Katie Glaister, Co-Founder – K&H Design
March 2023 - Aykroyd & Co
What inspired you to set up the business?
“My career into interior design wasn’t linear; I began in the financial futures market, working in London, New York, Chicago and Sydney before moving into financial PR. I changed tack to spend a decade in high-end residential property development which led me into a Managing Director role for an interior design studio. Although the studio produced good design, I realised there was no real connection to the end client. So, as a homemaker with a passion for personalised design, I decided to combine all my experience and found my own interior design studio, K&H Design. K&H is now a client facing design studio, focused on creating well considered, beautiful and original homes that are a true reflection of how our client’s like to live.”
What company values do you hold at K&H Design?
“Teamwork, collaboration & transparency. K&H Design brings together a pool of sophisticated designers, many from very different professional backgrounds. We spend a lot of time thinking, developing and nurturing strong relationships with our clients to develop their brief and produce refined solutions. Creating opportunities for artisans and craftspeople is also a key tenet of our studio and we are passionate about our work with them.”
What services do K&H Design offer?
“We offer a fully comprehensive design service from space planning, interior architectural detailing, design decoration and FF&E. But we don’t need to do all of them. We equally love projects where we work collaboratively with an architect or where the client wants to take ownership of the FF&E.
Ideally we like to be involved at the outset to ensure the interior requirements are fully considered and inform the exterior. For example, the windows may look perfect from the outside, but will they be at the right height for the kitchen sink? The new fully glazed rear extension looks stunning, but have nibs been allowed for to allow space for curtains? Has the new staircase been full considered at every level to ensure the space on each floor is full optimised for the personal client’s requirements.
Our FF&E services include sourcing and procurement, decoration, curation of existing furniture and art, furniture commissions, art and antique sourcing.”
How would you describe your style of design?
“We have a wide range of projects, from Georgian and Carolean manor houses, through to large country new builds and penthouses in Kensington. Our sweet spot is probably large family homes in central London and the countryside. We have delivered fabulous projects in Hong Kong and Sweden and are currently working on the interior architecture and design of an Austrian chalet.
Our projects are not united by style, but by our approach and process. Each design is informed by the client’s needs and tastes – as well as the property’s existing DNA. This is why getting to know our clients is first and foremost. Naturally a couple’s tastes and requirements won’t fully align. It is always such a pleasure when we arrive at a solution which delights them both.
Our clients tend to be genuinely interested in, and knowledgeable about design. We love working with people who have this pre-existing interest so we can bring them along the journey of creating bespoke solutions and engaging the best artisans to work with on their home. The design is an interpretation, development and refinement of what the client wants. We like to start the process with a hand sketch. By combining the traditional and contemporary with bespoke detailing and a touch of humour, we create interiors that are beautiful, refined and visually dramatic whilst also being practical, relaxed and comfortable.”
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
“I believe every good designer must have a rock-solid knowledge of design styles and history, as well as a hunger for knowledge and a desire to keep their finger on the pulse. Most importantly, inspiration should be drawn from our client’s tastes – the works of art they surround themselves with and the way they live their lives.”
What type of material do you gravitate towards?
“I love colour and the natural world, so materials that incorporate both will always get my approval. Pyrolave appears in a few of our most recent kitchen projects. This volvic lava is extracted from quarries in France’s Auvergne volcanos and then enamelled in endless colour possibilities. Sustainability and a respect for nature are always important. Through our knowledge of organic materials and how they are produced, we readily incorporate linens, hemp, cork, timber, natural stones, and recycled materials. They all play a huge part in our design choices.”
What has been your favourite project so far and why?
“We once redecorated a country home for a young family. The house was formed of two halves: the original Georgian rectory and a more recent substantial extension. This presented a conceptually exciting opportunity. We created an understated calm and gentle interior, reimagining the Georgian pallet for the 21st century using environmentally friendly paints. All the floors were re-finished in muted tones. We used classic designs but often with contemporary upholster in the Georgian rooms and introduced more recent/contemporary furniture pieces in the newer wing. For instance, in the breakfast room, we chose the highly collectable Niels Moller dining chairs paired with Rose Uniake’s Draper Table.”
“What is the most rewarding aspect of running your Design business?”
“I have a fantastic design team that I feel very lucky to work with and we manage to combine hard work with ‘outings’ and a lot of fun. I like to think that each member of staff has the opportunity to develop and hone their skills and careers whilst working here. This is very important to me. I also think it’s the process of finding intelligent, aesthetic design solutions that really work for the client which makes me love what we do. Our clients will often have differing tastes and opinions. He’ll love one concept and she another. Our role when this happens is to listen, challenge and develop a refined solution that resonates with them both. This is an immensely satisfying moment.”
What are your 5 go-to tips for running an interior design business?
“1. Build relationships!
2. Work with the best in the business: every day artisans and craftspeople find us (or we find them!) and share their new papers, fabrics, finishes, paints and furniture designs. It’s all about holding that information, challenging it, managing that enormous spectrum of design choice, and never forsaking your tried and trusted suppliers, whilst always keeping that eye open for new delights.
3. Scale scale scale: Sketch to convey and communicate a concept, draw to scale and make models whenever appropriate.
4. Get the colour just right: never forget even in this virtual world how important it is to see paint colours on site. A blue looks very different in a bedroom in Hong Kong looking over the South China Sea than in the west facing drawing room of a Georgian rectory.
5. Communication: A journey with a private client is a long one and very personal. Never lose sight of the fact that it is a professional relationship and must be based on trust and respect.”
What is next for you and K&H Design?
“K&H Design has come a long way in its seven years and we want to continue to improve upon and expand the design knowledge and very personal service we offer our clients.
Whilst the interior design service remains front and centre of our practice, we are excited to have launched our product brand this year: ‘No Straight Lines’ No Straight Lines, by K&H Design
Still in its infancy, No Straight Lines offers intricately designed stair runners with a 30 metre non repeat pattern. Ever interested in reviving crafts, we have taken inspiration from these to create a set of exquisite straw marquetry match box sleeves – hand made in London. We design very beautiful furniture pieces for our clients and, with the generous blessing of our client, a selection of these will be made available throughout the year.”
Why ‘No Straight Lines’?
“We believe that good design stems from an authoritative knowledge of its history. It is about creative dialogue and challenging ideas. It is about developmental flexibility whilst navigating with conviction. It means arriving at something unique which sits comfortably in its new context.”
“There are no straight lines on this journey”.