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#043: design strategies + incorporating luxury home decor on a budget [with kate lester]

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In this episode, Cara is chatting with luxury designer, Kate Lester, who has designed for clients who are professional athletes, entertainment industry insiders, and the Hollywood elite. Kate is the queen of live-able luxury and offers tips for telling your story in your space vs chasing trends, incorporating luxury home decor on a budget, and some amazing design strategies for creating your space thoughtfully.

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#obsessed

what i'm loving this week

gold s hooks

I love these hooks for storing denim and hanging it on the closet rod or my dowel + gold hook setup I created for my closet — see the first phase of my closet makeover right here. I love how these hooks uplevel my jean storage and give my closet a boutique feel.

They are amazingly functional and also a gorgeous design element for the space.

paint color: toasty grey by behr

This paint color is a gorgeous warm grey which goes beautifully with gold and natural wood tones. When chatting on a live panel with Better Homes & Gardens DO IT YOURSELF magazine editor, Brian Kramer shared that a trend for 2021 is warm grays that almost look like beige. This is totally my pick for rocking that trend.

trend talk

covering home & decor trends to try

pampas grass

A trending foliage right now is pampas grass — loved for its fluffy texture and ability to bring the outdoors inside in a neutral way. It's a great way to pep up a drab corner of your space or add immense texture and interest to a shelf or coffee table.

My tips for rocking pampas grass are to:

01. fluff it with a blow dryer

If your pampas grass needs to look more fluffy, you can fluff it up a bit with a hairdryer. I recommend doing this on a low setting and outside — or at least out your back door to minimuze the fluffy floaters in your space, since it may shed a little bit.

02. set it with hairspray

To help keep the pampas grass fluffy, you can set it with some hairspray to help it hold its shape. Just make sure to spray lightly with a hairspray that doesn't have any sort of gloss or shine booster in it — you're going for a matte look.

want to grab some for your space? don't go cut it from around a local pond — that's sketch. Snag it here

@by_two_fieldsDitch Grass vs our Premium Pampas Grass! www.bytwofields.com ##boho ##bohochic ##pampas ##pampasgrass ##pampasgrassdecor ##diy

♬ how would they know bad girls club - Chris Gleason


let's talk about it!

What do you think!?

Leave a comment below or use #MakeSpacePodcast to share your response on social media (@makespacepod)

Kate Lester is a Los Angeles based designer who has been practicing luxury residential and commercial interior design for over 15 years. Clientele include professional athletes, entertainment industry insiders, and the Hollywood elite. Drawing inspiration from classic architecture, design greats, and her own clients’ passions, she aims to create spaces that are carefully crafted, thoughtfully curated, and the embodiment of livable luxury. With a diversely talented design team in her studio, and now a home store in Hermosa Beach, – Kate is spreading her vision of livable luxury and carefully curated interiors with the masses.v KLI Projects have been featured in the following publications like House Beautiful, House & Home, HGTV, Martha Stewart, Lonny and more.

get in touch

Instagram: @klinteriors //  website: katelesterinteriors.com

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EP 43 TRANSCRIPT

...just in case you wanna read

Cara Newhart: You're listening to the MakeSpace podcast episode number 43.

intro. / outro.:   Just wanting to go back home,

just go

mama, way back. Welcome to make space. A home design show made to inspire you to create spaces you truly feel at home in. Kara new heart sits down with amazingly brilliant guests for conversations that dive deeper than pin worthy rooms, to tease out the essentials of creating spaces that feeds your soul and inspire your creativity from home design strategies to decor advice to interior design tips and tricks.

These conversations help you dream up. A beautifully lived in home. Cara is the designer and chief creative enthusiasts behind never skipped brunch. Her work has been. Featured in print publications, [00:01:00] like people style watch and Denver style magazine. As an influencer. Cara has collaborated with brands like Amazon, H & M Twitter and Thrillist.

Here's your host, Cara Newhart.

Cara Newhart: this week, I'm obsessed with two things from my recent closet. Make-over so I did phase one, which basically was decluttering and installing [00:02:00] some prebuilt like modular units that can stack up. So this is not my longterm plan, which is to go full out with crazy really expensive looking built-ins.

But for now it added so much organization in my closet. Literally, it's like a totally different space. It's so organized. But the two things I'm most obsessed with in here, and it was stuff that you guys also were really obsessed with on Instagram, if you caught the reveal, but number one is these gold S hooks.

So it's just an S shaped hook. It's like modern, like nice and flat sort of like Bowl. And they say noodle instead of like a spaghetti noodle that's round, if

that

makes sense. But I'm using these to hang up my jeans. So I just fold them in half, loop this through the back two belt loops and then hang it on the closet rod.

Or I actually set up like a dowel rod situation and it looks like a boutique it's very boujee looking and fancy. And it's like a cute decor element. In [00:03:00] addition to being like organization, I like my closet to feel kind of like a boutique kind of like an experience. And they're not that expensive.

They're really cheap. I got them off Amazon, so I will link them, but I just love the look and I love how organized my denim is and their gold. So, you know, we love that around here. And then number two is a paint color. So this is something that we had this little live chat with. The people that host furniture flip challenge, the builders challenge, and it was Jesse and I, some other amazing makers.

