It’s not easy being an interior designer. Everyone thinks you simply buy pretty stuff you like and create a beautiful room. But there is this one word that people tend to forget. It’s client. Kim Armstrong understands that word.
It’s why those clients flock to her award-winning company Kim Armstrong Interior Designs. One, in particular, had her dining rooms (yes, I said rooms, plural) chosen as finalists for the Life in Color competition held by D Home magazine each year. One dining room was selected in 2013, and the other just last year. Life in Color offers an opportunity for Dallas interior designers to share their best work using a color as a theme or accent.
It’s rare that a designer makes the finals twice, especially with work for the same client, because it’s a pretty tough competition. So, I just had to get in touch with Kim Armstrong and get the down-low.
The first dining room was bold and colorful, very colorful! Her client loves color, so Armstrong got to have a bit of fun as the first dining room in Lake Forest, a newer development. What better way to build in character than with color?
It’s always interesting to gain insight into how an interior designer begins the design process for a client. Armstrong fell in love with a Designers Guild fabric for draperies. Fortunately, her client loved the fabric as well.
The client had chosen artwork. Armstrong put it into a PowerPoint presentation and inserted a lot of colors to showcase the possibilities. “My client wanted a bright room, and she loved blue with the artwork.”
When Armstrong got her interior design degree, she was taught there was one color you never paint a dining room — yep, it’s blue. But being a smart, sought-after, interior designer means breaking those rules you learn in school!
“We chose a wall color before the fabric for the drapes, which is a little bit counterintuitive,” Armstrong said. “You usually choose fabric first. The fabric allowed me to introduce the colors into the room in other ways.”
Traditionally you use a buffet in a dining room, but there was not enough space, so Armstrong used two commodes and had them painted a bright magenta which was dynamic against the blue of the walls. The mirrors were decorative craft mirrors.
Once you have a fabric chosen for curtains, the big challenge is finding one to coordinate for the dining room chairs.
“I spent about three weeks pulling bright fabrics and could not find anything,” Armstrong said. “So, I thought let’s just make it. I went to Designers Guild, and we made the fabric. Each strip was hand sewn.”
The room was a hit, not only for the client but of course for the D Home competition.
Fast forward, and Kim Armstrong’s client has moved into a landmark Charles Dilbeck home in Lakewood. It was featured in the book Great Houses of Texas and is one of those homes both Candy and I love. In fact, we’ve written about it a number of times.
Armstrong got the call to help with the new house and was thrilled to find even though this was a traditional, historic home, and it had turquoise ceilings! This was fortuitous as turquoise is her client’s absolute favorite color. But this was a whole different ballgame!
“We wanted to enhance the character of the house,” Armstrong said. “That was the driving factor. It had to be more traditional and not over the top. The challenge in working with a historic home is to honor the architecture, but make it look current.”
Armstrong fell in love with the cypress wood turquoise ceilings. There were a few things in play, including a collection of the client’s antique blue-and-white ceramics and the gorgeous existing dining chairs in that striped fabric that the client wanted to keep. But of course, that fabric was a bit bold for this Dilbeck.
Armstrong found the solution in a Schumacher fabric that has the turquoise shade of the ceiling, but also the blue and white of the ceramics. “The fabric made the room,” Armstrong said.
And if you think finding things that fit is easy, it’s not. The rug is from Lee Jofa and had to be cut it down because the dining room is narrow.
Are you beginning to understand why interior designers are a necessity? The lesson here is that you hire an interior designer today because they are good at their craft. It’s not because they have a unique style. Those days are over. A good designer interprets your style, for your life, and incorporates your treasures into the mix.
Like I said, it’s not easy being an interior designer and it’s even harder to get noticed by the press. Kim Armstrong has been successful because she is not afraid to make bold decisions that always turn out right!
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Karen teaches the popular Staging to Sell class and is the creator of the online course, The Beginners Guide to Buying Wholesale. Her love of dogs, international travel, history, white paint, champagne, artificial turf, and Tudor and Midcentury Modern homes, and any house designed by Clifford Hutsell knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well! Find Karen at www.eubankstaging.com