My Design Story
My love for design started at a young age, maybe even in my DNA. Two of my great-great grandfathers each started their own businesses which were passed on to future family generations. Peter founded a furniture and toys store; so, at an early age I was shown the organic beauty of various wood species and the intricate attributes of a dove tailed drawer.
Something I continue to appreciate today in good quality cabinets. The last time I walked past the storefront niche entrance back east, the tilework displaying the family name was still embedded into the sidewalk cement from the 1950s location.
James founded the other business in 1905 to supply homeowners with interior paints and wallpaper. Over the years, it has evolved into automotive paints and supplies and is still operational today. Conveying the importance of taking care of people, giving back to the community and being adaptable.
My passion for space planning started at an early age. My grandparents lived in a prestigious 1919 English Tudor home with heraldic leaded stained glass, a grand staircase with a 12 foot long upholstered window seat on the landing, coffered ceilings, wide glass French pocket doors, honeycomb tiled water closets with claw foot fixtures, cross porcelain accented faucets, original subway tiled kitchen walls, polished chrome latched cabinets in the butler's pantry, intricate woodwork detailing, hidden passageways & secret rooms!
Measuring and mapping with my Crayola set I was determined that IF my new construction home had a hidden room; I would be the one to discover it! I was always drafting floorplans, measuring walls, and thinking about what was on the other side of the wall I was facing. This made the annual October Fire Safety assignment of drafting a floor plan of your home to show an escape route extremely easy.
The challenge I made for myself each year was how much more detail could I include.
While in high school, I took classes in interior design, art, drafting, business, psychology, and marketing knowing what I planned as a career. I obtained my BFA in Interior Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, part of the State University of New York. My senior year was spent writing and designing a thesis for a potential local Hospice Center that culminated in a presentation to a panel of judges in the spring.
The summer before college I took a job as an interior design assistant for a nationally renowned designer. Our firm participated in several showhouse charities in the New York area, as the owner is dubbed "The Queen of Showhouses". One that served as a career catalyst for me was a kitchen with an integrated banquet and an intricate plan to see the water from every workstation in
A few years had passed, and I attended a holiday home tour charity event where you could visit a dozen homes to see their holiday décor. Touring one in particular was an amazing experience; from the moment you stepped into the craftsman foyer, to the serene bathroom on the middle floor, to the Neuschwanstein inspired vaulted great room on the third floor to the award winning kitchen on the first floor as you exited the rear nana wall into the yard.
Before exiting, I conversed with the most elegantly spoken woman volunteering in the kitchen. I started to gush with compliments over the amazing details of this home and told her she really needed to tour it when she had a moment! She graciously thanked me and humbly introduced herself as the designer. I say humbly, because I soon learned of the long list of awards and honors she holds. This is how I met my design mentor, next boss, and lifelong friend.
Different types of hand holding
After September 11th, I was offered a job in the suburbs of New Jersey just between New York City and upstate New York with great benefits with a national retailer. It was different than any other box store in the country, however. Located on the same property was an annex building including a fully carpeted showroom, with a dozen or more displays, six cabinet lines including two local custom cabinet makers, a full staff of retired plumbers, an architect and a dozen designers to assist clients. We detailed projects from our local suburbs to upstate NY homes, to tiny Manhattan kitchens that came with a dozen pipe chases, fixed columns, freight elevators and ground loading zone logistics. Clients needed different types of hand holding whether they were contractors purchasing for homeowners, seasoned homeowners doing another project, first time homeowners or do-it-yourselfers.
After relocating to the northwest and deciding to settle here and raise a family; I ventured to a local design build firm. During this time, I established many industry connections and became an active board member for the local Puget Sound Chapter of the NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association). Investing in myself and the industry I love so much, I embarked on the journey to obtain my accreditations from the NKBA.
AKBD (Associate Kitchen & Bath Designer)
CKD (Certified Kitchen Designer)
CBD (Certified Bathroom Designer)
Raising two small children, I decided to step away from the duties of the board but continue to maintain an active membership and went on to obtain my:
CMKBD (Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer)
During my time at the Redmond Home Depot, I cultivated an environment within the Kitchen Design department that was welcoming to people and fulfilling. My entrepreneurial spirit was supported and encouraged by the company’s core values affording me opportunities to mentor others, partake in design competitions and conduct client seminars.
Much like you would expect the clients’ needs varied, projects varied, investments varied but the core of each story was so similar. There is a project need that requires a solution and my skillset can guide this process. I enjoy bumping into people after they have lived in their transformed space and hearing how much it has improved their lives and how much they still enjoy it.
Many of these clients have become friends and lead to additional projects.
"...my authenticity, ethics, character, ideals, integrity and experience"
Over years I have developed my own process as to how I unfold the story of design and execute it. Unpacking a project and learning about the client’s needs, project scope and investment level requires asking the right questions and listening. All projects share the same need for a solution that my unique skillset can guide the process for. My authenticity, ethics, character, ideals, integrity, and experience are the foundation of my design studio.