Hey there, cuties! I hope you’re finding some fun, peace, and interior design inspiration this summer, despite the unprecedented times we’re living in. My expert design team and I are staying busy helping our clients make positive changes as they adjust their homes to the different ways we all use our spaces now that COVID has impacted daily life. Whether this means investing in your outdoor space, refreshing a home office, or moving into a new (and more spacious) home altogether—it has been an unexpected joy for me, personally and professionally, to guide our clients through this truly daunting time where home matters more than ever.
Our most recent project? A relaxed, yet elevated and child-approved, coastal home in Westport, Connecticut complete with turn-key essentials—in just six weeks! I’m not kidding! This interior design project was one of the tightest timelines our team had ever worked with, and not only did we have to be mindful of COVID safety protocols, but (because it’s 2020, the year of absurdity) we also had Tropical Storm Isais to contend with during the installation process. You seriously cannot make this stuff up!
Read on for all the details of how we brought this interior design project together on a crazy-tight timeframe, and get my tips on how to achieve this cozy coastal-chic look yourself with some of my favorite KKH pieces!
Photos by Joseph De Leo & Alex Nendza
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“Save Me From My Rental!”
Our client was moving, with her husband and two young children, from a rental that really wasn’t working for her into a gorgeous new-build home that would not only be a fresh start for her family and a blank slate for our team. As a first step, we met with the client via Zoom to fully understand her goals and design needs for the new space.
First of all (and I say this with love) our client was in a nightmare rental before she moved into her new KKH-designed space. The rental apparently used to belong to Stew Leonard (yes, as in the Stew Leonard grocery stores full of fake farm animals). Every day she would call me saying “save me from my rental!” The oven stopped working, the AC fell out the window, a tree hit something in the yard–it was one disaster after another. And mind you, this all happens while our client is trying to navigate these crazy COVID times with her two little ones.
Additionally, our client is a trained opera singer and needed her environment to be very organic and clean to protect her throat—this meant being hyper-aware of what materials we chose for her and committing to very specific steps when it came to delivery and install (I’ll get to that soon!).
My designers and I crafted a bright and welcoming space (nine rooms altogether, plus an outdoor area) that felt effortlessly cozy yet cohesive and like you could actually relax and spend quality family time there! Touches of modern glam—think statement chandeliers, subtle metallic details, and geometric styling elements—elevated the Coastal Beach materials, like rattan and cane. Bright shades of cobalt blue, orange, and pink allowed the home to reflect the children’s tastes as well. Overall, it’s such a calming space, but also such a fun and playful one too.
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A Turn-Key Home in 6 Weeks–No, I’m Not Kidding!
Since this home was brand-sparkling-new, the project presented our Design Team with a glorious blank slate. The goal was a look that didn’t come across as too “beach house” (we had strict instructions to nix anything that read as flip-flop-themed boardwalk art). That said, our client still wanted an overall vibe that read as relaxed and laid back; this was a space for her children as much as for her and her husband, after all.
And here’s where things get wild! We typically never start designing on a home if the sale hasn’t closed. But because this client was so eager to move and do it quickly, she found a new-build home and fast-tracked both the purchase of the home and the design project with us. Are you ready to have your mind blown? Not only did we start designing before she closed on the house, but literally the day she closed was the day we placed an order for a house-full of product. Oh, and by the way, this was a full turn-key project (**casual**), so when she moved in she had to be able to live normally and comfortably without so much as shopping at the grocery store.
I’ll say it again: We had one month to place orders! We started on July 1 and had the install planned for August 1. I am still pinching myself that this all came together!
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The Fastest & Cleanest Design Install Ever!
For some perspective, it usually takes a full month to complete and finalize a design for a single room, and then an additional 1-2 months (or more depending on the client’s timeline and custom furniture) to have all of the items processed and delivered to a client’s home. In this case, our team was able to expedite the design, order procurement, furniture delivery and install processes extremely smoothly (despite the challenges of COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Isaias to boot) within a mind-boggling six-week timeframe.
This was a big test for me and my team in terms of doing our first big install since the pandemic hit. Our client was very concerned about COVID risks and everything had to be done in a extremely mindful way. Ultimately, there was a timeline for everything, and it all had to be carried out with the utmost of health and safety precautions in place.
