Kerrie Kelly – Founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

[quote style=”boxed”]I touch things once. I open the mail, schedule the bill payment and file it. You won’t see heaps of paper on my desk or a full inbox of unanswered emails from me. I value time and efficiency and this is how I honor that.[/quote]

Northern California interior designer Kerrie Kelly founded Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in 1995. She is an award-winning interior designer, author and multimedia consultant, helping national brands reach the interior design market. She is a certified interior designer with an Interior Design degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and has a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

She is a Member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) and IIDA (International Interior Design Association). She is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), sits on the Advisory Board for Eskaton’s Livable Design and is an avid representative and speaker for Livable Design’s initiatives. She has authored two books: “Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide” and “My Interior Design Kit,” with Pearson Professional and Career Education.

She is one of four national Subject Matter Experts (SME) for The Home Depot. She serves as a member of the Design Advisory Board at Zillow, Inc. and contributes monthly articles for their website, reaching Yahoo!, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. She also writes a monthly column for SpareFoot and Style Media Group.

She has received several awards, including the California Paints Exterior Palette Challenge, and the Jason Wu for Brizo Blogger-19 Challenge. She was named the 2012 recipient of ASID’s Nancy Vincent McClelland Merit Award for Interior Design Education and has received several local ASID residential design awards. She has received Houzz’s Best of Remodeling Award in 2012 as well as Best of Design and Customer Satisfaction Awards in 2013 and 2014.

As one of five national 2012 Trendspotters for Cosentino, Kerrie continues to forecast and identify the latest in interior design while assisting the solid surface company with their product development. Her latest international collaboration will be unveiled at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in January 2015.

Where did the idea for Kerrie Kelly Design Lab come from? What does your typical day look like?

Working for Ralph Lauren and Del Webb Corporation upon graduation, I understood the power of a lifestyle brand. With that, I also understood there were limitations as to what I could offer my interior design clients. Believing that “Everyone Deserves Great Design” (our company tagline), I ultimately decided to take my side gig full-time so my customers could experience every facet the industry had to offer, providing them a complete project start to finish while I take them through the process. Due to the variety of products and types of projects our team tackles, no day is the same, and I like it that way.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Kerrie Kelly Design Lab not only assists clients in their spaces, we also provide information in a variety of ways so interior design can be accessible. Whether we are writing an article for The Home Depot, collaborating with a brand so their product can reach the designer market or picking a paint color for a living room, it is highly interactive both internally and externally. Our all-star team works together to make sure the client’s vision is understood and comes to life through imagery, writing and valued relationships.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Statement lighting has been on the interior design scene for a while now, but it continues to “wow” both our clients and the spaces they adorn. One simple fixture can create impact, mood and function.. Statement lighting brings a special effect into a commercial or residential space and gives the most modest of rooms a custom look. A burst of illumination in a corner or washing over a wall can do as much for a space as a bold accent color on the wall. It can even create visual spaciousness to a smaller sized room. If you’ve got the space, a classic chandelier or large simply styled pendant can serve as artwork or sculpture for the space, creating a dramatic effect with a concentrated focus.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I touch things once. I open the mail, schedule the bill payment and file it. You won’t see heaps of paper on my desk or a full inbox of unanswered emails from me. I value time and efficiency and this is how I honor that.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I haven’t had a bad job—I have had challenging moments, however, I have learned for each one of them. Over time, you understand the need to have more patience, be more empathetic or have more structure, and sometimes it takes a memorable event to “get it”.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would have trusted bringing on more people earlier on. It wasn’t until I decided to hire people that I understood that is what would allow me to take on more opportunity and a larger client load. I would have stopped worrying how everyone would get paid and simply hunted down the work to make it happen.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend that everyone else do?

Exercise, celebrate your successes and have a weekly team meeting. This allows you to blow off steam and remain focused while acknowledging progress and keeping everyone on the same page for effective outcomes.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I started my business small and from my home until it became necessary to move to a commercial space. And while we have moved to a larger space every two years for the past six, it has worked for me. That slow-but-steady growth has created a balance that I appreciate.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I was writing my book, “Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide,” I thought I could have it all—be an author, run a successful design business and be the Director of Interior Design at the Art Institute of California. Something had to give. While I loved the education aspect of my job, I had to find a new way to do that, as my business needed me. Now we mentor and accept interns every semester so students can fulfill graduation requirements and we can share what being an interior designer is like.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would love to create a portable electrical outlet that could be small enough to tuck under a side table to eliminate lamp cords strewn across room floors. I am told that the battery would have to be the size of a car battery—not what I had in mind!

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I have a mean left hook when boxing.

What software and web services do you use?

Quickbooks takes care of all of our accounting. Our team uses InDesign, Photoshop and CAD.

What do you love about them?

They are tools that help us communicate to our tradespeople, vendors and clients in an effective way. We can go from a blank piece of paper to communicating an entirely new space for our clientele.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Just to step outside of the business arena, I think you may want to flip through my book—“Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide.” Our environments have more value that we may realize. Simple adjustments to a home or work space can make all the difference in our everyday lives.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Ralph Lauren and Del Webb both have had tremendous influence on me and my business. Their bravery and vision for their lifestyle brands have raised the bar in fashion, design and construction and I appreciate the groundwork they have laid.


Kerrie Kelly Design Lab on Facebook:
Kerrie Kelly Design Lab on Instagram:
Kerrie Kelly Design Lab on Twitter: @kerriekelly
Kerrie Kelly Design Lab on Pinterest:
Kerrie Kelly Design Lab on LinkedIn: