This is my first (of many!) posts I'll be writing over the next year focused on profiling interesting people I've met (or aspire to someday meet!) that are doing cool, creative work that I think you should know about. I'll also be picking their brains on all things art.
First on the docket is Kierstin Smyth, a local Edmonton interior designer who I first met just over a year ago. I had the pleasure of creating a custom piece for a collector who was working with Kierstin on a home reno (see Kierstin's blog post ) and since then I've been stalking her on instagram. :) Her design leads with heart and it truly shows in her work. Read the full interview below.
Tell me a bit about yourself and the work that you do.
I officially call myself an interior design consultant with a business brain and a creative soul. My approach to interior design is to create spaces that positively impact the lives of my clients. It isn’t just about having a trendy, Instagram-worthy home. It is about having a home that reflects who you are, supports you in the life you lead and makes you feel good. The bulk of my work is with homeowners and their redesign and renovation projects. Recently though, I’ve started consulting on new builds and investment properties. Through understanding my clients I can help them make the best decisions for their space and ensure they make the most of their investment.
What determined your passion for design? Did you always want to be an interior designer?
I truly never considered interior design as an option until my mid-twenties. By that point I had already acquired a BA in Political Science and History and a BCom in International Business, and was living and working in the Dominican Republic. I realized that, even though I loved travel and learning about different cultures, the International Business thing wasn’t for me. So I was at a bit of a crossroads and started reading the book Find Your Strongest Life by Markus Buckingham. It was then that I realized that my whole life had been dropping these little clues that interior design was my thing. Like how I always wanted to be involved in renovations growing up, and I would convince my mom to let me try a new paint trend in our guest room, or how as a kid playing with Lego I’d create houses, or as a teen I played The Sims just to build cool houses. I also remember helping my parents shop for a new sofa and how I knew which one was right for them, but they had to go to multiple other stores to look at more options - and of course, at the end of the day they got them one I said was the right one initially. So on the heels of this realization, when I returned to Canada I started studying Residential Interiors in the evenings while I consulted full time during the day, and the rest is history!
What inspires you?
I truly think that I can find inspiration in almost anything. Sometimes it’s through travel and seeing different architecture or a different use of a material. Sometimes it’s in nature, seeing a particular shape or colour. But most of all, (I know this sounds cheesy) I’m always inspired by my clients and their lives - whether it’s a passion they have or a particular piece in their home that is special to them.
What is your favourite room of the house to design and why?
Probably kitchens. I love the challenge they present and also how essential they are to our homes. I also think that a well-designed kitchen can have a massive impact on someone’s life and so being able to give that to someone makes it so worthwhile.
In your view, how does art impact the home?
For me, art is essential to our lives, and thus also essential to our homes. It’s like another way of communicating. I think that art can be used to create so many feelings within us and if we surround ourselves with art that creates the feelings we desire, we’re happier as humans. Homes without art, to me, are boring. And I highly recommend making the investment in original art - it just has so much more life to it and I think there is also this amazing energy that you get with original art that gets passed along from the artist. You just can’t beat that.
What are some tips to consider when selecting art for the home?
It’s all about scale. I often see people choosing smaller pieces that just get lost in a home. I mean I understand - larger pieces usually come with a higher price tag and also feel like more of a commitment because of their size. But a sizeable piece of art done right makes such a statement. That isn’t to say that smaller pieces don’t have a place, because they do, just on smaller walls or combined with other pieces. You also need to connect to a piece of art, that’s most important. In terms of sizing, a quick Google search will give you more than enough information, so I recommend taking those guidelines and figuring out what your optimal size is (along with the minimums and maximums) and keep that noted in your phone so you’ll know if a piece will work when you find one you connect with. And don’t forget about framing - if you have a smaller piece that needs more impact, you can always add that with its frame!
Do you have a favourite piece of art in your home and what makes it your favourite?
This is a seriously tough question. I have a connection to all of the art in my home and love that each piece has a story behind it. But if I had to choose, it is probably my largest piece, which is a painting by Haitian artist Lily Honson. I bought it at one of my favorite shops in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on one of my return trips after living there. It is incredibly vibrant and lush, reminding me of my time in the Carribean and also brings that feeling into my space as well.