Q: Kathysue, how would you describe your personal style?
I like to think of my personal style as Traditional with a Twist! I love an understated-elegant look! I love Traditional pieces mixed with vintage and antiques. I will mix wood with painted finishes and I have to have color to keep me happy. All my colors lean toward a spring-like feel and you will always see touches of black and white in the mix. My favorite patterns are stripes and checks.
The actual feel of my home is more important to me than how it looks. I never make a purchase without thinking first how it will marry to other pieces in my home and will it maintain the feel of my home. The nicest compliment I ever received about my home had to do with the feeling of my home not the look. The person said,"This is the most peaceful, restful home I have ever been in; it looks just like I thought it would, It looks like YOU!!" I was so taken aback by that compliment. She did not say your home is charming, gorgeous or beautiful; she told me how my home made her feel. That is the most important thing to me....... I want all my guests to feel welcomed and at peace when they are here!!
Q: What do you see as the biggest mistake that homeowners make when decorating their homes?
The biggest mistake I have seen homeowners make is making a large purchase without having an over-all design plan.
I am big on planning. I feel there needs to be an over-all plan before any purchases are made. Without knowing the direction you want to go you might go down the wrong path. For instance:
You LOVE a certain sofa and you buy it!! Now what? You look for the chairs and you find the only chair that is available to you in your price point that works with your sofa, you don’t even like. Now you have to go down the wrong path and before you know it, the room has evolved into a look you never wanted.
By having an over-all plan you can make adjustments as you go along. We all make our purchases based on not only what we like, but Affordability, Availability and Practicality.
Once you find your base pieces, sofa, carpet, chairs (basically your soft-goods) then go forward with purchasing but not until, or you might be forced to go down the wrong path.
The important thing is to listen!!! Sometimes the look they are trying to articulate is actually more of a feeling they are trying to achieve, and this is the only way they know how to achieve it. . People will use the same words over and over when they are describing what they like in a room
I listen for certain buzz words with my clients. I put these words into mental categories listed below. I will ask specific questions pertaining to:
How the room will be used
Texture (shine vs. rough)
Wood vs. Painted wood
I will show them a group of images of rooms. I have them tell me which rooms they like and dislike.
After I have two piles of pictures I will then go over each picture and ask them specific questions of what made them like or dislike the images. From this little exercise I can get the answers to all of the above questions pertaining to lifestyle, light etc.
A designer is somewhat like an Interior-Psychologist. It is up to us to analyze our clients well enough to be able to steer them in the right direction. It is important to keep their needs and likes at the forefront even if we have to do something we don’t personally love. It is their home, not ours.
Once you have their trust, then you can sway them more easily. Being a designer has just as much to do with people skills as it does design skills.
Q: What would be your advice to someone who could use the guidance of a professional but has a limited budget?
Ask the designer if they have hourly rates and let them know up front that you have a limited budget and what that budget is. Once this has been established the designer will let you know how she/he can best serve you, and you can move forward from there. Communication is key on both parts.
I would also suggest that you have pictures of images that you love, fabrics, paint chips etc. Also a list of questions so you can get right to the point and make the best use of the desiger’s time and your monies.
Q: Fill in the blank: People would be surprised to learn that a great resource for accessories and art work is…
There are some great websites for art done by college students at affordable prices. Always check with your local colleges and Junior colleges to see what is available. I also love vintage/thrift stores for older pieces, I love mixing old with new!! I also like this website:
Q: What are your thoughts on following decorating “rules”?
They are made as guidelines; nothing is in cement in design. Let’s face it, sometimes when a designer breaks a so-called rule they become the next, “Design Diva!” Remember when they use to say, “Small furniture for small spaces?” We all know what happened to that rule. I rest my case!
Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering pursuing a career in the field of interior design or interior decorating?
First, I believe you have to have a natural ability and love of design. I always think education is important if you want to make this a career. Education is usually the key to open doors so always remember that. Whether it is a formal education or on the job training always stay on the learning curve. That is the beauty of this field, there is always something new and exciting to learn about!!! Design has given me the good life!!! That is why I named my blog, “The Good Life of Design.”
To get more insider information from this experienced decorator, visit Kathysue's blog.