Happy Holidays!

My goodness, it has been a while since I last had time to sit and share what I've been working on. The great news is that I have been working on a lot of different projects for a wide range of clients. Work is busier than I imagined it would be, and I am thrilled to be seeing my design ideas come to life in the homes of wonderful clients. 

The only downside? There are not enough hours in the day to share all of the Kate Eckstein Design news with you. But I am not complaining.

As so, as we wrap up 2015 in a few short days, I want to say thank you.

  • THANK YOU to the friends and family who have supported me in this creative venture.
  • THANK YOU to the clients who have welcomed me into your homes and given me the opportunity to work with you.
  • THANK YOU to the contractors and retailers and colleagues who have made "coming to work" every day fun and worthwhile.

Here's to many more projects in 2016.

I will leave you with a little holiday video, from my family to yours. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
 

I am a Chameleon

Photo: http://www.modvive.com/2015/03/11/chameleons-change-color-now-know-skin/

Photo: http://www.modvive.com/2015/03/11/chameleons-change-color-now-know-skin/

One of the first questions new clients often ask me is "What is your style?".

You'd think it would be an easy one to answer. 

In some ways, it is. Though I've only been doing this professionally for a very short time, my own personal aesthetic has been developing my entire life. There were those particularly formative years when I first took a strong interest in my clothing, and covered myself in hot pink and leopard print whenever possible. (How unfortunate for me that I also tried out a perm around the same time). Or the period after that when overalls were "a thing". (Were they really a thing? Or was that just me?). Or when I got into architectural history and spent hours upon hours reading and researching artists and architects and discovering the roots of buildings I loved. Or when we bought our first house and spent months painting and building and DIYing everything in sight. While I'm not necessarily proud of either of those particular fashion choices (and there are MANY more where those came from), or many of the projects we amateurly tackled in our first house, all of those little experiments added up to the unique design perspective I have now.

So, what is my style? My style is comfortable yet bold. It is layering textures and patterns and shades so that it looks effortless. It is picking a theme, or a key piece, and building on that... but not being afraid to veer off course or add in something unexpected. I appreciate a good deal or snagging a sale price, but also understand the value of investing in truly high quality when it matters.

That's my style.

But, for my clients, there's another side to my style.

It's THEIR style.

I do not go into a project thinking it needs to look like "my style" when I'm finished. Quite the contrary. I love this job so much because it allows me to be a chameleon to the styles of my clients. I take cues from things I see in their homes, jewelry they wear or books I see on their nightstands. I love asking them about places they have traveled or what they like to cook. All of these little details help feed the design ideas I propose. And though my style likely comes out in the elements I propose, it's really my take on their style that drives the process.

My style tends toward the modern. Clean lines, rich colors, pops of graphic patterns. But recently I have had the pleasure of working with a couple with much more traditional taste. Together we're picking grasscloth wallpaper and antique brass sconces and talking about reupholstering antique wood chairs. I chameleon to their style (and relish the opportunity to get outside of my own box). They chameleon to mine (that is why they hired me, after all). So there is this dance. This back and forth of ideas before we find that happy medium. That happy medium that is a true collaboration, and something far more unique and special than either of us could have created on our own.

Another client of mine wanted a more mid-century modern look. Which, though it's a style I've always adored, isn't something I've ever been able to pull off in my own home. I was thrilled to chameleon to her style. I channelled my inner Charles and Ray Eames (and, let's be honest, Don Draper) and got to work. Together we created a mid-century modern-inspired living room nestled inside her South End brownstone. The furniture is still being delivered, but I can't wait to share pictures when it is installed!

Still another client I'm working with now wants rustic and warm. Leather sectionals and lots of wood. It's delicious to transport myself into their space and make it come to life. It's not "my style", necessarily, but it doesn't matter. That's what makes it fun.

The answer, then, to "what is your style?" is a tricky one. It depends on who's asking. But as I take on more projects and work with more clients with varying styles, I am beginning to see a bit of a theme emerging in my work.

Maybe time will tell what my style is more than anything else. Until then, I'll keep being a chameleon.

Designing for your life NOW.

This is my living room.

From a design perspective, there are lots of things I want to change about it; so many projects I have bouncing around in the back of my head. It is comfortable and fun and functional, but not exactly a shining example of the cohesive, creative spaces I create in other peoples' homes.

But it is my home. 

And do you know what happens in my home?

This.

