Now with sixteen years of working experience, I returned to interiors naturally in 2001 as a third generation decorator who grew up in the business. The tradition began and remains with the creative and expressive women in my blended families - two grandmothers, my mother, an aunt, a cousin and me. 'Nature and nurture' prevailed as my appreciation of design and the decorative arts was certainly fostered by watching them in their independent design businesses and home décor boutiques in Palm Beach and Manhattan from the early 80s on.
I remember keenly noticing the details of beautiful and comfortable homes we visited. It wasn’t necessarily about what they looked like but more about how they felt. They were welcoming, warm, eclectic and full of capital L, Life. How personal histories and interests were expressed through home and how people lived is the way I recall learning about the greater world at large. Those visits opened several portals cultivating my curiosity about history, the arts, textiles and craft.
As a teen I was known to redesign my room to the deep consternation of my mother who had her own ideas about the grandly run down Victorian that she was renovating. One weekend, my parents came home to find me hauling a massive carpet roll over the banister 20 feet up. Easily one hundred pounds, I could have hurt someone or myself but at 16 I wanted to live in a raw studio flooded with natural light. Always a hands-on kind of girl, I pulled everything out to expose rough and romantic, paint splattered wood floors, took down all the window treatments and painted it Studio White. It was my perfection and despite getting into fair trouble, it remains a fond memory and unique Room of One’s Own. It was also the beginning of an obsession with manifestation and change.
While I was interested in interiors, I headed to liberal arts Clark University to learn new things. There I explored my interests in archaeology, art history, studied english lit, psychology, writing, communications, worked in the library archive department, co-edited the school newspaper, and continued the decorating antics redesigning every space I lived in over the four years. I graduated with an open but unclear idea about what career to pursue back in New York and landed in Advertising. It wasn't a total fit so after four years and designing on the side for friends, I decided to heed the call and go back to school for formal training.
In 2001 I attended the Parsons School of Design Interiors AAS program and reset my career path first working for Sheila Bridges Design. As an office assistant/intern, I picked up on the day-to-day interiors business and learned local resources for specialized projects. While brief, the experience was an excellent primer from a singular eye, author, talent and multifaceted business woman. Eager to learn more about architectural design, I joined the family building business Aberdeen Properties as a project manager/design assistant. I spent two years there managing private residential projects with the awarded architecture firms Shope Reno Wharton and Roger Ferris + Partners, gleaning everything I could at each meeting. Both experiences were working educations.
In 2004 with some tools on my belt, I started Studio K Interiors in Brooklyn, NY – the precursor to Freestyle Restyle. With the rise of internet resources, design blogs and magazines like Domino, the idea was to offer younger clients more accessible, affordable home design services and expertise compared to the more traditional and mostly unattainable interior design standard of $100,000 “starter budgets” in New York City and the Boroughs. Four years in, business was good, fun and growing with positive notice (Architectural Digest!) and then came September 2008. Wall Street crashed, the recession hit, life changed for many and Studio K Interiors shut down.
Spring 2009 I was happy to join the talented pool of residential designers at the Lillian August Design Center in Norwalk, Connecticut with Skye Kirby Westcott as my mentor and lead. The diverse range of client projects I worked on there included everything from chic city apartments to smart townhouses to sweet beach cottages to formal country estates. Located in a converted 100,000 square foot Bauhaus warehouse, LA is filled with incredible furniture, homewares, textiles, art and decor, every week was a new inspiration. Any idea was possible because there was access to everything. While designing for private clients and working with other designers, LA is also where I rediscovered my love for interior vignettes - the visual team there are true masters.
After three busy design, trade management and store co-management years, I was ready to run a studio again and this time with a name that described the approach more clearly. Freestyle Restyle, an interior design and styling service that starts with what you have and elevates from there. Five + Eleven years later and so I'm grateful for all the creative opportunities and wonderful clients I've met so far, it's been quite an arc. What I've confirmed to myself over and over with each project is that home is truly where my heart is and I really love making people happy in theirs.
Freestyle Restyle is a proud and sustaining monthly supporter of the following organizations and institutions: #aclu #aspca #greenpeaceusa #newyorkpubliclibrary #npr #nyclgbtcenter #nyimmigrationcoalition #plannedparenthood #ulstercorps #wnyc #womenrisingorg
Current Instagram projects: #litttlecitylove exploring historic Hoboken, New Jersey my newly adopted Hudson River hometown with hubby G and rescue mutt Jonesy Jones; #countryhousecrush celebrating historic Ulster County homes in the Hudson River Valley region of upstate New York where we gleefully abscond to on most weekends.
Interior Design, Redesign, Decorating, Styling & Project Management
Hoboken NJ, Ulster County NY, New York NY, 2012 - Present
Lillian August Furnishings & Design
NYC Trade Manager & Private Interior Design Services
Norwalk CT, New York NY, 2009 - 2012
Studio K Interiors
Interior Design, Decorating, Styling & Project Management
Brooklyn NY, 2004 – 2009
Aberdeen Properties, Inc.
Project Manager & Design Assistant
Greenwich CT, 2002 - 2004
Sheila Bridges Design
New York NY, 2001 - 2002
Parsons School of Design, New York NY
Interior Design AAS, 2001 - 2002
Dean's List 2002
Clark University, Worcester MA
Bachelor of Arts – English, concentration in Communications & Writing, 1997
Living Arts Writer & Editor, The Scarlet, 1995 - 1997; Copy Editor, The Scarlet, 1994 - 1995