Design Blog

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

9 Ways To Slash A Design Budget

You’ve gone through your inspiration, you’ve worked out what style you like, what your kitchen should look like, feel like, all the materials, colours and you are over the moon…and then you total it all up. Ouch, you are horribly over budget, here are 10 ways you could possibly bring that number down significantly without damaging the entire design.

We are going to take you inside a project that we recently worked on. The design was for the ground floor refurbishment which included a new kitchen, the creation of a ground floor WC and utility room as well as the creation of a large family room that included a TV area, dining area and two reception areas. We were also re-designing the first floor bathroom.


Before we started the cull the design budget was just over £46k for the flooring, kitchen, utility room, WC and bathroom. With some clever cutting we managed to slash the budget by over 20% down to £35k. Here are 10 of the ways we did it.

1. Worktops – changing that central island to wood instead of Quartz has brought the budget down by over £1000 already

Project 2 - Earls Court - Image 7

2. Tiles – flooring is always so important, it becomes part of the backbone of your home and needs to be hardwearing. However, bringing down a wall mosaic from £290 a square meter in the WC on the ground floor to £30 a square meter will save you over £1000

Pres - Meeting One - Kitchen, Bathroom etc.001

3. Reusing appliances – yes, I know this is not always possible. However, if you can these can be items that could be upgraded in a few years time without a huge amount of work. Especially if the appliances you have are already integrated. On a recent project doing this saved us over £2000

4. Changing of Washer and Dryer, especially if these are going in a little seen utility room.  Remember to look at the specifications of the items not he overall look (tough for a designer to say!)

Pres - Meeting One - Kitchen, Bathroom - Utility.001

5. Changing of lighting – wall lights in the WC and bathroom.  Lighting is something that can be difficult to update at a later date, especially in rooms such as bathrooms where installation can require drilling through tiles however, there are sometimes cheaper alternatives to be found.  This doesn’t always mean compromising on the design, it could be that you go for a similar light from a less well known brand.

6. Bathroom Fixtures – Vanity Units. We had originally had put in the budget to design bespoke items for all the bathrooms, however as the budget became strained it was clear that this would not be a good use of money.  We decided on a mixture between bespoke for places and spaces we needed it and to match these in with store bought items.  The look will be similar but the cost will be a few thousand less.

7. No extendable dining table in the kitchen – how often are you going to use it?  This is often a question for clients, extendable dining tables are often over double the price of their non-extending cousins.  If you are considering that it might possibly be used once or twice a year it might not be worth it.  In this project we opted for an extendable table in the dining area and a non extending version in the kitchen as it wouldn’t get used very often (if at all)Dining Layout

8. Wood Flooring – we opted to go for a 13mm board over a 16mm board.  Does this effect the overall quality of the wood flooring, yes.  However, when budgets get strained there is little point going ahead with orders that will make the rest of the project completely undoable.  This 3mm change brought the pricing down by over half.

9. Changing how the bath pours – Taps are expensive.  In this project we swapped out the taps for a central bath filler at a small percentage of the cost, it adds slightly to the price of the diverter you need but the overall saving was very worth it.

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Designing A Bedroom Around Art

This design is one of our most talked about designs.  It is visually stunning whist also providing the clients with storage and the space they needed within this compact bedroom.

The artwork above the bed is often a piece that is commented on, and designing a bedroom around art is something that can be very simple when you have a piece as striking as this.  The artwork is by an artist called Hush. Working in Japan for several years as a toy designer, Urban artist Hush was able to draw upon life as an outsider to the Japanese culture with an objective eye. Considered one of the most technically gifted urban artists, Hush’s art explores themes of sexuality and pornography – contrasting the representation of women in traditional and modern eras.

His work has a very playful feel to it and really brought something different to the finished design.

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Floating Bed Design

The floating bed shown here is one of our most asked about design pieces. Space was at a premium in this bedroom so we had to make every space matter whilst keeping the floor as clear as possible – the floating bed made this possible.

Project 3 - Notting Hill - Image 6

The Fluttua (which means “float” in English) bed is the epitome of minimalist design. Nothing extra adorns this bed — but install it and it gives the appearance of floating (which is statement making enough!). This patented product is height adjustable, and is even available in a quirky, round model.