And then the editor of better homes and gardens do it yourself magazine, Brian, who is amazing. But we were asking him like, what kind of trends he sees happening this next year? And one of the ones he said was this like beigey gray. He was like, it's like gray, but it's like really looks like beige, but they're calling it gray.

Basically greige, I think is the trend, but basically a very warm gray versus like a blue tinted gray. So that's [00:04:00] what I went for in my closet, because I think it looks so good, like as a balance with gold and it really ties into natural textures like wood or caning or like basket textures. So the color I used is toasty gray by bear.

And it's so beautiful. If you're looking for a good gray and you don't want that like gray from a few years ago, that was a very blue and very cold. That has had a moment. I think we're kind of getting over it. This is more of a warmer. Yeah, warm gray. So that's what I'm using. It's called toasty gray.

So it sounds so warm, but yeah, I will link that in the description as well, because I think it's really pretty, and I'm always down to recommend new paint colors for you to try, because that's the easiest way to change it up in your space. So that is what I'm obsessed with for this week for my little closet makeover.

Time to talk trends.

Cara Newhart: So the trend that I'm highlighting this week is pampas grass.

So this [00:05:00] is a really good way to bring the outdoors in, in a way that's excessively neutral, very clean and cream and white looking. So pampas grass is that fluffy. It's like a giant pipe, cleaner style STEM, and you may have seen some hilarious tik toks as I have where people are running around trying to.

Cut it up of different bushes around lakes. I would not recommend that because it can be kind of gross. You don't know where it's been, but I wanted to offer up two tips for rocking pampas grass in your space. If you like the neutral look, you'd like the added texture. So number one is you can actually fluff it with a blow dryer.

So I would recommend taking it outside to do this, or at the very least blowing it out of your back porch or patio doors so that it's not in your house. Cause it can cause a lot of floating fuzzies. But blow drying. It can actually help to fluff up your pampas grass, do this on the low setting and just kind of [00:06:00] gently it'll help fluff it.

And then tip number two to keep it from shedding or collecting too much dust. And to keep that fluffy shape, you can actually spray it. With some hairspray. So I would recommend finding hairspray that doesn't have like an added shine element. You want more of the matte look so that it's going to feel natural.

And then I will link in the description, the place I would get my pampas grass. I don't use this a ton in my house, but if I do use it, this is where it's from. Honestly I've mostly been getting a similar look from putting my dead Palm leaf branches in a vase. It sounds ridiculous, but yes, I've killed off all these little Palm plants that were on my patio.

They didn't get the love they deserved or the sunlight. Apparently I'm struggling to keep them alive. They're supposed to be easy, but. Putting those in a vase, everyone has been commenting. Like where did you get those plants? Where can I find them? Like, I don't know. I just killed them, but they really [00:07:00] do look so good because they dried out nice and they turned Brown and now they look like a fron , like a Palm frond.

And they have so much texture. It is the perfect neutral shade to coordinate with my grass cloth in my living room shelves. So that's what I've been using more than pampas grass, but it's definitely a trend I'm seeing a lot of people get into and. Thinking that they should just go cut them out in the wild from parks and such around ponds.

I wanted to give you the more sophisticated way to rock this trend, which is to find an amazing dealer and use those two tips for stylings. So I will link it in the show notes so you can figure out how to rock that trend in your space.

Today, I'm sitting down with interior designer, Kate Lester for an amazing conversation filled with design advice, including tips for how to bring some everyday luxury into your space. Some of Kate's past clients have included professional athletes, entertainment industry insiders, and the Hollywood [00:08:00] elite - one scroll through Kate's Instagram.

And you will fall in love with her style just as I have. It's so comfy, but so luxurious, Kate has been featured in places like house beautiful house and home, Martha Stewart, Lonny, cottages, and bungalows, HGTV, hunker, and more. Let's dive in to this amazing conversation with Kate.

Hey, Kate, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I'm so excited to have you,

Kate Lester: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited too

Cara Newhart: my gosh. Of course. So as we dive in, I just want to give our listeners kind of just a glimpse of your story, kind of how you got into design and maybe like who you help every day and how you help them.

Kate Lester: Sure. So I did not actually grow up with the intent of wanting to be a designer. I wasn't one of those ladies who was, you know, rearranging my room every day. And that sort of thing that you often hear when people are creatives. I actually wanted to be a very [00:09:00] important business woman. So I wanted to have a briefcase and a cellular phone, you know, back in the eighties, that was a very big deal.

And I wanted to do great things and work with important men and be like in an office at the top of the building, I wasn't sure what sort of business each business I was going to be doing, but I wanted to be very businessy. So I did not want to be creative. I wanted to make. Lots of money and, and be important.

So that led me into actually a foray into business school. And I did go to business school at USC. Once I got into corporate America, I realized that. It was such a different vibe than what I had always envisioned. You know, I didn't work in New York. I wasn't, I wasn't like those girls. I agree about.

And Cosmo where I leave my cute apartment and go to a high rise and then go to happy hour. It just was totally different. Right. There was still much structure there. Wasn't a lot of thinking outside the box back then, right. When you were working in corporate [00:10:00] America in, in a financial capacity you have to fit inside a box and it just wasn't for me, I didn't.

