About SHI

Who I Am

I am Kenyan born and South African raised with influences from my English and Mediterranean family connections. Trained by Danish designer Birthe Gibbons (Birthé Studio of Interior Design) and then mentored by Belgian born Anne Colle (Anne Colle Interiors) I have been exposed to a very distinctive European eye for detail.

I studied Interior Design and after working in both Interior and Graphic Design for a few years, I then decided to study Fine Art at KZN University Pietermaritzburg.  On completion of my degree, I worked as a professional artist and assisted in the setting up and management of Butterflies for Africa Art Gallery. Life and circumstances kept drawing me back to my Interior Design roots and I accepted a job as a young decorator and designer at Anne Colle Interiors where I learnt the foundations of my trade. I opened Sonia Hayes Interiors in Pietermaritzburg in 2003.

I believe a home is a sanctuary. I like to create classical spaces which can house both antiques and contemporary furniture, showcasing the individuals who inhabit the spaces’ personality, hobbies and ideals. Transforming a home and enriching a clients’ lifestyle is a way of transforming not only their exterior world, but enlivening their inner world as well.

Simplicity is at the centre of my style. I enjoy combining Jacobean florals, Persian carpets, striking and unique furniture, original art works, and African textures in a palette of neutrals with splashes of colour and calming complimentary schemes. I take my inspiration from the British and Spanish Colonial styles without ignoring my African Roots which I am quick to include in even the more clinical spaces like kitchens and bathrooms. The natural world, its sense of order and proportion, the perpetual layering of textures and colours is where I derive most of my inspiration.


My History

My history in the Design Industry began at Anne Colle in Pietermaritzbug where clients were consistently being referred to me for more than just décor advice. Since those early beginnings I have managed refurbishments of local Hotels, the Golden Horse Casino, Ithala Game Reserve, iNsingizi and numerous B&B’s in the Midlands and in the Pietermaritzburg area as well as holiday homes along the South Coast.

I enjoy working on large ventures where I am able to cultivate lasting relationships with my clients. Having studied African Art at University, I enjoy working where I can truly let my imagination take flight and express my interest and knowledge in working with African textures and artefacts. I enjoy building homes and seeing projects through from the architects’ plans to when my clients move in.

One of my key attributes in the design faculty is my ability to visualise the final product and see the process through to completion.


Meet My Team


Things I see