Designer Crush: Katrina StumbosAuthor:Michelle Konstantinovsky
After a few years in college with not a lot of direction, I moved back to my parents home and started design school. After three years of formal design training, I started my career working for local designers. It was at the last place I worked that I realized I would never be able to reach my potential working for someone else. At the age of 24, with not a clue what I was doing, I opened my business with one client — a $20k window covering job that seemed like the biggest job in the world at the time. From that moment it was a lot of trial and error, supportive friends and family, and patient clients who have shaped the way for me to be doing what I do now. I wish I could say there is one way to do things but what I have learned is every designer and every design firm works differently. Some of my best friends are designers, and not one of us runs our business the same. I like a small team (only 5 of us) where we balance multiple roles. No task is too small for any of us — often days that means I am rocking my Nikes and moving sofas and area rugs for my clients.
2. How has being a California native influenced your aesthetic?
It has shaped so much of how I design, and I often reference that “California Living” in speaking with clients. I have an immense appreciation for architecture, sprawling spaces, inside/outside living and a neutral color palette. I get to design spaces overlooking cities, in the mountains, oceanside or with a river in the backyard and I always ensure there is an effortless marriage between the outside landscape and the interior design of my homes.
3. You’ve worked on both small and large scale projects - how does the creative process differ in each instance?
My creative process is the same for both, what varies is the execution/construction process. My first step is always to get to know my clients, how they live, what they love and pull their best style out of them. Whether it be a living room overhaul or new construction this part of my process remains the same. After I feel I have a true grasp on what the design aesthetic will be for the project, I get to designing followed by my initial design meetings. I find that keeping those initial design steps consistent works best no matter the project scope.
4. How do you get to know your clients and foster relationships that “transcend ‘the work’ into long-lasting and genuine friendships”?
This is the easiest part of my job and one that comes naturally to me. I truly just have a fun time with my clients — even what we would call the “difficult” ones — don’t bother me much. My clients are letting me into a part of their lives that often their families don’t see, so I make sure to treasure that and also create a space where they feel comfortable, listened to and inspired. So far, so good as I just came back from a one-week Mexican vacation with one of my clients!
5. If you could design the set of any movie or play, which would it be and why?
The Holiday. I love Cameron Diaz and the stark contrast of the two homes in the movie. The quaint English cottage and the sprawling LA mansion — what could be better?!
6. What’s your favorite travel destination and what makes it so special?
I will travel anywhere. Whenever my friends need someone to travel with — they know I am their gal! But Cambria, CA continues to be somewhere I love to get away. The only way to get there is to drive the 5+ hour drive, the cell service is awful, and they don’t have the most amazing restaurants, but what it lacks in amenities it makes up for in views and charm. I completed a project there towards the beginning of my career, and since then the town has held a special place in my heart. There is a slow pace of life, and the coastal views are enough to recharge me.
7. Describe your ideal Sunday.
I love to spend Sundays at home if at all possible. They are my day to reset, prepare for the week ahead and spend time with my family, friends, and puppies. Sleeping in, grabbing brunch with friends, silly errands I have forgotten throughout the week and the dog park for my dogs. I love to end the week with a glass of Champagne, so I usually make sure there is time for that in there too!
8. Hot coffee or cold brew?
Hot coffee every time!
9. Heels or sneakers?
Heels. The higher the heel, the closer to God.
10. Pancakes or waffles?
11. Karaoke queen or dance machine?
My friends would say neither, I say both.
12. Action or rom-com?
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