AS A CUSTOM HOME BUILDER FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS, Jerry Meek has helped many clients create their ideal kitchens. Usually, however, they want to start from scratch with a new space—not model it after one they were leaving behind.
“I think this may have been a first for us,” says Meek, president of Desert Star Construction in Arizona.
He explains that his clients loved their old home, which he and his team had also built. But with their children now older and on their own, they were ready to downsize to a more manageable space.
Their previous house pulled its themes from 17th-century Europe and could have passed for an old villa in the South of France.
“They wanted that same feel on a smaller scale,” Meek says, “so that defined the whole project, and it’s how we approached the kitchen.”
Indeed, says interior designer Karen Rapp, the new kitchen—like the home itself—is “just like something you’d find in Provence.”
French Countryside Home in Arizona
The walls, for example, are hand-chipped limestone, while the weathered wood beams spanning the 11-foot ceiling came from an aging house in Belgium.
The flooring is antique terra-cotta ceiling tiles reclaimed from a home in France, and old-world details like an arched Dutch door make the room seem transported from another time.
Carefully carved, dark-stained oak shelves sit on stone corbels next to a plaster hood. And in a corner stands an antique bonnetiere (an 18th-century French wardrobe)—a monument worthy of the desert mountain visible through the kitchen windows.
“That piece is truly beautiful,” says Rapp, who also worked with Meek on the clients’ previous home. “When they bought it, it was in total disrepair, but a master craftsman we like to work with restored it and refinished it.”
The space doesn’t sacrifice function for beauty, however. That bonnetiere holds glassware and dishes, and the range, sink, and refrigerator form a perfect work triangle.
Then there’s the kitchen’s substantial centerpiece: an island the homeowners brought with them from their previous home and had trimmed down to fit the smaller space.
“It has a 2½-inch-thick butcher block countertop,” Meek says. “Like everything in there, it’s meant to be used every day.”The kitchen was put to the test early on when the homeowners threw a party for everyone involved in the home’s construction.
“You could tell they were happy with how it turned out,” Meek
says. “It’s just what they wanted—it feels like home.”
You’ll often hear interior designers say, “A room should feel collected vs. decorated.” In fact, I caught myself using this exact phrase at a recent meeting with Luxe Arizona.
But just what does it mean?
Collected vs. Decorated, Defined
For starters, a “decorated” room might look too “matchy-matchy.”
Meaning, a “decorated” room often looks too symmetrical, overly planned or lacking originality. Things in such a room appear formulaic.
For example, our fixtures might all be coordinated in bronze, or your color palette is all blue and white, or all of your furniture is from the same manufacturer.
On the flip side, a “collected” look can animate your home and bring it to life.
To me, collected means just that: that your rooms have evolved naturally over a period of time. They’re likely full of treasured pieces that you might have found and added gradually. They may have iconic, trendy pieces, but the overall design doesn’t look like it’s in a “time capsule.”
Your collected items—furniture and otherwise—tell others who you are, what your interests might be and where you’ve been over your lifetime. They tell a story about your tastes and aspirations, whether they be quirky or carefully culled.
Unlike home décor that’s decorated, your collected décor is unique to you alone. It speaks to the idea that your home doesn’t look like anyone else’s, nor does it resemble something picked up lock, stock and barrel from the pages of a trendy catalogue.
Instead, a collected look is just as it’s described. It might include one-of-a-kind artworks that you spotted at a gallery opening and purchased, or items that were passed down to you from family members.
But, all that said, let me warn you: A collected look can easily transform into a cluttered look.
If you don’t keep a careful handle on your collected trappings, they can begin to overwhelm a set of rooms and literally take over your surroundings.
To keep that from happening, you need to strike the right balance, scale and rhythm for your interior rooms, which is what a skilled interior designer is trained to help you with.
In my own residence, I address the balance issue by being discriminating about what I put on display. After they’ve been out and on display for a while, I’ll put away a few my collections and keepsakes. Then, when I want to freshen things up, I bring them back out, and—voila!—I’ve rediscovered my treasures all over again.
An interior designer is the perfect resource to help you discover treasures you may already have and incorporate them into your existing décor. He or she will look at your home creatively, with a fresh and experienced set of eyes.
The trick, though, is to do a room makeover such that it ends up looking as if you’ve put it together piece by piece, over time, and not in one fell swoop.
Following are a few tips to give your home that “collected-over-time” look.
