Luxury and home interiors is often thought to reside in designer furniture, quality fabrics and collector’s items. But where it truly shines is in its quiet reflection of its owner’s inner world. That’s when luxury reaches beyond the product and into the person.
To achieve luxury in home interiors of that sort however requires a deeply thoughtful design approach and process. The sort that Melbourne interior designer, Sally Caroline Klopper, brings to her life’s work.
As the founder of the eponymous interior design studio, Klopper has spent the last decade honing her fluency in the subtle language of luxury. That language is now speaking for itself in her high-end residential, retail and hotel projects.
Here she speaks to WOMAN.com.au about the heart of luxury design, the little tricks of the trade and her favourite type of client.
What’s your definition of a luxury home?
All homes, even luxury ones, evolve over time. They are organic, living and breathing spaces that respond to the owner’s personal style and way of life. The same home will continuously evolve throughout different stages of life and accommodate the highs and lows, the parties and the quiet nights, the rambunctious children and the empty nest. A luxury home to me is defined by the amount to which the home supports its occupants and enhances their daily life.
Where does one start with bringing luxury into a home?
It’s a gradual process. I would recommend slowly collecting special and timeless pieces of furniture, art and accessories rather than buying it all in one hit from one showroom. Take your time buying valuable pieces one at the time rather than a heap of cheap junk that won’t hold its value.
How would an untrained eye recognise a timeless piece?
Timeless pieces are design classics. These are pieces from the 50’s or 60’s that have stood the test of time. Unfortunately these are also pieces that have been replicated and sold at a cheaper price, which I am adamantly against.
It’s almost like buying an art piece. Some classics might set you back between $5,000 to $20,000 dollars but there is of course a more affordable range. In the latter range, I choose pieces that are true to their design integrity, and that have artistic personality and a strong focus on craftsmanship. That’s the difference between timeless and cheap.
Which rooms should luxury take precedence?
It’s no question that kitchens and bathrooms are key and absolutely where you should be investing. Get the right appliances from quality suppliers that support your cooking or baking habits. I love to entertain so I find luxury in stacked wall ovens, generous bench space and a butler’s pantry that is equipped with a second dishwasher and sink. A butler’s pantry enables concealed space for food preparation, caterers in the case of larger parties and the perfect place to hide the mess until your guests leave!
How would you create luxury on a budget?
Furniture is key, and a rug or feature armchair is a great place to start. A cross section of textures and patterns will add to your lush-level so mix leather with mohair velvet and printed upholstery.
Art is also a great place to invest. Some fantastic artists sell quality prints of their range at a fraction of the cost. In the bedroom, upholstered wall panels instantly give that soft luscious feel. Again, all this can be done gradually and the introduction of each piece will slowly transform the space.
What’s your design process?
It’s very organic. The client starts with a brief and I spend time understanding them, their family, their life and how they work. Then I present a concept which is also organic because people often don’t know what they want until they see what they don’t want. So we work on it together. It’s not about me saying this is your house or them saying draw this. It is a collaboration. No one plays boss.
What pointers do you have for curating a personal collection of furniture?
I curate on a global scale but I also support local businesses so I create a mixed range. I look particularly at vintage resellers based in Europe and America because they’re as good as it gets.
On smaller level, you can still find beautiful things on eBay or local small furniture stores for a few hundred dollars. Or just be brave and make an online purchase. When I buy for clients, I don’t always view the pieces in person but buy them online from known and respected vintage resellers across Europe and America.
What would you want future clients to know before hiring an interior designer?
First, have a clear strong brief. It’s very challenging for a designer to reach a certain point in the design process only for the client to change her mind about the function of the room. So decide exactly what you want before approaching a designer.
Second, make sure I’m a right fit for you. Talk to a few designers before deciding whom to work with because residential homes are so personal and you’ll be working together for a long period of time. You want to be sure that the designer understands you and your lifestyle. This is so important. I know if I don’t understand my client then I can’t deliver and they will never be happy.
So either decide what you want before approaching a designer or open a topic for discussion in the early meetings so we can decide on the most efficient outcome together.
Sally Caroline is an interior design studio specialising in high-end residential, retail and boutique hotel projects.