Designer Series: Communication is the Key for John-William Interiors’ Kim Kenney
Kim Kenney may be new to John-William Interiors (she’s been with them for approximately six months), but in her words she’s “been stalking the business for eight years.” We sat down with Kim to talk about why she longed to join the company, as well as to discuss her design approach, favorite projects, and the attention she gives to every client.
- How did you get your start at John-William Interiors? I began my design career in Nebraska years ago but I had been visiting Austin due to a working relationship I had established with a local builder here. I made it a point to visit Austin’s Parade of Homes over the last eight years and John-William Interiors’ homes stood out so clearly. During that time I also visited the store and knew it was the firm I wanted to join.
- What do you love about Austin? I fell in love with Austin on my first visit. It’s a place that keeps up with trends. I also love the energy here and the friendly people. Also, people in Austin are not afraid to express themselves through design. I love that about them. Everyone is so friendly; I feel at home here.
- What, if any, would you consider your specialty? I tend to do everything from luxurious traditional to soft contemporary. I love the variety. I’ve worked new construction and remodels, working side by side with builders and clients. I’ve designed primary residences, second homes, and have helped generations of families. No matter what I’m doing I try to make it a joyful process and alleviate any stress my clients are having.
- What is your design philosophy? My father was a psychologist and as a child I was exposed to neuro-linguistics and gestalt. It helped me understand people and as an interior designer I feel confident in being able to reflect my clients’ lifestyles and tastes. I believe in getting to know them before I start making design recommendations. The biggest reward is my client saying, “This is so me!”
- What’s your favorite thing about being a designer? For my clients to have that ‘Aha!’ moment and to say, “That’s exactly what I wanted!” Helping them with their personal space is intrinsically motivating and exceptionally gratifying.
- What are your favorite types of projects? My passion is new construction but with any project I love the reward of seeing the results – the before and after – there’s nothing like turning a 1980s mauve and teal room into a more contemporary neutral palette. The ultimate reward is seeing clients proud of their homes, and then referring their friends.
- How do you take into consideration your client’s style and budget? I sit down with them and get to know them. I understand their likes and dislikes, their passions, and lifestyle. For example, if they like to entertain I talk with them about how they entertain (and how often), which helps me get a feel for how their space should look, feel, and function. It’s a matter of communicating thoroughly so that the design truly represents their taste and lifestyle.
- Do you adhere to a particular process? It’s different every time. I ask a lot of questions. Sometimes it’s about digging and getting down to the details and understanding what my clients really care about. They might have a family heirloom that they want to start with or they might have an idea influenced by their travels. In many cases I’ve found that what they’re looking for when it comes to interior design is much more emotional and evolves around their life experiences.
- What are the top three traits to being a successful interior designer? Communication, communication, communication. It’s definitely at the top of the list. After communication, I would combine listening and interpreting as the second trait and trust/relationship building as a close third.
- In your opinion, what sets John-William Interiors apart? People love to tell me how long they’ve been shopping at John-William Interiors. They say, “This is the only furniture store I’ll come to because I’m treated so well.” Recently a couple who were new to Austin stopped in and they told me that it was the first place that they had wanted to spend time in. One of the many reasons is because they were met by a professional interior designer, not a high-pressure sales person. Our goal is to get to know our clients and to offer great advice based on our experience and knowledge.