KATHARINE Pooley is an interior designer who has lived and worked all over the world. She has visited more than 200 countries and written a cookery book including recipes from across the globe.
As a girl, Katharine was inspired by Kate Adie, and went on to study French and journalism at Lyon University in France. However, she didn’t end up in journalism, but moved into the high-flying world of banking instead. Katharine talks passionately about her former career. “It was very demanding, but I loved it. A lot of pressure, but then, you were working with very smart people.” After 15 years as a business banker for Morgan Stanley, a role that took her to Hong Kong, New York and Thailand, eight years ago she took a year off – and did up three houses and wrote her cookbook (“I’m not one to sit around and have a cup of tea”, she laughs).
The period allowed her to rethink her career, and she set herself up as an interior designer. Katharine now has her own shop on London’s Walton Street and counted Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods, as one of her first clients. Visitors to her shop now include many stars, including Elizabeth Hurley and Ivana Trump, and she has won two Decorex awards and an Andrew Martin award for interior design. Katharine works with her husband, Dan Voyce, has a staff of 20 and works on properties around the world.
Aside from her London mews home, she also owns Forter Castle in Perthshire and a coach house in Oxfordshire. Katharine’s father, businessman Robert Pooley, originally owned the castle, which is near Blairgowrie. He bought it as a ruin for £15,000 in 1988. It took him three years to restore it to its former glory on the outside, while Katharine spent a year fitting the interior. It is now used for weddings and holiday lets, when Katharine’s family are not using it themselves. Now with a two-year-old son, Jack, Katharine spends most of her time in London and likes to travel to Scotland for holidays. “I used to spend a lot of time there on holiday as a child,” she says.
Her London home is a four-bedroom property in Knightsbridge. When the couple bought the house two years ago they did little to change the layout as it was in an excellent state of repair, but they wanted to update the interior.
One of Katharine’s favourite spaces is the sitting room with its bespoke, large, light grey sofa. Bronze ornaments of Cambodian monks, which she bought in Thailand, stand on one table, while a painting of a seascape hangs on the wall behind the sofa. “I love the richness of the greys and blacks against whites,” explains Katharine.
Throughout the house, she has used Farrow & Ball paints in a range of whites. Her bedroom on the second floor is another favourite room. She spotted a teal blue bed in a film and had one specially made.
“I adore my bed, and think it is one of the most important pieces in your home,” she says. “It’s always worth getting the best bed you can afford. The lamps beside the bed are old fireguards that I found in an antique shop in Pimlico Road. I love them as they are so unusual.”
However, not everything was straightforward. One of the things that took the longest – and was most expensive – to fit was the chandelier that hangs above the dining room table. “It took about a month to get it correctly positioned,” Katharine laughs. k
Katharine Pooley, 160 Walton Street, London (www.katharinepooley.com); Forter Castle (www.fortercastle.com)