Mix and match, but be consistent
Yes, it’s fine to go ahead and mix it up a bit. Adding eclectic-looking (but complementary) furniture styles, finishes, textures, etc., is one of the easiest ways to help a room look as if it’s evolved over time.
Your interior designer can be a great help in harmoniously combining old with new—from vintage and thrifted collections to hand-me-downs and brand-new pieces. In fact, vintage pieces mixed with new ones allow for unexpected discoveries, ones that can definitely add interest to the space in question.
The key in mixing and matching, however, is to look for consistency among the items Pay attention to color, scale, shape, texture and visual balance, with a goal to make sure all the various pieces complement one another. One example would be to seek out styles of furniture from different periods, but that, as a whole, come together to make a harmonious statement.
Remember, too, that since our tastes, interests and style ideas evolve over time, your home will tend to reflect those changes, with the items in your home becoming visual representations of different points or phases in your life.
Think outside the box
Here’s your chance to get really creative with your “collected” home, using some items in ways other than what might have been intended for them.
Perhaps one of the most classic examples of “repurposed” décor is when designers or homeowners find an old chest of drawers and reincorporate it as a bathroom vanity/sink.
That idea caught on like wildfire and continues today.
Like the example of the vanity-sink, one way to find a new use for an old object is to try and divorce yourself from the idea of what it might have been intended for. Look at its shape: can it be adapted and used as something else?
This takes some real brainstorming, but once you’re able to see an item of décor more objectively, the sky’s the limit on what quaint new uses you might be able to come up with for it.
Keep in mind, though, that simpler is better. Less is more.
If you can, in fact, use a vintage object simply as is, without modifying it, then the look tends to suggest less effort and, thus, more naturalness. If you have to try too hard to make something work, it often ends up looking “kitschy.”
Get creative with shopping (including your mother’s home!)
Here’s where your designer can really help you, because we have access to showrooms and other design-related elements that homeowners or those outside the design profession might not typically be exposed to.
For example, we regularly source from showrooms all over the country, the Scottsdale Design Center and the LA Showrooms are our main resources. Design Alliance LA and John Brooks Inc., are two of many multi-line showrooms that can help us create countless “collected-look” ideas.
Art galleries, and even antique and thrift stores, can also provide you with ideas to achieve that “collected” look.
If you’re lucky enough to have them at your disposal, peruse your mother or grandmother’s home for original items that hold meaning for your family. If you regularly drink tea, shine up and set out for display your great-grandmother’s silver tea set.
Or layer in sentimental abstract art from your children or grandchildren on your book case—just pop it an elegant frame and see for yourself how transformed it can look.
Collect things you love that tell your story
By definition, collections are usually made up of like items that are meaningful to someone or have some financial value. This means that your collected rooms should incorporate pieces that tell your story and put your passions on display.
If you’re an aviation buff, let that be something of a guide in your decorating—be it with related art, sculpture or even funky aviation-related items that can become conversation pieces when they’re part of your décor.
And the same is true if you happen to be a quilter or an avid traveler, or have any other passionate pursuit.
Choose items with personality that you can layer in to add interest, without throwing off that all-important room balance. It’s okay to layer and stack so that you’re not showcasing items permanently.
Our lives are forever fluid and in motion, so your rooms can be in constant change, too!
Remember that some of the most elegant, cozy and breathtaking rooms are ones that showcase personal collections
Whether they’re photos, heirlooms, books, something old or something new, these meaningful objects can speak volumes to those who live inside the walls as well as those who are just visiting. It is rooms such as these that truly sing.
To conclude . . .
Don’t forget that the goal always is to eschew the decorated look and embrace the collected. It’s all about learning how to let the objects you love and—perhaps acquired over a lifetime—help to inform your design.
The result will be for you to achieve a much more interesting and storied interior that truly reflects your personality. Happy decorating!
When we take on a new interior design client, we typically find that, around 50-75 percent of the time, you, as a homeowner, have a pretty good idea what you want in terms of your preferred design style.
But the question often remains: how do you effectively communicate that style/ vision/inspiration to your entire design team?
How do you make them understand specifically what results you’re seeking? What are your expectations, keeping in mind the following elements of the design process: quality, scope, style and budget.
So, Just What is My Interior Design Style?
One of the first prerequisites to effectively communicating your design style to a team of professionals is to make certain you understand and visually communicate your expectations.
Fortunately, the internet is chock-full of home design-oriented websites to help you pinpoint your exact style preferences.
One of the best and most frequently consulted sites is called Houzz.
A glance at their website will give you plenty of information to help you decide in which direction your taste and style preferences are running.
Houzz (and other sites, such as Pinterest) will give you tons of information and examples on every style from “Traditional” to “Preppy” and then some. Spend a few minutes checking it out—it’s fun and highly informative.
Following are some of the Houzz design style categories:
Once you’ve decided on a style you like, you should schedule an initial meeting with your interior designer team to discuss your preferences.
Bring along some examples (photos, magazines, etc.) to the meeting to give the team an idea of your sense of style.
At KRI, we almost always create a “private” Pinterest board for each client, where images “pinned” easily and reviewed by both the client and KRI team.
Another way to help you decide on your personal design style is to simply look at your home’s architecture. Keeping your interior design on a par with the exterior is usually a good rule of thumb. When in doubt about your home’s architectural style, talk to your interior designer or architect.
What’s more, there are plenty of online quizzes to help you define your interior style, such as this Houzz quiz.
We always tell clients that it doesn’t cost anything to “visually spend” in the beginning of the design process.
How to Communicate My Interior Design Style
We refer to this phase as “programming,” a time when we ask how you see yourself living in and using the space.
So, opening yourself up to a lot of ideas can often help you narrow your choices down to the one you really want to pursue.
As I mentioned above, perusing magazines or even creating a scrapbook of ideas is always great. If you tear out or earmark a page for us, be sure to tell us what you like about the image. For example: “I like the wood beams and flooring, the blinds and the mantle, but not the colors.”
And speaking of color, do you like lots of it or selective “pops” of it?
To help convey your style to an interior designer, tell him or her your intentions for the home, including the answers to these questions:
Is this your primary residence or second home?
Do you entertain? And if so, how? Small or large? Family or invited friends?
Describe the feeling of the rooms – is it an elegant, formal home or a laid-back, casual home?
Is natural light important? What lighting mood do you want at night?
Do like an open room concept or prefer to have unique individual spaces?
Will your home need to be child-proofed? Children and grandchildren? Ages?
Do you have collections or family heirlooms to show off? Inherited or collected furniture and/or antiques?
What kind of Audio/Visual systems do you prefer? TVs and music systems? Where and how big? Do you watch TV in bed, the kitchen and/or bathroom? In what areas of the home do you like to have music?
Do you cook at home, order in or go out?
And then there is landscaping and outside living spaces (but that’s for a later blog).
Expand the Dialog and Language
Whatever your interior design style might be, the key objective is to stay in close contact with your designer every step of the way.
Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of providing too much information than not enough. It’s really all about beginning the conversation.
And keep in mind that deciding on and communicating your design style might be just the beginning of the interior design process, but it’s one that will help clear the path for your designer to proceed more confidently and expeditiously, knowing what your home design preference are.
My college sorority sister, a graphic artist named Julia Lupine, designed the first Karen Rapp Interiors logo way back in 1986.
Yes, we’re turning 30 this year!
And, as you can see below, Julia’s logo design featured some classic elements of an interior design project (the furniture and fixtures).
I’ve always been proud of it:
In fact, the original Karen Rapp Interiors logo was featured in a coffee table-style book about branding. And, as if that wasn’t cool enough, in the book, the KRI logo appeared right across from Esprit logo! That’s how good the original was, and you don’t mess with something that good (at least for 30 years or so).
As I explained to Julia at the time she was designing my logo, I wanted my brand to embody a classic style. And I wanted it to be as timeless as possible—just as if I were designing my own home.
I wanted the brand to be simple and yet sophisticated, to represent what I did (interior design) and to make it easy to update the colors—just as though I were updating the paint color on a wall.
What’s more, I wanted the design to possess an element of intrigue. And, depending on how you look at the original, you might just interpret it as an intriguing gallery wall of images.
So, like all good design should, our logo has stood the test of time.
In 2012, when we launched our website and social media platforms, we combined the elements of the original logo to create this vertical logo.
As you can see, we also updated the color palette:
A New Chapter after 30 Years
Now, as we celebrate three decades in business, the team at Karen Rapp Interiors is ready for a new chapter.
Our small team will be moving our work spaces out of my home and into a new studio space next month. A space all our own. A space that’s about sophistication and simplicity—just like our brand, and just like our logo. (More on our new address later…)
So, in preparation, it’s only fitting that we assess where we’ve been and where we’re going.
