A Room of My Own: Kelly Hoppen on the First Major Project in her 40-year Career

Designer Kelly Hoppen marks her 40th year in business this year, which is an amazing landmark anyway, but especially because she’s been working as an interior designer since she was 16. Most people – switched on to the design world or not – have heard of or recognise the work of Kelly. Famously brights-avoiding and forever associated with the colour taupe, Kelly’s natural, textural aesthetic has roots in the East, but embodies a distinctly Western flavour resulting in a body of work with huge universal appeal. She’s worked on the private homes, yachts and jets of many a famous client and weaved her magic on luxury restaurants, hotels and resorts across the globe.

In an unusual take on our Room of My Own feature – and in celebration of her milestone – we asked her to cast back to an early project, to share how it felt when she was young, inexperienced and responsible…

KELLY HOPPEN | early career |The Chromologist“My first big project was a home just off the Boltons in Chelsea, London. It was for a Grand Prix driver and was a five-story townhouse, so I had plenty of space to work with.

We completely stripped it out for a full renovation. Taupe, being my signature colour, was used throughout and we got different shades of the colour made in gloss by John Minshaw.”

Taupe bedroom | kelly Hoppen | The Chromologist

A recent taupe bedroom based around themes Kelly became famous for after her Grand Prix driver’s home

“It was the first big job I was able to put my heart and soul into and it was also my first experience of having carte blanche at decorating. And the first instance I remember loving neutrals. The end result was great – naturally – so I got loads of other work from it.

One weird thing I remember having to deal with was the client’s love of parrots – we ended up putting several stained glass parrots into the conservatory.”

Open-plan living | Kelly Hoppen | The ChromologistOpen plan living in Covent Garden – a recent project by Kelly Hoppen

White textured kitchen | Kelly Hoppen | The Chromologist

Neutral, textural finishes in the kitchen of the same project

“This project was my first experience of working with an architect and incorporating space-planning, something I really enjoy now. I was excited by every aspect of the process the whole way through it and I learnt that this is a really important element for me to reach the end result in any job. I also learnt that your relationship with the client is very important – being friendly with them will go a long way.”

Kelly Hoppen house | Stair ideas | The ChromologistKelly Hoppen’s recent project in London’s Covent Garden

“As my first big project it gave me the confidence to design from the heart. I was so proud of the finished result and that helped me carry on and create my signature style.”

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

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