Home > Living > People > Rule Book: Kelly Hoppen on being comfortable in your own skin and space
Rule Book: Kelly Hoppen on being comfortable in your own skin and space

Kelly Hoppen is one of the greatest interior design names of all times. The Cape Town-born designer has styled the homes of everyone from Sienna Miller to Gwyneth Paltrow, Frank Lampard to the Beckhams.

An ardent aficionado of health and wellness, the 58-year-old is enviable for her svelte six-pack figure and her infectious bubbly personality. Apart from designing just beautiful homes, she has moved into the realms of luxury yachts, designing rugs and launching a wide range of exclusive home products.

Celebrated British interior designer, Kelly Hoppen. (Credit: Nick Haddow)

Her proudest moment: receiving her MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) from the Queen in 2009 for her contributions to interior design. Succeeding a career that spans over 40 years, she believes that no one should be defined by his or her age. Hoppen explains the importance of making time to train and de-stress, and what not to love about a well-designed interior space.

Interior Design
Don’t over accessorise. Simplicity in key.

My signature style? Neutral tones, ultra-luxurious materials and clean elegant schemes with the upmost comfort in mind.

“I am famous for my natural colour palette, which I have stuck to for the past 40 years.”

When designing your home, invest in pieces that you love, rather than just purchasing something that is ‘in’ at the moment.

You always want to create something timeless; something that you will never be sick of in the home because you do have to live with it for quite some time.

I am famous for my natural colour palette, which I have stuck to for the past 40 years. It hasn’t let me down.

Basic guide: the three things to keep in mind when designing any space are texture, colour and proportion. They keep harmony in a space.

Stick to your vision. “Be creatively inspired by everything around and follow your gut.”

A home is a place to rebalance your body and soul; you must feel at ease.

“Retro plants, palm trees and rubber plants are huge now – very 60s.”

Bring nature into the home. Organic trees that grow indoors add freshness and life to the interior space.

My new favourite at the moment are Bonsai plants – I can’t get enough of them.

Use mood boards and Pinterest and whatever you can to layer colours, textures and designs. Then sit with them for a while.

Look into the little things with a hawk’s eye. “I can walk into a room and see if something has moved half an inch – or if it needs to.”

Beauty & Fashion
I think about what I have to do during the day and then head to my dressing room to select something based on how I am feeling.

Be individual yet classic. I keep my dressing style chic, timeless and elegant.

During the day in my studio, I could be putting on a fantastic jumpsuit with heels or as simple as jeans and Converse.

Have no rules – black leggings with a more detailed top, matching it with either riding or biker boots suffice sometimes.

“I keep my dressing style chic, timeless and elegant.”

Fashion is about personal expression and I would say my style is ‘rock chic’.

I love to dress up for an evening out; so anything Chanel or classic outfits from Victoria Beckham.

Staying Fit
I don’t diet but I eat well and exercise every day.

Eat well and use different ingredients in your daily diet. I am also gluten free.

I have been the same weight for years and am probably fitter now than I’ve ever been thanks to the lifestyle that I live up to.

I love fish and shellfish.

Make a conscious effort to limit alcohol intake and ensure you get enough sleep.

My daughter, Natasha Corrett (UK’s top vegetarian chef and founder of Honestly Healthy) has opened my eyes to the benefits of eating and its overall impact on my wellbeing.

Training has been an important routine in my life since I was 16. It’s how I perform best and it sets me up for the day.

If you don’t feel like working out, maybe after partying the night before, don’t force yourself.

Listen to your body and do what feels right. “I have days when I want to eat chocolate and I don’t deprive myself.”

Travel & Technology
I have a very loyal online community. The digital world allows me to have direct dialogues with fans and customers wherever I go; it is very encouraging for me and my work.

I do not pack anything too unexpected; the usual clothes, shoes, products and bags.

Online platforms help to build up confidence in people’s ability and designs while keeping things individual.

Always be prepared. “Once I packed my own sheets. Ended up in the hotel and my team laughed because I had styled my hotel room with fresh flowers, sheets and stuff; including a little note to housekeeping asking them to leave my own sheets on the bed.”

Whether it’s Japan, China, Thailand or anywhere in Asia, there is an element of order that for me creates harmony – the lines and the textures work perfectly for me.

When I’m away, I’ll run for 5km, then do weights, Pilates and loads of stretching — nothing stops me training.

When I’m on holiday is when I most love to train as I have the time. I can take as long as I like and not feel the pressure of working against the clock.

Whenever I come to Asia, I feel very at home and peaceful – it does something to me.

Kelly Hoppen at work.

Philosophies in Life
What people forget is that celebrities and non-celebrities are all the same – we all have the same insecurities and goals.

If you have confidence in your ability and designs, pair it with determination and you’ll go far.

Be passionate and fearless – you have to keep training yourself.

Take your time. People often rush into styles or designs because they see a trend, or flick through pages of magazines and see the same styles over and over again – don’t ever be fooled.

A style is individual and should be crafted to suit you.

“I am 58 years old and I feel like I can choose what I want to do now.” (Credit: Nick Haddow)

Age has never been something I’ve been conscious of, except in my teens of course, so I would encourage women of all ages to hatch whatever plan works for them – all shapes and sizes look good if – and only if – you feel confident in your own skin.

It is not about how much you have or know, but about how happy and comfortable you are in whatever you do.

Age comes with the ability to be selective. “I am 58 years old and I feel like I can choose what I want to do now.”

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.
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