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Building at the Beach: A Conversation with Interior Designer Kelly Cook

By Karen Tyrrell

Today we delve into the mind of an interior designer! When my husband and I started on this home building project, we knew we needed someone with a skill set that involved architecture and the ability to put what we were envisioning and describing on paper. We needed a design firm that could take the plans and elevate them in CAD so we had a visual of each space. Do I wish I had looped in the firm much sooner in this process? Yes. Yes, I do.

So I introduce you to Kelly Cook with Orangerie Home in Jacksonville Beach. Kelly and Brian Conover have been such lifesavers in so many aspects – they are creative talents, visionaries, problem solvers, and they are also part-time therapists. I have a problem with commitment. (I may have mentioned this before.)

What should someone look for in a designer?

K: I would always recommend selecting a designer you connect with. You will spend a lot of time together creating a space that is very personal. I would also recommend looking at the designer’s work and ask yourself if you like what you see.

What do you think defines good design?

K: Creating a space that is timeless.

Should we just pretend that the 80’s white laminate-riddled décor never happened?

K: Ha! Believe it or not, some of the 80’s trends have come back. I don’t think the Formica will though.

How do you prefer to get to know your customers and their style?

K: Pinterest is such a great tool to see client’s likes and wants. They have created it to get as specific as you want. When I first started out I would ask clients to bring in their binders of magazine clippings. I also like to ask them which movie sets they like.

What is the biggest “faux-pas” people make in decorating their homes?

K: Scale. I often see furniture too small for the space. We build larger-scale homes here in the US and we need furniture to fit accordingly.

What is the most important feature(s) of a kitchen that someone must get right in order for it to be beautiful and functional?

K: The layout. You want to always follow the triangle rule when designing your kitchen. It never disappoints.

At what point should someone hire a designer when building a custom home or doing a remodel?

K: I always recommend hiring a designer when you are looking for your architect and builder. It is a team process and all parties need to be involved as each brings something different to the table.

Why is “elevating” each room so important in the building/remodel process?

K: We always recommend elevating rooms so the client understands how it will look when complete. Viewing floor plans only get you so far in visually understanding how it will look. It also provides the tradespeople on the project an understanding of how to apply moldings, paneling, heights of light fixtures, etc.

How do you describe your style?

K: A fresh take on traditional.

What is your favorite room to design?

K: The Kitchen!

Who or what has most inspired you and your work?

K: I have always wanted to be a movie set designer/decorator. I love Jon Hutman’s and Beth Rubino’s work. They’ve decorated the set of, “Something’s Gotta Give,” “It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday,” and the list goes on. I love how they create livable spaces. So, I would have to say that movie sets provide a lot of inspiration for me.

What is it like to work with someone who is terribly indecisive and afraid of color commitment or design commitment in general? Asking for a friend.

K: If you hire a designer and you like what they produce, you have to trust them. They will not lead you wrong. For me, I can literally visualize what the house is going to look like and feel like before it’s complete. I can do this by looking at the plan and visiting the job site. Seeing how the natural light comes into the house. Take a leap of faith with your designer and go for it. Don’t be afraid!

About Kelly:

Raised in Florida with summers spent in Alabama, Kelly Cook has a fresh take on traditional design.  Her design career started in 2006 with decorator Phoebe Howard, followed by HGTV’s Linda Woodrum working on the Dream Home, Smart Home, and Urban Oasis projects across the country.  In 2017 she founded Orangerie Home.  She decided to open her design studio in Jacksonville Beach, Florida due to her love of the ocean and relaxed lifestyle while continuing to work on projects nationwide.  Her love for southern French architecture and the color orange led her to the name.

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