We’re Hiring! *again*

kate lester office

Senior Designer Position- Full Time Position

We’re on the hunt! Our design firm is looking for a Senior Designer to jump in and join our energetic/fun/very busy/sassy/fabulous design team!

If you are passionate about design, are a self-starter, have a thick skin, own at least one vintage item, and are a religious watcher of any of the Real Housewives Franchises and/or Dateline- this position is for YOU! This is a position perfect for someone who has been in the design world for a while, and who has worked as a design assistant and or/senior designer already. We need someone who can manage projects and help with concept development. See below for responsibilities and requirements. 


-Being responsible, accountable and punctual. 

-Managing timeline for individual project responsibilities, and being accountable for delivery and installation deadlines.

-Working very closely with vendors, sub-contractors, furniture and fabric reps.

-Preparing detailed interior elevations, floorplans, and furniture plans.

-Researching products, obtain pricing information and submitting purchase orders for product.

-Researching, organizing and formatting specifications of plumbing, appliances, lighting, tile, slab and other finishes, fixtures and equipment. We do a lot of this in Excel- so if you are familiar with that program we already love you.

-Placing online orders, tracking orders, and coordinate with receiving warehouse regarding receiving of product.

-Driving to showrooms, vendors, and workrooms to pick up and deliver samples.

-Visiting job sites on a regular basis to verify measurements, edit drawings and confirm finishes.

REQUIREMENTS: (A potential candidate must have the all of following so PLEASE read thoroughly before applying.)

-Must have 1-2 years experience as (at least) a Junior Designer in a residential design firm prior to applying. This is not the right fit for someone fresh out of design school.

-Be proficient in AUTOCAD software. This is a requirement for the position and there will be a skill review during the interview.

-Must be detail oriented. 

-Must be able to read and understand building plans and elevations.

-Amazing communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to be assertive and clear with vendors and sub-contractors.

-Ability to work Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm in our design studio, located in Hermosa Beach, CA.

-Must have reliable car with a valid drivers license. 

-Must be able to lift 50 lbs. 

-Excellent knowledge of Microsoft Office and all applications such as Outlook, Word, and Excel. Knowledge of Pinterest and other social media platforms.

-Must be comfortable working in a fast paced, high pressure environment, have excellent communication skills, attention to detail and be able to take absorb feedback.

-Ability to be a team player at all times, and open to wearing lots of hats on a weekly basis.

-Photoshop knowledge is a plus.

-Prior knowledge/relationship with wholesale and trade vendors is also a plus. 

If this is you, GREAT! Please send resume and cover letter to info@katelesterinteriors.com

Compensation will be based on experience and education. We also offer paid vacation and health benefits if needed!

Shop The Look!


Today I am talking bedrooms! Maybe it’s because it’s Friday and I plan to be snuggled in my bed all weekend, or maybe it’s because today I am taking over SHLTR’s instagram stories where I am talking all about how to style your bedroom like a pro. I’m sharing my nightstand sizing tips, all the bedding basics, and of course you KNOW I am talking all about the good ‘ol pillow pile. If you have not checked out the takeover yet, be sure to click the link HERE.

For those of you who are like “Yes, I would love to style my bedroom, but it totally sucks right now, so I need to step up my game before I can even think about styling”… I ALSO got you. I was feeling super sweet and generous so I have sourced the look from our SHLTR bedroom takeover just for you! Now you can get this super designer-fabulous and curated look from the comfort of your own home!

Some items were custom, vintage, or one of a kind- but I have included the ones you can still get your hands on in the links below.

Vintage Bench, Pottery Lamp, Rush Nightstands, Botanical Art, Alpaca Throw, Vintage Turkish Rug, Textural Pillow.

If you try any of my styling tips from the takeover, or create a version of this look in your own space, be sure to send me a pict on instagram. I love to see how you all are creating your own looks! xo k.

Organized (+ chic) kids spaces

If you’re like me, you are probably struggling how to wrangle all of your kids toys, crafts, and school supplies while everyone is at home during quarantine. (Um hello- I want my dining table back!) A few weeks ago, when I had just about had it, I decided to create a (cheap + cheerful) storage system for my five year old daughter for all of the toys and crafts she uses the most. As you can see, not only is it functional, but it’s really chic, and ties in perfectly with the rest of her existing room decor.