I didn't envision myself staying there for the long run. So that's when I decided to get into interior design, I knew I was always creative and I just never thought I could make any money doing it. And at that point I thought, you know what? I really just want to be happy in my career and I will figure out a way to make money doing it.

I'm pretty business savvy. So I'm just going to make the leap. That is how I got into design. I decided one day that I was going to give my resignation and I was going to go back to school and bartend at night

Cara Newhart: Yeah.

Kate Lester: I did it, it was a crazy leap, but that's, that's sort of how I got started.

Cara Newhart: So, so cool. I see so many parallels in my story cause I was in oil and gas finance which is so specific, but yeah ,  so I feel like you, you go to design school, you go to work for someone and kind of like, you know, absorb like everything they have to offer day to [00:11:00] day. And then at some point, do you kind of like you have to step out and kind of find your own like design style and your own like voice as a designer.

Can you speak to like what that process, I guess looks like.

Kate Lester: do. And by the way, I feel like some people. Sort of know that all along, like maybe if they embrace their creative creativity, they've known what their style and vibe is far before I did, but because I have kind of stifled my creativity in order to sort of get into the business world and focus on, you know, what I thought I wanted to do.

It took me a little longer to sort of find my own, I call it my own voice. Right. And that voice translates into my social media. My style for clothes, my style for design, it took me a little longer to, you know, I always thought that as a designer, I needed to be like the designers that I looked up to and most of them were a little bit more traditional.

They were a little bit more formal. And so. You know, even the designer I worked for, he was a man. He was a gay man. And so his, you know, his, [00:12:00] his style was different than my style. And, I think it's great to learn from him, someone else, because you're, you're making your mistakes on their dime, which is, you know, part of the process.

It's the circle of, of business and design it's girls that work for me that are making mistakes on my dime and that's okay. That's okay. That's part of the circle of life, but I think, you know, embracing your style and your quirks and what makes you unique as, you know, whoever you are, even as a, as a designer or just as a person is really when I think everything starts to, to come together and everything becomes easier and maybe even more fun if you feel like you're not trying to fit.

You're not trying to emulate someone else. You're you're you. So that's when I think it took me a couple of years on my own. I would say it took me about three years on my own before I really started to say like, okay, you know, and you get more confident as you go so that you are more willing to throw out those unique ideas or things that are more true to your style.

So it takes time. I don't want people to [00:13:00] think that happens right away.

Cara Newhart: No. Sure. So I feel like you're doing that more in like the formal design setting where you're really trying to establish your voice. Do you have any like tips or parallels for like the everyday girl? Who's trying to do that in her own home kind of sifting through like all the noise of trends or like what color we're using this year, to find that?

Kate Lester: Now, we're just talking about this at our office, because I think that my team and I, we have such an appreciation for all things. Great design. Right. And that's good, but it's also bad because sometimes I'll see a super traditional chair, like an old queen Anne or something. I'll be like, Oh my God, I love that. And then I'll want to buy it and put it in my house. But really that's not my house vibe. So that's, I love it, but it's not what I'm doing. It's not my story. That's happening in my current home. Right. So I think for a long time, I tried to like work everything in that I liked and the truth is you're going to like things.

That you don't need to buy and incorporate into your home. So set a [00:14:00] story for your home. Set up a vibe. We sometimes we name our projects, right? Like this is project a little bit Spanish, a little bit California. So we're going to call it span-i-forn-ia. And when you're shopping where you're designing or you're pulling things on the internet, Then look at that.

Look at those concept boards, look at those Pinterest boards and say, does this fit my story? If you'd be a great chair, but if it doesn't fit your story, it helps you edit so much faster and weed through those trends and weed through everything that's out there and really start to narrow down. What makes it more you

Cara Newhart: . that's really Beautiful. I love the idea of calling it a story. And so we have like this core design story we're tying, we're tying everything back to. How deep does that go? Like, is it just kind of a story about like aesthetics and looks or are you infusing like your personality and some of your, like your personal story into that story to make it like, I dunno more comprehensive, I

Kate Lester: it can be really whatever you want. Right. So when we, we start with like [00:15:00] attack board in our office, we have like an old school cork board, right. A huge one. And when we start doing some brainstorming or we call it design development for a project, we start just tacking things up. So sometimes I'll come in.

And it'll be a fabric and it'll be one piece of Eric and maybe it's a pattern and I tack it up and I was like, and I'll be like, this is the vibes for the house that my team will be like super. So, you know, like maybe it's a flower, maybe it's a color palette you've seen in, in a fashion magazine. Right.

But you're like, I don't know why, but I love this. And this is the feel or the vibe, or maybe it's a piece of art. And I think that's, you just have to start somewhere and then you can sort of grow from there, but by no means, does it have to be, I mean, sometimes it's a picture of a restaurant or, you know, I'll say, Oh, I stayed at this hotel and the feel of the room was really great and I don't know what it was, but here's a picture of it.

