It’s easy to see that Kathryn Miller’s work is influenced by her home of Newport Beach, California. She infuses color and texture throughout her designs achieving that relaxed California vibe that so many long for all while encompassing the beauty of the coast. The University of Alabama grad first started at Charlotte Comer Interiors in Dallas, Texas, and then a few years later (and a move out west) branched out on her own starting Kathryn Miller Interiors. You’ll love her style and her ability to play up patterns without overwhelming a space. Kathryn talked with us on her inspiration, her many homes over the years and her current favorite trends.
Scout & Nimble: When did you realize that you wanted to be an interior designer? We saw that you were involved in the arts growing up, was there a moment or turning point it became clear?
Kathryn Miller: I have always loved art and the process of scale. When I went to college and selected my original major I asked myself like a lot of kids do: “what’s the easiest job I could get after I graduate that pays well?” So I went into Biology to become a Physicians Assistant. Pretty quickly I realized that Biology would not made me happy. My mom asked me to use my week off at Spring Break to make a list of things I was passionate about and the things that filled my list were art, color, people, scale, balance, and creative outlets. The following semester I switched to the FIDER accredited Interior Design program at the University of Alabama and once I hit that drafting table I knew it was love at first sight.
S&N: What inspires you and where do you seek inspiration?
KM: I find inspiration through the creative minds I follow on Instagram and Pinterest, as well as driving around my neighborhood and travel. I always prefer to stay at inspiring hotels when traveling because I feel like those boutique places have an edge and will take some extra risks. You can learn what worked and what did not work, which is just as important.
S&N: What would you consider to be your greatest success within your design business or a “pinch me” moment?
KM: Anytime I get the opportunity to work with a new client, or another opportunity to work with an existing client. I feel really honored that each one has welcomed me into their home.
S&N: There is so much innovation out there as far as design elements and materials. What gets you excited today?
KM: I’ve been given a blank slate exterior of a home. It’s the shell of the house and I get to do each elevation with material changes and finishes. So I’ve been knee deep in exterior inspirations; combining raw woods with painted woods, stone and brick. Mixing all of those materials as got me all goo-goo eyed these days.
S&N: You and your husband have kids. How have they changed your aesthetic or design for your own home? What design advice would you give to parents or parents to be?
KM: This is a reoccurring question as each client I’ve had has children. Nobody wants to live in a shabby house for 10 years; they want it to look like a magazine and to be kid friendly. Fabric is important. There are a lot of blended fabrics for upholstery today that aren’t 100 percent linen or cotton so they won’t stain as easily.
S&N: You have lived in Texas, Alabama and now California. How has that influenced your design aesthetic?
KM: I’ve taken a little piece from each place. It’s almost like traveling. Texas has made me appreciate the most beautiful Texas Limestone (which I’m trying to incorporate into that exterior I’m doing). Alabama gave me a love for porches and traditional exteriors. And California is where design all made sense to me. Living with comfortable textiles, bright walls, sunshine, and living inside and outside.
S&N: What is your favorite part of the design process besides, of course, the finished product and why?
KM: My favorite part of the design process, other than the install of course, is putting the design board together. It allows me to begin to see the space come to life in my mind.
S&N: What’s one tip from your wealth of knowledge or bag of designer tricks that you would be willing to share with someone beginning to decorate a space or someone who wants to tackle making over a room in their own home?
KM: Measure the space and make a floor plan first. Then think of how the furniture will fit and flow. So many people that hire me say that they keep buying things that don’t fit or work. And I think that’s because they don’t make a floor plan first so they’re just guessing when it comes to sizing and layout. Old school graph paper works fine if you don’t have drafting software. Each square on the graph paper equals one foot; that will help you decide rug and furniture size.
S&N: We know that starting any business can be tough. What advice or tip for success would you give to someone wanting to go into the design business?
KM: Be nice. Don’t be a snobby designer. Don’t be scared of getting your hands dirty. It’s not always a glamorous job but it’s a fun job!
S&N: What’s next for you? Any goals/exciting projects in the works?
KM: At this moment, I’m just taking it day by day and being grateful for each task. But a studio on PCH in Corona del Mar is not a goal I’d rule out. 🙂
3 words that describe your design aesthetic? Casual, warm, and inviting
What is currently your favorite design “trend”? Cement tiles
Fill in the blank. People don’t know that I can ____. Cross-stitch
Favorite room to design in a home and why? Master Bedroom, because most people neglect this space and it should be one of the most important.
Favorite way to spend a Saturday or your ideal Saturday? Wake up. Have coffee. Turn on morning cartoons and eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch with the kids. Then go to the park as a family. And catch up on work during their naps!
Biggest design mistake that you see on a consistent basis? Rugs that are too small for a space
Dream design job? Duh, designing Leonardo DiCaprio’s house, of course.
Do you have any nicknames or did you have any growing up? No 🙂
Favorite piece of advice when designing kids spaces? Put all baskets, hooks, and things where they can access them easily.
Favorite design rule to break. “You can’t paint a small powder room a dark color because it will make it look small” Which is not true…but my advice if you do this is to not forget the ceiling. If it’s a low ceiling then paint it and the crown dark as well. But if it’s a tall ceiling then you have more options.
Favorite design set from a movie? A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford
Favorite way to add impact to a room? A great rug. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive but a rug with style offers so much to a space.
Favorite color to use in design? I really like a rich blue.
One item/possession you would save from your house (other than your family, of course)? My African cowrie shell basket.
Favorite part about your job? Changing an entire space and seeing how much the client loves it.
Hardest part about your job? All the times wasted following up with vendors, delivery people, etc. over broken or damaged pieces.
Top 3 design Idols/Mentors/Inspiration? Peter Dunham, Mark D. Sikes, and Eric Olsen
What’s one country you would like to visit? Sweden
Worst job you have ever had growing up? I have actually loved every job I’ve had. Learning something different from every one of them. But if I have to choose, then at one point, in high school, I convinced my two full-time working parents that they were wasting their money having someone come to our house to clean. So I asked if they’d pay me $80 every week to do it instead. They said yes. And I spent about three month of Saturdays cleaning our house and doing everyones laundry. After three months, I handed in my 2 week notice.
Best way to decompress? I have an addiction to Thai massages. 90 minutes of that and I’m good to go!
Hardest part about being a mom? Trying to pretend that I’m not stressed out or over-extended when I’m playing with them. Design is so personal and clients contact at you all hours. Most being on weekends and after hours because that’s when they’d stopped their days and have some free time.
Single most valuable thing you’ve learned? Stay humble.
Morning person or night owl? Morning person for sure!
Whose brain would you like to pick over coffee? (past or present) Ellen DeGeneres. I think she’s: talented, true, funny, and is always trying to see a bright side to something.
What album or artist is currently on repeat? Still loving it from last year: Haim, Days Are Gone
Favorite flower or plant? To use indoors, it has to be the un-killable, always green and beautiful: ZZ plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia)
Favorite TV show or guilty pleasure on TV? Where do I begin?!: Start with Broad City & Californication!
Favorite motto or mantra? Don’t stop until you’re proud!
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Images courtesy of Kathryn Miller Interiors.