Interior design is key to making a house a home, but it’s sometimes easy to forget that the architecture and interiors should go hand in hand. HUB Architects and Designers are a design firm that combine the two effortlessly to create beautiful homes and spaces. Fine & Country Interior Design catch up with Kate Spence, one of HUB’s founders to find out about her passion for the industry.
1. What has been your vision for HUB Architects and Designers since you started the company?
When Simon Watkins and I established HUB in 2007 as a one-stop shop for both interiors and architecture. We wanted to work from inside out and vice versa so that interior design opportunities are not lost in the early architectural stages, and good architecture is not eradicated to meet interior specification.
With a background in film and television design, my vision and approach to creating interiors was through an eclectic, eye-level journey, while Simon’s was more of an architect's over view. We find that our shared vision gives us an effective, creative partnership.
2. What would you say is the most important thing an interior designer contributes to a client’s home?
An interior designer can bring experience, creative inspiration and a wealth of education and knowledge to help shape the client's dreams. At HUB, we also bring a background of architecture so that we can immediately spot the architectural potential of a building and give insights to structural constraints, construction budgets and guidance with planning applications.
We can help our clients find a path whereby their dreams can become reality and time is not spent chasing ideas that may not be viable or materialise.
3. Where does your design inspiration come from?
The important thing at the early stage of a design process is to keep an open mind. Once I have fully understood a client's brief, I research and source inspiration from many sources. Initially, these might be abstract images that capture a mood, a texture or a lighting condition. I will layer these ideas with precedents from historic and contemporary settings, artifacts, locations until a large number of images are gathered, which gives a visual flavour.
Next, we use a mood board of abstract images and more specific items or internal features to discuss with the client. If I am working with a developer instead of the future occupant, the building will be a significant influencer. For instance, our project at Clarendon Place, near Hyde Park, London, required the complete strip-out and remodeling of a 1950’s house built after bombs had destroyed a very beautiful row of early Victorian houses. The building was in a Conservation Area and therefore could not be altered externally, but we had complete freedom to alter the interior spaces. Our design was influenced by some of the great mid-century designers such as Gio Ponti but also nodded at the finishes found in grand Victorian London townhouses, along with a more contemporary colour palette. Eventually, a unique eclectic mix emerged that celebrated the modest original features of the house rather than upstaging them.
4. How do you approach each new client’s home and their expectations?
No-one is better equipped to understand the needs of their home than the owners and residents. The most important thing an interior designer can do is to listen. Clients will know better than anyone what makes their world tick, what their priorities are, where they feel most at ease, how their day is spent, their aesthetic taste and the requirements that they have of each space they live in. These are the ingredients that we can style into a home that is both a beautiful expression and a place where the owners will love to be.
5. Tell us about your most challenging project to date.
We are currently working on a central London home that was originally designed by Robert Adam in 1780 and is now home to an extended family. We want to make the house a catalyst for the best of family living: a real home that will meet the high demands of the family, giving formal areas for entertaining and more homely spaces that the family can relax in. The building has required careful consideration in order to achieve planning approval for the Listed areas and meet the client's requirements. The building will be extended with a double basement and orangery at the back of the property. As well as taking the project on to site, we are currently embarking on the fine, careful detailing for all the fixed furniture and joinery which will define the character and quality of the building.
6. What is the most unusual client request which you’ve had to deal with so far?
We recently built an energy centre for a client who had bought a large historic estate in Hampshire and wanted to power the building with an eco-friendly solution. We converted some historic barns to accommodate zero-carbon, bio-mass pellet boilers and installed ground source heating. The end result has meant that the energy generated on site heats all the buildings and provides hot water for the entire estate.
7. What is your next project?
We are currently working on a wide range of projects, including the remodelling of historic buildings, new-build developments in Hertfordshire and London as well as the interior design of a local community library in north-west London.
Are you interested in staging or redesigning your home? Find out more about Fine & Country Interior Design today.
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