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Inside an interior designer’s Paddington terrace

Last Updated Sep 21, 2017 · Written by Philippa Land


Planning the interior of your home can be an exciting journey of self-expression bringing your Pinterest boards and Instagram account to life. On the flip side it can leave you overwhelmed with choices, unsure where to start and crying over colour charts. You want your home to be beautiful, on trend, include natural light,  functional and a serious contender to be featured in Instyle magazine. 

We visited interior designer Kathy McKinnon’s Paddington terrace to pick her brains on how to approach refreshing a space in a home. Kathy has worked with a broad range of projects in residential, office and hospitality so can bring a fresh set of eyes to any interior project.  

Tell me about your style influences and approach to a new project?

What I love doing is creating a really individual look that reflects a client’s needs and lifestyle. Also to look at the building, apartment or house, and work within that architecture and framework present. I think individuality, expression and functionality are really the things to a fantastic interior. I want something that looks amazing and beautiful, but it also has to be functional and practical.

Tell us a little about this house. What was the Paddington house like when you first moved in? 

The house that we’re filming in is my house that I’ve lived in for about 20 years. It’s a classic Paddington terrace with neighbourhood charm and beautiful trees, shops, parks and cafes and urban busyness. It’s a tiny space which is what you get with inner city living in a lot of instances. This house when I bought it was just a little tiny poky house with lots of rooms, really a lot of ceilings and no light. So my main focus for this house was to create something peaceful and beautiful and to bring in lots of light, creating an indoor/outdoor feel. As well to raise the ceilings and to maximize the space. It’s now got 2 bathrooms which is fantastic and often important for modern living. As well it has a really great functional kitchen.

Kathy McKinnon kitchens

Top 3 tips for someone wanting to redo their interiors?

When you’re looking at interiors you have to think about what you find inspiring and do some research. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much choices you need to help make a decision and that’s where an interior designer or architect can come in and help hone that.  Think of functionality, how many people are going to live there, what their lifestyles are, if they will be studying or working from home, these things are very important in what you’re going to select for your final plan for your interior.

Where do you go for furniture and homewares?

I love looking at all the trade fairs and looking at the young industrial designers for inspiration and I go to art galleries which I think is really important especially for my job as a designer to stay inspired. And then I’ll look at what is in the client’s budget, so there’s a lot of amazing Italian furniture but it may not be affordable so it may be more something locally produced which is going to be much more affordable and gives an equally amazing look.

Kathy McKinnon lounge

What feeling or environment do clients typically ask you to create?

A Bondi apartment I designed is a great example as it is a really special, beautiful apartment.  The client had a fairly busy lifestyle and he wanted a beautiful space that reflected his personality with individual pieces. I spent a lot of time sourcing and offering different individual solutions to that apartment. It’s coastal, it’s Bondi, it’s urban, it needed to have bedrooms set up for visitors, and I think it works very well for the client.

What’s the most important part of an interior? Is it space, functionality, lighting?

I think it’s a combination. I love walking into an interior and going wow that works really well. And there’s different reasons why that does work really well. Some spaces just have a beautiful natural lighting and light flooding through them. I think it’s a collective holistic thing that gives a space something beautiful and something inspiring that’s fresh. You don’t want to walk into a space and think that looks just like a showroom I’ve just been to. Something about the personality or the travels the client has been or expresses their passion or their interests.

Interior designer

What’s the benefit of hiring an interior designer?

Hiring an interior designer is a fresh set of eye and will help you organise your ideas. I think a lot of people get very confused, they’ve been looking at so many things. If you’ve been looking at the one couch for a really long time, it’s hard to step back and be organised and make decisions and pull it all together. So I think a good interior designer listens to a client’s brief and understand what they really want, but also brings those options and choices clearly to the forefront.

 You can find Kathy’s profile here for a consultation on your next interiors project.

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