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 endlessly creative and expressive women in my blended families; two grandmothers, my mother, an aunt and a cousin. 'Nature and Nurture' prevailed as my appreciation of design and the decorative arts was fostered early on by watching them run their entrepreneurial design businesses and home décor boutiques in Palm Beach and Manhattan beginning in the early 80s.
I remember keenly noticing all the special details in the beautiful homes we visited over the years. It wasn’t necessarily about what they looked like, but more about how they felt. The ones I loved most were welcoming, warm, eclectic and full of life. I began to learn about the greater world at large from the personal histories and interests expressed through home, and those visits led directly to 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 run down Victorian she and my father were renovating. One weekend, they came home to find me hauling a massive 13 foot wide carpet roll over the banister 20 feet up. Easily over a 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 gal, I pulled everything out to expose romantic and rough, paint splattered wood floors, stripped down all the drapes, and painted it white. It was my perfection and despite getting into trouble that the family still talks about, 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 interested in interiors, I headed to Clark University in Massachusetts for college. There I explored my liberal arts 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 college space I lived in over the four years. I graduated in 1997 with an open but unclear idea about career back in New York and landed in Advertising. Over four years in account management, I learned much and had some interesting opportunities including an extended research trip through Africa, but it wasn't a fit. Designing for friends on the side, I finally heeded the call and went 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 Aberdeen Properties - the family building business in Connecticut, as a project and design manager. There I spent two years on private residential projects alongside awarded architecture firms Shope Reno Wharton and Roger Ferris + Partners; both experiences served as excellent working educations with the Trades.
In 2004 with some new tools on my belt, I started Studio K Interiors in Brooklyn, the precursor to Freestyle Restyle. With the rise of internet resources, design blogs, magazines like Domino and the DIY movement, the idea was to offer younger clients more accessible and affordable interior services compared to the traditional and mostly unattainable standard of $100,000 “starter budgets” in Manhattan 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 including me, and Studio K Interiors shut down.
In Spring 2009 I was happy to join the talented pool of residential designers at Lillian August (LA), an inspired retailer and design center in Connecticut with Skye Kirby Westcott as my lead and mentor. The diverse range of projects I worked on included everything from chic city pied-a-terres, smart townhouses, earthy 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 and any idea was possible because there was access to everything. LA is also where I rediscovered and honed my styling eye for interior vignettes, learning from the best in the business.
After three designer, then trade manager, then store co-management years, I was ready to run a studio again - this time with a name that described my redesign approach more clearly. Freestyle Restyle, an interior redesign and styling service that begins with what you have, evolves and elevates from there. Sixteen years later, I'm doing work that is inspired by spirit and am grateful for the wonderful clients, many now friends, that I've met so far while re-envisioning their homes and lifestyles together. Most especially what I've confirmed for myself over and over with each project is that home is definitely where my heart is and I truly love making people happy in theirs.
Freestyle Restyle is a loud and proud monthly supporter of the following organizations and institutions: #aclu #americanredcross #amnestyinternational #aspca #greenpeaceusa #moveonorg #newyorkpubliclibrary #npr #nyclgbtcenter #nyimmigrationcoalition #plannedparenthood #ulstercorps #wnyc #womenrisingorg
Current Instagram photo projects are: #litttlecitylove exploring historic Hoboken, New Jersey my recently adopted Hudson River hometown with Hubs and sweet rescue mutt Jonesy; #countryhousecrush my favorite historic homes in the Hudson Valley and Catskills region of upstate New York where we gleefully abscond to hike, bike and commune with family and friends on most weekends.
Interior Design, Redesign, Decorating, Styling & Project Management
Hoboken NJ, New York NY, Ulster County 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 & Design Manager
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, Spring 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