What began as a childhood hobby, creating custom-made ballrooms for her dolls, evolved into a lifelong passion for Kari McIntosh. The Bay Area-based designer graduated from dollhouse creations to pursue a higher education in architecture and interior design before beginning a decade-long career in the hospitality industry. Eager to return to her roots, McIntosh then launched her own firm with the intention of channeling each client's unique personality into a customized space they're proud to call home. Learn more about the designer in our Q&A below.
1. Who is your biggest role model?
Without a doubt, my parents. As entrepreneurs they have always instilled a great work ethic and encouraged me to follow my dreams. My father is a civil engineer and my mother is creative (she ran an antiques and retail store for years) so my pursuit of interior design has been a true amalgamation of the two influences.
2. Which movie or play do you wish you could have designed the set for?
Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antionette. I haven’t been that inspired by the visuals for a movie before or since. I created a design concept for my “Materials of Design" presentation for a residential project in design school inspired by the movie. I felt that the movie and the buzz surrounding it was the best synergy of interior design and fashion.
3. What is the best way to gauge a client’s personality before starting a project?
It’s so important to meet in person. I like to see what they are wearing! Our favorite styles and colors are usually shown through the clothes we choose to wear everyday. From there I like to hear about their goals for the project and see inspiration of rooms and design elements that they like and do not like. All of this helps me develop a sense of who they are and which direction the project should go.
4. What new design elements are you excited to integrate into your work?
I like to keep my designs classic and timeless with a few new elements sprinkled in. I can’t wait to use one of St Frank’s new wallpapers, drapery from Bolt Textiles new “50 Central” collection, and I’m itching to incorporate graphic black and white flooring such as one of Kelly Wearstler’s “Liason” tiles in collaboration with Ann Sacks.
5. How do you completely unwind?
I don’t often have a chance but on the rare occasion I like to unwind by exploring something or somewhere new. I love finding hidden local treasures or revisiting old favorites. Favorite adventures of the past few months include touring Casa del Herrero in Montecito, The Lighthouse and Lunch at Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero, and The Garden Show at Filoli in Woodside.
6. If you hadn't become a designer, which career would you have pursued?
I worked in corporate events for years. There are certainly overlaps events and design. I left Events to follow my dreams but if I hadn’t I would probably still be in events with my own company planning weddings.
7. What’s the worst pre-designer job you’ve ever had and why?
I was a technical recruiter right out of college. It just wasn’t a good fit - cold calling and placing individuals in professions that I didn’t understand. I worked with lovely people, some who are still dear friends, yet the job stifled my creative growth.
8. What’s your favorite recipe?
I love a classic chicken piccata. This one from Giada De Laurentiis is good but I like to substitute dry white wine for the chicken stock.
9. Create your perfect playlist for us.
10. Who is your designer crush?
Vicente Wolf. Beautiful work and he seems like such a lovely business person.
11. Would you rather shop new or vintage?
12. First celebrity crush?
13. What’s your hidden talent?
Margarita making - Tommy’s Restaurant in SF style!
14. Best restaurant in your area? Where is it?
Zuni Cafe in SF - The roasted chicken for two with warm bread salad is crave worthy. I’ve tried making it and its very time-consuming so I recommend heading to Zuni for your fix, and often!
15. SF or LA?