Combatting interior myths around the home

Hove interior designer Katherine Richards talks to Alex Bunce about the importance of colour and myths surrounding her profession.

Pictures by Robert Griffin
Pictures by Robert Griffin

If I told you to picture the colour green, the likelihood is all of you would think of a different shade.

So when people tell interior designer Katherine Richards they ‘hate green’ she finds that hard to believe.

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The same goes when people say they don’t ‘do colour’, opting for neutrals throughout their home.

Pictures by Robert Griffin

“Scientifically, colour is known for having an affect on us,” Katherine says, “It has been proven. It reflects the mood.

“It is part of our DNA to respond to colour in an emotional way.

“It is a bit like cooking,” she goes on to explain, “when you cook a meal you know you have to have a healthy diet, with a bit of this and a bit of that, and colour is the same, you need a broad palate like a tasting table.

“A lot of people think their homes should be a couple of colours and there is always this sense of keeping complementary rooms through the house, but each room has a different function so why should they be the same colour?”

Pictures by Robert Griffin

Another important factor to consider is that colour can be transient and needs to be used intelligently.

“If you are working with someone and they have just been divorced and feeling depressed the colours they choose are different, more subdued,” explains the Hove-based designer.

“But they will not be in that mood forever, so it is about helping them to choose colours that can change.”

With this in mind the consultation stage with a designer is key, with Katherine showing a wide range of colours and patterns to the client and watching how they react.

“It is not just about the colour, but how you are going to feel,” Katherine says. “No two people are the same.

“Some people know what they don’t like, but not what they do like.”

Many myths surround the world of interior design and can be quite damaging to the profession. So which is the myth that frustrates Katherine the most?

“The ‘you can do it yourself’,” she says. “To some extent some people can, but a lot of people do make mistakes.

“There are a lot of television programmes and magazine articles around that suggest it is easy and all you need to do is find things that match....

“I have been designing something or another for 35 years,” she adds. “It is very difficult to work out how to get people to recognise the skills involved.”

Katherine uses the example of seeking out a solicitor when you need legal advice to try to explain the importance of hiring an interior designer.

“When you have a legal matter you go to see a solicitor...the business of interior design is misunderstood. It is not just about getting wallpaper and cushions and matching it all together.

“It is about offering analytical advice, looking at personalities and how everyone lives together in that space.

“We are working on people’s homes and that is so important,” she adds.

“If you can’t have your home right nothing is going to be quite right in your life. It is your bolt hole, it is your place, it is your heartbeat.”

Another myth widely bandied about is to do with the cost.

“If you are on a really limited budget it is still worth spending £200-£300 of that to get professional advice,” Katherine explains.

“It can cost you a lot to make mistakes. Someone with only £2,000 for an entire project does not want to make a mistake.”

It is refreshing listening to Katherine talk about interior design in the way she does.

This is not off the peg design and it is not about trends and forcing a particular style on to someone.

And while Katherine believes everyone has their own green it is clear that it is about finding your own shade to suit you.

Myths to dispel...1. Interior design is easy and you can do it yourself

2. Interior designers charge a fortune and are only for the rich

3. Interior designers will force you to have something you hate

Colour and dispelling myths was the subject of a recent talk by Katherine held in Uckfield.

During the afternoon event, Designers Guild was on hand to show its new collection of fabrics, wallpaper and paints and show how you can put items together that you may not have ever considered.

To find out about upcoming talks or to contact Katherine Richards, visit the studio at 111 Portland Road, Hove, BN3 5DP, call 01273 386560 or visit

Interior designer Katherine Richards, and some of her many projects. Pictures by Alistair Nicholls.

This first featured in the July edition of etc Magazine pick up your copy now.