Interior designer Katharine Pooley is a busy woman. At one time, she can have as many as 19 projects to oversee — and she visits every one of them. “It’s important for the client to see me. We have just done a project in Singapore,” she says to me.
“You know, we are finding that the more well-known Katharine Pooley becomes, the more our clientele changes. They tend to be very private,” she adds.
The mother-of-two is not only the go-to designer for the rich and the famous (she was tasked to refurbish Grace Kelly’s home!), she owns a boutique that sells and supplies luxury accessories to fellow designers.
During my chat with her, she shared her design philosophy and tips. Here are the best bits of our candid interview.
Design: Katharine Pooley
On the importance of trims
I’ve just decorated my home. It is a beach house, and it has 52 different trims. I have beautiful shells that go around my cushion, and some boat knots at the edges of my curtains. It is a coastal look.
On one of her biggest interior design pet peeves
Marble when it has not been put together or is not aligned properly. I prefer using a whole big slab.
One of her most bizzare requests
We had to do a dog home, that comes with an integrated spa, a whirlpool bath, a massage bed for the dog’s acupuncture sessions, and a grooming parlour.
On preparing the colour scheme of the home
Instead of thinking about colours you like, ask yourself or your clients the colours they DON’T like. Some hate green or cream, whereas others love red. Personally, I will inject colour in some way or form in all my projects, and they do not necessarily have to be vibrant.
Design: Katharine Pooley
On colours she likes to use
I like lilac, a pale orange, and celadon is one of my favourite colours. For the walls, don’t go magnolia; it is used in old folks home and can be depressing. Pure white is cold and there is no warmth, so leave it for the ceiling. I’d go for an off-white with a tinge of pink or blue, or taupe.
On easy changes to make a home luxurious on a budget
On the one interior style she hates
I hate, with a passion, Starck. Not the designer, but that style of design. I went to a home with one armchair in the whole room – where am I supposed to sit? Where’s the furniture? It’s frigid cold.
Katharine Pooley names Kelly Wearstler (pictured) as one of the designers she admires
On the interior designers she loves
David Hicks, he was an inspiration for the 70s. David Mlinaric, who have done all the famous homes in England — and that’s a real art. I love Andre Fu. But, for me, the one I am fascinated by is Kelly Wearstler. I haven’t met her, though. And with her design, it’s like Marmite: you either like it or you don’t. Kelly does a lot of homes for people that are extraordinary. Pink on their walls and an orange armchair — and I think design like this takes a lot of courage.
On the one thing she would splurge on for the home
The bed. It is where I get to rest. I have a Savoir bed and it is delicious. It is an important investment. You spend half your life asleep!
Design: Katharine Pooley Boutique
On her suppliers
Finding suppliers for Katharine Pooley boutique is key and I will never share them. My suppliers and I trust each other. Plus, my order quantity is vast compared to a small designer. I’ve had an instance where a past employee tried to contact one of my suppliers and he said, “Sorry, I’ve known Katharine for 15 years, and she is the bread and butter of my company. I am not just going to lose that for one frame.” It’s loyalty and ethics isn’t it?