Visually appealing kids storage systems are few and far between, so for her room I decided to create my own. I purchased these kid-size bookcases from Target, as well as the ivory coil baskets with leather trimmed handles. I purchased (4) small and (2) large. Then I added black chalkboard/rope tags that I labeled with a chalk pen. For Like Ever print is by Super Rural, woven rug & bedding is from Target, Bed is World Market, and Surfer Girl print is by Joe Vickers.

If you are ready to get organized in your kids spaces, here are a few of my tips and tricks to creating organization systems that will set you up for success… (and won’t break the bank, or make your eyes bleed).

Make sure the pieces jive with your existing décor. I went with the white and wood bookcases because she has another white piece of furniture and various wood accents throughout. I selected two bookcases first, then found those great knit bins in various sizes.

Stay away from clear or perforated bins. It just gets too busy and looks like a mess. A solid bin gives the appearance of everything being perfectly organized even if it’s not!

Keep it low. If you expect them to be able to play on their own, then make sure everything is at arms length. Of course I wanted to make a fancy built-in piece but then she wouldn’t be able to reach any of it!

Sort + seperate. Separate toys by category and label the bins. I used those super simple black wooden tags, and labeled them with a chalk pen.

Keep the bins small and light. I went with knit coil bins with leather handles from target and they are light and easy to lift.

Light and labeled bins can go anywhere in the house. So when it’s time for movie night with mom and dad, sometimes she’ll get bored and bring out a bin of blocks and start playing. I think it’s encouraging her independence and I like that.

At night EVERYTHING goes back. That’s right. Back into it’s designated bin, and then back into the shelf- and just like that the toys are ALL in her room and not all over the rest of the house where you can step on a rogue lego in the middle of the night.

Happy Organizing! xo k.

Muted: What I learned when I stopped talking.

Ok, so to be honest I almost didn’t write this post. I was worried that people would think I was virtue signaling, or “making it about me”… but I wanted to be real and share what I learned. And you know what? The truth is that it IS about me. It’s about me, and and lots of other people like me who have just stood by for way too long while racism and social injustice continues in our country. The killing of George Floyd shook me to my core. How is this still happening?

Like so many others,  before the events of last week, I thought I was “woke”. I was accepting, and not a racist AT ALL- but this week I realized that I still have a lot to learn. Just “not being a racist” isn’t actually enough. First, I watched Trevor Noah’s take on protests and looters  and it was SO eye-opening. I began to wonder what else I needed to see to expand my perspective. I started researching, listening, going deep on the gram, and devouring documentaries (do yourself a favor and watch 13th on Netflix). I had some hard conversations with family, I was humbled, I laughed, I cried, and I unfollowed some people on instagram.

On June 1st, I read about the #AmplifyMelanatedVoicesChallenge, which calls on social media users to focus on the social justice work of BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) amid the national protests surrounding racial injustice and police brutality in order to give a platform to those who are historically silenced or looked over. Here is what I learned during the seven days while I was on mute.

That “not seeing color” is part of the problem. Last week I posted a story where I said I was proud that my daughter didn’t see color. This week I learned that that statement is actually part of the problem. See, instead of being complacent when my daughter thinks of her friends of color as “just more tan” I need to explain to her all about their history and differences, why she should embrace them, why their childhood experiences may be different, and how she can support them. Todays Parent has a great list of 30 books to help talk to your kids about racism, and we’re starting those conversations right now.

I learned about my father. I thought I would share this story because it not only showed me how long racism has been alive and well in the police force- but what my father did to stand up against it. (And I just learned about it this week.) When my dad returned from the Vietnam war, he went straight to enlist in the LAPD. After a few months on the job, he came home one night in tears. He shared with my mom that as a rookie officer he was told by his senior partner (while that senior officer sat in the back of the patrol car with a young black man who they had arrested), to “keep his face forward and drive- and if anyone asks, we tell them the boy came in like this.” My dad was absolutely appalled by this abuse of power and blatant racism, and reported it immediately. He also quit the force the next day. (He went on to be a tour manager for Rick James, but that’s a story for another post.) I am proud of what he did, and to be honest I always thought he quit the force to work in music. I never knew the whole story. This is a great reminder that if you really want to show up for what you believe in, sometimes you have to demand change, and if it isn’t well received then you have to be prepared to walk away. I admire him for taking a stand, and am glad my mom shared this story with me this week.