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Is This The Most Expensive Desk In The World?

We work a lot with bespoke furniture, one of items that are made exactly to our specifications, which can often be costly but is always an investment for our clients (read here how bespoke wardrobes are great for busy people) however we don’t very often spend this kind of money on an individual piece of stand alone furniture.

From the designers: This sculptural desk and chair set is not only intriguing but also quite clever in design. This desk has many functional compartments: three lower drawers that pivot toward the seated user; four smaller, irregularly shaped drawers; two compartments and a secret drawer, all disguised behind the carving above the desk top.

They are bespoke items and usually take four months to hand craft.  I would love to be able to see how this beautiful piece looks and feels in the flesh.  It can be made up in a variety of wood finishes and I am sure it would look just as stunning in most of them.

Michael in shop

More about the designer: 

Michael Coffey is renowned as one of the world’s greatest living studio artists, his designs commanding high biddings at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

A master woodworker for over 40 years, he produces sculptural, one-of-a-kind, handcrafted works of art. Painstakingly making each piece by hand, Michael continues to invoke nature and modernity with the use of fine wood, fluid lines and dynamic craftsmanship

Born and raised in New York City, Michael is a self-taught artist, who has been refining his craft since childhood. Influenced by the greats like George Nakashima, Wendell Castle, Wharton Esherick, Walker Reed, Sam Maloof, and Jack Rogers Hopkins.

Coffey currently creates bespoke furniture from his studio and home in Massachusetts, USA.

Shown in African Mozambique. Various hardwoods and finishes available.

173cm (68″) wide, 94cm (37″) high, 91cm (36″) deep

Bespoke Global – Product Detail – El Morro Desk and Matador II Chair.

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Longest Continuous Wooden Sculpture In The World

Traditional wooden sculptures can often be impressive, the determination to turn a single piece of wood in to art is often inspiring however Zheng Chunhui has taken this art form to a new level.  Zheng Chunhui has spent four years transforming a 12 foot long tree trunk into a detailed replica of  famous traditional Chinese painting called ” Along the River during the Qingming Festival ”



There are over 500 individually carved people within this stunning sculpture.  The detail is overwhelming and you often find yourself wondering if you are still looking at a sculpture of an extremely detailed piece of art.




Just look at this bustling street, every umbrella has a unique pattern to it, the roofs also look so realistic.  I adore how the rings of the wood are so gorgeously highlighted in the roof at the bottom of the above picture.


And if that wasn’t enough, you can watch the video below to really try and get up close and personal with this mesmerising piece of art.

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14 Of The Most Beautiful Black Chandeliers

Black and lighting don’t often sound like they go together, however black chandeliers can not only give amazing light but also provide a beautiful feature for your interior design scheme .  These 14 designs are all slighting different and all would provide a beautiful centre piece for your room.


1, Ochre Eucalyptus Linear 200cm 2, 11, Ochre Eclipse Round 100cm 3, Ochre Eucalyptus Double Tier Round 90cm 4, 6, Black Chain Maxi Pendant 5, 7, Ochre Eucalyptus Single Tier Round 90cm 8, Black Chain Rectangular Chandelier 9, Ochre Eclipse Round 100cm 10, 12, 18, Mirrored Crystal Chandelier 13, Porta Romana Bianca Chandelier  14, Dripping Crystal Shade 15, Mir S2 Pendant Light 16, Six arm ceiling light 17, Black Chain Chandelier 19, Possini Chandelier


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How Hidden Can A Desk Be?

The answer seems to be, pretty hidden.  This desk seems to take it to a new level as it completely transforms in to a blue (or copper) box.  Neatly hiding away tons of storage (including a filing cabinet) and even it’s own built in chair.


Cast Acrylic Exterior and Polished Mahogany Interior
150cm (59″) long x 75cm (29.5″) deep x 80cm (31.5″) high
About the designer: Paul Kelley is one of the UK’s foremost furniture makers with a reputation for his unique material combinations, thoughtful composition and meticulous finish.