That’s why I hired a marketing consultant, Jill Henning, to help me with PR and branding advice and project management. As we embarked on our rebranding, Jill wanted to know about my vision for the KRI brand, what success looks like to me, and how I think my clients and the Arizona design market perceive our brand.
She wanted to see every piece of our existing brand identity and client-facing materials.
And she wanted to understand how our business is transitioning from printed materials to showcasing our designs online.
So, as I shared with Jill the history of our logo, we both wondered if this might be a good time to refresh it. So Jill introduced me to her graphic designer colleague, Eve Gonzalez, and we clicked immediately.
Presenting the First Draft
During the first review of several logo options, Eve did something very smart. She knew that I would like details . . . that I would appreciate knowing how she arrived at the final recommendations.
And Eve was right.
Being detailed is something that I typically enjoy in my job, so knowing Eve’s thought process helped me make a decision. There were nuances in the details that only a graphic designer would understand and that, as a layperson, I would never see.
I really loved her initial concepts, but the one thing I was a stickler about was the color palette.
So Eve got out her tried-and-true Pantone Matching System® fan deck, and I got out my tried-and-true Farrow & Ball® color book. I showed her the four paint colors that most resonated with me, and we matched them against the PMS colors used in the printing world.
Jill was there supporting us, and she snapped this photo of our collaboration:
It took just a few iterations to suss out the colors and logo image elements, and, overall, it was a very quick process. We started in February and did a soft-launch of our new logo in March.
Gosh, if only a home remodel would go so quickly!
Here’s a before and after:
Why Logo Design is Like Home Design
Some of you might question the comparison, but, having just gone through the process, I now feel confident in saying that designing a logo is in fact a lot like designing a home’s interior. I know that the logo design—just like, say, a kitchen design—needs to be great and “in vogue” for a long period of time, at least for a decade.
And, just as in interior design, getting the branding color palette right is key.
For example, at KRI, we’ll integrate our four logo colors into our other collateral: an all-green logo is for invoices, a blue version is used for proposals, and a yellow logo is used for orders. And we’ll use various branding “spot” colors in our PowerPoint presentations, note cards and envelopes, letterhead, etc.
Also like home design, we needed versatility with our logo redo. With the solution we agreed on, we’ll be able to separate the logo graphic (called a “bug”) and use it for certain mediums, such as social media and smaller projects, like fabric labels and our note cards.
Thanks to Jill and Eve, we have a new branding standards guide to help us keep everything in check.
How to Choose a Designer
With the process of redesigning our logo so fresh in my mind, following are few tips for any business professional seeking the best approach to hiring a graphic designer.
(Honestly, the process is similar to choosing an interior designer).
First, ask for referrals from trusted sources (as I did with Jill). If you already work with a marketing expert or agency, he or she will have experience and a great source of contacts.
Make sure to meet the designer face-to-face, so you know it’s a great match. Even if you’re not local, you can still use a virtual video conference like GoToMeeting, Join.me, Skype—even FaceTime.
Review the designer’s work portfolio and understand his or her process.
Get a quote based on all aspects of the project. Discuss the number of revisions you’ll be making and what the hourly rate is if you go beyond the scope.
And, lastly, work with your designer to paint the vision, but then step back and give the designer the room and space to work his or her magic!
So, tell us your thoughts! What do you think of our new logo? What other advice do you have for taking on a branding or home design project? Please share your comments below.
‘Tis once again the season to “deck the halls.” One of my favorite holiday pastimes is finding seasonal decorating themes and color schemes that bring outdoors elements inside the house, blending and balancing them in tone and color.
My goal is to always keep things simple yet elegant, with a fresh, modern twist on typical holiday colors. That is, replacing the more traditional reds and greens with green and white creations that sound just the right note of holiday cheer.
As I hope you can see from the photos I’ve selected, these calming, neutral colors with their splashes of contrasting color lend a soothing effect in a season that can get hectic, and help you to smoothly transition your indoor décor from fall to winter.
I like showcasing such natural elements as rosemary, hydrangeas, magnolia wreathes and white roses—all of which create a peaceful, welcoming ambiance throughout my clients’ homes. And the fragrances are unforgettable.
Green apples and hydrangea-simple centerpieces in elegant glass vases | Three Mango Seeds
Black and white Christmas gift wrap with a pleasantly contrasting burst of green sprigs | Green Mango More