Kristen Pawlak has loved art and design all her life, but interior design wasn’t her first foray into the business world. After a successful marketing career, Kristen took a leap of faith and followed her passion to a new career, launching KP Designs/Decorating Den Interiors in 2009. Since then, her award-winning designs have been featured in numerous publications, and she’s a sought-after speaker and design advocate. Learn more about Kristen (and see her gorgeous work) in today’s Interior Designer Crush!
Talk for a minute about launching your career. What were your earliest jobs in design?
Design is a second career for me. My first career was in marketing and marketing research, and it was great. Later on I would be waiting to present research findings in a client’s office and I’d find myself a little more interested in how the lobby space or building was decorated. I think I knew for some time I would move into this field at some point. Early work included extensive work with accessories, art and accent furniture with another company I ran. Then onto the “big stuff” with owning Decorating Den, which generally tends to be complete room designs and furnishings, from top to bottom!
When did you know you wanted to become a designer?
I always say I’ve been a professional designer 10+ years, but personally – all my life! I think that’s true with a lot of designers, actually. My mom used to routinely rearrange furniture in our home, and I was always delighted at how different a room could look and feel by doing so.
Where and how do you find inspiration for your work?
Ahh, nature especially. Absolutely all of it! The colors, forms, changes. I can stare for hours at forest foliage, lake rocks, and the patterns and textures in landscapes, animals, weather. I’m like a nature nerd. Also, of course, travel. Any time I travel— and I mean, it could be anywhere— the different geography, cultures, art always inspire me to think beyond what I see in my everyday life. Also, history— architecture, historical design and furnishings, even clothing. Again, could study and stare for hours. I love to look back and take historical tours. I’m an old soul, I think.
What is your design aesthetic, and how do you translate that to a client’s home?
For me as well as KP Designs/Decorating Den Interiors, it is truly about the client and their aesthetic. Even if they don’t know what theirs is, we’ll bring it out in them. People are so different and I want their design to reflect them, or at least how they wish to be seen. Of course some things come through from me, I’m sure. I strive for a purposeful, functional, gorgeous space that is customized with personal notes. Timelessness is always good, but some fun, unique—even funky—is good, too.
What brings you the most professional joy?
As a designer, of course, I’m very visual. Seeing a finished design/space still delights me, especially in photos. I love all the details that go into any design. Also, the client’s reaction in person, in their words, and their continued business is a true validation and form of happiness. And lastly, seeing all of this happen with the people who work with me— truly fun!
How do you feel Louisville’s design scene differs from the rest of the country?
Not sure I can speak for the whole rest of the country, but I would say Louisvillians focus a lot on their kitchens and their bathrooms. We work a lot with these rooms and they are truly important, but the other rooms matter a bunch, too! Fabrics and furnishings in family rooms, bedrooms, etc., need more focus here in the ‘Ville.
What do you feel is one of the most misunderstood aspects of interior design from people outside the industry?
The costs and time involved to do absolutely anything. The flow of goods and the economics behind the industry is fairly complex. The details can be overwhelming, and that is what we, as professionals, are used to dealing with behind the scenes. Also, the skills of people in the design trade from designers to craftsmen to installers is more than people realize— and that there is a cost to it, as these people are skilled professionals. I appreciate all the DIY print and TV —really, it’s fun, but it has watered down the profession at times where I’m not sure people truly appreciate our trade.
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
I believe it will go two ways, actually. One way will continue with the customer side wanting a look and items faster, if not immediate, and at the lowest cost possible— plus the ability to change their minds without any penalties of time or cost. The other way for those who truly want quality and lasting design, the need will be for highly personalized service and customized furnishings. This is what interior design truly has always been if you study it through the years. And design, of course, is cyclical, so whatever is going on in the world in the next 10 to 15 years will impact it, such as a move toward color, positivity, a need for calm and tranquil spaces and so on.
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Functional, livable, elegant, artistic, collaborative.
Learn more about Kristen Pawalak and KP Designs/Decorating Den Interiors by visiting kristenpawlak.decoratingden.com.
See more work from our favorite interior designers HERE!