it and turn it in to a jewel. It’s the classic diamond in the rough, this property has a huge amount of potential but it has been used and abused over the past few decades.  We will be taking you through many different parts of this design however the most important starting point is the floor plan, good space planning will mean that the design will come together effortlessly.

First Layout

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Simple start from the existing to the proposed. However, it wasn’t quite right.

Client feedback

Good overall, my comments are:

1. The store cupboard on the lower floor is gone – so there’s nowhere for luggage, shoes, coats, ironing board/iron, electrical fuse board, structured cabling distribution hub, kitty litter…

2. Open plan kitchen does mean dishwashing/washing machine/cooking noises will disturb one when one is listening to Brahms/Liszt/Elgar in the living area, even though it does allow for far more cabinet space and the general impression of space. I’m less keen on a kitchen unit being in line of sight upon entering the living area.

3. TV viewing distance seems too small/space in front of bookcase seems too large – can we pull the sofa back to leave minimal space for bookcase access, thus allowing the single chair to be closer to the stairwell corner?

4. Upstairs bathroom – can we move the door to the edge of the room, such that we can rotate the shower 90 degrees (taps on north wall) and put a glass screen between the shower tray and the wash basin? Having done that, is swapping them over feasible, such that the shower is by the window, so easier to get waste to the wastepipe?

5. Master bedroom – what do you think of a TV cabinet/dressing table in one? The TV pops up/out of the unit when needed and the back of the TV is a mirror to serve the dressing table – so this can dip out of sight when not needed leaving a clean look

Some wonderful and really useful feedback from the client.  They have been clear and concise about things that they might want changed

Revised Layout

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Designer feedback

1. I have put this back in (just as a guideline) but it is a very small cupboard.  If you could send me through the layout that you have designed for the WC I will be able to adjust this so it’s on the plans

2. What about this change?  Better for you?

3. Adjusted on new plan – better?

4. Adjusted, this will mean we might still want to box out that area then.  Might be good to be able to put a niche in there for shower gels etc

5. I really don’t like the idea of a TV in that area but I will look in to it.  The bed TVs are okay but they are going to make this room look very small.

I have used the pop up TV mechanisms many times and they can be great in the right setting.   Do you feel a TV is essential in this area?  Especially as the flat is mainly for a quick turn over

After a few more adjustments we settled on this overall layout for the property.  It only has a few small tweaks from the initial design and the entire thing was able to be done through our project management tool Basecamp and so the client and myself could work on the Baker Street floor plan from anywhere around the world.

Final Layout

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We look forward to taking you through flooring choices, electrical plans, furniture choices, the planning process and all the small design details for this project.

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What Does A Residential Interior Designer In London Actually Do

After spending the past 2 months interning at Kia Designs, I have had a fairly broad experience of the work that she does. Although all the stages that I have witnessed & participated in are not from just the one project, I have seen the different stages distributed over a number of very varied projects.

It is safe to say that an interior designer’s job is A LOT more difficult that it is stereotypically perceived to be. There are so many behind the scenes processes that the client does not see, which are vital for the successful completion of a project. It is by no means a smooth ride either, as you rely on so many different people/companies to provide the service that is expected.

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Although I have not attended an initial client meeting, from what I understand it is a time for the client to get to know their designer, so that they can effectively design to the clients needs, style & personality. Inspiration is discussed and an initial brief developed.

The second meeting is where the design requirements & inspiration is discussed in more depth, and the contract is signed. From this, the designer can put together a detailed design brief and work on proposals once floor plans have been drawn up. What happens now and the time that is takes to complete this stage depends very much about the design & the scale of it. The designer creates a number of different layouts, developing their preferred one in more detail. All of these are shown to the client so they can give their opinion on what would work best for them. The developed design would include materials, colours, furniture and furnishings. This all presented to the client at a design development meeting, where feedback can be given on the design.

Once feedback has been given, the designer sends through the invoice & presentation so that clients can match up the design with the costing and ponder over the decision. If there were adjustments to be made to the design, the designer would address this then send through amended presentation/invoice.

