Designer Kathryn Ireland and pals are aiming for ‘the Perfect Room’
As one of the leading interior and textile designers in the United States, Kathryn M. Ireland has written six books, starred in Bravo’s “Million Dollar Decorators” and brought her whimsical, no-nonsense bohemian style to the homes of A-list celebrities, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Steve Martin. Now with the launch of her website the Perfect Room, she’s bringing the best of the design world to everyone’s doorstep.
Think of it as an elite Pinterest, committed to the “bespoke and custom,” she said.
“It’s always interested me how we could make the design industry streamlined,” said Ireland, who envisioned a platform that offered inspired interior designs from the best in the field, as well as everything for purchase to achieve that exact look.
The team of 12 designers — including Ireland, Rachel Ashwell, David Netto and fellow “Million Dollar Decorators” Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Jeffrey Alan Marks — created spaces for outdoors, living areas, bedrooms and even hallways, with a variety of aesthetics and moods.
If Ashwell’s cushy white couch and feminine accents in her “Antique Inspired” living room aren’t your fancy, you may prefer Marks’ leather-laden “Modern Malibu” living room.
“You can buy a whole room or one piece from the room. The more you buy, the better price you get,” said Ireland, whose $65,286 Cape Cod living room is the most expensive full suite of the 37 currently available on the site (her $5,965 Relaxed Ibiza Patio carries the lowest overall price tag).
The virtual shopping bag can hold several entire rooms, or individual items — a melamine dinner plate for $19, or a pedestal dinner table that’s more than $10,000. A menu of services includes drawing up a floor plan, a personalized design consultation, and delivery and installation of furniture, fabric and framed art for the walls.
“We all know how to work with different budgets, and I thought it was a great way to reach a lot of people in parts of the country that aren’t as well served as we are in bigger cities,” Ireland said.
How did you get your start in interior design?
When I moved to L.A., I was in the film business and married to a director, and before we bought a house we moved every year to a bigger house because we had another child. So I got really good at re-creating a home quickly. I can’t bear living out of boxes. By the time we moved in, the house was done and the curtains were hung.
Do you have a trademark aesthetic you bring to your different projects and designs?
Bohemian, livable, comfortable — English country meets California beach life. I just like rooms that make you feel good when you walk into them. So often there will be beautiful homes but when you walk into them, they’re stagnant, with no energy. So it’s about creating the energy, lifestyle and knowing how to live.
What needs and trends are you noticing most from homeowners these days?
I think it’s accessibility. The clients and people we’re attracting don’t have much time but trust our style. A lot of the people that I’m seeing are women over 50 who are helping their kids and have used decorators before and know what they’re doing, are very savvy and worldly and created their own style. Because of things like Airbnb, instead of keeping their money in the bank, people are investing in second, third or even fourth holiday or rental homes, or helping their kids invest in properties.
Were any items made especially for the Perfect Room?
I did a furniture collection that’s available only on the site. These are all items I’ve been custom-making for clients over my 25-year career. They’re now available at a better price point.
Tell me about your design boot camps and workshops.
People came to me over three to four days and we’d talk about how I became a decorator, PR, floor plans, budgets and agreements. We’d send a questionnaire about what they wanted to learn; some people would be working on one room, some people were getting ready to work with an architect and wanted to know the protocol. We’d go to the flea market in Santa Monica, showrooms and workshops, and spend one-on-one time with designers like Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Jeffrey Alan Marks would come to dinner, or anyone who was available. They’re such a success.