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Inspiring interiors with a signature style

We asked Karen McKimmie at Ambiance where her interior design ideas come from.

Karen McKimmie studied a degree and postgraduate course at Edinburgh College of Art. On returning to Aberdeen she worked for 10 years for Sylvia Lawson Johnston, an inspirational designer who gave her the most comprehensive training any designer could have. She studied art and loves to translate classical education in colour, texture and pattern into creating interiors.

Q Describe your signature style?

A My signature style is classic, refined contemporary with a slight masculine slant. I like clean, strong lines, form and colour. Above all I love working with colour, tone and light, creating subtle sophisticated palettes.

Q What is your design ethos?

A I think of design as an ever-evolving concept. My designs are inspired by all sorts of things, including current trends. I’m constantly amalgamating (and eliminating) these to develop and adapt ideas for my clients. I have a passion for design, whether it’s interiors, fashion, art or nature, and I like to draw on this complex source of inspiration to create something simple, strong, clean and elegant – streamlining those eclectic sources into design that connects the client with the space I’m creating for them.

Q Are you working on any design innovations?

A I don’t believe that there are any design innovations (perhaps with the exception of technology and material composition). As designers, we can only interpret and draw on design over centuries and create something authentic and individual. The principles of design are colour, tone, composition and pattern/ texture, and I would hope that the way I translate these elements in each individual project is, if not innovative, certainly original.

Q What inspires your designs?

A I can find inspiration anywhere. I’d like to think that I am constantly aware of everything in my surroundings so that I can be open to inspiration whether it comes from nature, fashion or the books I read. I think it’s essential to go to trade shows and art exhibitions and keep up with current trends so as to never become static. It helps to keep flow and creativity in my work.

Q Tell us about your biggest design challenges?

A My biggest challenge at the moment is designing my own apartment! I find it inspiring to work with clients in their own homes and the design usually evolves organically and easily. But I find I can’t be objective enough in my own home because I am constantly seeing wonderful new fabrics, wall coverings and ideas. It’s a real challenge to narrow my selection. I need more rooms! Other than that, I prefer to see challenges as opportunities – to show we can meet a tight deadline or budget, find that elusive paint colour or to make the most of a space.

Q What should people know about your business?

A David, my colleague, and I form a very strong and successful design team at Ambiance. We work on projects of every size and on every aspect of interior design, from initial architecture conception to the last finishing details of a completed project. Our style is predominantly classic contemporary, but we like to think of ourselves as versatile, but always producing work of innate style.

Q Five words that sum up your business?

A Creative, evolving, reputable, exciting, professional.

Foveran Village Marketing Suite

The Marketing Suite, Foveran, Ellon, AB41 6AY

Thursday to Monday, 11am to 5pm

Contact: Jaclyn McKenna


Telephone: 07776 298668

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