Interior design is really white. Like, really white. As a white designer, “how do I help change this” was my first thought. I heard about @blackinteriorsdesignersnetwork on instagram, and I started following them because they have a ton of great ways to be an ally to Black designers. They also have a website, and a fund that supports the events and programs they provide to Black interior designers. Some other things I learned I can do right now: Source from black product designers, hire Black artisans and craftsmen, and demand more inclusion and diversity from our trade events and publications.

Voting in “smaller” elections is important too. I admit it, growing up I was guilty of some years only voting in the “big” elections, and not heading to the polls for local elections as frequently. This week my husband and I had a lot of conversations about our local government, and how showing up for EVERY election is where we can really use our power as voters to elect those who we feel will help impart the change and reform we are hoping for.. I looked up my local election dates, what was on the ballot, and marked my calendar. I will never skip a day where I can use my hard-earned right to vote again. If you are not registered to vote, you can do so here.

Edit who I follow on instagram:  Holy sh*t, did this one hit me hard this week. (Via some pretty angry DMs.) I am not sure about you guys, but I follow a boatload of people on instagram. Sometimes it’s because I find them strange (hello Elon Musk), inspirational (hello Malcom Gladwell), because I need a laugh (hello every stupid meme page) or sometimes it’s because I am curious about their views or political presence even if I don’t always agree with them. To make a long story short, this week I looked at who I followed because following someone is a small show of support, and so I did some unfollowing. I want to walk the walk and talk the talk so I only want to give support (even if it’s just a follow on instagram) to those who’s views align with mine. This was a simple act but a big lesson learned on my part.

Lastly, I learned that as a privileged white woman, I am probably going to screw up along the way during this process. I don’t understand what it’s like to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin- and I never will. But I do believe that showing up imperfectly is better than not showing up at all. I am going to do the best I can to be a kind, compassionate human being, and to encourage others to do the same. I am going to apologize when I’ve done something that I didn’t realize may have hurt others, and I am going to correct course when needed.  I will be an ally.  (Learn more about Allyship here)  I will speak up when necessary, and I will not shy away from hard conversations with friends and family.

If you’re still with me down here at the end of this long-ass post, I want you to know that as we begin to post beautiful interiors once again, I will continue steadfastly to be teachable, vigilant, compassionate, consistent, and use my platform to promote peace, love and kindness above all else.

xo k.

Bedroom Makeover (Spendless-Edition)

A spendless bedroom makeover is a great idea during this time! Although you all know I tend to spend on amazing and thoughtful furniture/accessories, I also LOVE giving spaces a refresh by re-working what you already have. (And I have actually been doing this A LOT during quarantine at my house.) I don’t know about you, but it gives me a little thrill that I can re-work something and breathe new life into a space without spending a dime. Also- this is the kind of “re-design” my husband will actually get behind! See some of my favorite tips and tricks below for minimum spend and maximum results!

Start Over: Remove all of your lamps, art and accessories, put them in a pile, and start over. If you are really brave you can take things from other rooms and re-style a few rooms at once. It is amazing how switching up a few pieces of art, decorative accents, and books etc can give a space a whole new look!

Get Organized: While you have this time at home, use it to create systems that will help you stay organized when life gets hectic again. Pull everything out and organize all of your drawers and closet. While you are doing this, make sure you create a place for everything. How much better will your bedroom look when you can actually SEE the chair in the corner since because it is no longer covered in clothes?!

Rotate & Rework: Swap out your nightstands with those in another room, or even with the end tables you have in your living room. The change in scale and color may just inspire you to re-accessorize (see tip above)! Add a decorative box or tray for added storage without a using a drawer.

Add a Rug: I am always surprised at how many people with hardwood floors don’t have rugs in their bedrooms. Nothing adds warmth, dimension, and texture like a good rug- and what’s better than feeling that softness underfoot first thing in the morning?! Pro tip- Make sure all of your furniture pieces are anchored with at least one or two legs on the rug. It will make everything look cohesive and will actually make the space feel larger.