And then we sort of dissect it. Like, what did I love? Did I love that it was a little mid-century modern, [00:16:00] but it had traditional wallpaper, like what did, and you sort of work backwards on why you're attracted. To those special inspiration items, and that will help you sort of grow the concept, I think,

Cara Newhart: I love that so much because one of the like, themes that keeps emerging on the show is this like beginner, I think designer mistake where you're like designing in a void, like you're at home goods and you're just kind of collecting all the things you love. And there's no like common thread or theme or story.

So yeah, that starting place is so key.

Kate Lester: It's really important too, create link. And this is so easy now that everyone has a computer and Microsoft word, or, I mean, if you know Photoshop, you can do it. But what I tell people is if you're just starting out in, let's say you're doing your apartment, right. And you're on a super tight budget.

We've all been there by no means do and I just, because I'm a fancy designer by no means, did I not have like $500 to do my college apartment? Right.

So. W, what I want you to do at home is start out with your concept. [00:17:00] Okay. And then put all of the pieces that you're interested in on a concept board and get, take that board with you when you're shopping.

And when you're at home goods and you're ready to do those stupid impulse purchases. Take that board out and be like, is this going to vibe with my vibe? And if not put it down, like, I can't tell you how much money I've wasted at target and home goods and Ikea just on those little impulse purchases, like, Oh, that's a cute cushion, but it doesn't even go with anything in your house, you know?

So I think that will help a lot of, you know, that. Spending, and then it'll allow you to save up for those really special items that maybe you thought were out of your budget. You'd be surprised how few reign in those impulse purchases, how saving for those more special items is easier.

Cara Newhart: Yes. Oh my gosh. That's so beautifully put when you say it, it sounds so obvious, but that's definitely something I struggled with. Like we bought our first  house  - so hard.

Kate Lester: You go into home kids and you're like, Oh my God, I totally need this dog bowl. What am I going to do? If I don't buy this dog? [00:18:00] Like I get it. It's something in the air there, but I try to say, yeah, they try to say, you know, stick with your list and stick with your concept word. And then there are great finds there.

You know, I've found some really great things that work with my vibe and try to stay true to that and not get excited and put everything in your cart.

Cara Newhart: I love that. So, so much. So we talked a little bit about finding like some examples of inspo pieces, like the flower or the photo. What are some of your favorite places that you draw inspiration from? Is it kind of like all over the place or do you have like, kind of go-to things that really deeply inspired you?

Kate Lester: You know, of course let's be really honest. And Frank here, Pinterest is the bomb. It's amazing. Right. So I will say that if you're on, you know, those first few hundred pages of Pinterest, it's the same stuff over and over and over. Right. So if your vibes are different, that's okay. You're going to have to do a deep dive.

So what we like to say is find that, you know, chair that you [00:19:00] love or find that whatever it is, maybe it's, you know, maybe you're really into mid century. Right. And you figure out the name of a chair that you like deep dive into that. And then that will take you to other really interesting rooms and you'll get away from the.

The sort of, you know, stuff you're seeing everywhere. So Pinterest is good. If you're willing to sit down and do a deep dive, I like to do old school books, like, you know, books, real hard books.

You know, find a designer or topic that you're interested. If you want to farmhouse, then, you know, do some searching on Amazon order.

Some, you know, farmhouse, design books. You can get great inspiration from those pages that, you know, a lot of that stuff is not on Pinterest. So you're not going to be seeing that everywhere. I did a lot of inspiration from fashion magazines. What are the color palettes that are happening? How are the clothes structured?

Is everything floral and soft or is everything sharp edges? And how do I feel about that? And is that going to translate into if I pick more curved items or, you know, I think you will just [00:20:00] sort of start to develop your style when you're pulling things, because people don't realize that they have their own pattern that emerges.

And when our clients do a Pinterest board for us, they'll say, well, don't, I need to tell you what I like in each picture. And I say, no, cause I can tell it's the repeating throughout what you're picking. So I think that happens with regular people too. Right? So start picking, make a pile, tear things out, tack things up, and you'll start to see a pattern and then you can kind of narrow it down from there.

Cara Newhart: Right.  I feel like part of your job as a designer is obviously like, did these beautiful spaces, but there's another level of like, Really kind of like helping your clients figure out who they are. Style-wise and that's something, I feel like that when you can do that artfully, like that's, when you get the coolest spaces, what does that process look like?

You kind of mentioned the Pinterest board, but is that where you start or there's a consultation? Like what does that look like?

Kate Lester: Well, we, most of our projects are really [00:21:00] large scale, right? So we're starting with these people when maybe they're buying a dirt lot and we're having to design their home from the ground up. Right. And then we're not only designing the interiors, but we're designing all the finishes fixtures, and then all the furnishings.

So. The first thing we like to do is save them from themselves. Right. Because if we're giving them everything they're asking for like, what the hell do they need us for? Right. So the first thing we do is we, we through these, these Pinterest boards and we ask them to, you know, pull some images, maybe 10, 20 images.

That's really all we need. we start to see a pattern of what they like. And, and from there we say, how can we take this and make it cool? Because most of the time it's not that cool. Right. So how do we take this and push their boundaries? How can we take their. Level two coolness and make it a level 10.

Right. If we see that they're really into brass, how do we reign that in and say, okay, well, this house has to have longevity. And what if bras isn't trending in six [00:22:00] years? Right. how do we incorporate those things that we see that they're gravitating toward? In a way that will live with them for a long time.

