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Decor

How Interior Designer Beata Heuman Harmonizes Functionality with Personality

Tips to make every room sing.

A glimpse inside a perfectly designed home often reveals a space that errs one the side of the unattainable versus livable. While it's great to imagine a world where kids, dogs, red wine, etc. don't exist, or where we have unlimited funds to purchase the latest Le Corbusier or Eames chair, that simply is not the case. Interior designer Beata Heuman has found a way to inject practical spaces with a youthful tenderness without ever coming off as over-designed. In other words, you can actually tell someone lives there.

The Swedish-born, London-based interior designer founded her eponymous studio in 2013 after working for Nicky Haslam for nine years. Recently named to the AD 100, Heuman's refreshing approach to design has only one rule: there are none. In a mindset that disregards the notion of bad taste, Heuman mixes £10 vintage chairs with marbleized wallpaper and paintings from a great-uncle with mid-century-esque clean lines. "I think it is the small, personal touches that help to tell the story of the people who live there," explains Heauman, "a tattered postcode propped in a mirror, an array of knickknacks collected over the years and perched on a mantelpiece, or a generous tray on an ottoman to host books, candles, and plants."

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

In her new book with Rizzoli New York, Every Room Should Sing, she highlights the aforementioned design ideas along with many others that constitute her interiors philosophy. "The best design combines form and function with personality," says Heuman. We caught up with the rising star to discuss her favorite tips and tricks for creating visual harmonies in every space, which combine to make each room sing. And in case you are hungry for more, her book is out now.


Ask Yourself, "What Is Home?"

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"A home should reflect the personality of the owner. Ask yourself, 'What is home?' I think it is the small, personal touches that help to tell the story of the people who live there—a tattered postcode propped in a mirror, an array of knickknacks collected over the years and perched on a mantelpiece, or a generous tray on an ottoman to host books, candles, and plants."


It's Not About Spending the Most Money

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"There are a lot of ideas in the book that aren't crazy expensive. I had no money when I was decorating my first flat and therefore had to be inventive, which had an impact on how I approach design. Look for vintage furniture; I bought a chair in Portobello Market for £10 when I was decorating my first flat, and I still have it and love it."


Anything Can Be Art

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"I had a huge blackboard in my first apartment that my friends and I used to draw on, which meant I had changeable artwork, adding a different feel to my little dining area depending on our mood. I would get a sort of endorphin rush whenever someone did a new drawing; it made the room feel exciting again. More recently, we painted an oval blackboard in green in an open-plan living space. It acts as a place for children to draw but can also look like a more grown-up artwork."


Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"For me, it has to do with the details. I dedicate a chapter in the book to making the ordinary extraordinary—the wardrobe you open up to find that it is lined with beautiful wallpaper, or a beautiful bronze handle. Our collection of bespoke handles are made by our bronzista in Florence; we always use them for our projects, so you will see them pop up throughout the book. Seemingly small details make a big difference. It's about forming little moments in the way you experience your interior, moments that are unexpected, so they have a deeper impact when they happen."

Be Resourceful

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"My guiding design principles are to make the most of what you've got, be resourceful, and make sure it is practical. A house is really a living thing, and the running of your home is like its beating heart, so never overlook utility for the sake of style. You can have the most exquisite-looking setup in the world, but if it is not practical, used, and well looked after, it will soon lose its allure and become cold and difficult. One of the simplest things you should do is always add door swings, even on smaller furniture and cabinets!"


Embrace Texture

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"On one of my first site meetings working with the interior designer Nicky Haslam, I learnt something of great value. We were doing up a big house and there were heaps of oxblood-red sandpaper dotted around. They glistened in the light, and Nicky ended up using it on the walls of this fancy house! Being so open-minded and confident about what can be used is exhilaratingly freeing, and it opens up a world of possibilities. So in the book you will see I try to rethink materials to create unusual juxtapositions, like using chicken wire to line a cupboard or a woven wallpaper."


When It Comes to Prints, Start Small

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"Start with a smaller-scale design with a couple of colors—like our Florentine Flowers fabric and wallpaper that we sell on our Shoppa. We recently finished a London town house and covered the walls of the master bedroom in it—you can see it in chapter ten of the book. If you are drawn to more vibrant prints and colors but wary of how to use them, then try them on smaller pieces first, like cushions."


Never Scrimp on Lighting

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Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"My entry hall with a painting by my husband's great-uncle, Donald Hamilton Fraser, reflected in the mirror. I designed the radiator cover. The space is pretty small and needed to fit both a radiator and some sort of ledge table—pretty chuffed with this solution! The pendant reflected in the mirror is something I had made with a caned diamond pattern inspired by a light from a stylish 1930s Swedish hospital."


Think of Your Interiors as an Extension of Yourself

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Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"I sometimes find that people are lacking a bit in confidence when it comes to expressing themselves in their own homes. They might feel fairly free to be experimental with fashion and even with art, but when it comes to interiors, many people do what they see as 'the right thing' without even thinking about it. I wanted my book to explain how interiors can be a way to express individual taste as well, and help readers to bring that about. For example, looking at art is a wonderful way to learn about color; I frequently look at the combinations in Matisse and in the Swedish post-Impressionist artist Nils Dardel."


Layer In Old and New

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"As I love mixing old styles with new, I source from a range of places, mixing bespoke furniture with family heirlooms, antique pieces, and items from the high street. I found some great chairs from Ikea that we customized with bespoke seats—it is about allowing for the low as well as the high. For more unique decorative touches, Instagram is a great place to look. There are a growing number of accounts offering vintage curiosities. If you have the time, then eBay has an endless source of affordable secondhand pieces. There is real beauty in the contrast."


Wall Color Doesn't Have to Stop at the Ceiling

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"I find it adds a sense of theater and drama. It has a cozy and cocooning feel, especially in a bedroom. You will see I have used this technique in one of the bedrooms in my own home, we call it 'the safari room' because I covered the whole room in a textured wallpaper that looks exactly like that of a panama hat."


Art Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

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Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"A cheerful poster in a frame is better than having nothing on your walls, and you can always replace it later. There are lots of options online; museums and art galleries like the Royal Academy are a good place to start!"


Steer Clear of Trends

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Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"One of the biggest mistakes is conforming to 'trends' and a reluctance to take a bit of a risk. One of the things I talk about in my book is trying to bring a childlike mindset to design; children are unaware of what other people think and are open to new impressions. If you can somehow tap into that excitement you had when you were a child, that way of thinking when you were still free from what other people might think, that is the best mindset for being creative."


Inspiration Is Everywhere

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Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"I don't want creativity to feel like a job. I allow myself to be bored, even putting a bit of time aside not to do anything at all. That's when the interesting thoughts come along, and I think that's a product of growing up in the way that I did. I also read a lot and find that inspiration comes from sources you don't expect, even novels, because they allow your mind just to wander onto different ideas. And I like to surround myself with unusual, unexpected things; your possessions and your environment can and should stimulate you."


Utilize All Your Resources (aka Instagram)

beata heuman

Photo: Courtesy of Beata Heuman

"One of my favorites is @8hollandstreet, they always post the most interesting spaces belonging to creatives and artists."

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