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 interior design tips for 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 (opens in new tab), 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
'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
'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
'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
'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
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.
7. Know how to use dados
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 (opens in new tab) 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.
8. Know how to use stripes
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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab)
Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.
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