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January 2021 / Homes & Interiors / by Ali Howard

At Home With: Emma Deterding

With her passion for visual art and vibrant colour, Emma’s west London home was destined to be an apartment less ordinary.

Photography by Emma Lewis

There are homes with wow-factor, and then there are homes that offer such an eye-popping visual feast it’s impossible not to comment when you walk in. Emma’s three-bed flat, set within a 1960s Brutalist block, is very much the latter – and it has been carefully curated so. “People don’t have to like it,” she says, “but I do want them to suck in their breath and go, ‘wow’!” For the interior designer and luxury brand owner, when it comes to putting a room together, fortune favours the bold. “I wanted to create something that was a little more unusual than the average,” she explains, “rather like haute couture – models always rock the most dangerous pieces and you think, how the hell could a normal person wear that? I wanted to create the flat so that it caused a storm when people came into it – but not too many people would be brave enough to do it themselves.”

Emma’s confidence in colour and texture is infectious, and it oozes throughout the apartment, which she shares with her husband (who is, incidentally, colour blind – make of that what you will). It is also evident in every aspect of her work; KDLoves’ product range is colourful to say the least. The collection of soft furnishings, sumptuous headboards and lavish lampshades is wonderfully pattern-rich and deeply textured, too. “Colour feeds the soul!” Emma enthuses. “It lifts the mood, inspires us, makes us happy. I can live in black, but I don’t want to look at black. I want great colour to move me through my day, and if you do it well, it doesn’t have to be jarring or difficult to live with. You just need to know when and where to use it, and to use it in the right quantity.”

Alongside the rainbow of interiors picks on Emma’s site is a section dedicated to visual art. And in the apartment, contemporary artworks are given a vital role in bringing the whole look together. “Until you put artwork and mirrors onto the walls, a house will never really be a home,” she says. “They create a cohesive story when it comes to interiors. We’ve just done a fabulous collaboration with Guy Allen Art and I wanted it all – moon dust, Swarovski crystals, colour and coloured in-slips in the frames.” Describing herself as a dangerous collector who buys on impulse, Emma’s intuitive art habits have certainly paid off here. The aesthetic, sitting oh so pretty between Pop Art and Punk, is as deliberately garish as it is perfectly British – and with that, Emma playfully mixes in traditional furnishings such as gilded mirrors, ornately shaped, upholstered dining chairs, and plush velvet curtains – albeit ones in a riotous colour clash of stripes. “The Diet Coke piece is a reminder of my 30 years of drinking litres of it every day,” she laughs, “but it’s the coolest picture, made by a Dutch artist from reclaimed wood found on the sea shore – I loved it the moment I saw it!”

As if to further cement the relationship between art and interiors, here, the walls themselves become a canvas. Emma brought in graffiti artist and long-time collaborator Tony Allen – whom she affectionately refers to as “the man with the can” – to give the apartment an edgy injection of street art. “He created this great design in the hallway,” she explains. “He covered the flush doors into the coat cupboard and utility room, which makes it seamless and sets the story for the rest of the journey around the flat.
All the colours in the hallway repeat throughout the flat to ensure the overall look, feel and scheme is cohesive and designed harmoniously.”

“Colour feeds the soul! It lifts the mood, inspires us, makes us happy. I can live in black, but I don’t want to look at black”

Emma admits she’s not a fan of the apartment’s architectural style but she concedes that hers is, undeniably, a property with good bones. “The internals are great with absolutely no space wasted on passageways,” she says, offering that, “good internal spaces are a bonus, but not essential, as with clever and careful design and symmetry, you can create this.” Despite its punkish pops and rebellious colour clashes, much of the flat is laid out in inch-perfect symmetry – particularly in the master bedroom and the open-plan living/kitchen space, in which the eye is drawn directly down the centre of the sofa set-up, and straight up into the vibrant, striped painting hung centre of the stone splashback. On first glance, the flat offers an effortlessly cool, thrown together look, but it soon becomes apparent there’s a clever interplay of vibrancy and calm at work here. Emma skilfully toys with these elements, which pull in opposite directions – and the discipline is admirable.

While the flat could very well act as a showroom for her own brand, Emma, who describes her interiors style as “eclectic, colourful, vibrant and full of surprises,” mixes in pieces from some of her favourite designers. “The two chairs, made by Helena of Littleblood are amongst my favourites,” she says. “I think they say it all – a pair but not a pair, bold colours, interesting shapes… They’re a real statement.” She also namechecks Wicklewood for their cushions, Robert Langford for their case furniture, and William Yeoward for the brand’s general great taste. “Julian Chichester is a go-to for impeccable style and Tom Faulkner is, too, for his outrageously beautiful designs. He’s also a very cool man!” Emma adds.

And when she’s not furiously spinning that colour wheel, collaborating with equally passionate artists, or working on her latest luxurious collection of vibrant homewares, Emma  can be found relaxing in her very favourite spot, the living room. “I come home every night from work, put the TV on, and collapse onto the sofa with my feet up on the ottoman and think, ‘ah, am I not one of the luckiest people?’… I have a job that I love – 90 per cent of the time – a flat that I love, and family that I love. What could be better?”   

Emma is founder and creative director of Kelling Designs, KDLoves and KD2 london (kellingdesigns.com; kdloves.com; kd2london.com)