If samples were not shown at the design development meeting, they would be sent through to the clients so their design can start becoming reality. By getting a hands on experience, it is often easier to visualise and understand the design. Once clients are sure, they pay the invoice for the items that they want to purchase and then the items can be ordered. Nothing is ordered until it is paid for as this way there are no misunderstandings made and it complies with the designer’s contract of being an agent of supply.



In an ideal world, once adjustments had been made & invoices paid, the project would hit design freeze and go out to tender to the selected contractor. However, this rarely happens meaning the design goes out to tender and (minor, hopefully not major) adjustments are made along the way.

The designer will have close contact with the contractor throughout, making sure all is going to plan. The designer will make regular site visits, if appropriate & meetings with the contractor to gain updates and highlight any issues which need solving. Often, the designer will recommend a contractor and specialists which they have worked with before. This ensures that clients will get a good service.

Dining Layout

One of the many advantages of hiring an interior designer is the fact that bespoke built in pieces will often be used. The designer will draw up plans & design drawings to tender out to specialist companies of joiners so that clients can have a unique piece that looks better and uses space more efficiently than a standard piece.

A key part of a designer’s job is to schedule works, making sure orders are arriving on site at the appropriate time, so that works can run to schedule. This is very difficult to do if you are not experienced in this.

As final touches are going into a project, for example sofas & lights arriving, small details are handled by the designer such as light bulbs… those little things that really matter.

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Once the project is finished and clients move in, designers keep in contact making sure all works and looks as intended, and if not, or additional items are requested, the designer will handle this up until 3 months past completion.

Once the project is fully completed, the designer will arrange a date to photograph the project, if the client agrees to do so. These images will then be added to their portfolio and often uploaded to their website to attract new clients.


I have had the privilege of getting a one on one experience of the life of an interior designer at Kia Designs and this has allowed me to expand my knowledge dramatically. I have seen the acquiring of a project, the presentation of design and the development, the tender procedure, practical works and completed design being photographed.

This experience has confirmed one thing for sure… that I have chosen the right career path and will continue into an industry where I will love what I go to work to do every day.

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Inspiration For A Knightsbridge Interior

One of the most exciting parts of a project is hearing what inspires our clients. Whether it be a trip abroad, how they live with their family, the types of colours they like it all helps us to build a picture of what their new home should hold for them.

Images are often a fantastic way of doing this as they can convey to us more than just the basic requirements but also the tones and feeling that our clients hope to achieve with their new home.  There are also often themes within the images that they pick that they might not consciously know all contains the exact same design aesthetic, showing that they are drawn to either those kinds of products or a feeling in the images.




It is this that often inspires us when creating a design scheme, we are able to take all the inspiration that the client has and combine it with over a decade of design knowledge to create a scheme that oozes personality and functionally works.

Each of these images gives a small amount of detail of what we will be looking to input in to the designs.  We want hardwearing surfaces like marble together with clever lighting and beautiful finishes that draw your eye to them and complete the spaces. We are also looking for innovative ways with bedroom design and ways to be able to pull together not only many different sleeping arrangements but to be able to do it in a way that works well with the rest of the design.

Colours in general are very neutral with hints of coppers, greens, and golds.  We will also be adding in some deep teals and bronzes to give the whole scheme more life. We want each of the spaces to feel comfortable and relaxed, we don’t want a riot of colour taking over each space. We want it to be measured and add to the design as a whole.

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Designer Spotlight: Malabar

Malabar as a recently established furniture design brand with a distinct luxurious style that is  a bit on the quirky side. The company originates from Oporto in Portugal starting up in 2012. This area is renowned for its beautiful artisanal handmade furniture, which Malabar has built on by modernising this style.

There is emphasis put upon ’emotional design’ throughout the website, which is obviously one of the main values behind Malabar’s work. The collections are ‘comprised of seductive pieces that tell a story, we make use of the noblest woods, different crafting techniques, and above all, Portuguese heart, soul  and tradition.’ Each item that Malabar sell is not referred to as a product, but as a piece, as each is a piece of art. The combination of traditional artisan techniques and experience with the innovation brought by new technologies truly does combine to create beautiful pieces of art.

Wanderlust Table.clipular

Wanderlust Dining Table

The dining tables have to be my favourite pieces from the collections. They are just exquisite pieces of art on their own, which stand out even when surrounded by luxurious materials and furniture within a room.