Reverse & Rework: Breathe life into your existing bedding by turning it over. Most duvets are double sided, so give your duvet a flip and see what’s on the other side. Is it a lighter color, darker? You can also swap out your duvet for a quit or coverlet you may have lying around in another room. Play around with how your bedding is layered, and rearrange or swap pillows/pillow covers. This is such an instant bed makeover that immediately makes the space feel updated and fresh!

Change That Layout: Chances are when you moved in, you probably put your bed where the last people had theirs, or wherever was the most convenient spot that day. Well, now you have time to re-think everything. Is your bed blocking a window with a great view or natural light? Would the space feel larger or more welcoming with the headboard on another wall? Have fun and take some chances, moving your furniture around is not only a great way to make your bedroom look better, it’s also a workout- so get on it!

Get a Headboard Facelift:  I used to have an upholstered headboard I was totally sick of. (see above) One day I grabbed a vintage kantha cloth I had in another room, and draped it over the headboard. The added color, texture and pattern completely changed the feel of the whole room and it only took me 10 minutes with something I already had! (Hello, that’s good for your pocketbook AND the environment!) I can’t wait to see how you guys do, so be sure to tag me in your rearranged spaces on the ‘gram! @klinteriors Good luck and happy rearranging!   xo k.

KLI Coloring Pages

This morning, while coloring in one of many mediocre coloring books with Mackenzie, I realized there was no reason we shouldn’t be starting her designer training now.

Since we’ve got nothing but time, we decided to turn a few of KLI’s most recent designs into coloring pages. We printed them out and started to color, and we were swiftly discussing contrast window trim, what herringbone means, and the merits of a good apron front sink. I am pretty sure I lost her about five minutes in, but she is super smart so she humored me with some “mmuhmmmss.” (Like any good designer in training should.) We picked three of our favorite vignettes and they are all linked below.

Download / print them and get those creative juices flowing. Trust me it’s better than coloring paw patrol for the three hundredth time.

 Now, you can show us your stuff, and have some fun with the fam while you do it! Click, print, color, and share your complete pages on the ‘gram (be sure to tag @klinteriors).

Because we are a super competitive family we are obviously making this a contest, and Mackenzie will be picking one winner for each vignette this Sunday. Winners will get a special shoutout on our social media, as well as a little surprise from kate lester HOME!

Can’t wait to see all of your coloring skills. (It’s strangely calming, btw.) I may be adding a weekly coloring session into my repoirtoire even after this is all over.

The Work-From-Home Edit

So at this point, if you are breathing, you are probably working from home… and more than likely your home office/temporary desk space sucks. Don’t fret. I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks to make your WFH space a little less frat house and a lot more four seasons.

photo: Lauren Pressey

ENGAGE YOUR SENSES: When you sit down with your coffee to get to work in the morning, light a candle. Like, a good candle. Something that is fresh and invigorating. The goal is to create an environment that stimulates productivity and creativity, so why not take advantage of working in a place where an open flame is encouraged!

STAY ORGANIZED: Take this time at home to make sure everything has a place so everything can STAY in its place. (Sidenote: this is applicable in every room of your house.) With everyone at home together it’s easy for the wheels to fall off and for things to get chaotic. Invest in some chic canisters and containers for office supplies and pens. Staying organized will make it easier for everyone to put things away at the end of the day… and a tidy home is always less stressful.

photo: Amy Bartlam.

ADD ART & ACCESSORIES: Just because you are working from home, it doesn’t mean your WFH space can’t be interesting. Adding in art and decorative accessories that are meaningful to you, will make the space more welcoming and inspire creativity. Reminder- you are much more likely to be productive in a space where you feel comfortable.

CHANGE YOUR SCENERY: If you can, take advantage of your new WHF life and take your laptop or a notebook outside to your patio or balcony. Get some fresh air, and remind yourself that this is WAY better than making small talk with your co-worker Karen about her 40 cats in the breakroom.

