Interior Design Isn’t Just For The Wealthy, Karolina Barnes Opens Up Her Eye For Design.
Karolina Barnes is a devoted mum whose early eye for design has opened up the doors for her dream. Her main aim is to supply a quality design service for all walks of life, alienating no-one and attracting those who don’t necessarily have a wad of cash to play with. Karolina enjoys bringing a talented touch to her clients homes, embodying a real understanding of patterns, textures and colours.
Karolina has studied a Diploma in Interiors, worked for the critically acclaimed Design Centre Chelsea Harbour and most recently set up her very own studio. Along this journey she’s discovered her true identity as a designer and continues to master her style by fulfilling design projects on a frequent basis.
Not only is Karolina helping her clients achieve better aesthetics and practicality in the home but she also provides further services beyond designing interiors. These include assistance for budding designers and DIYers in her KB Design Club, the running of The KB Shop which flaunts the latest soft furnishings and bespoke items created locally in Kent and she also gives 5% of her profits to the Childrens with Cancer charity. Top work.
So lets get stuck in, over to you Karolina.
Q&A With: Karolina Barnes Interior Designer
Where has your passion for interior design stemmed from?
I suppose it’s always been there. When I was a child I used to shift furniture around in my room which I shared with my sister. When I was older I was more interested in design and the creative world. My mother had a big influence on me as I was growing up. She was always changing wallpaper or painting our living room walls so I suppose I have it in me.
Is there a particular style that separates yourself from the rest?
I would describe my style as bold, colourful and eclectic. The way I mix patterns, textures and colours is very different from other designers. I’m not afraid to use large prints, be it geometric shapes, ikat or damask and mix them up with textured materials in bold colours. My designs are modern, elegant, chic and well balanced.
On your website you mention sourcing ‘unusual’ products for your clients, do any items spring to mind & have you been involved in any unconventional projects as a designer?
Recently I completed a contemporary open plan project with high ceilings and I had to source a “floating” ceiling light fitting which would fill the space. In the end I found this one in Italy. It’s very unusual and the collection comprises of various shapes which can be put together according to your space and needs. I love it because it’s so flexible and uses energy efficient LEDs too.
What are the most important factors to a successful project?
Good project planning and management is absolutely vital to completing a project on time and within budget. There are so many things that can go wrong – delayed deliveries, structural challenges and unexpected financial obstacles. Many people underestimate how long a project can take and how much it will actually cost in the end. Hiring a designer who manages the project and takes care of every problem and detail is so much more cost effective than trying to run it yourself, especially you have a full time job as well.
Have there been occasions where the job at hand wasn’t going to plan & do you need to remain flexible in terms of redesigning features?
Of course, things don’t always go to plan, especially when a client wants to open up a space and there are structural issues which can add up heavily on the bill. However, there are always ways around it. On one occasion my client wanted a suspended ceiling light in the middle of their open plan living area but because we didn’t have the budget we went ahead with some large architectural lighting instead.
What are the most difficult hurdles to get over being a interior designer?
I think juggling a large scale project can be quite hard at times. You have to deal with clients on one hand and suppliers, project managers, architects on the other. You are like a director of a play steering everyone to the big launch.
Can you name some of the most enjoyable times you’ve had being a interior designer?
I think each time I get great feedback from my client or customer stating that they like my work it’s always very rewarding. It’s also reassuring that I’m doing my job well. Positive words, emails and comments are great confidence boosters too.
Does lighting play an important role in your designs / how do you approach lighting selections for your projects?
Lighting plans are absolutely vital. Sadly it’s neglected by many people but it’s one of the key elements in interior design. It can be quite technical but isn’t difficult to learn. A lighting plan is one of the first things I do in my projects. I think each room should have at least 5 – 6 lighting points. This includes ceiling lights, floor lamps, table lamps, reading lights, spotlights and task lights.
Do you have any advice for our customers on how they can better their lighting experience at home?
Approach lighting as a way of creating different moods. Do you want a cosy welcoming feel? You need accent lighting. Do you need to have enough lighting to replicate daylight? Then you need general lighting. Do you like reading books, magazines or newspapers in your armchair or in the corner of your sofa? Then you need a reading light. So for example in your living room you should have:
1. Ceiling light – This can be a chandelier or a statement pendant. This type of lighting is called general lighting and shouldn’t be used all the time. This type of lighting is good for occasional lighting needs. It isn’t installed to create a nice atmosphere but is all about the functionality. Many designers use this type of lighting to express their clients personality because ceiling lights can be a great statement feature.
2. Table lamps – I like working in pairs with table lamps. If you have a sideboard or small side tables on either side of your sofa, this is a perfect location for table lamps.
3. Floor lamp/reading lamp – I always try to create a little reading corner in my living room design, so including a floor lamp in my design is very important. For larger spaces floor lamps might be a better option than table lamps because they can fill the space better.
4. Wall lights – If you have a fireplace you will probably have space for wall lights. Wall lights are better with a dimmable feature because you can control the lighting according to your needs. They can help to craft a cosy and welcoming atmosphere.
5. Reading lamp – An absolute must in any living room. It’s localised lighting which doesn’t disturb other areas of your living room. It provides a special need and when it’s not in use it helps to bring the design together.
Can you tell us a bit about The KB Shop & your donations to charity?
The idea behind The KB Shop is to give you a little bit of a designer’s touch in your home at affordable prices. I started it with my cushion collection which is ‘mix and match-able’. I felt that many people struggled with matching cushions, patterns and colours and that there was a need for a collection which would make the process a little bit easier. With this collection, whatever cushion combo you pick you can’t go wrong. From there I created some more selections like our headboards and lampshades. It’s a carefully thought out collection of home décor products which I’m planning to expand to rugs and bed linen in near future.
In regards to the charity donation part of the business, I decided from day one that I wanted to help others. Being diagnosed with a rare benign brain tumour myself I wanted to help other families who have to deal with terminal illnesses on daily basis. The charity I picked is the Charity for Childhood cancers which supports families and helps to find cures for various childhood cancers. With every purchase you make on The KB Shop we will donate 5% to this charity.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
This year I want to reach out to more people, helping them to design their home, life and business. On my blog, apart from my design tips, advice and inspiration, I also give a little bit of business advice which is becoming a popular weekly column of the blog. I also want to grow my brand more and more, and become an established expert in my field.
Any last words…?
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to take part in this interview. It was great fun!