Pilar Dining Table.clipular

Pilar Dining Table

Gold is a very difficult colour to work with, especially with the varying tones, yet in the piece above, it has been used so delicately to create a stunning table which is very elegant and contemporary while incorporating antique elements.

Duchess Dining Table.clipular

Duchess Dining Table

Materials are chosen very carefully and are what really make the tables stand out. If you imagine the table above made out of walnut, yes it would be a beautiful table, but not exquisite as it is made from marble. Each of these tables would differ a large amount through the unique pattern and tone of the stone, an element which makes this table even more precious.

Horizon Sideboard.clipular

Horizon Sideboard

The sideboards are equally as beautiful and make a bold statement within a room. They would work fabulously in both contemporary minimalist and traditional styled rooms. The deep colours brought through walnut root and lacquered wood contrasting with the sheen of the gold leaf base is divine. I love the description which Malabar have put with this piece, it really helps you to understand what the artistic piece is about and the story behind it :

‘The Horizon sideboard recalls the tales of the Portuguese maritime exploration, retold by ingenious poets and common people alike for many centuries thereafter. Inspired in the divine vision of a new land sighted from distant waters, this contemporary sideboard was designed with the organic contours of a coastline in mind. The piece combines walnut wood root with black lacquered wood. The luxurious base matches the interior drawers with its luxurious gold leaf finish.’

Sagres Sideboard.clipular

Sagres Sideboard & Melodie Mirror

The angles and texture to this piece really fascinate me, with the asymmetric weighting it really plays with your eye. Pieced together with their melodie mirror, the combination balances the angles out.  What I also love about this piece, is that it is not only quirky, interesting & beautiful but also practical & functional. The designers have not lost sight of the purpose of this piece, and used all the angles included ingeniously to use the space to its maximum potential.

It is not only their large furniture pieces that are beautiful, but also the smaller accents. These stools adopt some beautiful organic shapes to form a very useful piece that simply looks beautiful. The combination of colours and wood pattern which makes these the perfect final touch.

Fe Stool.clipular

Fe Stool

fe_stool_v3The beautiful pattern created by the walnut combined with the rich tones works in perfect contrast with a very bright, white room which has become increasingly popular. Although a subtle piece, it is a great provider of sophistication which may be required to complete a room.




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Tamma Design: Solid Spin Lamps


Young Estonian Designer Johanna Tammsalu has designed a collection of beautiful lamps, of which shapes were inspired by some very common every day objects, which would would never expect. She has used a very unusual technique to create these shapes which can be made in various finishes/colours. She creatively used items that no girl would leave the house without on a sunny afternoon… keys, sunglasses and high heels!


But even after seeing the lamps, its still impossible to see how these items inspired the shape. It only becomes clear when you see her design drawings. The Outline is formed using slipcast moulding by spinning the glasses using the shape that they create to form a smooth and interesting pattern. The lamps are made from a ceramic and porcelain mix with a glaze on top to give it a matte or sheen effect.

“They were designed two or three years ago, but the project took years – and countless broken lamps – to finish as they were so technically complicated.”

Johanna for Icon

Solid+Spin+Lamp+for+BE+page+6-4312You can see the process that Johanna went through when coming up with the design, working out how each part would fit together to create perfect connections and interesting shapes. It is also clear to see the detail that Johanna goes into when considering the design, and how difficult it is to get a shape which will work perfectly.


Shoe Lamp

The project began as more of a curiosity of what would happen if everyday objects were used, but then developed into something more design based when Johanna found that the shapes formed were pretty interesting.


Key Lamp (& the Designer)

“I moved onto spinning the objects on 3D software, around their own axes and others, and also stacked in groups. This created interesting results – and a more precise outline.”

Johanna for Icon


Shoe & Sunglasses Lamps


Johanna has showed her work at a number of exhibitions in addition to being awarded the following design awards:

Pure Talent Contest Selected, Cologne 2015
SÄSI Young Designer nominee, Tallinn 2014
The Clamp project, Creative Diary, Milan 2012


All information, quotes and images sourced from:

Tamma Designs

Icon Magazine

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Smart Home Technology

After recently attending a CPD course about ‘Smart Home Technology’ held by Cedia, it inspired us to look into ways that we could incorporate this into a current project.