BRING THE OUTSIDE IN: Plants and florals make people happy, and we can all use a little more happiness these days. Also, greenery makes a space feel more alive and adds dimension and texture. So gather some greens and your favorite vase and take a 15 minute “flower arranging” break. Between this and the candle, working from home may be suddenly more luxurious than your previous cubicle life.

photo: Lauren Pressey

BUY STUPID SH*T: Ok, you may think I am crazy, but I only use ONE type of pen. I also like white binder clips (not black) and have a marble stapler, and matte black steel scissors. Obviously I am insane, but I say if buying pretty office supplies makes you happy, then throw them in your virtual cart. You do you with those inspirational quote post it notes. If makes you feel better, then buy it and werk it.

MULTI TASK: I am sitting here, writing this entire blog post with a pair of cucumber under-eye patches on. Can someone please tell me what is better than working while having a moment of self-care? See if you’ll be able to do that when you are back in the office without Jim from accounting giving you the side eye as he walks by.

1.)dish & tray set 2.)flower arranging book 3.)canisters 4.)wood tray 5.)vase 6.)wick trimmer & snuffer set 7).art print 8.)oriental noir candle 9).acacia wood canisters 10).leather & linen pillow.

Lastly, before you have the inevitable Groundhog Day meltdown, try to take a second and remember that working from home is a luxury that doctors, nurses, firemen, garbage collectors, policemen, delivery peeps and grocery store employees don’t have, so light a candle and get a grip.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay HOME. xo k.

Transitioning into design? Here’s my take.

Ok, so I get a ton of DM’s about my story. People always ask how I got started, why I got into design, and if I always wanted to be a designer. Well, the answer to that question is a resounding nope. So since my path to where I am today was less than a straight shot, I figured I would share the abbreviated version with you. Maybe some of my story will resonate if you are thinking about, or just took the plunge into design from another career.

All photos from one of my first new construction projects. Photo: Amy Bartlam

When I was a child I wanted to be rich. More importantly I  wanted to be a really fantastic businesswoman, but mostly just rich. I was a super obnoxious adolescent prancing around my house in a pair of my mom’s high heels with my grandfathers old briefcase and cordless phone. The gist here,  is that my path was always business. Corporate business, big tall building business,  important business- where I would make lots of money and drive a really fabulous Mercedes sedan with a car phone. (Hey it was the 80’s!) I never rearranged the furniture in my room, and I never asked to decorate the house. I wrote pretend checks and was ready to be a boss before I even knew what I was going be a boss of.

Fast forward 15 years and I had just graduated USC (fight on) with a degree in Business. I got a job in corporate America and had a sweet little corner office and a shiny new BMW. I was on my way to dominating the world! Only problem was… I HATED it. I hated the structure, the corporate mentality, and celebrating people’s birthdays with crappy cake in the break room. During this time I also started to realize that I had a knack for deign. I helped the corporate bosses pick paint colors and photography for the offices and I helped overhaul the Iobby. Apparently I was good at it, and I liked it. In fact, I liked it a lot more than what I was doing, so I decided to switch gears.

One day, on my drive home, I called my parents and told them I had quit my job and was going back to school to study Interior Design. As always they were super supportive, but graciously reminded me that they had already funded one college experience so this time I was on my own.  I got a job bartending at night and sold  horrible furniture at Ethan Allen to learn the ropes and pay the bills and essentially… started over. About two years in, I got a job working for an amazing LA-Based designer and quit school to work for him full-time. I stayed with him for about 4 years and worked my way up the ranks, and then eventually left to start my own company in 2011. I made a deal with my husband that I would promise to bring in at least $1,000 a month from my “design business” and we agreed to give it a year. I took the $500 I had set aside to buy business cards and marketing materials and ran with it. Three months later I had four projects, and was looking for office space and an assistant. Obviously, the story is a LOT longer than this, but this is just the overall so you don’t get too bored. The really important stuff is below.

Photo: Amy Bartlam

There are a lot of things I learned taking the leap from corporate America to interior design, but a few really stand out. I gathered the things that I think are most important- and am sharing them with you guys in the hope that one or two will resonate and help make someone else’s transition a little bit easier than mine.

