Question + Answer

What drives your approach to design?

When designing interiors, I think about how I can offer a unique experience to every client so they are left with a completely customized home designed just for them. When creating television programs, I strive to offer inspiration, education and empowerment so that viewers at home can embrace the ideas and interpret them in their home and be their own designer (with some helpful advice from me). When it comes to product design, I want to ensure that every item designed by me is something I would be proud to have in my own home, and fulfills the goal of a blending of design integrity, quality and value. And when it comes to my brand, I'm 110% invested in every aspect of what I share with my audience.

What made you decide to become a designer?

I was always a very creative kid and interested in all things related to home and entertaining. From sewing to painting, crafts to cooking, I was always experimenting or making something. I didn't choose design as much as it chose me - I have a degree in Visual Arts and landed my first job in the TV industry thanks to a college acquaintance who thought I might have a flair for prop styling. After that first fateful foot-in-the-door moment, I knew I had found a career path that was suited to my skills and energy.  

What if I want to be a designer, but don’t hold a degree in design?

The fact that your education isn't in design, and you do not have a degree, does not mean you can't be well educated and well versed in the world of design. You should continually educate yourself by studying history of art, architecture, design and furniture, as well as studying the work of the great talents in the design world (past and present) to gain inspiration and education from their knowledge, and their tricks of the trade. If you have the passion and the knowledge to back up your craft, you can succeed, but there are fundamental rules and knowledge you need to master in order to trail blaze in an industry that you do not hold a degree in. There is no shortcut to success.

Have you made any mistakes along the way?

Of course - lots! The key to making mistakes is being accountable and taking responsibility. Everything is quickly forgotten if you step up, learn from your mistake and make it right immediately. Never try to blame others, and always remember that your reputation relies on your clients feeling that you treated them with respect and had their best interests in mind. If you add up the cost of all the mistakes and the real life lessons learned, you'll likely reach a total that is still far less than the cost of school, but you'll have gained true life experience in your chosen field.

What do you attribute your success to?

I love what I do and I love the people I work with. I try my very best at every project and everything I do and never rest on past accomplishments to carry me. I care deeply about every job I take on and want to leave people with a home they love. I want to be considered good at what I do – I’m on TV because of my design talents, not a designer because I’m on TV, and that’s an important distinction for me.

Do you have a specific look or style that you think you’re known for?

I'm known for creating interiors that are classically and casually elegant. We create modern interiors informed by a classic perspective, and combine our love for architecture and antique/vintage furnishings with the latest product innovations. My work is not exclusionary or elitist, it's just meant to engage viewers and introduce them to new concepts and ideas, and hopefully encourage them to experiment and try a new design direction.

What is your strategy for mixing traditional and contemporary pieces?

Mixing is less of a concerted effort for me, and more of natural habit. No room works when it's strictly one or the other, but every room is better with a thoughtful yet refined combination of old and new. I tend to buy what I love and then bring it all together with the selection of fabrics and finishes.

What’s your favourite type of project?

One of the benefits of my job is that no two days are ever the same. I need projects to be completely finished, polished and dressed in order to be satisfied, so that's why I've always loved the demanding nature of making my TV shows. We can't call it done until the last flower is in a vase and everything is in the right place (it wouldn't look very good on camera if we only went half way with our efforts).  There’s huge satisfaction to seeing a room fully realized! The best private client projects are the ones where the client invests in the vision and believes you have the talent to pull it off without questioning every decision. I think if you are going to engage a creative professional, you should let them give you the full experience and not limit the experience by doubting the choices...but that means you have to have a good solid relationship to start with and believe that they know what you like and what will make you happy. We've been blessed with some great clients, and theirs are the homes I'm most proud of.

What is “good design” for you?

Good design is thoughtful, original, passionate and never too serious. You need to have a sense of humour in design. I like design that works, that isn't demanding or pretentious, and will stand the test of time. As a Mom of young kids, if it's practical to boot, I'm delighted!