Get the Kit Kemp look

Hotelier and interior designer, Kit Kemp, is celebrated for her joyfully whimsical style. Her love of colourful fabrics, pattern, artwork and eclectic accessories create quirky rooms that celebrate her quintessential British style.  

In Kit’s boutique hotels in London and New York, rooms are transformed into cool, modern spaces that are as beautiful as they are comfortable. Underneath the kaleidoscope of pattern and colour there are rules and tricks that govern her signature style. Here are some tips to create your very own Kit Kemp inspired space.

Establish zones

All Kit’s designs start with her dividing the space up into functional zones based on their purpose. This means her spaces feel balanced, calm and stable. Start with choosing your central point, often a sofa or bed, and make this the largest item of furniture around which other small items are placed. This creates a sense of balance when you enter a room. Kit uses side tables and occasional chairs to define the boundaries of an area. 

Play with pattern

The multi coloured assortment of patterns that characterise Kit Kemp’s schemes favour an eclectic mix of geometrics, florals and abstract prints working together in perfect harmony.

To get the look, simply layer different patterns of varying scales to add movement and texture. The trick is to choose similar colour groups to ground the design.

The easiest way to play with patterns is by using a mix of different patterned cushions. You can then have some fun by varying the cushions you use in differing sizes and patterns. This adds depth and texture to your sofa or bed.

Layer up different textures

The best interiors combine different textures to ensure a room looks warm and welcoming. Without texture, interiors can sometimes look flat and cold. Kit chooses fabrics rich with natural imperfections and texture within the weave. To get the look, choose fabrics like linen and wool, with weaves and prints, to add depth to a space.

Celebrate curtains

Curtains are the perfect place to use a large-scale print that you love. Bold prints are best used on tall curtains so you can see the repeat pattern. Kit loves geometric designs in her hotel rooms. If you can’t choose between two favourite fabrics, use one on either side of your curtains. I love this look.

Kit also uses pelmets to cover the top of the curtains. Rather than looking old-fashioned, in the right space, fabric pelmets can finish off a pair of curtains perfectly.

Kit hangs curtains right to the ceiling. This trick makes the ceilings look higher.

Statement headboards

In Kit Kemp’s hotels her iconic statement headboards have become synonymous with her look. Statement headboards are a bold design look. A larger-than-life headboard will draw your eye to the centre of a bedroom and allow you to choose a colour and fabric that stands out against you wall covering.

Use strategically placed mirrors

Decorating with mirrors is a great way to increase natural light and create a sense of space. Mirrors have become much more than just a looking glass. A well placed mirror can be used to duplicate your favourite design features. Placing mirrors within the niches of a room also makes darker nooks lighter as they reflect natural daylight as well as lamp lighting. Installing mirrors at the back of a bookshelf can add an illusion of depth. 

Use low level lighting

Kit keeps lighting low, directional and practical. In her hotels she tends to avoid using spotlights, especially in rooms such as living rooms, libraries and bedroom which are meant to be warm and inviting. Use table lamps, standing lights and picture wall lights. Table lamps provide a practical source of light whilst doubling as pieces of sculpture. Their unique shapes and various materials add textures and colour to the room. Placing table lamps behind furniture or a plant in the corner of the room, can make the room feel larger.

Celebrate polished metals

A material Kit loves to use in her schemes is polished metal. Metal’s reflective quality infuses spaces with contemporary sophistication. From chrome to brass and copper, their glossy surfaces draw the eye, creating a focal point in a room.

Whether she uses metal bobbin lamps, a shiny brass cocktail cabinet or polished nickel studs on an upholstered chair, Kit knows the power of polished metal.

Don’t forget rugs 

A rug can transform any space by adding colour, texture and style and can change how a room looks and feels. Rugs can help make the most out of a room through creating different zones and runners are a great way to help lead the eye from one space into another – they also help to fill the space that often makes hallways feel unfinished. Kit loves antique rugs for their power to make your space feel timeless and layered. If you choose a style of rug with hand knotted elements or fringing details it will also add warmth to your room. Layering a rug on top of carpet adds an extra level of comfort and cosiness.

Earn your stripes

Stripes are one of Kit’s favourite patterns. Striped walls bring dimension and stability to a scheme. Stripes can be thick or thin depending on the impact you want to create. A variation of depth in stripes create different effects within schemes. 

Funky sconces

Wall lights serve an important role in terms of both function and form in Kit’s hotels and you will often see her using funky sconces in her designs. 

Sconces were one of the earliest forms of interior lighting, originally used to hold candles. Different shaped scones can create wall shadows, bringing additional layers of texture to a space. 

Wallpaper your walls

Kit Kemp’s hotel rooms are often wallpapered rather than painted to achieve a smart finish. Wallpapering walls is a perfect opportunity to add further colour and texture to a space. Kit also loves to use hand-painted murals in some of her rooms. Opting for more neutral fabrics in the furnishings allows the mural to take centre stage. 

Fabric on walls

Kit also often opts for paper backed fabric on the walls, especially in bedrooms, to create a luxurious effect. This creates a soft canvas for the room. If you’ve chosen a colder colour for your walls, like blue, using a textured fabric will bring warmth back into the room.

Use embroidery and applique

Kit’s signature style uses fabrics which have embroidery or applique detail. It is another way to create contrast through texture. The trick is to pick a fabric with a neutral background, so the intricate thread work of the hand embroidery is showcased.

A tip is to use embroidered fabrics on decorative chairs where they will be protected from wear and tear. 

Vibrant artwork

The finishing touches and eccentric accessories are what makes Kit Kemp interiors so enchanting. Kit is a keen collector of art and vibrant artwork is a dominant feature in her interiors. Whilst being a beautiful addition to the walls, the artwork often shares its colour palette with the rest of the room and helps to link the overall scheme together. Artwork also gives a room character and warmth.

Use trimmings

Look closely at the rooms in Kit Kemp’s hotels and you will notice that upholstery and cushions are adorned with trimmings to give neat edges and a tailored finish. Trimmings are also a wonderful excuse to add extra splashes of colour. You will often see Kit choosing contrasting tones that appear in other pieces in the room which brings the scheme together.

Kit has written several books on design and has a fabulous blog on her website. I also do recommend a visit to one of her wonderful Firmdale hotels for inspiration.