They talked about a few different ways and systems that can be integrated within the home in order to be more efficient and gain more control. Lots of these systems we thought would work extremely well for this current project, however there was a number of drawbacks which meant they would not be suitable.

Daisychain vs Star

Source: SW-EM

The first thing that we were informed about was the basis which it all runs from. This is a central location within the house where all wires, systems ect. run to. In most houses there is what is called daisy chain wiring. This is where a wire will run through each component to reach the next one. This is not a good way of wiring, as, if there is a fault in one of the earlier components in the chain, it will effect the end ones also (much like dominos). It also means that the connection weakens as it gets further down the chain. To avoid this star connections should be used, where each component has a separate wire leading back to the central point. This also opens up endless possibilities in controlling things separately.

Although this is something that we were already aware of, this added knowledge means that we will now ensure that all the wiring is done in this way.


Source: Trusted Reviews

One of the main systems that they were pitching to us was ‘Nest‘ which offers a thermostat and smoke alarm with a difference. Nest products take these every day systems and push them to the next level. The thermostat has an app which it connects with allowing you to control the heating from everywhere with a wifi or data connection, as well as being able to control it from the stylish thermostat itself. It also allows you to set the temperate to an exact degree and set schedules. Another awesome feature is that it senses when no one is home and so automatically turns off the heating due to the motion sensors (which are also installed in the smoke alarms). It also allows you to view your history and learns your habits, with a green feature telling you when you’re saving energy.

Source: Mac Sparky

Source: Mac Sparky

The Nest Protect is a smart smoke/carbon monoxide protector. Instead of making an annoying beep, it notifies you through speech when it picks up of a threat before setting off the full alarm, which you can ‘hush’ through simply waving, or through the Nest app. It uses colour as well as sound to notify people which is great for people with hearing impairments. Furthermore, every alert is sent to your phone through the app so you can be notified of a problem in another room or the home when you’re not there, and each alarm can be named so you know what room it is in. As previously mentioned, it has motion sensors included which work with the thermostat to tell it when you’re home, but it also acts as a night light at night projecting a soft white light. All very safe, and whats more, it even tells you when its batteries are low through speech and an app notification rather then that famously irritating beep.

Source: Apple Insider

Source: Apple Insider

The Nest protect is one thing that we would recommend to our client. However, as the thermostat does not work with underfloor heating, we are unable to incorporate this into our design. This is the one downside to Nest. It is an attractive, innovative, easy to use advance in technology that everyone renovating/building a house should look into. But, it does come with the huge downside of not being compatible with underfloor heating, of which is becoming increasingly popular. Underfloor heating is a fabulous invention, as it works with the theory of heat rising while giving you added comfort of warm feet and suppressing the need for ugly radiators, and so it is such a shame that it is not compatible.

Source: Cedia Flyer

Source: Cedia Flyer

Other systems that can be incorporated into this central location are audio, audio visual, security and light. Audio and Audio Visual can be wired to this central location, allowing you to control the music & tv in multiple rooms from one remote (tablet). This can be paired with lighting, meaning that all lights, including side lamps, can be controlled from a tablet. Presets can be created, which include all aspects so you can create custom scenes, so there is no hassle of trying to create the perfect atmosphere for a dinner party. This is also a great way to overcome the 8 gang plates which can come about when creating sophisticated lighting design, and means that they can all be controlled without getting up off the sofa.

This would work well for the clients we are currently working with, as they have a number of different types of lighting in each room (cornice lighting, spot lights, pendant lights, standard lamps in the open plan living area alone). With the lights be operated through a combination of standard switches and dimmers, the 6 gang plates begin to look a little messy. Having a central control system/app for a tablet to control this could not only tidy up the switches creating a cleaner finish, but also enable them to create scenes suitable for the different activities/times of day, especially with having a young child, this could be extremely useful. Their daughter also loves music, and is always turning on their current sound system, which is very basic, so a more integrated system could really appeal to her.

