Ulster Tatler Interiors chats to Kelly Hoppen, International Interior Designer and a former ‘Dragon’ on BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den.

In the early days what inspired you to become an Interior Designer?

Interior design has always been in my bones. As a child, my mother says I was constantly shifting furniture around our home and displaying everything at its best. I also had a passion for looking around show houses and being exposed to different approaches to interior design.  My mother has always been an inspiration to me. She has amazing style and is a big fan of retro furniture which has influenced my designs massively.  This all eventually evolved from being a hobby to being my job. Through a lot of hard work and not being afraid to take the next step, I have managed to grow my business into a very successful enterprise.

Where do you draw your creativity from at the start of each individual project?

I always get to know my clients before I start a project and seek to understand how they live and what is important to them. It is not enough to simply fill a space with beautiful items if they are not going to work with the client’s lifestyle. It would be wrong to try and sell a current fashion to a client which is simply not suited to him/her. Once we have spoken about it at length, I visualise the room and from that point my creativity flows. Planning is also absolutely essential when designing your perfect space. Many people do not plan as it is time consuming and involves a lot of drawing, costing etc…However, it is crucial in attaining your perfect space.

For any young person seeking out a career in Interiors Design – What’s the best advice you can give them?

You need to put in a lot of hard work, be determined and not be afraid of taking the next step to achieve more. I have always lived by the motto ‘Nothing is too big and nothing is big enough’, it keeps me focused. It is also very important to keep an open mind, and use every resource you can. Listen to any advice that is going, soak it all up like a sponge because at some stage or another it will be of use to you.

Have you seen a shift in Interior Design since the start of the credit crunch?

The credit crunch has affected everyone and people have had to cut back drastically in every part of their life. Until recently, people were borderline obsessed with having the latest trend but now you can see people are trying to stick to what they already have and modernising it. It is so important that your interiors suit your lifestyle and that you invest in timeless and elegant pieces that will not go out of style and need to be replaced.

What are the best and/or most challenging aspects of your role?

The best aspect of my job is when a client is happy with the end result. This is immensely motivating and the reason I get out of bed every morning. I also love my role at the Princes Trust. It allows me to share my experience with young entrepreneurs and their motivation for success inspires and motivates me every day.

What does a typical day’s work involve? 

I try to sit and meditate for 15minutes every morning when I wake up, I am so busy every day so I need to take a little time to center myself in preparation for the day ahead. I then tend to spend most of my days in my studio meeting clients, brainstorming for upcoming projects and I am constantly coming up with new ideas for my ecommerce site, In the evening I like eat out with my friends or stay in and feast on a delicious home cooked meal from my favourite Honestly Healthy cookbook. I rarely get a moment to relax but it is important to make time as inspiration always comes to me when I take a few minutes away from my normal routine to just sit back and reset my mind.

Who has been your biggest inspiration in your life?

There have been so many throughout my life and for many different reasons. My friends and family are my biggest inspirations by far, my daughter Natasha in particular. Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Nelson Mandela also stand out. People who have a voice and are not frightened of speaking up and are true to their thoughts are always an inspiration.

What are your typical clients looking for?

I have a very distinctive design philosophy which is to create timeless elegance whilst fusing the eastern principles of simplicity and the western taste for sumptuous textures and luxurious finishes. People know my style and are looking for it when they take me on. However, I always aim to create a space that fits my clients lifestyle perfectly so it is great to work with a client who knows what they want as this can lead to a wonderful creative collaboration.

What are the main trends going to be for 2015?

The bath, which was once a disappearing aspect of the bathroom is making a huge return in 2015. People are dying for the ultimate relaxation time in a deep sunken tub. Sleek showerheads and statement freestanding baths are all the rage at the moment. My recent collaboration with apaiser perfectly illustrates how bathware has now been redefined.


You will also see many different colour woods being used together. Blonde, taupe, black and grey woods are being mixed to bring a lovely feel to the home. Rose gold, bronze, silver, and nickel are also being introduced to the home. The same way we have started to mix different jewelry together, we are now repeating the trend in our homes with wood and metals. It goes to show how interiors and fashion really do go hand in hand.


In terms of lighting – BAN the down lighter is what I say! They are the most unflattering bulbs. You want wall washers, up-lighters, pendant lights and lighting in shadow gaps to compliment the room and space. The added bonus is that you can save lots of money too!.