Celebrating 40 years of transforming rooms with her calm-yet-dramatic aesthetic, Kelly Hoppen’s new book invites readers into her own past and present homes. Here, she takes Gabrielle Fagan for a look around

'CREATING a sense of theatre is essential in any living space," declares Kelly Hoppen, and the dramatic settings in her home, a converted auction house in central London, amply prove her point.

"I bought the building as a shell with nothing but a floor, an impressively high ceiling and the structural columns," she says proudly, gesturing at the vast open-plan living area which runs from an entrance hall at one end through to the study at the other, with living and dining areas in between.

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The space is decorated in her signature shades of taupe and white. "I'm not frightened of colour, but neutrals are who I am. It's worked as my signature colourway for 40 years and I'll continue the Hoppen style," she insists.

"I passionately believe a palette of neutrals - whether taupe, sand or cream based - can provide a serene and harmonious backdrop, against which to layer the colour and activity in your life. I like the way they make me feel, as much as they way they look.

"But whichever family of neutrals I choose to work with on a project, textural contrast is always absolutely key, to add richness, depth and character," she adds.

Personality abounds throughout the home. The glamorous master bathroom - "probably my favourite room" - has a marble bath, set on an under-lit plinth, whose shape's inspired by a lotus flower.

"I also love our study, which is similar to a collector's room, housing a history of the old auction house as well as books, art and objects," she confides. "I still believe open-plan is essential to the way we live. I love using glass partitions if I want to create intimate areas and add depth."

Her distinctive style philosophy has won her a portfolio of A-list clients, including David and Victoria Beckham - and now she reveals her decor secrets, and the wisdom that's helped make her internationally renowned, in her beautifully illustrated book, House Of Hoppen.

Only 13 when she realised she wanted to be an interior designer, taking on her first project three years later, Hoppen, 57, began her career extraordinarily young. "By the time I was 17, I'd bought and done up my own apartment in London's Chelsea, as well as setting up an office there," she recalls.

"Back then, everything came from a real intrigue and experience, rather than just opening a book and copying from it, which is what I feel people do today. My own style evolved in an organic way - it was intuitive."

She has a cautious approach to trends which she believes should be used as a guide, rather than a rule, as if they're too slavishly followed they can easily date an interior. "What's important is creating timeless and understated elegance in your home, and to plan before you start designing the space. Times have changed and people want sustainable and modern luxury, while holding on to pieces that will last the test of time," she says.

"The recession has had a big impact on the way people are living their lives and their core values. It's that juxtaposition between the old and new that will play an important role in the future."

HOPPEN'S DECOR TIPS

COLOUR UP: Splashes of burgundy, dark grey, pastel pink, emerald green, and burnt orange will be the shades of this year.

EDGY MIX: An industrial look in design has made a comeback. "Using industrial materials, such as concrete, will automatically inject an urban feel into your home no matter what the location. This versatile material looks incredible contrasted with metals and textures. Mix it up with antiques which will shock and contrast beautifully with this sleek look."

WAKE UP WALLS: "Wallpaper should be a wonderful, luxurious piece of texture, which draws you in but at the same time is a backdrop to whatever style you choose for your home," explains Hoppen.

"We've seen an increase in patterned and textured wallpaper which will continue this year. Look out for lots of bold, colourful prints as well as geometric shapes, splatters and messy patterns, a la artist Jackson Pollock. Retro-style tiles will also be huge for walls." Give one wall a facelift for an easy spring update. Kelly Hoppen Splatter Gold Wallpaper, £23 a roll, Graham & Brown (grahamandbrown.com).

NATURE NOTES: Bringing nature into the home is absolutely key, Hoppen declares. "I love organic trees which grow indoors, and Sixties-style plants such as palm trees and rubber plants, which are enjoying a revival. Place fresh flowers in every room for an instant spring uplift. Display in clear bowls - which could also be filled with flowers or sand - and are ideal centre pieces or focal points on tables." Clear Glass Globe Top Band Bowl, £39, Kelly Hoppen (www.kellyhoppen.com).

LIGHTEN UP: Create a lighter feeling for spring by substituting curtains and loose covers in heavy fabrics for more delicate alternatives, such as sheers and cottons. Use mirrors throughout the home where possible. They can double the effect of natural daylight and create an illusion that a space is larger and brighter than in reality.

FLOOR SHOW: Different materials and effects will make floors the star of homes this year, Hoppen predicts. "Retro tiles paired with wood, herringbone flooring matched with ceramic tiles, and old wooden floors mixed with stone will be just a few of the new pairings.

"Bespoke wood colour will also be a big hit. The wood flooring in my London home is full of subtle warm tones and took six months to perfect. It was like going to the hairdresser and finding the perfect shade. Another popular trend will be photographic tiles - imagery on tiles - which can be show-stopping."

GET THE LOOK

Recreate Kelly Hoppen's style with furniture and accessories from the designer's range... Grey Wing Accent Chair, £600, and Flow Coffee Table, £1,200. Accessorise with faux Hydrangeas In Glass Vase, currently reduced from £55 to £44; a Westbourne Velvet Cushion, £95, all Kelly Hoppen (020-3701-9333/kellyhoppen.com)

  • House Of Hoppen by Kelly Hoppen, photography by Vincent Knapp and Mel Yates (Jacqui Small, £50). Available to readers for special price of £40 (including p&p) - visit QuartoKnows.com and enter code HOP20 (offer valid until June 30).