And because this was an e-design project, and on such a tight timeline, the client didn’t have the option to see pieces or samples in person first, so she had to rely on the skills and experience of our team and trust that it would arrive in the color scheme and material intended. This was, honestly, a first for me as a design professional. This was the first time we had a homeowner who bought a home sight unseen, designed it sight unseen, and had the design installed virtually sight unseen.
As you can see, our sofa didn’t arrive for day one of shooting, but we got the shot on day two!
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A Perfect (Tropical) Storm
After six weeks passed in the blink of an eye, it was finally time to cross our fingers and dive into the installation process. And if you’re wondering whether 2020 was going to go ahead and send a Tropical Storm up the Eastern Seaboard right as we were expecting important deliveries, the answer is a resounding yes!
First, there were crossed wires with the local delivery company, so the sofa and master bed didn’t arrive on time…and then to top it off, Tropical Storm Isaias hit and knocked out electricity to the area. Ultimately, this was a lesson in logistics: you should assume that by the install day, 60% of your stuff isn’t going to be there, so you always want to pad out a week. Having been in the design industry a long time, I know that an install doesn’t take four days, it takes about two weeks.
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“I Feel Like I Live in a Magazine!”
However, like the sunshine after the rain, the most amazing thing about this whirlwind of a project—where so much could have (literally) been washed out to sea at any moment—is that everyone involved was overjoyed with how this home came out. The final result is very relaxed and reads as modern classic with coastal and eclectic touches and undertones, which is basically a fancy way of saying the client was obsessed and sent me a video where her kids were literally jumping for joy when they first saw their new home.
Two days after, the client texted me that her husband woke up and said: “I feel like I live in a magazine. The food tastes better, the air smells better.” There’s immense pleasure I get from that, and from seeing our team in action–it’s extraordinarily rewarding and fulfilling!
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Cozy, Coastal & Chic (Yes, You Actually Can Have it All)
Each room of this Westport home tells a story, makes a statement, and feels instantly livable. All of the styling elements (like the shelf decor and wall art) had to feel artful, cohesive, and sophisticated, but still super-vibrant and playful so that the whole family would instantly feel at home in every room.
From the eye-catching (and oh-so-comfy) chairs, daybeds, and ottomans in the living room, guest bedroom, and sitting areas, to the adorable kids’ playroom, every item has a distinct purpose. Ultimately, I leaned into small details that lent beach-y and bohemian flare to the more streamlined anchor pieces.
In the sitting room, a rattan coffee table draws in playful coastal elements (let’s face it, nothing makes a room feel “upscale beach-y” quite like some well-placed rattan furnishings), while the Modern Classic silhouettes of the channeled faux leather arm chairs and sleek chaise lounge (complete with industrial-inspired nailhead details) anchor the look firmly on the side of sophisticated. I honestly might just steal some of these motifs for my own home, which I’m currently in the process of refreshing! Standout pieces that brought the materials story together include the woven mahogany and rope dining chairs in the breakfast area, the burled ottomans in unique novelty shapes in the master bedroom, a variety of rug textures throughout the home, and the soft plush elements in the playroom (like the cozy-cute bean bags and jute pouf).
Seriously, don’t you just want to curl up with your favorite book on one of those kitty-cat beanbags? I’m going to have to make sure my own kids don’t see this playroom because otherwise I’ll have some shopping of my own to do!
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Making a House a (Turn Key) Home
One final aspect that made the result of this design project so mind-blowing–is that our team took on the task of making the space turn-key ready for the client. This means that we didn’t just design the home—we made sure that it was fully ready for the family to move into right away.
You need a very robust and logistics–oriented team to do a project like this, especially given the turn-key element, because it’s about more than just the design itself. We had one designer designing, one team member doing all of the turn-key shopping, the designer’s assistants doing the other rooms subsequently and approving the revisions because we simply had to move things through the pipeline at a lightning-fast pace. It’s our commitment to organization that sets us apart from other design firms.
Making sure a home is turn-key ready is a service that falls under our custom design package offering and truly lets our team outfit a home with every last detail. Essentially, our team creates a list of small items that a client might not even be thinking about during the interior design process that they will need to feel at home in their new space once they settle in, like bedding basics, baking gear, oven mitts, and dish cloths, for example. For this Westport interior design project, the turn-key list included small essentials like a waste bin, bath accessories, toilet paper, paper towels, kitchen utensils, dinnerware, wine glasses, knives, flatware, a doormat, cutting boards, coffee pods, hand soaps, and so much more.
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