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Lamps Plus is pleased to announce that Kari Whitman, Designer to the Stars, has joined our blogging team. Kari has collaborated with many celebrities and her work has graced the pages of top design magazines. She even hosted a television show. Wow, she is busy! To allow you to get to know her better, we thought it would be fun to do an interview. She graciously fit us into her schedule and this is what transpired -
Okay, let’s get right to the good stuff. We’re all friends here, can you share some of the high profile clients with whom you have worked? Can you tell us a bit about what you created for a couple of them?
Of course! I’ve worked with Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell, Virginia Madsen, Don Henley, Emilio Estevez and Don Johnson, to name a few.
I transformed the Beverly Hills home Jessica Alba bought while pregnant with her first baby into a space that was elegant, livable and very green. I used lots of vintage and antique lighting, original artwork and a great mix of classic and contemporary furnishings. I even created a special doggie oasis off the kitchen, so her rescue pups could be close to the action and part of the family.
Emilio Estevez is a dear friend and has the most impeccable taste and best personality of all my clients. Believe it or not, I had his wine room constructed from 100% recycled wood from Stanford University's old basketball court. I designed an electric door made from an antique door from Portugal and found a wonderful turn-of-the–century chandelier from Spain. The ceiling is painted to look like leather and the hand painted walls add to the classic vibe of this great space.
How did you get started in interior design?
I’ve been painting and drawing, rearranging and redecorating my room since I was a kid. Even in elementary school I was driving my Mom crazy. Back when I was an actress, my passion and affinity for design and creating beautiful spaces kept me motivated. I was constantly helping friends with their homes, too, and it eventually evolved into a career. I should have skipped acting and gone straight to design. I was born to do this!
What was your first big break into the Interior Design business?
A friend of mine took a chance on me and hired me when he bought a 22-unit condo building in foreclosure in Brentwood. I got paid virtually nothing but got the opportunity remodel the kitchen and baths in all the units and to do two model units. They sold right away and everyone else hired me to design their units as well. That was it! I was hooked on design and quit acting for good.
What is the best design advice you ever received?
A high price tag does not make something better. Some of the cheapest things I’ve ever bought—or picked up off the side of the road—have turned out to be my greatest finds and most treasured objects.
What is one “trick of the trade” that you implement in your designs?
My favorite trick of the trade is recycling! Buying antiques and vintage furniture is inherently green and older pieces have unbeatable craftsmanship. I may work with some of Hollywood’s biggest names, but that doesn’t mean I’m not hunting Craigslist, salvage yards or even the neighbor’s trash for unique finds. I love to reinvent pieces with a fresh coat of paint or new upholstery. This works with your own furniture as well; you can reinvent anything with a pop of color and great fabric!
What is next for you?
I’m excited to be in production on a new show! I can’t say much, but I can tell you it’s going to be a fun, green design show with a twist. I’m designing a line of sustainable furniture and durable, elegant rugs. I’m also very excited to be blogging for Lamps Plus twice a month (Watch for Kari’s post on the first and third Wednesday of each month). And stay tuned for the exclusive Lamps Plus lighting line I’m designing. It will be funky and fun with a splash of Hollywood glam…like me!
Thank you for your time. We are excited to have you as a member of our blogging team and look forward to reading future posts. If you just can't wait until tomorrow, check out Kari's most recent post about Hollywood Glam.
Thanks to Kari Whitman Interiors for the images.
Michael Murphy is a Los Angeles based interior designer and television producer. His 15+ year career includes serving as Supervising Producer on TV design guru Christopher Lowell's "Work That Room." Recently, he has completed projects with celebrity designer Kenneth Brown and fashion icon Heidi Klum. Follow Michael on Google+