And having a space where my kids can do this, to me, is a lot more important than having a house that looks like a showroom. You should hear the squeals of joy -- you'd allow it too if you did.

IMG_5403.JPG

Clients will often give me their grand plan for their space... and then the laundry list of reasons that won't work for their lives at the moment.

My theory is: design for the life you live, instead of living your life walking on eggshells around your design.

Given that I have two rambunctious boys under the age of 6 in my own house, my challenges are questions of durability (and safety). Will they pull those floor-length window treatments down off the wall? Will they split their foreheads on the corner of that glass coffee table? Will they scratch the surface of that beautiful hand-turned dining table playing Legos?

The answer is probably yes. At least it is at my house.

That said, I relish the idea of designing a pristine living room with white upholstery, lit with the sparkle of a crystal chandelier. That's why I'm a designer -- so I can do it in someone else's house. Because right now, that design does NOT fit my life.

I strive to create spaces that help you live your life better. Whatever that looks like for you. Right now.

And maybe someday I'll have that glass coffee table after all.

 

(P.S. No children were harmed in the making of these photos.)

On Being Connected.

Once upon a time I was the girl who was the last of her friends to join Facebook because I didn't really see the point. 

Then I became the girl who started a blog on a whim. A blog that started out somewhat anonymous, and then got really, really personal, and ended up being so personal that I decided to stop writing and sharing at all. The pendulum had swung entirely in the opposite direction, and it didn't feel right anymore.

Last summer when I stopped blogging, I quickly found a new balance. One that skewed far more to shutting off my phone and focusing on the people in front of me. That felt good. That felt right.

I don't intend to shift that balance back by starting this blog. But I do hope to share a little bit of my personality, my life and the things I'm thinking about and working on. Follow along, if you like. I'll mix it up from day to day. And if I don't have anything to say, I won't say anything at all.

I'll be here, just being me 'out loud'. And I'd really love to connect with you.

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How did I get here?

It feels surreal to be sitting here, writing this.

Owen (5) and Emmett (2), the most important things I've ever had a hand in creating

Owen (5) and Emmett (2), the most important things I've ever had a hand in creating

Just a few short weeks ago I was sitting at a different desk, behind a different computer, spending altogether too many hours on conference calls and firing off emails at all hours of the day and night. I was stretched thin, trying to keep up with an increasingly busy schedule at work and a never-ending busy schedule at home. (The inevitable crunch that happens when two busy, driven people have two high-energy, hilarious, sweet, wild boys). It wasn't sustainable. And though I loved many aspects of that role, it wasn't what I truly wanted to be doing.

So I left.

And now I'm here.

When I was a kid I remember buying rolls of trace paper and some fancy mechanical pencils and spending hours drawing floor plans. Imaginary houses for imaginary people, sure, but I agonized over where to put the windows to maximize the light, and how to set up their furniture as if they were real clients. I had friends too, I swear... this was just my favorite creative outlet for many years. Fast forward to my sophomore year at Connecticut College, where I was debating between majoring in art or psychology (art therapy, anyone?) and flipping through pamphlets about various abroad programs. As soon as I saw an architecture/art history program in Florence, Italy, my heart grew wings and my mind was made up. I was as happy as that little girl drawing fake floor plans again. And so it was that I traveled around Europe soaking up art and architecture like a sponge, and came home to double major in psychology and architecture, combining two of my true passions. After graduation I dabbled in design school (not for me -- it felt somewhat redundant to what I had just done for 3 years) and ultimately found a temporary home as a visual merchandiser for Crate & Barrel, creating tablescapes and designing fake bedroom scenes and perfecting the art of displaying product so you couldn't help but buy it (combination of art & psychology again!).

Ultimately my drive to ditch the retail hours and make a little bit more money overtook my penchant for setting up products in pretty displays, and I changed gears and tried my hand at Human Resources for a consulting firm. That starter job morphed into a nearly 10 year career in corporate learning and development (and a master's degree in Organizational Behavior with a focus on Leadership Studies) that I never expected. It was a wonderful, enriching, challenging period of growth for me.

But, as they often do, things came full circle. My passion for design came back with a vengeance (or perhaps never really went away at all), and no amount of side projects or DIYing in my spare time or helping friends pick paint colors via text messages was going to scratch that itch. 

So I'm giving it a shot.

And not just an "Eh, I'll see where this goes" kind of shot. A real shot. I quit my job, rebalanced my life and I'm ready to start this new chapter.

Call me, maybe?