In her previous career as an art director on leading food, interiors and womens’ magazines, Kathryn Bloomer was used to obsessing over the details. It was the perfect training for her move into interior decorating.
Kathryn studied design and started her career working in a photography studio. There was a turning point when she was applying for a corporate design role and was told that her skills would be better suited to working on magazines. It was great advice! Over the course of the next twelve years Kathryn was a designer and art director on many of the leading lifestyle publications such as Home Beautiful and House & Garden.
During this time, Kathryn was honing her skills in photography, styling shoots, designing magazine pages, art directing and of course working with demanding editors. She had always loved decor and interiors so, recognising that print magazines were a dying breed as they moved to online versions, she decided it was the right time to follow her passion for interior decorating.
How long have you been working as an interior decorator?
I used to constantly want to redecorate – I drove my husband crazy! I re-do things in my own house a lot. So about 6 years ago I decided to satisfy this obsession and moved from magazines to interior decorating.
What was your training?
I studied design at university then through my years in photography studios and magazines I was doing a lot of styling and art directing. When I made the transition, I did a 6 month course at Coco Republic. It was an extension of what I already knew but it helped formalise what I am doing. When I present designs to clients I lay everything out like on a magazine page!
How do you start working with new clients?
I start by trying to find out as much information about them as possible. The initial consultation is really important for this. I look at everything – what’s in the house, what’s their lifestyle, even what clothes they like. Any information that gives me a sense of where they’re coming from is a starting point as to what direction I might go in. Light, lifestyle, style of home; these are all key things to consider.
How do you balance what the client wants with your own ideas?
I have to lead my clients to a place that’s a little bit unknown for them otherwise there’s no point them working with me. If I produce exactly what they want then they’re not utilising all of my knowledge. I have to be adding something; producing something that I absolutely love. If I produce something that’s not quite right it shows and my clients won’t be happy. For me as a designer I have to keep producing work that’s surprising and unique.
Challenges of being a designer?
To keep pushing to deliver something surprising. Trying to please editors during my magazine and art directing years was good grounding for this process. Artistic pursuits require confidence. Confidence is everything!
What’s the first step in your design process?
Fabrics are my inspiration! I go to wholesale fabric houses for inspiration on colours and patterns. It’s my starting point. For example, I love Boyac fabric in Rushcutters bay, Designers Guild and Unique Fabrics in Darlinghurst.
Where did your love of design come from?
I’d always loved decorating and interiors and was always obsessing over my own house. I loved Signature Prints and what they were doing with reproducing old Florence Broadhurst designs. Back then it was not mainstream but I was intrigued because it was really graphic with a lot of colour.
Has anyone been influential in your design path?
My grandmother was a seamstress who made all our clothes. We’d get a pattern then we could go and choose what fabric we wanted. That’s probably where my love of fabric came from. My Aunt lived in England for a while and when I visited her I was blown away at how everything was so perfectly chosen; really unique and with lots of antiques mixed in. She loved England because she could find so many different and unique things there. My Mum is also really stylish – she always knew what worked well together. I think these women in my life were very influential on my love of everything graphic and visual.
What are your key style and colour choices?
Blues, greens and black are my favourites. I know there are trends around dusty pinks, which I like, but I never seem to go that way. I like colour and pattern, which I think is my graphic design background speaking, but I also like things light and fresh as well. I mix and match patterns, but as a base I like light interiors as I think they’re nicer to live in. Dark walls look amazing in a magazine but are harder to live with day to day
What makes great design?
The beauty in proper craftsmanship that will last forever.
Favourite piece of furniture at home?
My bedhead is my favourite thing. It’s a custom made design using a Martyn Lawrence Bullard fabric.
What’s your favourite piece currently on Two Design Lovers and why?
The Outdoor Wicker Hanging Lounge. This a fabulous and unique outdoor piece of furniture. I can imagine this filled with beautiful patterned and striped cushions hung either on a deck area or verandah over looking the water. A perfect place to relax in for the hot summer months to come.
Images have been printed with the permission of Kathryn Bloomer Interiors