Interior Design

Kit Kemp's interior design tips – a masterclass

Kit Kemp is renowned for her unique talent for design. Here she shares with us some of her many clever ideas for transforming a room

Kit Kemp's interior design tips
(Image credit: Simon Brown Photography)

Kit Kemp is the co-owner and Creative Director for Firmdale Hotels, a successful textiles, homewares and fragrance designer, and is well-known for her passion for creating exciting, colorful and unique interiors. 

Here, she tells us just some of her decorating dos and don'ts – from how to use paint, dados and stripes to how to avoid making interior design mistakes, and how to be braver with your decor choices. 

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

Kit Kemp's blog is a great place to pick up interior design know-how. In a recent post, Kit told her followers the secrets to designing the perfect room. Here, we offer a snapshot – plus more exclusive design advice from Kit, below. 

1. Satisfy every sense

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

'A room should do just this. Scale and balance are so important,' says Kit in the blog. 'Each fabric should be used in the right way. For example, heavy weaves on chairs and sofas, lighter linens on cushions and curtains.'

2. Celebrate craft

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

'We love to create one of a kind pieces which make a room completely individual, from hand-painted murals to embellished cushions and headboards,' says Kit.

3. Create a focal point

For this element of interior design, Kit talks about using a surprising piece of sculpture at the end of a hallway to create a pleasing view – it's the perfect way to add instant character to a space and there's no need for redecorating to achieve it. 

See: Kit Kemp on how to design a room – more tricks from the decorating guru

4. Using mirrors

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

(Image credit: Firmdale Hotels)

'Mirrors are one of our favourite design tricks, reflecting light and adding depth to a space,' says Kit.

You can see more on decorating with mirrors in our guide.

5. Pick a warm color palette

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

(Image credit: Photography / Courtesy of Kit Kemp)

'We love color, but we always choose from a warm palette,' says Kit – who is well known for the beautiful jewel tones of the spaces she creates so successfully. 

6. Know how to use paint

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

(Image credit: Photography / Courtesy of Kit Kemp)

Here's what Kit advises that you should do when using paint in your rooms:

  • Consider how you want to feel in each space – a restful scheme in the bedroom maybe or something more punchy in the living room.
  • Look at the light. Your favorite color might not work in your room due to the aspect, so sample your color throughout the day.
  • Add fun accents – we love to surprise our guests with shocking yellow or red here and there.

And here is how to avoid making mistakes with paint, according to Kit Kemp:

  • Don't be afraid to be bold. We love color and specialist effects, such as strié (a form of glazing) or dragging.
  • Don't forget to sample. Test your paint on an A5-sized piece of card or wood, not directly on the wall.
  • Don't neglect the ceiling. A colored ceiling is a perfect example of how to draw the eye up and add height to a space.

See more: Take a tour of Kit's beautiful home for more inspiration

7. Know how to use dados

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

(Image credit: Kit Kemp)

This is what Kit Kemp advises you do to make the most of dados:

  • Combine plains and patterns, as in the Araminta room at The Whitby Hotel in New York.
  • Consider the room's proportions. The height for a dado should be 1-1.2m from the floor. Generally, the higher the ceiling, the higher the position of the dado.
  • Coordinate the dado with skirting and cornicing for a seamless finish – like it's always been there!

Here's what not to do with dado, according to Kit Kemp:

  • Don't overlook your walls' potential – adding dados means you can have a lot of fun with textures.
  • Don't worry if there is no existing dado – make your own with a strip of shaped wood, a wide trimming or even a strip of wallpaper.
  • Don't think dados are dated – they are an extra opportunity to add additional interest to your walls.

See more: Interior design trends – the 10 must-have looks to take your home into a new year – in style

8. Know how to use stripes

Kit Kemp's interior design tips

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

Here's how to use stripes in your decorative schemes, according to Kit:

  • Use stripes in different directions, as in the Lyric Room at Covent Garden Hotel, London. 
  • Use stripes as a spatial tool – they are a fantastic way to add texture, movement and height to a space, especially where the designs run vertically.
  • Mix your stripes. You can be playful – try using the same stripe in different widths, say.

And this is how Kit advises you avoid making mistakes with stripes:

  • Don't think stripes are old hat – new stripes are launched every season.
  • Don't treat stripes as just straight lines. They come in all shapes and sizes – hand-drawn, woven, dyed, printed, made of patterns, flowers...
  • Don't just use stripes on walls – there are many ways to use them in a room, such as upholstery fabrics, on floors and even on ceilings.

Kit Kemp was Guest Editor of the June 2020 edition of Homes & Gardens – the first in our 101-year history. Discover more of her work at kitkemp.com

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

My first job was writing a DIY column for a magazine for the over 50s (which seemed a long way off back then). I then moved to a DIY magazine as deputy ed, then freelanced my way around the homes departments of most women's magazines on the market before working on Your Home and Family Circle magazines as homes editor. From there, I went to Ideal Home magazine as associate editor, then launched 4Homes magazine for Channel 4, then the Channel 4 4Homes website before going back to freelancing and running a social media business (you can see where I had kids from the freelancing gaps!). I was tempted back to the world of big business by the chance to work with the great team at Realhomes.com, where I was Global Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years, taking it from a small website to a global entity. I've now handed the reins of the website to our American managing editor, while I take on a new challenge as Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens.