In the days before Pinterest, interior design was a magical world for the obscenely wealthy — at least in the eyes of Karrie Seaton. Unsure of how to turn her love of art into a career, Karrie headed to Belmont University to study art history before making the decision to start design school. With a degree in interior design, Karrie graduated from MTSU in 2006 and spent two years in commercial design. From there, her passion for older homes led her to residential design. In 2014, she started J&K Design Studio at her kitchen table, and today, she has an office and two additional designers on staff. Her full-service design studio specializes in new construction and renovations, but she offers an entire menu of design options. With more paperwork and fabric samples than most would imagine, a day in the life of Karrie Seaton is not glamorous, but she loves the end result of a project and the journey she takes to get there. See why she’s this month’s Interior Designer Crush!
What is your design aesthetic and how does it set you apart?
I’ve always been attracted to clean lined, modern design. That has been a constant for me since before I even considered being a designer. What has changed over the years is my ability to include older pieces and color and pattern and still stay true to my modern aesthetic. Time has taught me that having an affinity for modern design doesn’t exclude all other styles from my repertoire.
Where do you find design inspiration?
The other designers in my office are my biggest inspiration. I’m very fortunate to work with ridiculously talented women, and we talk shop all day long. We are all working on different projects but we continuously bounce ideas off each other. One of us is always seeing something “new” in the blogs we follow or the magazines we look through at lunch, and we discuss new trends and products at length.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
My first renovation of an older home was tough. I love older homes, and they are a big part of why I chose design as a career, but they have challenges galore. This particular renovation was a complete gut, right down to the studs! Every room was touched and an addition was added to increase square footage. I drew and redrew the floor plans and as soon as I had a working set of drawings that I knew would be perfect for the house, the contractor would call with an issue that called for more changes. This was an investment property, so budgets were tight and timelines were tighter, so I learned the fine art of making quick decisions and thinking on my feet. When it was finally complete, I had a new understanding of the design process. I was so proud of everyone that worked on that house, and it’s still one of my favorite projects.
What design trends do you see coming and which do you see going in 2017?
Gray and white interiors are everywhere, and they are fabulous backdrops for accent pieces, but I think deep, saturated colors will be showing up more and more this year. Paint a room a deep, moody blue or vibrant emerald green and you will create instant character and depth in a space.
How do you seamlessly incorporate trends into any space?
The saying “a little dab will do it” couldn’t be more appropriate than when talking about interior trends. Trends are meant to be fun and in the moment, not the basis for your entire home. Mix in some new accent pillows in a great palm leaf print on the sofa or some copper candlesticks in the dining room.
How do you plan to update your home for spring?
On the interior, I keep it simple. I change a few accent pillows to bring in more color and pattern on my sofa and buy fresh flowers. Fresh flowers are my weakness! I’ll never win any contests for floral arranging, but having small vases full of color around the house makes my home feel fresh and welcoming.
What are your best tips for picking art?
Don’t buy something just to fill a space on your wall! If you love it and it speaks to you, then it deserves a place in your home. It’s okay to have bare walls until you find what you truly want. If you find yourself coming back to an item again and again, it’s probably a sign that you should have it.
Do you have a favorite room in the home to design?
I love kitchen and bath design, and I’m always excited to start a new project in those spaces, but a master bedroom is slowly becoming one of my favorite rooms to work with. I’ve found that most people, especially parents of small children, push the design of their master bedroom off again and again. It feels almost decadent to create a beautifully designed space that isn’t for friends and family to enjoy. Getting out of bed in the morning is hard enough. Why not give it a try in a room you love?
What is your favorite room in your home, and why?
My kitchen! I have a 1950s ranch house that had the original kitchen still intact when I bought the house — knotty pine cabinets and all. It was horrendous, and the storage was a nightmare, so I jumped in and renovated. It was messy and ran over schedule, but I love it. It is tailored to how I live in my home, and there are no knotty pine cabinets anywhere on the premises.
If you could design one person’s home, who would you choose?
Dolly Parton, hands down. Much like Miss Dolly, I also love sparkly things.
What is your best advice for new designers?
Embrace the learning process because it never ends. If the opportunity to work with a more experienced designer presents itself, grab it. Design school teaches the principles of design, but working with clients is an art unto itself that is best learned by observation. I’ve always had a passion for design, but I learned to be a designer by listening and absorbing as much information from those around me as possible.
Will you share one designer secret with SB readers?
When selecting paint colors, make sure you are looking at the colors in the same type of lighting you have in your home. Florescent and LED lighting can alter the way a color reads in a space. Don’t pick that color in the store! Take a sample home and then decide. The wrong lighting can cause a paint catastrophe!
What are three household items you couldn’t live without?
My Bunn coffeemaker. It’s a miracle of modern science.
Candles. I burn them at home and at the office! Scent goes a long way in making a space feel cozy.
A Bluetooth speaker. I’m very low tech, so a Bluetooth speaker is as advanced as I get, and I need my music to follow me around the house!
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
That’s a hard one! Modern with a touch of history.
Learn more about J&K Design Studio here.
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