So a lot of times it's really just pushing their boundaries and saying, you know, I see that you you've posted a couple of pieces of contemporary art. These are boring, but how

about these five? Right. So our job is to take them right to the edge of where they would say, I never would've picked that, but I actually love that.

And that's, that's what you want to try to do to yourself if you're at home. Right. You know, I do, I love this. I know everyone has this chair, but I found this chair and it's kind of weird, but it's kind of great and I love it. So, you know, how can you get outside that, that box of trends and, and really do something unique.

Cara Newhart: Yeah, I think that's so cool because people are obviously drawn to your work and your style because they feel like part of themselves in it, or they see that as something they want, but then kind of meshing that with their own personal [00:23:00] taste. I feel like it's such an art that yeah, you're doing really well based on

Kate Lester: well, yeah, people are afraid. I think, I think people are afraid to infuse their personality because what they're seeing on the internet, right.

You know, I think it's okay to emulate what you see on the internet, but I think it's much more interesting to make a space your own, and maybe you don't have to do a pattern.

So felt like go with your tan sofa, if that makes you comfortable and it fits your budget. Right. But maybe some really interesting art or some wall covering or, I think that people, so to me, it's so much more pleasing to see a space that maybe I wouldn't. Do, but it's very interesting than it is for me to flip through a magazine and just see the same thing over and over.

So I guarantee, you know, you're going to evoke a response from people and if it makes you happy, then it really doesn't matter. You know, it should really showcase who you are and the house should be a story [00:24:00] of the people who live there, not a story of what you saw on Pinterest.

Cara Newhart: Oh my gosh, for sure. And that's a lesson you learn pretty quick when you start putting your house on the internet for everyone to weigh in on. So yeah, totally

Kate Lester: Yes. Everybody wants to give you their 2 cents and that's okay. Because what I, I will say I am unique in the sense that I have a thick skin. Like sometimes, literally cause the COVID right. But I have a thick skin in the sense that when you are opening your home or your, or your designs or what's, you know what you've created for 50,000 or 60,000 people to judge.

Cause that's what people do on the internet. You learn really quickly that, you know, eight for me a comment, whether it's positive, negative, whatever it is, engaging, it's engagement. Right? And so I've caught someone's attention on thousands of scrolls that they're doing a day. And to me, we did something, right.

I would much rather someone leave a room that we designed and say, Oh my God, that room was crazy. Or I don't like that. Right. If they paint the walls [00:25:00] blue or whatever it is, because now they're talking about my space and they left hundreds of other rooms that they didn't talk about because they were so boring.

Cara Newhart: Right. Oh my gosh. That's so true. And then on the other side, it's like, you inspired them by showing something that they clearly don't like, like now they have refined what they do. Like even more, like, it's definitely not a blue ceiling, so

like you've helped them. Right. You're so welcome .

Kate Lester: You're so welcome. So we think you have to, you know, if you're, if you're, you know, working on your own space or whatever, it is just sort of own it and have your confidence and say, you know, this, this is what I feel. And, and. This is what is, you know, maybe it's maybe you enlarge a picture that your child's drew and it, and it's important to you.

And it's meaningful when much, other than like a home goods canvas. Right. So make it your own and make it interesting. And, and that will never let you down. I think

Cara Newhart: Oh, I love that. So a topic I want to dive into, cause I'm we talk about it a lot on the show in terms of like, your house is never [00:26:00] done, like, don't be afraid to try things. You can always undo it. Like the house you have now is based on the phase of life you're in now. And you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like design used to be like, you decorate your house, you leave it for 10 years and then you redo it. Are you seeing more like. Style evolving quicker. Like we're not redoing whole spaces all the time, but we're like swapping things in and out more consistently, like in projects that are quote unquote done.

Kate Lester: I think it kind of depends on your level of, okay. So there's a couple of things, you know, I grew up in a house where my, both my parents worked. Right. And so yes, they, my mom designed our house once and I swear to God, the tablecloth did not change until. I left to get married. So like, and then she sold the house or whatever.

Right? So, so like, yes, I think it depends maybe how busy you are. Right. We have some clients that say like, I want to do this and I want to do this one time and I don't want to touch anything. I just want it to be done. They want to like check it off their list. And [00:27:00] then we have the clients where that women are like, Oh, I love, I love design.

And I want to be involved. And most of the time, those ladies may not hire a designer because they want to do it themselves. Right. So if you do like swapping things out then I would say invest in your big pieces. And if you do want to swap things and move things around and you have the time and energy and budget to do that, then.

Yes, pillows, rugs. Those kinds of things are great, but I think it's much more, more smart or smarter, much more interesting to really plan, make a plan and invest in the pieces in your plan every couple of years. So your place just gets better. It doesn't keep changing. You're just saying, you know, you're evolving, but you're investing in these really great pieces instead of buying a hundred throw pillows at home goods.

right.

So, so I think for me, it's saying, okay, you know, I'm gonna use this coffee table for my Kia until I can afford this great vintage one that I've had my eye on forever. And then [00:28:00] investing in that and sort of growing your art collection or your accessories or whatever it is, or investing in beautiful drapery or shades.

