A Conversation With Florida-Based Interior Designer Kelly Marie
Interior designer Kelly Marie has more than two decades of experience in the industry. Based in Florida, she is best known for working with clients in South Florida’s Tri-County region, taking on a variety of projects from large-scale luxury homes to single-room refreshes. Her goal is to create spaces that aren’t just beautiful with variations of textures, colors and finishes but also to make sure they are practical. After all, we have to live in our homes.
I recently spoke with Marie about how she got her start, why function in design is essential as well as her favorite places to source furniture and decor.
When did you realize you wanted to become an interior designer?
My passion for design and construction goes back to when I was growing up in the Midwest. As a fun and exciting hobby, my mom and I would go for walks and look for homes being built and would spend time imagining the outcome and what we would do to them. As I grew up, I chose to continue my education at the University of Central Florida in business marketing. It was not until I graduated that I realized I was still being called by my passion to design homes. I then decided to pursue an interior design degree.
How did you get your start?
My interior design degree started in Orlando, Florida, when I was hired by K. Hovnanian Homes in its design center.
How would you describe your style?
I like to consider my designs minimalist and clean yet inviting. I love incorporating subtle colors, textures and live plants to create a peaceful and comfortable space.
How is designing in Florida unique from other locations?
Florida is unique in the sense that you have the ocean and tropical scenery around your home. That is a great backdrop for design. When designing a client’s interior space, you are always considering the exterior as well to create a flow between the two. Designing outdoor spaces in Florida is just as important as interior spaces.
What’s your secret design sauce?
Keep it simple, keep it organized and keep it functional.
What’s the first thing you do when you start working with a new client?
As a firm, we get to know our clients. We call it our “Preliminary Project Plan.” During this phase, we develop a relationship with the client to enhance our knowledge of how we will design and develop each space. We consult with our clients, collect information and summarize all of the client’s requirements.
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What aesthetics are your favorites?
I really love New Mediterranean design that embodies serene and minimal spaces using all-natural products and enhanced textures.
What trends or looks are your least favorite?
Right now, high-polish white flooring and cabinetry are trends that I tend to steer away from. Elements like floors and cabinets are, in some ways, permanent fixtures. I like to focus on achieving a timeless aesthetic for these areas with more neutral colors.
What have been your biggest design challenges recently?
Design always has its challenges and each project brings on new ones, but I have always had a strong belief that there is always a way to troubleshoot the issue at hand. In my experience, this challenge or issue has always prevailed as an even stronger solution or a better outcome. You can never freak out. You must always stay calm.
Supply chain issues have been at the forefront of all businesses around the globe. What I have learned from this experience is the importance of constant communication throughout the design journey with my clients and providing reassurance and alternatives that will keep the project moving forward.
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What’s a project you’ve worked on that you’re incredibly proud of?
I have to say my favorite project I have worked on to date was a four-story, 10,000-square-foot renovation in Highland Beach, Florida, where I worked closely with the owner who was in the field of nutrition and wellness, something I am also passionate about. Together (because design is a collaboration), we created spaces that provided self-care, peace and wellness throughout. A great example of this was a vitamin C showerhead in the primary bathroom.
What’s a room that many people overlook in terms of design?
The laundry room! In my opinion, this area should not be an afterthought and it most often is. I spend so much time in my laundry room and need it to be pretty while also being functional. I like to have easy access to cleaning supplies and lots of storage for completing this dreaded task. It also eases the pain when there are pretty cabinets, hardware and window treatments in the space.
What are some of your favorite places to source furniture and decor?
I try to attend High Point, North Carolina, once a year at the biannual furniture conference. This is where I have the capability to source directly from furniture manufacturers. This event gives me the great ability to recommend the most stylish and comfortable pieces for my clients.
When I shop here in Florida, I love to visit the Miami Design District. This area never disappoints.
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