Unique homes Beata Heuman
Swedish-born, London-based interior designer Beata Heuman trained for nine years in the office of Nicky Haslam before setting up her own studio in 2013. Beata has just released her first book "Every Room Should Sing" together with Rizzoli.
“I want to make people forget about the outside world a little,” is a phrase that sums up Beata's significant style. She has a fresh way of decorating a home and she strives to make people find their own voice rather than following trends, making ordinary details extraordinary and forging a truly unique space.
Of course her own home, a vest-pocket house in Hammersmith where Beata lives with her husband and their two daughters, is all of the above. A truly unique home where every room sings.
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Tell us about your home?
– It is a Victorian house in Hammersmith, about 50 m up from the river Thames. On the whole, the house still had its' original layout and it worked very well, but it was in need of a renovation. Structurally, the biggest change we made was to extend the house at the back, about 2.5 meters. The extension runs across the entire lower ground floor and half of the ground floor, which gave us enough space to move the kitchen from the lower ground floor to the ground floor. We also added a terrace here. It is lovely to use when it's warm outside but even just looking at it through the windows gives a sense of extra space in the winter months. I added another entry door on the lower ground floor along with a utility room and a guest room with en-suite. These additions make our small house a lot more functional.
On what way does your personality reflects your home?
– Our home is a complete reflection of who we are and there is not one thing in there we didn't choose ourselves. This goes for all the furniture but also everything that is fixed, such as the carpentry for the kitchen which I meticulously drew up, the brass handles that I designed and had made to be used on all the cabinetry and details such as the pattern of the parquet flooring.
Other than vintage finds I have also designed a lot of bespoke furniture for the house, which means that many pieces are completely unique. All the artwork is either things my husband and I got from our family homes or things we've picked together. A lot of the ideas for the interiors has come from memories and travelling, such as the mural on our terrace being a copy of a facade from the Boboli Gardens in Florence where I used to study.
” I REALLY LIKE DOING KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS — THEY ARE MORE CHALLENGING BYT IT IS SUCH A FUN PLACE TO BE CREATIVE AND ADD PERSONALITY.”
Who has influenced you in your work?
– Nicky Haslam who I worked for in my twenties, and also Colette van den Thillart who was his creative director and the person who I trained under most closely. Between them, they gave me an education, and we also had a lot of fun!
Is there any piece of advice that has stuck with you?
– Ben Pentreath told me when I first met him to do a book, which I've done now! It is a lot of hard work, much more than I appreciated before I began, but then I am extremely detailed oriented so I don't make it easy for myself... It is of course an ego-boost when you get a positive reaction and people actually buy the book - but aside from that, it was helpful to collate all our work in this way, and analyze it when it came to the text I wrote. I learnt a lot about myself as a designer, and what is important to me, and what I should focus on going forward.
What would you be if you weren´t an interior designer?
– I sometimes think I'd like to be a psychiatrist, but I'm not sure I would have what it takes. I'm very sensitive. I really loved art at school, so maybe I would have ended up pursuing that.
How do you think around the interior when decorating your home and others?
– My book is basically an in-depth explanation on how I think, but in short: doing it for myself is easy, as I know what I want (most of the time at least!). When I design for others I try to understand who the client is by getting to know them, and then I build trust which is key. The main thing is that the house we design for them needs to be a reflection of who they are, not me. That said, when people contact us now they will have looked at our website and be familiar with our work, so there is that appreciation before we even begin. That is definitely something that has become easier with time. In the beginning, I had to prove myself a lot more.
The Dodo Egg pendant designed by Beata Heuman. A custom-built blue cabinet conceals the fridge with bespoke handles by Beata Heuman, the kitchen features a glass ceiling inspired by patisserie ceilings from the turn of the last century in Stockholm and Copenhagen.
Dining table 1930s by Axel Einar Hjorth for the department store NK. Bentwood chairs, with zipped leather covers by Jonas Bohlin for Gemla.
” I HAVE A DINING TABLE BY AXEL EINAR HJORTH FROM HIS TIME AT NK. IT REMINDS ME OF SWEDEN AND AN ERA OF 20TH CENTURY DESIGN HISTORY THAT I OFTEN LOOK TO FOR INSPIRATION.”
When are you the most creative?
– On the rare occasion I have time to think, or be bored even. When I can read a novel, or go to an exhibition and let my thoughts run freely. It is not easy finding time for that between running a company and being a mother, but to be honest, the problem isn't coming up with ideas - the problem is finding time to execute them!
Tell us about an art piece or object that means a lot to you?
– I have a dining table by Axel-Einar Hjorth from his time at NK. Being inlay wood, it is wholly inappropriate for a young family, but I decided not to care (I'll fix it later). It reminds me of Sweden and an era of 20th-century design history that I often look to for inspiration. It is also where we sit for all our family meals so it is probably the most important piece of furniture in the house since we all love eating!
What are you looking for at auctions?
– Right now I'm trying to find a pair of beds for my girls. I was bidding on a pair of Josef Frank rattan beds at Bukowskis last year and disappointingly lost out so I'm hoping for something similar! I'm also always on the lookout for good lighting, there is a lot of cool stuff in Sweden. I have all sorts of pieces on email alert. I love browsing auctions online, it's what I do for lockdown fun, which can be dangerous after a couple of glasses of wine on a Friday night...
The hallway: Seagrass wallpaper, bespoke size Orb mirror by Reid & Wright. A table was missing to cover the radiator so Beata decided to make one.
1. Mini Globe Lights designed by Beata Heuman. 2. Ludwig Bemelman’s murals for the Carlyle Hotel in New York provided the inspiration for the wall treatment in the children’s room. 3. Palm Drop fabric, designed by Beata is used for the bedhead.
What was your latest thing you bought at an auction?
– I bought a sort of Saturnus pendant from Bukowskis in Malmö.
Your top three favourite spots in London?
– Sir John Soane museum, River Café restaurant and Royal Academy.
What book are you reading at the moment?
– I'm reading 'The tipping point' by Malcolm Gladwell. It is all about trends, and why certain things take off, and others don't. He also has a podcast called 'Revisionist History' where he pricks holes in generally accepted 'truths' about how certain events unfolded. He shows us that there may be another way of looking at it. I like people who question things, he is very clever and funny.
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