So I think it's, for me, it's about finding maybe the special pieces instead of more pieces. And I think that may be an American thing where we're like more, is more, more pillows, more, you know, I want to redo it. I want to redo it instead of are these special. Does this mean something to me? Does this evoke a response in me?

Is this something no one on my block has. Right. How can you make it unique to you? So I would say if you can. Yeah, I think things are always more evolving now than they were when, you know, when we were kids. But if you can try not to over evolve and, and really invest in those great pieces that speak to you.

Cara Newhart: I really liked that instead of like, we're hopping around with all the trends, changing things up, it's more of like an upleveling and a real like evolution, like getting better, getting more [00:29:00] sophisticated, getting more like true to us.

Kate Lester: Your home should grow with you. Right? So as you become more sophisticated and more interesting and more well-traveled and more knowledgeable, then, so should your pieces. I think so. I think if you're, if you're investing as you grow, then your home will actually ultimately reflect that without you maybe even noticing, right.

Cara Newhart: Absolutely. Yeah, that's really good. Really, really good. So I feel like me, like a lot of DIY designers, obviously aren't hiring a designer, but I feel like you see a lot of DIY designer mistakes firsthand in the sense that clients are coming to you. Like, we want to do this and you like stop them from doing the thing that they shouldn't do.

So do you have any advice for like DIY design and. Like maybe some mistakes to avoid that you hear clients telling you, like, we want to do this. And you're like, nah,

Kate Lester: Yeah. So there's a couple of things that, you know, well, first let's start and say that by the time something gets to Pinterest. [00:30:00] Okay. This is something that we talk about a lot in our office. You have to work backwards. Right? So that means that, you know, if you're on Pinterest and you're getting your inspiration from there, that means that, you know, about two years ago, a designer put that concept together.

Right. Then they implemented it, the builder built it. Then they photographed it. Then it was published, then it got to Pinterest. Right? So a lot of times that's a two year delay on a trend. So. I think you want to be a little bit careful when you are looking at what's in magazines, because those are things that we've done already.

Right. So how can you take that trend and sort of elevate that. And, and then sometimes I think people rely on these trends and then by the time they implement them in their own home, they're already switching and they're frustrated.

So, you know, I think it's about if you're, if you're. Staying more true. Again, staying more true to what you like and finding an elevated version of that. You'll you'll give yourself more longevity, right? A few [00:31:00] things that I will say that people do and they always do incorrectly is people think that smaller furniture makes your house look bigger.

This is wrong. Okay. Smaller furniture makes it look like you bought smaller furniture because you didn't measure just so you know, invest in pieces that fill your space. Okay. What are you going to do with those odd corners? The best example is a bedroom, a headboard wall. People buy those little tiny nightstands and then they're left with what, like two feet on each side of the nightstand.

And what goes there, like nothing, right. A pile of socks or who knows? So. Yes. So put a writing desk on one side, put three drawer chest on the other side, maximize your space, go with a large bed and go with a nice size headboard, get some lamps. And you would be surprised that when you expand and you actually utilize all the space that you're given the room feels bigger.

And if I had a dollar for every time, a client said to [00:32:00] me, I didn't believe you, but you're totally right. When it comes to bigger items actually make the space feel bigger. Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't measure. I means you should measure, but maximize your space by a properly sized rug, all of your furniture legs should sit on your rug.

If you cannot afford the size rug that you want, then buy a larger size rug and layer a cool rug on top of it. Right. But get those furniture legs on a rug and it will actually. It will create a better seating area. It'll make the space feel larger, softer it'll add texture. So those are some mistakes we see.

You know, painting an accent wall. Like if you love the color, go for it, paint a whole room. It's just paint. So I say, try to steer away from accent walls. Like go bigger, go home. If you're not sure then paint the trim, paint the window trim and the baseboards and the doors instead. And then you have a pop of that color, but you've committed and you're not just like randomly painting one wall.

So those are some of [00:33:00] my, my tried and true favorites that I walk in. And I'm like you know, don't match all your metals, like mix your metals a little bit, have some fun with that. And you know, I think that things like that, taking those smaller risks, those were super inexpensive changes that can make a really dramatic difference.

Cara Newhart: So having designed, like how did, how did your training in a more traditional style of design and then kind of stepping out and having your own  voice? That's a little. Less traditional. Is there anything in like traditional design, like old school advice that you're just like, no, not this anymore.

It doesn't work.

wouldn't recommend.

Kate Lester: Yeah. Traditional design is really, you know, it's rooted in, like, I think it's rooted in a lot of different, different ways, but I think in the South, you know, they're still really doing that trick. A lot of designers are still doing that traditional design, which is like the drinks to the pillows, which matches the trim on whatever.

You know, and then there's tassels and there's like all kinds of things and everything feels decorated. And I say that in a, like, [00:34:00] that's not a bad word, but it's you walk in? And you're like, Oh, definitely there was a decorator here. Right. So I think for me, because of my lifestyle, because of the way I grew up, I grew up in like a beach community and.

And much more casual. I don't have a formal lifestyle. I didn't grow up that way. So for me, when I translate a really well-designed space, it's like livable luxury. It's not formal and matchy and stiff. It's it's for me, it's about. People walking into the space and being like, I don't know why, but this is rad.