Initially trained as a guitar maker, Paul has honed his detailed craftmanship over the last 22 years into creating bespoke furniture with a list of clients and commissions including Fendi, Paul Smith, Browns of London, William Grant & Sons and the Hotel Intercontinental Group.

Paul won a Wallpaper Design Award for his White Acrylic Drawer Unit that was picked as one of the 10 essential designs of the last ten years and was nominated for an Arts Foundation Fellowship for furniture design.

Paul lives in South East London and works from his studio in Kent, England.

Brings a whole new meaning to “push your chair in”.

Bespoke Global – Product Detail – Blue Desk.

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How Recessed Lighting Could Make Your Home More Modern

Task lighting is something that is often essential but can be difficult to do well.  Spots are often the instant choice however, they aren’t exactly the prettiest of options.  Recessed lighting can be a fantastic way of creating an extremely modern look, it is also super simple to do and unbelievably striking.

These astro lights are a perfect example (available from here), they are very inexpensive at less than £35 but would provide a more modern look to a room.



As you can see from the room below we have used similar sized lighting in our Notting Hill Interior Design project and it produces a beautiful feature in the kitchen area.  The channel here also is extremely clever because it hides the huge projector screen that comes down in front of the art work.

Project 3 - Notting Hill - Image 1

You can also see above that we used a mixture of inset lighting and spot lighting, however an alternative would have been to use recessed lighting over the kitchen island with these Astro recessed lights.


What do you think about using recessed lighting?  Do you think it makes this Notting Hill Penthouse Interior Design look more modern?

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Artwork That Grabs You

Artwork is extremely subjective, the style the colours, the media and the content all need to speak to the person viewing it.  So when I saw these stunning pieces pop up in my email I just had to share them with you.


They are by the artist Alicia Dubnyckyj and they are, of course, of London.  They offer a very unique view of the capital, the colours draw you in and allows you to look to look not just at the buildings themselves but how each part of the city sits together.  The juxtaposition of old against new, green spaces against concrete giants.  It really is beautiful.




The artwork above made me smile, I adore how blue the buildings in the distance appear to be against the sludgy grey and brown colours of the Thames!


Private view: Tuesday 18 November 2014, 6-8:30pm
Exhibition continues until 16 December 2014  at:

Sarah Myerscough | 15-16 Brooks Mews | Mayfair, London W1K 4DS, United Kingdom

From the gallery: Alicia Dubnyckyj returns with her highly complex abstract cityscape paintings, capturing the dynamism and speed of contemporary London, which is now firmly recognised as one of the leading cities in the world, substantiated in 2013 by being crowned the most popular tourist destination on earth. In particular, the artist’s new work reflects the post-Olympic optimism felt in the Capital, encapsulating this new mood in her highly coloured, panoramic views that celebrate London’s inspiring contemporary and historic architecture.


Biography of the artist:
The artist was a prizewinner in the 2010 Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, and also shortlisted for the prestigious Celeste Art Prize in 2006. She previously received the George Jackson Travel Award, 2001 and the Associated Architects Purchase Award in the same year. She has been extensively reviewed in the British Press including the Independent’s ‘Top 5 Artists to invest'; Esquire Magazine’s ‘Who to invest in Art; Fused Magazine; the cover feature of City Living; and has been included in the NY Arts Magazine. Throughout Dubnyckyj’s career, her paintings have also featured in a number of television programmes, including Channel 4’s Ideas Factory. Collectors include Nicky Wire (of the Manic Street Preachers); George Boetang (footballer); Paul Bradley (actor); and the Princess of Kuwait, who flew the artist to Kuwait to produce large scale commissioned paintings of the city for their private collection.

Alicia Dubnyckyj | Sarah Myerscough Gallery.

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Wallpaper That Takes You To Cloud Nine

I couldn’t help myself, it’s only the colour that’s called Cloud but it inspired me.  The design of this wallpaper is beautiful, it has a wonderful movement to it.  I can often find that highly patterned wallpapers can simply be too distracting to use in a lot of residential interior design schemes.

