Creating a calming space that sparks joy is the raison d’être of Swedish interior designer Beata Heuman. It stands to reason - her name is the Latin for happy. From the playful mural in her daughters’ bedroom to the armoire-concealed fridge in her kitchen-diner – an open-minded, freewheeling joyfulness pervades from the moment you step through the door. And it’s catching...
Beata was voted House & Gardens inaugural designer of the year in 2018, while her aesthetic was described by the New York Times as a “reinterpretation of the British maximalist tradition – exuberant, peripatetic, proudly eccentric.”
There is something about the way she balances an uncluttered Scandi ease with a dash of English kookiness that makes her spaces so warm and liveable. “I get a thrill from observing things that are beautiful or interesting, and I love creating special places,” she explains. “Obviously my work doesn’t save lives, but it is life-enhancing, and I can see the value in beauty.”
She cut her design teeth with industry stalwart Nicky Haslam – where she worked for nine years – before launching her own studio in 2013. Her riverside Hammersmith home, where she lives with husband John Finlay – head of legal at the beverage company Fever Tree – and their daughters Gurli and Alma, is the perfect interiors showcase.
Filled with surprising touches, from the painted glass kitchen ceiling, inspired by traditional Parisian patisseries, to the curved radiator covers and rug-upholstered headboards – it’s the kind of design that makes you think, ‘I could do that’. And Beata designs not only beautiful spaces but a growing furnishing and lighting range. The Dodo Egg light, marbleised wallpaper, palm-print fabrics and lire-fronted cabinets are being readily snapped up.
But wait until you see the specially-commissioned mural adapting Ludwig Bemelman’s design at New York’s Carlyle hotel with its cigar-smoking, Martini-drinking rabbits. “It is my favourite room in the house, and both Alma and Gurli love to gaze at the scenes on the walls,” she says. “The fact that some of the characters depicted are drinking and smoking – it’s quite grown up and cheeky – but we love it. The girls will see their parents doing the same!”
She thrives on balancing her business (her studio has global commercial and private clients and recently completed London’s Farm Girl Cafés makeover) with family life. “I admire people who decide to focus on their children and scale back their work to do so, but I really love my job and it didn’t feel like the right choice for me,” she explains. “Over the period where I had my children, I had some really exciting projects in progress and I didn’t want to lose momentum on them. The fact that I live five minutes’ walk from the studio also makes it easier to balance both work and parenthood, and when I want to, I have the luxury of being able to leave the studio early to spend extra time with the girls. I make sure I see my children every morning, evening and weekend.”
We loved talking to Beata about growing up in Sweden, how she juggles her roles – and how we can all make our family home look like this (the dream!).