And I don't, I'm not sure if it's the pillows or the rug or what, but I like it. And maybe it feels more collected and curated and it doesn't feel decorated. So that's how I, how I've learned that I separate myself is, you know, like let's stop decorating and the start curating and really. You know, making a space your own and, and I think that's what makes it interesting.

And that's what makes it hip and [00:35:00] fresh and it's okay to use all the rooms in your house. So please do it because we're all struggling to like, just pair mortgages and live where we want. And so, you know, just use the rooms, like, please don't create a room that, you know, no one's going to use. So. Our design philosophy is, is making each room special.

And how do we do that? And you can now, like outdoor fabrics are super soft, so you can put them inside and then you can have a light sofa, even if you hit have kids with avocado face, you know, things are evolving. And I think that that livable luxury hopefully is, is, you know, trending and that people will see that you can have beautiful things and live in your space at the same time.

Cara Newhart: I feel like that's something a lot of people forget is that all these like design methodologies and design trends, like had origin in like an actual lifestyle and an actual way of living. And so like, you have to embrace that before you can take on, like, how did you know how to design and follow like, .

A method like a traditional [00:36:00] decorating method or whatever it is, but I feel like, yeah. Spot on. Like a lot of people are totally feeling that like livable illness is way more important than like aesthetics. So we're definitely moving that way. And that's like so exciting. Cause it's so much more

Kate Lester: Like I'll skip the embroidery with my initials. Right. Cause I already know my name is, but I invest that money in a better quality sheet set. Right. So I think it's about, you know, maybe I don't have a thousand photographs of my family and post formal pictures, but I have one or two that are really special to me throughout the house.

Right. So it's really, you know, I think before people were decorating for other people and now people are evacuating for themselves. And I hope, I hope that it continues to be that way. Like I use my plates every day. We don't have special plates because if anybody deserves the freaking good plates, it's me.

Okay.

Cara Newhart: Right. Every day its me, i earned it

Kate Lester: , Yeah. Hello. So, you [00:37:00] know, in my guest room, it doesn't have the best bedding. My bed has the best bedding because I sit there every day. So I think a lot of things were about impressing other people. And, you know, if you give zero ass and you're like, look, if you want to come to my house, like, it's awesome, but your honor, it's not a four season.

So relax. You know, I think people. We'll get that and invest in products that will make their life better. They work hard, you work hard. So, you know, cut yourself some Slack and, and invest in things that you're going to be able to use every day.

Cara Newhart: Yeah, I'm so on board. That's so perfect. I think when people are like finding inspo on Pinterest or really just being sold to by brands, the term luxury comes up a lot and it's usually in this, like, I don't know, like salesy way, you know, like brands to, to consumers, very like luxury. Like they over-hype everything.

But as an actual luxury designer, working with like Hollywood elites and working with people in the luxury space, what what does that really, really look like? What does it really mean? And what are maybe some like trends you're seeing [00:38:00] in the space?

Kate Lester: That's a good question, because isn't it funny how now? . On Instagram, everything is luxury. There's like a luxury razor. There's like a luxury, like, I'm like, I'm sorry. There's a luxury raiser. Like I can't just get my reasoners at CVS. Okay. So I agree with you. It's oversold and I am the master of high, low, like, I will literally wear $600 Moochie sneakers with like $20 jeans.

I got a target.

Right. So my tip to anyone who wants luxury is. Like know what you're investing in. Right. I wear sneakers every day. So it's more important to me that those are comfortable and those are going to last. And I changed my style of jeans, like every six months, right. With the trends. So sometimes I'll buy fancy ones, but sometimes I'll fill in with target.

And I think you should utilize that same sort of concept. When you're talking about your home. I will tell you that even people were spending $500,000, a million dollars on furniture. They're never putting super nice stuff in their kids' rooms. They're always saying, [00:39:00] you know, let's go to crate and barrel.

Let's go down. Like, what can we find on sale? What can we find? Can I put this chair from Amazon in my kid's room? Like they're saying to us, you know, I want you to use 80% of my budget on the main spaces in my bedroom and use 20% of my budget on my kids' space because they're our kids. So. Don't beat yourself up for saying, I really wish my kids' room look like that.

Like what you may see in a magazine, because you don't know where that came from. Right. You don't know that I didn't buy a play table from target and just style it with some really cool art that I had. Right. So I think, you know, luxury means utilizing your budget wisely and saying, okay, I'm going to invest in these really comfortable sofas, you know, upholstery pieces, rugs, and art, or you know, light fixtures.

A lot of times when we're building new, those are the areas we spend money on the things that are going to last, you, your plumbing, your, you know, anything that's attached to your house. Right? So. I think it's about investing [00:40:00] in pieces that will give you longevity. That's what luxury is, it's saying, okay, I'm an adult.

Now I've gotten to the point where I can sort of wrangle my children a little bit. I'm going to invest in a nice sofa. That is good bones that I could reapply holster every 10 years, if I need it to. Right. That's luxury like sitting down in a sofa you sink into and you're like, Oh, this is amazing. Or a great set of sheets or bedding.