Sold by the foot (£21 a linear foot at the publishing time of this post) this wallpaper could work in a host of schemes and would add instant elegance to a room.


From the company: Calico Wallpaper is dedicated to the artisanal process of paper marbling, creating some of the most exquisite, ethereal and large-scale landscape murals. The brand is the brainchild of creative and life partners Rachel Mosler and Nick Cope, who have taken inspiration from ancient techniques to create wallpaper that is both sumptuous and timeless. The finest materials and a buoyant hand create depth and movement, giving the landscapes a hint of alchemy. Calico is wallpaper raised to high art.

As owner of the design/build firm Dark Green, Nick regularly produces projects in the luxury residential interior sphere. He also has collaborated on several custom commercial projects with esteemed fashion brands such as Opening Ceremony and Paul Smith. He brings more than a decade of interior design and build experience to Calico.

Raised in a post-and-beam house on Martha’s Vineyard, Rachel spent her days stitching crystals into cloth and binding books with twigs, which fostered a love for material and process. Later, as a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in Sculpture, she exhibited her artwork in New York, Philadelphia and Paris. At Calico, Rachel embraces a hands-on approach to the artisanal process of paper marbling.

Calico is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Bespoke Global – Product Detail – Wabi – Cloud.

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One Clever Ground Floor Toilet Design


On first glance this may look like a beautiful but very normal ground floor toilet.  The place where all your guests will probably use, so it needs to be both functional and beautiful  However, this is a ground floor toilet with a difference.  It also had to house the laundry room.  The laundry room is becoming increasing important in our modern day lives.  That’s why is was so important for the storage in this room to be absolutely stunning.  Those cabinets hide not only the separate washing machine and tumble dryer but also allow storage of a laundry basket.



The original Ground Floor Toilet Design was a extremely rough sketch.  I wanted to not only be able to hide the washing machine and dryer but also to contain the cistern that was currently on view together with the unsightly piping.


As you can see from these before images this room wasn’t just in need of a style overhaul it also had some severe problems with functionality.  The sink looked as though it had just be shoved in the middle of a work surface that just seemed too large for the room.  There was no storage for any other items and the lighting was simply terrible.

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2014-09-30 21.32.00


Here you can see we start to address the issues with lighting.  In an internal bathroom harsh top-down lighting is not really what you want to see.  It provides your face with more shadows that natural light which can often leave you looking and feeling extremely tired when you look in the mirror.  For this reason we decided to add in wall lights,  even bright wall lights can provide you with a refreshed look.  We opted to go with ones with a brushed glass finish however as they produce a lovely diffused light.


The sink was a major issue, the proportions were all wrong however it would be impossible to insert a larger sink in to the work surface as there wasn’t any extra space between the washing machine and dryer.  So although a top mounted sink would provide better proportions it would start to become difficult to use.  Therefore we opted to go with a sink that was very wide but not very tall.  This would allow the correct proportions without sacrificing functionality.



The cupboards above the toilet provide storage for all the washing paraphernalia as well as storage for spare bathroom products.  The mirroring of these in a smoke mirror also one, makes the room appear larger and two, it creates a warm and lovely reflection for anyone visiting the bathroom.

What do you think of this ground floor bathroom?  Would you have realised it was hiding a dirty (laundry) secret?

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The 12 Best Rug Company Rugs

We source products from all around the world, items that have influences from every far flung reach however, sometimes the old suppliers, the ones that you have been working with for years and years, still manage to provide you with some of the most beautiful items.  The Rug Company is one of those companies,  we have worked with them for what seems like a lifetime (in a good way) and their rug collections continue to inspire us. These are 12 of our favourite designs, some of them old and some of them new.  All of them gorgeous!

1. Hummingbird Ivory, Alexander McQueen


2. Monarch Smoke, Alexander McQueen


3. Silhouette, Jaime Hayon


4. Magnolia Ice Wool and Silk, Vivienne Westwood


5. Mamounia Sky, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard


6. Sellarsbrook Yellow, Suzanne Sharp


7. Tracery, Kelly Wearstler


8. Squiggle Blue, Vivienne Westwood


9. Gold Rings, David Rockwell


10. VW Flag, Vivienne Westwood


11. Malabar Ivory, The Rug Company


12. Flaunt, Kelly Wearstler


Which one is your favourite? Which one do you think you would want in the lounge as a wow piece?

