Sustainable Interiors: Kelling Designs, part one

Spotlight interview with Emma Deterding, Founder and Creative Director of Kelling Designs –

Recently named among the Top 100 Interior Designers in the world, Emma’s ability to offer a well-thought-out scheme for private clients has been honed over 25+ years in the market. Her reputation for not shying away from colour and pattern sets her apart, working on numerous projects across the length and breadth of the country and abroad, from France to India. Her skills as a designer and diplomat ensure that many of her clients continue to return to her, some now working on their fourth or fifth house. She enthusiastically embraces colour and uses it to maximum effect, whilst always being guided by her clients.

Tell us a little about yourself and your international design company Kelling Designs?

The journey for me, began in 1990 when I came back from Tokyo, having just had a baby. I started up a concierge business with a friend at the start of the boom of the concierge service. I eventually sold the concierge business, and having worked on properties for let in London, Kelling Designs was born. As time went on, more of our clients on the lettings side were asking us to re-design their private homes, Kelling Designs coming about organically from this.

We have been so lucky to be supported by so many wonderful clients, some of whom have worked with us on 4 or 5 projects all over the world. India was our most glamorous posting, helping design and build the most beautiful home in Lutyens, Delhi.

How would you describe your design style?

Our design style is classic, colourful, and ebullient. For us it’s about creating a scheme that is timeless but filled with colour pattern and things that really make you happy. 

As an interior designer what current trends are you a fan of?

I don’t really follow or do trends if I’m honest. For me, good design should be classic and timeless, something that will look just as good now as it does in a few years’ time.

Sustainable design, however, is a trend and a lifestyle that is going from strength to strength and is something that everyone should factor into their design schemes.

What is the most environmentally or socially positive project you have ever worked on?

Recently we have been lucky enough to work on a huge project at Spetchley Park. The family had collected furniture over hundreds of years and we were lucky enough to have the privilege of sorting through the house and choosing all the furniture that we wanted to keep. The rest was disposed of at auction, allowing it to be reused and re-loved by someone else. With the items that we kept we have restored all the pieces using furniture restorers, and reupholstered and altered the pieces that didn’t quite work. Very little was wasted and very little new furniture bought in, except some new sofas and chairs.

Having been creating beautiful designs for over 20 years do wood floors play a part in your interiors? If so, how does tone, texture and format influence your selection?

We use wooden floors frequently. There is nothing better than the natural feel of a wood floor and for those who have health issues, I think that wood makes such a difference. The tone and texture are an important part of the look for every room and design scheme, and we tend to start with the design and then work the floor into the scheme.

We’ve got to ask; do you have any favourite Ted Todd or Woodworks floors? 

I don’t have a particular favourite as every floor is suitable for each individual project. There is a floor for every situation, and really, what’s not to like about that?

What I particularly love is that the product is British, manufactured here, sustainable with the right certifications and that you are fully embracing and hopefully enjoying the journey to sustainability. The wall cladding is a clever way to repurpose and reuse antique and reclaimed wood – what a great idea and a clear showcase of how all our businesses should be adapting to do better from an environmental and sustainability perspective.

Ruskin, Antique

As an agency you specialise in creating beautiful interiors that achieve the perfect balance between elegance and practicality, and you successfully achieve this in both the residential and commercial market. How do you bridge the gap to deliver your signature style?

With 30 years’ experience in the game of interiors, we have done plenty of each which allows us to know where and what the pitfalls are. That doesn’t mean that we get it right every time, but we always put it right and learn from our mistakes. When I know it all – I will give it up!

Congratulations on being named in the Spear’s Luxury Index 2020 that features 50 innovators, tastemakers and leaders at the forefront of luxury today. We’ve been hearing the term ‘sustainability is the new luxury’ lately – what are your thoughts on this concept?

My thoughts are that you don’t need to have all new to have luxury and the client needs to learn that all new every time they move home is not necessary – antiques are seeing a resurgence and will become a thing of the future once again – the workmanship and the beauty of these older pieces should be embraced and enjoyed.

Part two of our interview coming soon…