You’re going to start at the bottom, so be humble and be teachable.  I think when people are first starting out, they want to be assertive and seem knowledgeable but sometimes that comes off wrong. Just because you’ve built your own house and everyone loves it, does not mean you are an expert interior designer (just yet). You have yet to blow a budget, miss a deadline, have your team order a sofa that is right-arm-facing when it should be left-arm-facing, forget to request a COM,  or design a detail that looks good on paper but looks like crap in real life… and remember, this is now all on someone else’s dime. So my advice is slow your roll. Get out into the field. Talk to the contractors, take a lot of notes, and write down terms you don’t understand so you can google them later. Be humble and be nice. To everyone.   If you are going to work for another designer- be a sponge. Listen, learn and take notes on what you admire and what you’d do differently. Be aware and try to understand and observe as much of the business as a whole

Find a mentor. Honestly, I think this is probably applicable in 99% of professions, but especially in design. Find a successful designer and see if they will let you pick their brain. Go to events and workshops put on by people you admire and aspire to be like. Offer to take people to coffee or lunch. Ask questions and take notes. I knew I had a knack for design, but what I didn’t understand, was make money doing it or how I was going to develop a firm that was consistently profitable- so my mentor was a super successful businessman and his advice was always invaluable to me.

Network. Then network again. This is actually applicable even if you are getting into design to work for someone else. I made so many friends in the design industry while working for another designer because I went to events, markets, seminars etc. If you are on your own – networking is even MORE important! Join a networking group or send a marketing kit to local builders or architects who’s work you admire. Get up early and go to bed late. Hustle. In the beginning you won’t have a portfolio of work ot fall back on so you will have to sell yourself at every chance you get.

Start small, but think BIG. Please, please, please don’t take a single dollar for design until you have a client agreement, insurance, a resale certificate, proper bank account etc. If you want people to respect you as a designer, then make sure you legally establish yourself as such. Sit down with an attorney to make sure your contract protects you, and pay your taxes. Design is awesome, but it’s still a business, so treat it that way.

Stop looking ahead. Stop looking for the “next” opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity. In fact, you are probably working on a small project right not saying “This project is lame. I’ll just deal with it and get it over with and then get a really good one.” I  think this was a huge lesson for me when first starting out. I would get a project that was small, or had a tiny budget, so I would sort of internally dismiss it and maybe not make it as cool as possible, becasuse I was waiting for that BIG project to use all of my cool ideas. Well, if you are doing that, STOP IT RIGHT NOW. If your current project is a powder room- then trick that powder room out!!! Make it the coolest, most bad-ass powder room on your side of the Mississippi and own that design. Treat each opportunity as your potential Architectural Digest cover and you will enjoy the journey, and the scopes and client budgets will grow. Be patient, trust the process, and focus on the job at hand as your next big break.

Photo: Amy Bartlam

Ok, obviously I learned like a billion other things along the way, but I think these were the standouts. I always love sharing my journey, and hope that there is something here that resonates with one of you in some small way. Now I need to wrap this up and answer 3,795 emails. Happy weekend! xo k

Top 5 things I learned this decade

Ok, a decade is a long time. Ten years ago I was rocking my best top from forever 21, bad hair extensions, and a lot of student loan debt. To give you a little more perspective, in 2010, I had just gotten married and was living in an apartment with my husband. Our lives were different. We lived paycheck to paycheck and our biggest triumph that year was scoring an apartment by the beach with a washer and dryer inside. (If you know, you know- this is kind of a big deal.) My husband was just starting out in his career, and so was I. We were adorably young, dumb and wrinkle-free. (And still eating carbohydrates without worry.)

When a decade wraps up, I think it makes you want to look back and really ponder all of that time carefully. For me, there have been so many changes and so much growth each and every year, it would be hard (and probably boring) to put it all in to a single blog post. To save you from my endless rambling, and because studies show people love a good “Top 5”- here are the five things I took away from the last decade that I thought would resonate most with you guys.

Designer styling Living Room
I am always working. Photo by Lauren Pressey


In 2010 I was 29 and working as a design assistant’s assistant. I had a degree they didn’t care about from USC in business (not design) and I had just left a pretty lucrative corporate gig to be a fabric sample gofer. More than one person told me it was too late in my life to change my mind. I had already selected my “path” in life, and changing that trajectory would be a disaster. Not only did I disagree, but since I hate being told what to do, I had to prove them wrong. I am actually pretty vocal about my story, so I get these questions a lot. “How did you transition?” “How did you get the good design jobs?” The answer to that is that I didn’t. I ate a lot of top ramen, I learned everything I could from the designer I worked for, and I worked really, really hard. Then, I took little side projects until I realized that on the weekends I was making more money doing said side projects than I was working for that designer. This sounds simple, but it wasn’t. I worked every day. Nights and weekends too, and the projects I took were hardly ideal. The moral to this story is that it’s never too late to change your mind, but you better be prepared to work for it.

