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Spill it! with Kathy Kuo

Spill it! Introductions, please!

I am the founder and CEO of Kathy Kuo Home--we offer an unrivaled retail assortment of luxury furniture and home decor essentials, as well as premium Interior Design Services and a robust Trade program. The big news from KKH right now is that we opened our first-ever physical retail store location in Southampton, NY (which is an area I consider like a second home)--Kathy Kuo Home Southampton. I’m also a proud mom-of-two (plus, one new puppy who joined our family this year), and I love to travel, play piano, and unwind with a good book when I’m not working.

How would you describe your personal style? Is it hard to separate your personal style from your client when working with them?

In my own home, I gravitate towards a classic and timeless look. I live in a pre-war apartment in NYC, by Riverside, which has high ceilings, elaborate tiling, herringbone hardwood floors, and very unique fireplaces. My current color palette is sage and ecru in my living room, and then my dining room is very moody and dramatic and tied together with a very glam, statement-making chandelier.

For me, the unifying factor is pieces that tell a story and set a mood, and I try to bring that sensibility to all of our design projects here at KKH in order to create meaningful spaces across a wide variety of aesthetics.

At Kathy Kuo Home, our motto has always been “love where you live,” so regardless of what design style a client or customer is in search of, we want that sense of joy and wonder to be first and foremost. Overall, I love creating the feeling of love in a space and applying the decorative arts aspect, as well as the technical part, to create a space that's warm and inviting.

Your interiors are so approachable yet have such an understated elegance to them, can you tell us a little about how your style developed over time?

My aesthetic has evolved over the years but I have always loved classic, traditional elements that serve a function without any stuffiness or inconvenient formality. Growing up, I traveled a lot--by the age of 30, I had been to 30 different countries--largely due to my father’s career as a diplomat, and later, for my own career in product development. So, for me, “home” and my style choices within my home, have always been more of an outward reflection of my values rather than just about the physical place.

Travelling and moving a lot at a young age taught me to be flexible and adaptable with my style and helped me recognize that special feeling when you’ve created a space that just works on every level and reflects my personality as well as the needs of my lifestyle as a mom and businesswoman.

Kathy Kuo Home is an amazing platform for not only interior designers, decorators, but also for all us regular people!! What made you want to create a website that bridged that gap?

When I started my company back in 2012, I initially wanted to address what I saw as a hole in the marketplace when it came to ordering high-quality furniture and decor online--there was just nothing out there. I realized there weren't a lot of unique options to shop for furniture online and I knew there had to be a better way that was still upscale, rooted in design, and offering high-touch service. Once I started having success on the retail side, it just seemed natural to also offer Design Services. My goal is for clients and customers to be able to come to KKH for every step of their journey in loving where they live--we offer something for every stage, from inspiration to execution.

Today, I am so proud to say that we have a fantastic team of accredited interior designers, as well as dedicated project managers, in-house to deliver interior designs of all scopes and sizes--you can do a single room design, or we can literally help you furnish and design a new-build home.

Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on in the last few years? We won’t tell!

It is nearly impossible to truly pick a favorite--my team and I have been so fortunate to have worked with some truly amazing clients and influencer partners (Jenny Cipoletti and Olivia Rink are two recent partners we had a blast working with). That said, working with my team on designing our Kathy Kuo Home Southampton retail location was a real professional highlight for me. Every last finishing detail of the store's interior was designed by our in-house design team and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

We designed the store to really feel like you’re walking into a home--my home! We opted for more of an intimate, home-lifestyle feel, rather than a traditional shop where we’re just trying to sell products. Our goal is to educate customers on service and design while also offering a best-in-class assortment of furniture, decor, hostess gifts, and in-store exclusives (like Neely & Chloe’s new collection).

Who is your dream client? How involved are they?

My dream client has a distinct point of view and they know what their needs are and how they want the space to function, but they’re also very open to collaboration on the design and product selection side. My team and I love when we can open a client’s eyes to something they may have never considered, but then end up falling in love with.

It’s always wonderful when a client wants to be very involved in the process--if they can come to the table with inspirational images in mind and a distinct budget planned out, that’s fantastic and it means we can get to the fun part of working with them on their home design all the sooner.

Do you have a favorite room in a house that you like to work on?

It’s always very meaningful and satisfying to work on spaces that I know are meant for families to enjoy together. As a mom myself, I know how important quality family-time is--so when I can envision a living room or a family room as a space for game nights, holiday celebrations, and gatherings that’s always very fulfilling.

When designing a room, what’s the most important piece of advice you would give someone?

My top piece of advice--aside from advising you to contact KKH for a Design Services consult, of course--is to remember that your space needs to be designed around your daily needs, and it should serve you and feel authentic. It’s easy to bring a few trendy pieces into a room for a pretty picture, but it’s a more nuanced thing to design a room that will serve you after a long day when you need to relax, that will work for your kids and pets, and that will feel like a true creative extension of your values and sensibilities.

Spill it! Can we look inside your bag right now?

I just got back from a wonderful trip to France with my children, so you’re likely to find some French snacks and souvenirs, along with--inevitably--a sprinkle of sand from our beach days there! Aside from that, you’ll find the usual sunglasses, lip balm, phone charger, and assortment of keys...and probably a LEGO piece and Pokemon card or two, courtesy of my two little goofballs!

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