Irene Lovett first launched designstiles as a blog to document her love of great design. The passion project soon turned into much more when the brand became a thriving business. Today, the tastemaker does what she loves day in and day out – design beautiful interiors and help clients uncover their unique style. Her portoflio is a true treat for the eyes, and we’re thrilled to feature a recent project that has the designstiles signature written all over it. She was faced with a large home, but Irene tackled the challenge with ease. With unique finishes, family-friendly details, and no shortage of color – the result is a sprawling retreat that anyone would be happy to call home.

The rugs in this home are beautiful! Can you share with us your favorite rug shopping sources?
One of my first thoughts was, my client has the best taste in rugs. She actually had most of them from one of her previous homes over ten years ago. The entry and hallway ones were new additions from Ebay that tie in with the rest of the antique rugs. Aside from eBay, eSaleRugs is also a great source.

Noted! That marble backsplash in the kitchen is stunning. Tell us a little about that choice.
My client was inspired by a kitchen done by designer Caitlin Wilson and immediately knew she wanted to to use Calacatta marble as well. Using a slab vs the subway tiles creates this really pretty movement in the kitchen.

We also have our eye on the blue/gray island in the kitchen. Can you share the color you used?
It’s Benjamin Moore Gray Pinstripe. I just realized how blue it looks in one of the images. It’s more of a gray/green/blue.

Another thing you effortlessly did was mix metal finishes. How do you recommend making both brass and stainless steel work together?
There’s a lot of brass in the kitchen but felt we didn’t need to go overboard and go brass with the sink faucets as well. I think it’s a nice break for the eyes if you offset it with a different finish. Polished nickel I love because it has a really pretty warm tone that feels forever classic. The warm tones in the polished nickel complement the warm tones in the brass, which will patina over time because they’re unlacquered. If you’re considering brass cabinet hardware, it’s completely acceptable to go with a different finish with the faucet or light fixtures. I think as long as styles are complementary, the end result will look effortless.

What was the biggest challenge with this project and how did you overcome it?
Trusting my gut. Every project is a learning experience and you get more confident which each one. I think it will always be normal to question yourself but deep down you sort of always know which way to lean and you have to learn to listen to that.

We have to ask. What’s your favorite element about how this home turned out?
The powder room is my favorite room in the house. I love the mix of the cement floor tile with the rich blue grasscloth. It turned out to be a beautiful blend of color, pattern and texture, three such important elements in design. I also really love the cement tile on the family room fireplace. That is my favorite material in the whole house.

When designing a space, where’s the first place you start and why?
I feel like I always start with color. First comes inspiration but those inspiration images help plan what the overall mood or vibe of the room will be. Color dictates which way the room will feel and I always try to figure out which colors clients hate and which colors they love, which help in creating color combinations.

What tips and strategies can you offer about decorating such a large home without getting overwhelmed?
Staying organized is for sure key. I like to keep a notebook to jot down my hours (I bill hourly), notes, measurements etc, a binder for samples and purchase orders, broken down into room categories. I keep a private Pinterest board to save inspiration images and product sources and a folder on my desktop for any drawings/pictures pertaining to the project. Breaking the project down into phases also helps keep the stress level down. You get your lists of priorities first and you set the plan of attack, so to speak.

Most rewarding part of this project?
Seeing visions come to life is always rewarding. The design process can seem endless sometimes and every little improvement you see makes you giddy with delight because it means you come a step further. It can be as simple as getting excited when you hear an item you source is actually in stock! And after samples have been delivered, approved, ordered, installed and eventually it’s all completed, you want to pat yourself on the back and have some wine.

Let’s talk business. What are your top 3 tips for launching your own interior design firm for anyone interested in doing the same?
Have a business plan. Have a marketing plan. And have some experience under your belt. I grew my business super small and started with friends and family who needed help and advice. There was a comfort level there because I knew them but it allowed me to learn how translate my concepts and ideas and showed me how to bill for my time. Over time you start to learn your real worth and you eventually become comfortable when non-friend clients start reaching out for your services. I’m so thankful to those smaller projects that allowed me the experience to handle the bigger projects.

What’s the biggest business lesson you’ve learned in running your own firm?
Realizing your worth. Your time and knowledge is valuable and when you stand behind your rate or fee, people take you seriously.

What would you say is the biggest decorating mistake you see people make?
Too many trends in one room feels disingenuous. Decorating according to how you think you should decorate or trying to please others doesn’t show your true design sense or style.

What qualities do you most admire in a room?
Personality. Unique accessories help in establishing who lives in the home.

Finally, what are the hallmarks of an Irene Lovett designed space?
My clients each have their own unique style so it’s important that their home feel like them and not me. They hire me to take their vision and help them translate it. You’ll always get a space that feels pulled together and I try to inject color any way I can.

We love it! To see this project up close (and snag product sources), start the slideshow. To learn more about Irene & designstiles, click here.