Defining luxury interior design with Karen Howes

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Defining luxury interior design – an interview with Karen Howes

A member of the BIID (British Institute of Interior Designers), a guest lecturer at the KLC School of Design, Karen Howes is the CEO and driving force behind the success of London-based interior design practice Taylor Howes. We caught up with the successful businesswoman to find out more about the secrets behind luxury interior design.

How would you describe a signature Taylor Howes interior design style, what makes it different from other luxury interior design practices?

KH: Getting to know our clients brief and their needs, wants and desires is what we pride ourselves on. You can design a beautiful space aesthetically, but it has to be functional too. We also spend a great deal of time detailing the joinery on a project it is what sets apart an average project to a truly great one.

What are the secret ingredients to a Taylor Howes interior? Are there any signature colours, materials, designers or suppliers that you always try to incorporate in your projects?

KH: I believe it is essential to never compromise on the lighting, though it can be very easily done. It changes the dynamic of a room and should feature highly in concepts.

How do you get your creative juices flowing? What are your personal design influences and inspirations?

KH: My team constantly inspires me – their energy and creativity – Nina Campbell once said always surround yourself with young designers and I do!

Tell us about the process. What should one expect and how do you work with your first-time clients?

KH: Something that is always important to highlight to a first time client is that you always design the project on a whole even though you may only implement it one room at a time and always go back to the masterplan. This allows for continuity and a beautiful flow throughout.

How do you balance your vision with your clients’ input? How much say do they get?

KH: We pride ourselves to be very assertive with our clients but it is our responsibility to act professionally and find the right balance between the design journey and client brief.

What has been your biggest challenge and success throughout your career?

KH: We worked on an amazing church conversion project in Knightsbridge, which from an architectural perspective was hugely complicated – transforming 13m high spaces into zoned living and bedroom areas, whilst retaining the original brief of keeping the essence of the building and working with the Listing and Heritage consultants. It was a once in a lifetime project and one that we are hugely proud to have been a part of. More recently the spatial planning of 86 apartments in the Old War Office posed a real challenge due to the listing and security restrictions. We had to try to work on incorporating more that 2 miles worth of listed corridors into 5-star luxury apartments, retaining original features whilst fitting all the requirements of a modern potential purchaser.

Dream project you have always wanted to work on?

KH: My next goal is a house in the Alps. I love the mountains and am dying to do an alpine interior.

As a very successful woman within the industry, what would your advice be for aspiring female designers? Do you feel that the challenges they face are different from those experienced by their male counterparts?

KH: Unlike 25 years ago, I think opportunities are on the rise for female designers. Acting with professionalism and confidence will allow any women designer to be a key decision maker from the beginning, throughout the course of a project.

What does the future hold for luxury interior design?

KH: We will see an increase in the rise of the different sectors of design having more of an influence on each other. For example, hotels clients are looking for more of a home-away-from-home feel as they seek the comforts that they are used to. Retail is having an influence on residential design and we will see more and more elements, particularly in areas such as dressing rooms, appear in our client’s homes.

What’s in store for Taylor Howes? Are there any big projects coming up?

KH: This year is the 25th birthday of Taylor Howes so we have some incredible collaborations and projects in the pipeline. You’ll just have to wait and see …

If you would like to find out more about Taylor Howes, please visit