“Confidence is the best accessory.”
It’s time for an inspirational interview! Please come with me to one of my favorite cities Chicago to meet the interior designer and yoga instructor Claire Rose Staszak of Centered by Design and to enjoy Claire’s bright, authentic and stylish interiors.
What does a happy day in the life of Claire Rose Staszak look like?
Well, on a happy day here in Chicago, the sun would be shinning and there would be blue skies with puffy little white clouds. I’d start the morning with yoga class, and then grab juice or coffee with friend. The rest of the day would be filled with client meetings or design work, and everything would go off without a hitch. I’d meet my husband for dinner somewhere lovely with alfresco seating, and sip a glass of bubbly. Then I’d be in bed and asleep by 10:00 p.m.!
Do you have a daily routine?
Right now my schedule is all over the place! I’m finishing my design degree, running my business, working on client projects, teaching yoga and interning for Nate Berkus Associates for the summer! Needless to say, my schedule changes frequently. I love interior design because you can be working on something different each day. I’ve found that it’s a career that is the perfect combination of creativity, organization and detail. It’s analytical yet creative, which is totally me!
When did you discover your love of interior design?
When I think back to my childhood, I remember always loving fashion and vintage clothing and furniture. One of my aunts owned an interior design business that I always admired, but it never crossed my mind to study art or design when I was younger. It was really through my need to be more creative in my work, and a job I took at a Chicago art center that I discovered my knack for interiors (and became motivated to return to school at age 30).
How did you get your first assignment?
My job at Lillstreet Art Center involved arts programming for the community, and the center needed a larger event space. I became the project manager during the renovation process. I was not the lead designer, but everyone pitched-in and it was a collaborative process. I managed “Styling the Loft” and various marketing photo shoots as well. It was then that I realized I had a knack for interior design.
Some designers believe that the first piece for any room is the rug or a painting that sets the color palette. What is your first source of inspiration?
I feel that literally anything could give you inspiration for a room, that’s what is so magical about interior design. I always like to create a digital mood board of imagery to help the client and myself get a feel for what we are going after. In a more practical sense, many clients already have pieces you need to incorporate into the design plan. Those pieces often set the tone for the color palette, based on if they’ll be re-upholstered or not. I do find artwork particularly inspiring, and I’ve been given the advice to always pick paint last (because there is always a paint option) – though I find that really hard to do!
How do you achieve a good scale? Scale is a really interesting and difficult topic.
It’s hard to achieve good scale in a design, without referencing other principles of design such as balance, emphasis, movement, rhythm, etc. They all become important for achieving a harmonious looking interior. Generally, if your room is large and you have high ceilings you can use bigger, more imposing pieces of furniture. For a more dramatic look, you might use lower, more modern and sleek pieces in a traditional space (with high ceilings) to play with the scale of the room. Also, make sure to use the blank space in a room; don’t just think about filling up the space, but where the space can breathe. This helps move the eye around the room, and I particularly enjoy spaces that feel like they have just the right amount of “stuff,” not cluttered, but clean and open.
What is the biggest decorating mistake people make?
People are afraid of color so they keep everything beige! Also, I think people miss out on utilizing window treatments; I feel that dressing the windows (even simply) can really complete a space. Also, buying artwork that is too small.
What do you suggest people do to transform their homes?
I think the lowest cost and highest impact transformation is using color in your space. Paint is low cost, and can be very high impact done in the right way. I love the brand Farrow & Ball, just reading their website and painting tips, any novice can choose excellent paint color combinations.
What do you love to do when you aren’t designing?
I love to practice and teach yoga!
What are your favorite books?
I recently read WILD by Cheryl Strayed and just loved it! I tend to love memoirs of strong, independent women. All The Light We Cannot See was another recent read that I really enjoyed.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I feel silly saying this, but one of my all time favorite movies is CLUELESS. I just celebrated my 30th birthday and we had it playing on a big screen (silently) behind the party celebration. I love the fashion elements, the love story, and the lessons learned. I must have watched it 100 times as a pre-teen.
What are your favorite places in Chicago?
Too many to list! Our museums are world class and I love visiting The Art Institute of Chicago and The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. I live in Logan Square and it’s become a foodie-focused place lately. I highly recommend the restaurants Fat Rice and Lula Café. We love the tiki bar Lost Lake, and the gin bar Scofflaw. Otherwise, you’ll find me at farmer’s markets in the summer, and curled up by the fireplace in the winter.
What does success mean to you?
This is a question I often struggle with. There is so much pressure today to run not only a business, but also an outward facing brand and that your success is determined by your number of followers, press or media deals. I believe if you work hard, put forth full effort, and are good to your clients you will see your business succeed. If I can run a business I’m proud of, take care of my family, and possibly grow to employ others that would be success in my book. Also, a book deal would never hurt. : )
Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?
- Confidence is the best accessory.
- The love you take is equal to the love you make. (The Beatles)
- The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. (Picasso)
- Breathe more and deeply! Close your eyes, breathe and try to meditate for just a little bit everyday. Here’s a great meditation exercise for beginners.
photos: Claire Rose Staszak