House by Kate - colourful and thoughtfully designed spaces.

We were so delighted to have our Large Ottoman Tray featured by Kate Pickford of House by Kate as a centrepiece for her bespoke striped ottoman.

House by Kate, led by Kate Pickford, is an interior design studio based in Reading, UK. Kate creates the most beautifully styled and brave spaces by selecting exquisite pieces. It takes an experienced and creative eye to curate designs such as one from House by Kate.  

Kate shares the renovation progress of her beautiful period home, which is full of inspiration, and a wonderful mixture of colours, eras and styles. 

We asked her a few questions to learn more about her design process and what inspires her.  

Image Credit - James French, Interior Design - House by Kate, Martelo and Mo's handmade walnut Large Ottoman Tray


I have a background in fashion and have always had a love and an eye for colour, pattern and style. When I bought my first home, a 2-bed flat in Streatham, London, this creativity turned itself into interior design, and I had great fun doing the place up. Friends and family who came over would rave about the interior, and they started asking for advice. 

A few years later, I bought a detached Victorian 3-bed house in Reading with my husband and lovingly restored it. I shared our renovation journey on Instagram and built a following there, and slowly enquiries started coming in about design work. 

That’s when I decided to bite the bullet and retrain in interior design. I signed up for the Interior Designer’s Business School, and after graduating in 2022, I launched House by Kate. I enjoy every minute of it, and nothing brings me greater joy than transforming tired houses into beautiful homes for my clients. 

Image Credit- Moon and Leaf Photography, House by Kate

Image Credit - Moon and Leaf Photography, House by Kate

Inspiration & Style

I take inspiration from all sorts of places. Whether you’re just having a weekend in the Cotswolds or you’re holidaying abroad, there are so many beautifully designed restaurants and hotels now providing heaps of inspiration. 

I like to go to trade shows to be inspired by the work of new and up-and-coming designers. I’m particularly obsessed with lighting, so I’m always on the lookout for something I haven’t seen before!

I also like to use fabric as a starting point for my designs, so I’m often inspired just by browsing a fabric store and seeing a stunning print, and that leads to a new scheme popping into my head. 

My design style is a mixture of traditional and contemporary. I like to layer bold colours and patterns and combine contemporary furniture with traditional. I feel this style lends itself particularly well to period homes and creates an informal but stylish space that’s perfect for family life. Many of my clients have young families, so practicality, comfort and storage often take centre stage, but that doesn’t mean style has to be sacrificed! 

Image and Interior Design - Kate Pickford, House by Kate

Image and Interior Design - Kate Pickford, House by Kate, Custom-made striped Ottoman: 'Grey JF ticking' fabric from Just Fabrics built by WHJ Design.


I am partial to a bold-coloured velvet, and thankfully you can get some wonderfully durable velvets now that stand up to family life. A striped ticking fabric makes a great patterned neutral for cushions, curtains and ottomans. And, of course, boucle is a trend that’s sticking around and makes for a gorgeous statement armchair. 

It’s wonderful to see wood taking centre stage at the moment, and there are so many beautifully designed table lamps, bobbin tables and chairs and stunning wooden sculptures that bring a lovely natural element to a design scheme. 

Clients tend to come to me who like to work with colour as that’s what they’ve seen in my portfolio, though I am working on a very neutral scheme at the moment, which is a change for me. The Victorians filled their homes with rich colours and patterns, and that’s because homes with such beautiful detailing and proportions can take it. I do love sophisticated blues and greens with a colour pop of rusty orange or raspberry pink. 


Image and Interior Design by Kate Pickford, House by Kate, Wallpaper - Brer Rabbit by Morris & CoWalls, Paint - Little Greene Basalt, Sofa - 'Rose' in Rusty Gate by The Louge Co.

What is the right size for an ottoman tray?

I recommend going for a medium to large size tray as then you can style books/candles/bowls on it whilst still allowing room for a coffee cup or two. Get your tape measure out and work out the midpoint of your ottoman. Then assume the tray will sit centred in one half of the ottoman, with a border around it. That should help you to determine the size you need.

Drawing credit - ottoman vs tray size diagram by Kate Pickford, House by Kate

What are the most important 3 tips to consider before designing a living room?

Before you do anything, have a really good thing about how the room needs to function. Ask yourself the following… 

  • Who is using the room, and when. 

  • Are you using the room in the daytime, or do you just watch TV there in the evenings?

  • Is the room just for grown-ups, or are children playing with toys in there all day? 

  • How many people use the room at once, and how many seats do you ideally need?

  • Do you entertain often, and if so, how much seating would you like to have then?  

  • Are you a messy person? Do you have lots of stuff? Do you need somewhere to hide away the clutter? 

  • Does your dog need his own chair? 

Image and Interior Design by Kate Pickford, House by Kate

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start to plan the layout and what furniture you want to include. 

  • Seating is expensive, so make sure you measure your room and plan out the size of the seating. Ideally, seating should be arranged socially, facing into the room. 

  • A large area rug can bring all your furniture together, particularly if you have wooden floors (make sure the front feet of all seating can sit on the rug if it can’t, your rug is too small). 

  • Ensure everyone has somewhere to put a drink; side tables and coffee tables are good for this. If you’re tight on space, consider nesting tables. 

  • If you need extra seating for when guests come over and you could use some extra storage, an ottoman on casters is a great alternative to a coffee table. You can store stuff in it, use it as a footstool or coffee table, and move it to the side to create an extra seat. If you have toddlers, it’s also not so hard on their heads when they inevitably take a tumble!  

  • Usually, everyone needs a good view of the TV. If you can avoid putting it above the fireplace, then do! Try downsizing and fitting it in the recess. If you don’t have a focal point in the room, can you use inbuilt units to create a bespoke media unit to position your seating around? 

  • Plan your lighting… create layers of light by using different levels with a pendant, a freestanding lamp, table lamps etc. If you’re renovating, consider wall lights and picture lights to highlight the artwork. 

  • Finally, window coverings; and shutters make great space savers in a smaller room; curtains can feel cosier (but make sure they reach the floor!).

Image and Interior Design by Kate Pickford, House by Kate

Image Credit - Moon and Leaf photography, Kate Pickford, House by Kate

Now you know what you need in the room and what your layout will be, it’s time for the fun part, coming up with your design scheme!

  • Revisit your answers to the first questions. If it’s a room that you spend all day in with the kids, you’ll want it to feel light and welcoming.

  • If it’s a room you just curl up in for the evening, you could go for a bolder, cosier colour choice.

  • I find it helps to find a cushion or fabric I love and base my scheme around it. Perhaps select a beautiful patterned fabric for your ottoman, then take 2-3 dominant colours from that to use on your seating. A more neutral complimentary colour for your curtains. And hey, presto, you have a living room scheme.

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