Kelly Hoppen knows what she wants – and what she does not. It is, after all, her decisiveness, coupled with an infallible eye, that has made the Cape Town-born, London-based designer a global authority on interiors.
What is more, she has the books to prove it; her latest, Kelly Hoppen’s Essential Style Solutions for Every Home. When it came to reimagining a charming countryside barn into a spacious, light-filled bolthole, she delivered in style.
‘I did not want it to be half-and-half as I am not a cutesy, country-interior person,’ she says. ‘I wanted Belgian creased linen with vintage looks, and that is what we have. It is a little mixed throughout, but I still have the rows of Hunter wellies and a Saint Laurent khaki jacket hanging in the hall.’
‘It was very sudden. I received a call, jumped in the car and drove to see it,’ says Kelly of the day she first set foot in the neglected barn. ‘It was a shell, open on all sides, wet and dirty, and I made a decision then and there. I had been looking for so long and wanted a space in the country.’
Designing a home, let alone for oneself, comes with its own set of demands but, with looming Covid-19 lockdowns, Kelly had to move at double time. ‘I closed my eyes and visualised the end product. It was literally designed on the back of a packet of oats at breakfast,’ she says.
The barn structure itself was unbuilt, so working with the builder, Kelly designed the interiors to include a staircase leading to a new second level. Flow and balance were key to the floor plan, as were volume and openness (elements to which a barn naturally lends itself). The open-plan area at the front of the home was configured into a multi-functional space, operating as a home gym, a hallway and a chill-out space.
The living space, meanwhile, creates a sophisticated yet cosy experience with neutral tones and natural fabrics punctuated by matte vessels with dried twigs, flowers and vintage pieces.
‘I do a lot of cooking in the barn, and the kitchen has these huge windows that look out onto the central courtyard,’ says Kelly.
The spacious island is perfect for informal gatherings around mealtimes too. ‘Everything is personal in your home if it is done right,’ says Kelly. ‘The kitchen is the heart of the home, and now that I love cooking – late in life but finally – I love this space,’ she says. The outside incorporates the surrounding landscape and fields while also bringing a sense of the scenery inside, and was a collaboration with garden designer Stephen Woodhams. The central courtyard is filled with exquisite oversized rustic pots from Belgium and dolly-style vintage iron pots amidst lush greenery. ‘This home is important because, unlike a normal country barn, it is open with a less-is-more approach finished with a mix of modern and old.’
The process of reaching this homeostasis between classic and contemporary would see Kelly exploring her warehouse filled with vintage pieces and art. ‘This was the perfect project to finally use all of the items I have collected over the years and bring them to life,’ she says.
Not least among these were a pair of mirrors from her old home that she adored but, given their large scale, had been unable to find a fitting place to live until now. ‘It is like old friends coming home,’ she says. ‘The most unexpected favourite is the entrance. Everyone has their preferred chair, and mine is next to the dining room, looking out into the courtyard,’ she says. ‘I have created a space that encompasses both country and city in one, providing balance through the juxtaposition of modern style and vintage pieces.’
Take the complete home tour in the image gallery below and to learn more about Kelly Hoppen and her work visit Kelly Hoppen Interiors.