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Ten with Tom: Kinship Creative

13 May 2020

Next up in our #tenwithtom series, Kay Prestney from Kinship Creative - a design consultancy specialising in sustainable interior styling.
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Kay hard at work on location at a shoot for David Austin Roses, styling natural materials and plants for biophilic inspired projects. Image credit: Cathy Pyle

Founder of Kinship Creative Design Consultancy, Kay offers sustainable, nature-inspired interior design and styling advice for businesses and individuals alike. Running regular creative workshops in her community and building a supportive, creative network among small businesses with her bi-annual Kinship gatherings, Kay Prestney is a busy lady! Using her passion for nature to inspire vintage and unique interiors for her clients Kay is a strong advocate of biophilic design. Her passion for blending natural materials, foraged finds, textured layers and plants in her schemes help to create healthy and calming spaces.

Having long been admirers of Kay's beautiful, rustic Instagram account where she shares imagery and behind the scenes glances of her interior design projects and biophilic inspired home, we caught up with Kay as part of our #tenwithtom campaign to learn more about her creative journey so far and how nature inspires her work…


TR: The natural world has evidently had a huge impact on what you create as a business – have you always been a nature lover? 

KP: Yes, from an early age I loved being outside and noticed the calming affect that came from being surrounded by nature. I would always bring back something from my adventures, an interesting pebble from the beach, a pretty leaf, fir cones or a dried flower head and loved how that would then connect me to the memory. I would always choose a picnic outdoors over a trip to a restaurant and that still stays true today!

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Kay's beautiful, rustic and biophilic inspired living room.

Natural materials and foraged foliage souvenirs from countryside walks fill Kay's home and can often be seen taking centre stage in vintage bottles or jars.

TR: What’s the best thing about surrounding yourself and working with nature daily?

KP: Studies have proven that being surrounded by natural materials can physically affect our well-being so it's nice to know the science now backs up what was always just a feeling for me. Plants clean the air that we breathe, wooden furniture can slow down your heart rate, decorating with breathable and eco-friendly paints helps keep both our buildings and bodies healthy and feeling a connection to nature through the materials we choose can help calm our busy minds.

There is also so much inspiration to be found in the natural world in terms of calming colour palettes and textures. Bringing in lots of natural materials to our homes also helps blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living which maintains our connection to nature when we are indoors.

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Neutral white tones fill Kay's hallway, along with vintage and up-cycled treasures.

TR: Why is sustainability important to you and your growing business?

KP: We see every day the damage we have done to our planet, whether it is more extreme weather, animal species losing their natural habitats and becoming extinct, the pollution of our oceans and the melting of our ice caps. We should all be doing everything within our power to reverse the damage and work towards a sustainable future.

It makes sense to use what we have and to ‘say no to new’; using vintage pieces not only makes a space unique but gives a new life to an old item. I also love the creativity of rethinking pieces and helping people to make the most of what they have, through new eyes. People associate interior design with expensive budgets and new designer items, but just having a rethink of your space with the existing items, making the most of natural light and being innovative with use of space and objects can have a huge impact with little cost to us or the planet.

I feel passionately about making interior design accessible, affordable and sustainable for small businesses and individuals wanting to make their house a home.


TR: What did you do before setting up your own business?

KP: I lived in Canada for a year where I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains and the sense of space and freedom there, that time still influences my design and ethos. I spent my twenties working for an investment bank in London, I loved learning Italian and the buzz of so many different nationalities working together but never felt at ease with the business model.

I moved out to the countryside when I turned 30 and everyone thought I was mad! I then worked for Teach First helping to bring graduates to struggling schools where they inspired under-privileged children to follow their dreams. It was so moving to read the many stories where this literally changed people's lives. I had always dreamed of setting up my own creative business, so when I turned 40 and my children were settled in school, I decided to go for it and have never looked back.

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Inspired by nature: patterns and colours in the natural world inspire Kinship Creative.
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Bare plaster walls, wooden furniture and lots of houseplants make for a relaxing, homely mix in Kay's open plan dining area.

TR: Where do you find creative inspiration?

KP: Everywhere I look! I am constantly inspired by the world around me - by the textures and shapes of flowers in the hedgerows, the colour combinations on a walk through the woods, the pattern of a ploughed field, the shape of a tree. I can’t pass a fallen log without imagining it as a seat or a side-table and never return from a walk empty-handed. Our home is full of foraged finds which brings me great joy, it’s such an easy and free way to bring texture and nature into the home.

TR: Describe your working day…

KP: My days are always very different which is one of the things I love about my business, but whatever is happening I like to get up before everyone else in the house and have a quiet moment with my breakfast listening to the birdsong and seeing what the weather is doing. I usually post on my Instagram feed first thing, sharing an idea or some recent work and checking my favourite accounts. Once the school run is done I might be dashing off to a shoot, meeting a client to discuss an interior design project, catching up on emails, visiting favourite vintage places to source pieces, working on an up-cycling project, creating content for a brand I want to support, styling for small businesses, writing for magazines, planning or running creative workshops or thinking about what we might focus on at our next Kinship Gathering where small business owners come together to seek/share advice and find ways to support each other. Lots of people ask me why I don’t just do one of these things, but I find they all interweave and I love what I do!

Hard at work: Kay working on projects inspired by the natural world around her.
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Dried and foraged floral installation by Kay in the studio of Dante’s ceramics @dantesceramics.

TR: What’s your favourite part of your job?

KP: The freedom of running my own business and being able to use my skills to share my passion for natural materials and sustainable living. I also love meeting creative people, supporting the growth of small indie businesses, helping people access their creativity and being able to help people to feel happy in their home.

TR: What three things can’t you live without and why?

KP: My family, friends and the natural world! People and places are far more important to me than material objects. If I had to choose objects it would probably be my reclaimed greenhouse which I have recently built in our garden using salvaged and second hand materials. I wanted to show people what you can do without buying new and although it took a lot of hard work I absolutely love it. I would also find it hard to part with my kayak, I absolutely love heading out along the river where you get a totally different perspective on nature and a more immersive experience.

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Kay's dining room decorated and styled with natural materials and fresh flowers.

TR: We love hearing about other people’s interior style, what makes your house a home?

KP: Everything in our home has a story to tell, I strongly believe in taking time to create an interior that is a reflection of who you are. Collecting pieces on travels or just a local walk means that everything you see around you connects to a special memory which creates a happy home. To me a home without foraged finds, hand-made items or vintage pieces doesn’t have the same soul.

TR: Do you have a favourite Tom Raffield design?

KP: I would happily fill my home with any of the beautiful pieces, they are all so timeless and tactile, but if I had to choose two favourites it would be the Morvah Planters and an Amble Hanging Seat.

Posted: 13.05.20
Updated: 15.04.21

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