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We’re back with a new guest tastemaker for some quick-fire questions and a mini-curation of some fab Chairish finds!

This week, we got to chat with Hermosa Beach-based designer Kate Lester. Kate worked with some of Hollywood’s most distinguished designers before opening up her firm Kate Lester Interiors and corresponding home store Kate Lester Home. And in her 15-year long career, she has become known for her warm and inviting spaces that mix a playful energy with livable luxury. So considering the difficult year 2020 has been for most people, Kate wanted to share some of her tips for bringing happiness and warmth into a space.

Read on to also find out what she’d like see change in the interior design industry, and what her career as a designer made her discover about herself.

What are your tips for bringing happiness and warmth to one’s home?

  1. Bring outside greenery inside! Fresh flowers and green plants throughout every nook in your home will create an indoor/outdoor illusion that adds depth and fresh air to the inside.
  2. Use pops of color to brighten up your space. A little bit can go a long way here! 
  3. Mix a variety of different patterns throughout your home. I recommend sticking with a neutral base when working with multiple patterns, so that the space doesn’t feel too overwhelming. I always love keeping clean neutral walls and furniture and adding in playful accessories such as pillows, accent wallpaper, rugs, etc.
  4. Fill your space with copious amounts of natural light! I always like to find the best layout for my furniture that reflects light while also focusing on framing windows and doors.
Photo by Lauren Pressey

What is the most memorable career moment you’ve had so far?
When we got our first client, who took one look at the presentation boards and said. “Great, this is all absolutely incredible! When do you think we can move in?” Getting to the level where clients trust the process and don’t question every decision was so liberating. It was definitely a turning point in our business and how we structured our design process moving forward.

What’s something you wish would change in the interior design industry?
Please, someone start teaching applicable design curriculum in design school. The kids coming to work for me straight out of school have spent four years doing unrealistic projects, and mastering the color wheel, but have no idea what a CFA is or how to format a plumbing and appliance schedule. Let’s change this and set them up for success! Colleges: Call me!

What would be the title of your autobiography, and why?
Becoming Me. I think for a really long time I struggled with exactly who “I” was growing up. I was a cheerleader who surfed and got straight A’s. I didn’t fit in any one box, and I didn’t ever feel like I fully belonged with one clique. When I became a designer, I struggled because the way I knew I wanted to design wasn’t glamorous, stuffy, or matchy. Nor was it traditional or modern. So what was it?

I wanted to create livable luxury. I didn’t want to wear pantsuits or pencil skirts and arrange faux florals. I wanted to wear ripped jeans and band tees and occasionally use a swear word while I picked greenery from the side of the road. I wondered if there was a place for me in the “high-end design” market and how I could find my niche.

Only once I really started being true to myself and designing my way did the business really flourish. We’re in a coastal town, but we despise turquoise or seashells in our designs, and I try to break one design “rule” in every room we design. At the end of the day, I realized that when I stayed true to what I loved, “I” emerged, and it’s been much smoother sailing ever since.

How have you recently used your design skills to bring happiness into your own home?
My husband always says that living with me is one constant surprise after another. Some days he’ll come home and find that the art in the entry has been replaced. He’ll just look at me and say “Really? You gave our entry art to a client?!” So I guess you could say our home style is ever-evolving. I think it helps being married to someone who gets you. I am lucky.

Headshot Courtesy of Kate Lester

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August 28, 2020

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