Source: Crestron

Source: Crestron

Finally, more recently, security systems are becoming popular in integrated homes. There are now security cameras which can be viewed from a tablet and motion sensors can be installed throughout the home which all link back to this central location. This can also include ringers which include cameras, where you can view who is wishing to enter your home through the tablet rather than a small screen connected to the phone. Security would not be such an issue within the clients project we are working with, but is definitely something that we would look into in future projects, as it would be especially useful for clients who travel a lot, or use the house as a second home, so are not there for the majority of the time.

An example of a home ingrigration system pictured above is Creston, which offer a number of different ways of controlling home integration, through apps, tablets, panels and remotes. There are also so many products that nest can work with, one being ‘hue’ by philips which controls individual light bulbs. To see what else does, have a look here.

Integrated systems would work extremely well in this project, it is just very unfortunate that the underfloor heating is not compatible with nest, and so perhaps the most useful system cannot be installed. However, having everything wired back to a central location with a star connection will definitely be used, with the possibility of light & sound, depending on customer budget and choice.

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Blind Choices – Problems With Roman Blinds

We’ve recently had an issue with the blinds that were installed into a newly completed project where light is peering around the edges of the blinds into the rooms in the morning. Although ordering blackout blinds which are designed to block all the light out, this was still an issue due to the uneven windows which are often in older properties.

These are the images which the client sent through to explain the issue:

bruno room

1 – Blackout Roman

flavia office

2 – Roman

master bedroom

3 – Blackout Roman

As you can see, the blinds are installed with just a few millimetres either side at the top. yet at the bottom there is a much wider gap. The clients asked if we could return the blinds and get them replaced with ones slightly wider, however blind companies do not accept returns due to them each being custom made to fit the window with the chosen fabric/ lining for one, and for another, it was impossible to make them wider and fit them in the same way. The reason this is impossible is that blinds can only be as wide as their shallowest point, otherwise they would not open/close properly. As the mechanism is set into the window frame, this also meant that we could not extent them past the window from itself without moving the position of the mechanism.


Source: Blind Superstore (how to measure a blind)

So here are the suggestions which we came up with to solve this issue (and the pros & cons) :

1.  Make the blind wider and mount the mechanism above the window frame. 


  • Should block out more light/diffuse the light more
  • Can keep the choice of material for the blinds


  • Be expensive to replace Roman blinds
  • Some window positions will not allow for required additional width on both sides
  • Will not get rid of all the light

2.  Put a piece of velcro along the window frame/sewn into blind backing


  • Would not need to replace blind
  • Should block out most light


  • Would look ugly
  • Blinds must be professional stitched
  • May not work as a long term solution

3.  Put a roller blind behind the Roman Blinds


  • Can keep original blind
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Not quite so expensive as replacing blind as rollers are cheap
  • Should block out the majority of light


  • Only works if the window is deep enough
  • Requires 2 mechanisms

4.  Change the Roman blinds for Roller blinds, mount above window, 10cm wider either side & reverse rolled


  • Blind will rest against frame flat – reducing the angle allowing light through dramatically
  • Width will help diffuse the light
  • Be a cheaper alternative to replacing with Roman Blinds


  • Cannot choose fabric, only select colours
  • May not completely solve the issue
  • Not so aesthetically pleasing

The options we chose for the client after in depth discussion was for one room, where the window was deep, to install a roller blind behind (#3) so that it hung closely to the window, diffusing the light minimising what seeps through. The cord for the roller blind would be installed on the opposite side so it would not tangle with the other cord and would be in a similar colour to the Roman bind already installed. (picture on left above) This could only be done as there is enough space to install 2 mechanisms. The other 2 problem rooms, the windows are shallower so another blind would not fit behind. We decided it was best to go with the last option (#4) where we took down the Roman blinds and replaced them with Roller blinds which are mounted above the window frame, 10cm wider either side. The mechanism would be set back from the frame slightly as it sits proud, which means  when the blinds are installed reverse rolled they lie flat against the window frame removing the gap caused by the width of the mechanism. This should completely block out the light due to there not being an angle for the sun to shine through.



Source: Poles and Blinds


The new blinds have been ordered so we shall see if our solution works when they arrive and will revisit it at a later date.

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