You know, it was years we were married before I, you know, Convinced my husband, like we're going to spend $800 on bedding, a thousand dollars on bedding, whatever it is no way. And then we put it on and he crawled into bed. He's like, does the best money spent, you know? And now like, you know, so I think it's about what do you, what, when you go to a really nice hotel and you not bad, do you want that feeling every night after a really long day?

So what are those little moments of luxury? Is it. Is it a mug that you really want it and you've been coveting. And you know, so when you [00:41:00] have your coffee in the morning, you feel super fabulous and worthy, you know, whatever it is. Is that your dinner aware? It's, it's saying to yourself, I'm going to investing these pieces.

And I think for me, that's what luxury is. It's being patient and investing in pieces that. Instead of buying 10 sets of silverware from target and they're they're crap. So you have to replace them every five years, then save up for those Heath ceramics, you know, gorgeous, silver aware, and by little bit at a time, and then you have it forever.

So to me, that is luxury is saying, you know, I'm going to invest in these pieces that will bring me little bits of joy in this crazy world and crazy time. You know, every time you open that sunglasses case that you splurged on, aren't you excited? So I think it's something that you can do at home. It doesn't have to be every single piece, but you know, adding a little bit of luxury is really what's important to you.

What brings you joy?

Cara Newhart: I think thats really [00:42:00] beautiful Advice for not only like sifting through the noise, but also. Yeah. Kind of like, I don't know, like personal sustainability and having that patience and all this stuff that isn't flashy. It's not like the fun trend or the shiny new thing that you just got, but it's like over, over your lifetime, it's going to make you happier.

And it's going to be more reliable and more satisfying versus like chasing trends. Cause you're never going to be there. Like, like we said, you'll be two years late at minimum. So.

Kate Lester: right. Well, and I think, you know, I don't want people to think, like I was never that person. I was that person when I was in college, like buying from forever 21 and having like 34 tank tops, like you don't know. And as I got older and my sister works in the fashion industry and she was sort of saying to me, like, please spend on a few really quality pieces and then you can mix and match them with these.

And, you know, scarves belts and things that you want to mix in. And I sort of took that advice and translated it into my entire life. And, you know, every time I go to buy [00:43:00] something, I say, am I just filling this cart? Because like, am I just grabbing this pillow at, you know, home goods? Because I want to today, like, doing need that.

Cara Newhart: Hmm.

Kate Lester: and, you know, it's almost like the Marie Kondo thing, like, is this going to bring me joy or am I literally just spending $30 and how much, every time you spend $30, does that add up? So, you know, so we think that, that it's just maybe being more conscious about your purchases and your investments and really considering them investments.

Cara Newhart: That's definitely something I had to learn as well, and I'm still learning. So this is a really good encouragement that I'm on the right

path.

Kate Lester: lifelong learning, I'm not going to say I don't do it, especially when it comes to like holiday decor and like, you know,

you know, right. I'm like, what did we just buy? Why do we get another skeleton? So it happens. But, but I think being more cognizant of it is, is a step, a step in the right direction.

Cara Newhart: Definitely. Yeah, definitely. I think that's really gonna resonate with listeners. Is there any like  just like to wrap us up just any advice or any like words of wisdom when it [00:44:00] comes to design or interiors that you maybe wish you knew, or you just really want to.

Kate Lester: Well, I think when you are designing, I think it's all about planning. You know, I was writing an article for Martha Stewart living this morning and we're, and I'm talking about. Planning. And if you're remodeling plan, if you're, you know, building a new home plan, essentially, that's what we do for people. So if you're decorating a bathroom or living room or whatever it is, you know, instead of getting excited and buying everything.

Sit down at your computer, print, some things out, talk them about a wall, see how they look together and really plan and be organized and, you know set goals. And, and, you know, I think that the more time you take to thoughtfully plan your space, then I think that really shows in the end result. So. As hard as it may be to be patient.

And, you know, everyone has more time at home, so yay. You can get on your computer and you can make a [00:45:00] concept board and you can print it out and make sure you like it in a week. And, you know, I think really sort of edit yourself, edit everything. And that's what we are. We're editors of people's homes. And so.

People can take more time and edit. I think that the, the end result will be interiors that are more thoughtfully created and curated. So, so aim for that. Yes.

Cara Newhart: Yeah. And along, along those lines, it's not just, what should I add, but what should I take away? Like when you said edit that really came to mind is like, we're not only just adding, what's missing. We're like taking away. What's not working and that's a step that's like so important. Like the, to do the full edit, not just addition.

Kate Lester: your cart, like, do you edit your cart before you go to the checkout? I do. I'm like, wait a minute. What do I really need here? Cause I am a little impulsive. I'm like, okay, fine. Fine, fine. Fine. You just edit everything and pared down and edit.  And I think that in a world [00:46:00] where more is more, you know, can we be the opposite kind of, we say more interesting.

It was more.

Cara Newhart: Yes, more thoughtful, more conscious. that so much.

intro. / outro.: On my way back home. .

 

p.s. This post may contain affiliate linking for your convenience. These links don’t cost extra for you to use + I always share my honest opinion.

I'm Cara, the designer & diy queen behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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