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Why Handles Are Sexy

Yes, you read that title correctly.  We are talking sexy handles today.  In my years of being an Interior Designer in London I have had many things described to me as sexy.  People have wanted a sexy bathroom, an entrance hall that is simply “the sex” and today I am bringing you some of the sexiest handles that could lead you in to these rooms.  They are from the amazing Philip Watts Design and they are extremely sexy.

First up, these wings.  Let is be known, I have a thing for wings and feathers.  I adore them.  I haven’t tended to use them too much in interiors (we want sexy not tacky boudoir). Eaglewing has a wing span of 1 metre and is also available in brass and bronze, divine. (£667.50)

Flames!  These handles have a very obvious nod to Harley Davidson and are super sexy.  They are push/pull handles and I adore the combination of the snake skin with the flames.  (£262.50)


Guns, they are a little bit Bond and of course have a certain power element to them.  They do both a larger and a smaller version (the larger has elongated the barrel), I personally prefer these in the smaller version. (£352.50)


So there you have it, sexy handles.


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Entrance Flooring Ideas

First impressions are always extremely important, not just for people but also for houses. The entrance to your home sets the tone for the rest of the design. It is also the initial landing pad for an often very busy life style so it needs to be not only beautiful but hardwearing and functional.

For this reason we decided to change the entrance hall in this property in Bishops Park from carpet to a much more hard wearing tiled surface.

2014-02-19 12.59.02

We looked at quite a few different options.  The clients wanted us to make a real ‘wow’ impression for when they welcomed guests in to their home.  First thoughts were to go with a mosaic marble; the marble would be extremely hardwearing and a honeycomb pattern like the one below would look beautiful.  However, mosaic means that there is a lot of grout lines and grout can get very dirty, very quickly in a high traffic area like this.

2014-03-06 12.10.28-1

We decided that a slightly larger format patterned tile would work best.  It would remove the problem of grout lines (make them much less of a problem) and the pattern would provide added interest.  None of these patterns took the clients liking however as they all seemed a little too modern for the house.

2014-03-06 12.14.19-2

We came across this one however and it seemed perfect, the pattern was pretty, not too heavy and would work wonderfully with the grey and blue design scheme in the dining room (these tiles would be viewable from this room).

2014-03-14 12.38.50


Seeing it all down for the first time is always something special, as you may notice we decided to go with a dark grey grout (that picks up the dark grey parts of the pattern) rather than a white grout which would become easily dirty in this area.

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Let us know what you think of this entrance flooring idea.  Do you have entrance flooring ideas of your own that you think we should have considered?  Please feel free to comment below.

Interior Designer in Bishops Park

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Interior Designer Canterbury

Exciting news in from Kia Designs, we are now taking on projects in Canterbury.  We will be bringing our unique style to the houses of Kent from this month.  In and around Canterbury you can arrange for a free first consultation to go through your project requirements and how our service will be able to work for you.

How does Kia Designs service work?

We like to be a little bit different, we state our prices and charges here on the website so you can see exactly how much you will be paying. No extra charges, this means that we can all sit back and relax from the beginning of the project knowing that we are not going to be going over budget due to our design fees! They are all done and dusted right at the beginning of the project.

Over the 5 years since we launched Kia Designs our clients have been impressed not only with our incredible designs, but also with our transparency


  • Understanding our clients needs
    We take the time to understand exactly what you need from your home
  • Taking on projects that are right for us
    We only take on a maximum of 6 projects at any one time so that clients always receive the amount of time their project needs
  • Being Passionate about Design
    We are obsessed with interior design, you can check out our twitter and our pinterest for a little bit of inspiration of things that we adore
  • Knowledgable about property
    Having worked on property for many years we have an intimate knowledge of what adds value and what people are looking for in a quality design
  • Clear and Realistic
    We are always realistic about what your budget is going to be able to achieve and set a clear plan that is going to make the most of it


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