Jojo Barr of House Nine explains how social media propelled her design studio from its local roots to far-flung climes.
Warmth in approach and design is the essence of House Nine. For nearly a decade, this brand has transformed residential and commercial spaces across the globe with a hands-on approach and a contemporary aesthetic. Headed by interiors aficionado Jojo Barr, the London-based studio puts its clients at the heart of every project they conduct. “House Nine’s style is liveable and timeless,” says Jojo. “Most importantly, we are always guided by our customers.”
Having garnered a keen eye for home decoration while working in property, Jojo embarked on her new career path at the KLC School of Design. “Truthfully, I was always more interested in the interiors than the sales!” She then worked her way up in a number of design companies before embarking on her solo business: “I never thought I’d venture out and create my own company. But it felt instinctive and I never looked back. House Nine all started from my dining table in Notting Hill.”
“I never thought I’d venture out and create my own company. But it felt instinctive and I never looked back. House Nine all started from my dining table in Notting Hill.”
Over its lifetime, the company has moved into three different offices, each larger than the last, to accommodate for their growing pool of clients, services and furniture collections. “Social media has grown our brand enormously,” notes Jojo. “I’d say around 90% of our business comes through Instagram.” It’s not hard to see why: House Nine’s grid is a beautifully curated catalogue of flawlessly crafted spaces.
This sector of design has witnessed an exponential shift recently. “Interiors are like fashion, it’s an ever-changing business. Before the internet, interior design felt inaccessible — a ‘rich man’s service’,” Jojo explains. “Social media has opened up this world of creativity for people. There’s been a huge influx of fresh talent and innovation.” Instagram is an inevitable patron of interior designers, but certain brands stand out for the passion they put into their projects. “Interior experts ensure that mistakes are avoided, ones that might occur if people renovate on their own,” Jojo says. “We’re here to refine that inspiration board and guide an aesthetic vision, to bring it to life.”
Jojo admits that her company’s aesthetic identity might be hard to put in words. But there are linchpin elements to every brief. “A House Nine project would definitely feature panelling and there’d be an autumnal feel,” she says. “Our colour palette tends to involve olives, terracottas, oatmeals. Colour is scientific and has different impacts on your mood. We opt for muted, sympathetic tones that feel effective, not affecting.” Inspired by the likes of Jean Stoffer and Jake Arnold, there’s a certain American edge to House Nine’s designs. “Across the pond, designers are all about breathing space, enveloping calm with high ceilings and broad windows. Even in the UK’s smaller domestic scales we can achieve this with our in-house architect.”
Individuality is a key objective for House Nine. “Although people are coming to us for a look, I always want our clients to get something fresh,” says Jojo. The team are in constant search of new inspiration to ensure interior originality, as well as offering a bespoke upholstery service and range of artisanal furniture. “I love when clients say, ‘I came for your style but I have other influences too.’ Those projects push us beyond our comfort zone and result in something special. We don’t like to play it too safe.”
Nowhere is this philosophy clearer than their Chiswick project. “The client wanted a purple lavatory, not a colour I’d ever choose to use — but a welcome challenge.” The team mastered this brief with a high-gloss lacquered cloakroom, complemented by a bespoke Italian marble basin and brass hardware. Elsewhere in the plan, a row of archways and steel brass doors make for a captivating take on a city home. “It’s turned out to be one of our most viral renovation projects.”
“Social media has opened up this world of creativity for people, and there’s been a huge influx of fresh talent and innovation.”
Such virality puts House Nine on a global radar and has prompted an entirely virtual strand of their company. “During the pandemic, we adapted to restrictions with e-designs. But it evolved into a fully-fledged design service — now making up half our business,” says Jojo. “We assess a space and provide floor plans, elevations, finishes, shopping lists! It’s a bespoke process accessible to anyone that needs it.” For those who want a one-on-one consultation with Jojo herself, she’s also on The Expert’s board of world-class interior designers.
From Holland Park to Tuscany, Ireland and the Maldives, House Nine’s in-progress projects are a testament to their worldly influence and ever-growing network of fans. It’s exciting to witness the growth of a home-made company, particularly one where its business is as soulful as it is skilful. “My team are so talented and are like family to me. Their everyday happiness at work means a lot,” muses Jojo. It’s an ethos naturally translated to every House Nine relationship. “To make the client feel proud and even a little emotional at the end of a project is exactly why I do it.”