Farmhouse Kitchen
My very first published project. I learned so much professionally and personally on this one. Photo by Amy Bartlam.


Remember when your biggest life problem was another girl having the same prom dress as you? I know, it happened to me too- and at the time it was earth shattering. This is that concept, but bigger. A year can change everything. This has resonated with me in my personal life as well as my business career. A project you didn’t get, or a custom sofa that was made incorrectly may seem like it will break you, but when you look back a year later you realize it taught you something about yourself you may have not known before. Whenever I am struggling with something personally or professionally I really try to keep this in mind. Now, after living this mantra for a solid 10 years, I can absolutely say that reminding yourself of this when you think something is going to break you helps you get through it and reminds you that sure enough, a learning experience is on the other side.

Clients who trust you and the process are a game-changer. Photo by Gray Malin.


This is probably one of the most important things I learned over the past decade. You can’t always rely on people (or clients) to know your worth, respect your time, or trust the process. In my design firm, setting a clear outline of “how we work” before clients sign on, was a game changer for us. Not only do we talk about business hours, billing minimums and budgets upfront, but we also discuss our polices on shopping, how we present our design concepts, and our delivery and installation process. All of this now happens before our clients sign on, so that there is a clear line of communication and a set process from the beginning. This has completely changed the game for us and I find that having those tougher conversations upfront creates a dynamic of mutual respect throughout the project. Maybe in 2020 we’ll make t-shirts that say “Trust the process” and had them out with our welcome packet. Not sure, but it’s always a good reminder, so I am thinking about it.

Just do you… and own it! Photo by Amy Bartlam.


I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but stop looking at other people and asking yourself why you are not as pretty, wise, or successful as someone else. It’s draining and exhausting and an absolute and utter waste of time. It is one thing to admire someone, but another to compare. With social media always showing perfect snapshots of everyone’s lives, it’s virtually impossible to know if you are comparing your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10. My advice is to save your envy energy and channel in into killing your own game. In fact, a few months ago I was speaking to a group of up-and-coming designers and one of them said, “Ok, please tell me the secret to having Kate Lester confidence…?! It’s like you give ZERO fu*ks about what everyone else is doing.” I laughed, and then thought about putting that on my business card because it’s true. I believe that if you do you, and the rest will follow. Wake up, work hard, do better. Every single day.

Me, circa 2019.


When I look back, what I’m probably most proud of is coming into my own this decade. As I started my company I constantly struggled with what MY style looked like or what MY niche would be. I didn’t think I looked like a typical interior designer. I hated fancy pantsuits and heels, and my hair was never perfect. I was a beach girl at heart, and wanted to create spaces that felt curated, not decorated. Quickly, I discovered that my candor and casual demeanor resonated with my clients, and they even found my lack of filter “hilarious” (thank. God.) My work got better, because it reflected me- not another designer or a vision in my mind of someone I was supposed to be. The bottom line is, I curse too much, I love a good Target find, and I have an obsession with ridiculously expensive handbags. I am an anomaly who doesn’t fit into any one box, and that’s ok. I speak my truth, create spaces that I am proud of, and keep looking forward. To prove this to you below is my headshot from 2011, and above is an image taken in 2019. I’ve come a LONG way.

OMG me, circa 2011. Wow.

I compiled this list because, well, I love lists. But for real- I hope it resonates and you take something from it. I’ve made so many mistakes, but learned so much in the past ten years, it’s crazy to look back on it all. This decade maybe I’ll slow down. I’ll work less and rest a little… haha yea right. I already have some amazing new adventures planned for 2020 and I hope you do too! Happy New Year! xo k.

