Manhattan-based Interior Designer Katie Lydon has quickly garnered a loyal following in NYC and The Hamptons for her crisp, clean contemporary design work. Her spaces exude modernity while maintaining a sense of timelessness that, in itself, doesn't rely on trends in the least, as discussed in her recent Cottages & Gardens feature.
Katie recently sat down with the Brown Harris Stevens Content Team to discuss her approach to work and what brought her to interior design.
Tell us how Katie Lydon Interiors came to be.
I started out working for American Vogue here in NYC and would hear people talking about their decorators. I really wasn’t aware until I came to the states that this was an actual job you could do! I had a doll's house as a child and I didn’t play with it, I just constantly redecorated it! I was so obsessed with designing and creating spaces, my mom would instruct me not to rearrange the furniture when she was out! I started working for Alexa Hampton, which was the most incredible introduction to the industry. It was really was such a natural fit. I now have a wonderful list of clients who I have worked with on many of their homes in Manhattan and beyond, and I have found that those relationships just get better with time and as each new project unfolds. My surroundings have always had a profound effect on me and I feel very lucky to be doing this everyday as my work. There is still so much to learn, and I am am constantly striving to give our clients new creative solutions and ideas, and of course the best service we can.
What is your favorite room to design and why?
I love designing all rooms and am obsessed with gardens and any kind of outside space, but I really don’t have a favorite room. I could say the Kitchen, as it is often the heart of the home. But I also love to work with clients on their private spaces. I have always loved my bedroom and I think walking into your space at the end of the working day and feeling that calm and relaxation is very important, so I always reserve a little extra energy for that space. Many of my clients live and work in Manhattan, and I think creating that private refuge is a huge part in making the space feel like their home.
How has your design aesthetic changed over the years?
When I first started, I was coming from a rather traditional English background. Both my parents worked at Sotheby’s in London, and I had limited exposure to modern and contemporary design, but when I discovered it, I become obsessed! Now I feel I have a more global and timeless approach and I want to see the layers and contrast and richness of life. I have also developed a keen eye for art, and we buy a lot of artwork our clients. It's important to spend a lot of time researching artists and trying to offer our clients that additional, meaningful layer to add depth and character to a room.
What is one of your favorite projects and why?
I have so many favorites, and each one is so different and special because we collaborate so deeply with our clients. Each project is a result of many conversations with the individuals involved, and so no two are ever the same. We recently finished a stunning home in Fenwick CT for longtime clients. This was our 3rd project with them and it was a true labor of love. We had the opportunity to custom design most of the house on a level I had not been able to do before and we used materials, finishes, and custom furniture and upholstery that were extremely exciting to develop. It was a very unique project. We also served as art consultants on this project and were able to create a stunning collection of artwork, which was a great investment.
What questions should one ask when interviewing a designer, contractor, or architect?
Do you speak the same language? Can you communicate together effectively? I might ask questions that can establish those parameters. I might also ask about their team, because after all, you are not just hiring the lead designer, and a great team and back office can really enhance the experience. Be sure to ask for a reference, as well!
Images can be very helpful for me in those initial conversations, and anything I can see that illustrates a client vision or dream is immensely helpful.
Can you explain your philosophy on “Design Trends” and why you don’t follow them?
Design trends can really date a space, but they can also seem like a characature of interior design. I would try to steer away from trends and focus on what feels authentic to you and what you respond to in a deeper way. I do however appreciate what is happening now trend-wise, and I think being aware of how the industry continues to grow and change is essential for designers to stay relevant and keep things fresh. Being knowledgeable of both of what is current and of historical context makes my work better and richer, so it is a balance.
What color have you been using the most lately? ?
I love pinks! I know it is on trend at the moment, so I actually have a little more opportunity to suggest them. I love color and color combinations, and I have found I get braver and more daring as I age! We recently worked with Gretchen Rubin, who adores purple, and seeing the many ways to use it and live with it resulted in a beautiful, warm, and special project. I also love whites and careful use of black as well. One color I have always struggled with is a peachy/coral; we recently had a client who loves this color and we are working with them on their townhouse in Brooklyn. I have learned to really appreciate this color tone and find it to be so warm and beautiful, especially mixed with blues.
How do you Infuse Color in a Space?
What a great question - let me count the ways! We are working with two longtime Manhattan clients at the and seem to be starting the rooms with an emphasis on area rugs, using them as the springboard for the color palette of the rooms. Rugs are one of the great ways to add texture and of course some color. They can also provide contrast and support to a bolder palette in the rest of the room too. Artwork is another great way to add color and light a room up. I enjoy working with decorative painters and generating beautiful, soft color finishes that add some shine, glamour and texture.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
I read a lot and always try to keep up with what is going on here in NYC and beyond. I go to galleries and museums, but I think my favorite thing to do is meeting with makers and artists. For instance, I recently visited Marthe Armitage in her London print room and shop. It was extremely inspiring to see all the work together and to see her vision as she wants it to be understood and experienced.
Interior designer Katie Lydon shows Open House viewers around a stunning Midtown East apartment that overlooks Park Avenue: