Leading interior designer Kelly Hoppen MBE started designing when she was just 16 years old and after a prestigious career is famed world-wide for her signature palette of neutral shades. She’s famed in other ways, too – as the stepmother of Sienna and Savannah Miller and for her former marriage to hairdressing superstar Nicky Clarke.

Her clientele is equally starry, including the Beckhams, Anthony Hopkins, Elton John and Gwyneth Paltrow, but her influence also filters down from the homes of the famous to the everyday aspirational living room.

She recently launched her first full concept store in Barker and Stonehouse, Newcastle upon Tyne and we caught up with her at the exclusive launch event to find out more about the range, her inspirations and her top tips for budding interior designers.

B&S: “So, this is your first concept store, right here in Newcastle, and you have plans to open a series of 50 to 60 more international stores stocking your own range of super stylish furniture – is the world set to go Hoppen crazy?”

KH: “Certainly not. I’m not creating this range to make a lot of mini-me’s. For me, it’s so important that a home should be a sanctuary, so I’ve created the range to give people a way of making homes that are entirely theirs.

“Design has been a passion of mine from an early age, and what I have tried to create, based on influences from the East, is a very simple design system that’s actually a way of life.

“My furniture range is there for people to buy one piece, or more, and then put their own identity on it.”

B&S: “You are renowned for your love of a neutral palette – does everything have to be taupe, cream, grey or mink?

KH: “No, but you have to start somewhere and neutral is the perfect beginning for any room design, starry or otherwise.

“I do use colour – we’re introducing some reds, purples and other colours into the collection – but neutrals are a great starting point, although colour does add wit, warmth and drama to a room.

B&S: “So do you think your range has something for everyone? Not just the Beckhams?

KH: “Definitely, because the range is infinitely versatile. I’ve designed an initial 50 pieces, which can be put together in about 800 combinations, with more to be launched soon”.

“Furniture should be simple and plain – the secret is in what you put with it, like when you are getting dressed.

“Think of a woman’s navy suit – you can wear it with a white t-shirt and sneakers, or high heels and diamonds. The accessories dictate the overall style.”

Kelly’s own style is glamorous. Famed for her cascades of toffee-shaded hair, she is in her early 50s but looks younger, taking care of herself with meditation and exercise.

Good habits are important in a life as busy as hers - Kelly’s visit to Barker and Stonehouse, Newcastle, was part of a grueling schedule that sees her diary full to the end of the year.

“I can look in my diary and see what I’m doing every day until December,” she says ruefully, but her busy life is a reflection of the international esteem in which she is held. Her concept stores will spread that reputation still further, and Barker and Stonehouse feel privileged to be hosting the first of them.

Kelly approves of the Barker and Stonehouse Newcastle store layout too. We asked her what she thought of the store.

“It was great to walk in and see how beautifully displayed my furniture was,” she said. “The 30 pieces on show, including sofas, armchairs, chaises, coffee tables, side tables, trunks, dining furniture and cushions are sophisticated, but also comfortable and easy to incorporate into any home.”

B&S: “So what about your home then Kelly – what’s it like?”

KH: “It suits me perfectly. Choosing your home’s style is a similar process to choosing a piece of couture clothing. It should reflect your taste and fit your personal style like a glove.”

Her home features in her latest book - Kelly Hoppen Ideas. It’s a sophisticated yet luxurious townhouse with more furniture, texture and objects than she has previously used in her own living space.

The book outlines her tips room by room. In it, she talks about how to use her signature elements such as shutters, vintage pieces and cushions to create a home that provides a welcoming shelter from the stressful world.

We've shared Kelly’s Top Ten tips for creating your own sanctuary below – enjoy!

  1. Living rooms can be integrated into an open-plan design just as effectively as they can be separately grand. They can be appointed as a series of places to sit, read and relax and be as right for a party as for nights in with friends.
  2. Think about where the main seating will be, what the view into another part of the room and beyond in to the garden, kitchen or other area will be, how many seating zones you need,  where the television will be and so on. Answering these questions will help you to decide on a layout and define how you will move through and around the zones or the space as a whole.
  3. Glamour is the chief ingredient in my own living space, where the monochromatic palette has created a serene vision of photographic perfection, fulfilling my aim to make my living room seem like a stunning black-and-white picture. I have chosen everything from materials to furniture and accessories with this in mind.
  4. Natural light fills a room with magical ever-changing light and reflection. Make the most of it with sheer curtains that filter the light softly while providing privacy.
  5.  Art is such an essential and personal ingredient. I am crazy for photography and especially love images with glamorous women, such as Jessica in Lace Dress by Louise Bobbe, from Stephanie Hoppen.
  6. Curtains can be changed according to your mood or the seasons. I love simple iron curtain poles as they are understated and elegant and do not detract from the fabric or overpower the room.
  7. Graceful living in a large open space can be kept intimate by the placement of furniture into three zones. A seating area designed for socialising, a cosy area for relaxing in front of the fire and a reading area at the other end of the room. You can use room divisions such as the screen from my Kelly Hoppen furniture range, which is available at Barker and Stonehouse.
  8. Work with a grid, so that you can see all the lines of the room, and keep them in mind when you are thinking the design through. Where are the windows and how do they relate to the fireplace, the doors and the other features? This gives you the beginnings of the layout.
  9. Even if I am starting with the floor, I will already have a picture in my mind of what all the other materials will be – the fabrics, furniture, lighting, joinery and wall finishes. Flooring must be timeless and not a fashion statement, as it will be down for a long time and is beyond expensive to change.
  10. A well-lit room will always have its own wow-and-welcome factor, however modest its features or decoration, but a room where the lighting has not received due care will never sing out, whatever the decoration. The more you can vary and control the lighting the better. A critical piece of underwear to a room’s outerwear, lighting gives its own kind of structure, spirit and energy.

You can view Kelly's home furnishing collection at Barker & Stonehouse now.