With work in New York City, Westchester, Abu Dhabi and Atlanta, Kate Hayes is constantly on the move. Recently I sat down with the Brooklyn-based interior designer to discuss her work process, her dream project, and her plans to open an Atlanta office.
How did you come to your career?
I worked in fashion in my early to mid twenties, and then I got a job assisting an interior designer. I fell in love pretty much immediately. She was a great mentor for me, and very hands on. The whole process struck a deep cord, so I expanded on that. I think my whole life has essentially been working toward this career, from drawing "dream" floor plans at the age of ten, to rearranging my room constantly, to studying art history for many years. I’m grateful I made it here.
What’s your process when working with your clients (i.e. your work flow)?
Once I commit to a project, I definitely daydream a lot about it, and what it would be like to walk through the space with this finish or that color. Some of my early inspiration is very abstract and based on feeling or mood. At our first meeting, I like to bring tear sheets and fabrics to find out any initial turn-offs, like animal print or stripes, or traditional rugs. Taking from both the abstract and concrete, I begin to develop the core of the project, and present accordingly to clients.
What do you like best and least about your job?
Best: making people happy and seeing my vision turn into a reality. Least: managing the financial side of my business.
What surprises you about your job?
The amount of time I end up spending on the computer. Also: how much I like other interior designers. We're a saucy but grounded bunch, for the most part.
What's your idea of a design mishap?
Something showing up upholstered incorrectly. It’s only happened once, but it was a total nightmare. Not only must it go back, but it takes awhile to get fixed. Fortunately that was a workroom error, so the cost wasn’t on me!
Are there any design themes you’d like to see return?
Oooh, yes. I’m a mixed bag style wise, so it’s not one look in particular. I do feel like a small amount of chintz could be chic, and no one is doing that these days. Also, I'd love to see some more upholstered walls, large scale florals, and bold colors. Everything is white right now, which can be refreshing, but gets boring after a bit. I think we'll see a backlash against that soon.
What are you “over”?
I can't stand ultrasuede and never could. I'm also definitely over the Mad Men look. Mid century pieces can be great and beautifully crafted, but you need to mix in other periods so it doesn't feel too overwhelming. I'm also pretty over filament bulbs.
What’s on your bookshelf?
Everything from Tony Duquette to Axel Vervoordt to S.R. Gambrel to Santiago Calatrava. I love my big gorgeous design books. I truly appreciate it all. I'm also pretty into contemporary lit. A friend of mine is a writer and I always ask her for book suggestions, so I've read a lot of Gary Shteyngart, Sam Lipsyte, and Jennifer Egan, but I'll also throw a classic in there to keep it interesting. The sheer nature of books definitely inspires me. You're creating a space in your head from a written description, which is incredibly romantic.
What’s your next big purchase?
Probably a new sofa. I'd like to do something in a handsome, menswear-inspired texture.
What’s next for you career wise?
Well, I'm shifting things a bit. I'll be splitting time between Atlanta and New York starting this summer. I'm excited to explore a new market, but definitely want to continue to work with my New York clients, to whom I've grown quite attached.
What’s your favorite resource for bedding? What about lamps? Any other items you're liking lately?
I love Matteo bedding. It's the prettiest: very inviting, with a beautiful texture and a soft hand. And I love the chrome totem table lamp from The Future Perfect. It's so chic, though I would use a soft milky bulb instead. Also, I love the gold plated flatware that's happening right now. Even West Elm has a version.
What inspires your palettes? Is there one you’ve seen another designer use that surprises you?
I feel like a broken record, but everything! I like city graffiti just as much as a calming desert landscape. As far as being inspired by others, I've been surprised at how much I love designers like Michael S. Smith. My taste is much more contemporary, but you can't deny his brilliance at schematic balance. I've really come to appreciate traditional proportions and palettes much more than I ever thought I would.
What's your dream project?
Oooh, probably a beach house or maybe a mountain cabin. Something occasional that can be more exploratory and experimental. Or Katy Perry's home: pink clouds, a Japanese tea room, even a Tim Burton garden. Imagine the possibilities!