My Mini Master Facelift

Ok kids, I finally got around to taking a few picts of my mini-master bathroom facelift! For those of you who don’t know the whole story, a little over a year ago we bought an old beach shack on our dream lot about 6 blocks from the beach. (woohoo!) The house, however, was built in 1951, remodeled in 1985 and it SHOWED. The minute we got the keys, I was ready to start knocking down walls! But over dinner one night my husband and I had a serious chat about our five year plan. (If you know me, you know I am ALL ABOUT laying out a five-year plan). Were we going to flip this house like we did our last? Would we want to tear it down and start from scratch? We were all over the place and honestly not sure. So we came to an agreement. We would allocate a “facelift” budget that I would HAVE TO stick to and this would be my “allowance” to make the house livable for the three of us for the next five years. Then, we could revisit our plan and decide where to go from there. Now obviously, when I say livable I am using the term loosely- as the house was totally livable when we bought it. I am sure most regular people could have sucked it up, saved all of their money and bit the bullet for five years. I however, am NOT most regular people- and the house made my eyes bleed in its current state. The first two spaces we tackled were the kitchen/breakfast area and my daughter’s bathroom, as that also doubles as our guest bath and it was super gross. (I promise I will post another blog about those areas soon). Our master bathroom was not a priority so it sat. Like. This. For about nine months.

The lighting was not selfie-worthy, and OMG those glass block windows are my literal worst nightmare. Not to mention the fact that this is like the tiniest bathroom ever in the history of bathrooms, so it’s really hard to avert your eyes when you are in there.

In order to convince my other half that it was worth doing (we had JUST finished all the other construction and I think he was tired of waking up to drywall dust in his coffee) I promised I would do it for $5,000 (in materials) or less. Don’t believe me… follow along.

Let’s start with the shower. I ripped out the existing tile and shower enclosure. (barf) I went back to basics with 4×4 white classic square tile with a contrast grout from Home Depot. The ceilings are super high in this bathroom, so I took the tile up as high as I could to draw your eye up and make the space feel larger. I also really, really, really, wanted an exposed shower but the one I really wanted from Waterworks was WAY out of my budget. So, I found this one on Amazon and it’s actually pretty good quality and still going strong! I splurged on a frameless shower enclosure to make the space feel more open and went with matte black clips and hardware for some added contrast.

When it came to the drain and toilet handle… well, I totally forgot to order them in brass to match the shower and faucet so I had to spray paint them. Yes, that’s right- I spray painted them. (My contractor was laughing at me so hard about this BTW). These are obviously holding up less well, but I think they will make it  for another year or two and then I can touch them up.

For the floor, I needed something impactful, durable and chic that was not too pricy. A tall order, so obviously I turned to Bedrosians. They have a ton of porcelain options that are super well priced so I knew I would be able to find exactly what I was looking for and not break the bank. I settled on the Enchante Modern, and I LOVE it. The key was mitering the dam with the tile and also using it in the shower floor. It makes the room feel larger and doesn’t visually break up the space with multiple materials.

When it came to the vanity I had to get really creative! We all know how costly custom cabinetry is so that was obviously out of the question since I knew if we tear down the house eventually the chances of reusing it would be slim to none. (It also felt kind of wasteful TBH.) So obviously I went straight to IKEA. I used their Hemnes 4-drawer sink Cabinet  and paired it with the Odensvik integrated sink/countertop. While I was there I saw the cutest brass faucet so I pulled an audible and grabbed that as well. Before leaving I also snagged this mirror to hang above the vanity temporarily. I figured I could always hang it in my closet later, since it’s a few inches larger than the vanity and I knew that would drive me nuts. Well, once I hung it I actually liked it and it’s still there! I hung some towel hooks underneath to balance out the overhang and it’s fine. Lastly, I splurged on replacing the existing cabinet hardware with 8″ Patton pulls from Rejuvenation. The backplate covers the existing hole from the previous knob and they really elevate the look of the vanity cabinet (and the room as a whole). Last but not least, I added the Young House Love bath light from Shades of Light , and replaced the glass block wall panel with a smaller functional window. It did reduce some of the light coming in, but the white paint, tile, and overall brighter look of the space actually balanced it out so it was a wash- and now my eyes don’t bleed every morning.

All in all, I am pretty proud of how it came together! I stayed on budget (so I am not divorced) and it’s so nice to be able to get ready in a space that doesn’t make my skin crawl anymore. Even if it is psudo-temporary, it makes me happy to have a completed space that I feel is much more in line with our overall aesthetic and vibes.

Kate Lester Interiors