Celebrating Black Business Month With Interior Design Expert Karen Larkin

August is dedicated to celebrating Black Business, Hustle and Soul Magazine is thrilled to highlight Karenna’s Design Studio founder and professional interior designer, Karen Larkin. She’s been also featured in BIZBoost Magazine, SwagHer Magazine, Heart of Hollywood Magazine, We Empower Magazine and more.

Karen desires to serve and help over 1,000 people this year and next through employment or by creating peaceful spaces that will allow people to begin to operate at the height of their most significant potential and understand how their space impact and shape their life. Karen also desires for the people she’s been called to, to thrive and not just survive within their space.

What would you like our readers to know about your journey so far as an interior designer?

Karen: It’s been quite a journey so far as an Interior Designer. This journey has not been easy, but I’m grateful for every step. There have been many challenges, disappointments, and some setbacks when understanding this industry and the day-to-day operations of this business as a professional interior designer. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing clients and really hone my craft. I’m constantly learning and growing as a designer, and I absolutely love what I do. But I continue to persevere regardless of what I face. Attending trade shows and continuing my education has truly been amazing and exciting, which has opened some doors for me and I have made some great connections. Every day I’m learning more and more about my business and the industry which has contributed to my growth and confidence as a design expert.

I think the most important thing for readers to know is that there’s no one right or wrong way to approach designing a space. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your home. There are endless possibilities out there, so don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with it. Design is supposed to be enjoyable, after all!

I’m excited to see what the future holds and to continue growing in this field that I’m so passionate about.

What drives your design decisions? What are some of your biggest inspirations?

Karen: Designers are often driven by a combination of factors, including their own personal sense of style, the needs of their clients, and the prevailing trends in the design industry. Some designers find inspiration in nature, while others are influenced by art, fashion, or even pop culture.

As a designer, finding those unique and different pieces to use in a space with a mixture of color palettes with a twist drives my creativity. Even using traditional or common elements and colors but adding some uniqueness to the space by making that space with personality. Having the ability to be creative is the biggest inspiration. Having that freedom of creativity allows me to create a design that generally is outside of my client’s comfort zone, something they would not select or create for themselves. It’s in that place of uncomfortable or unfamiliar that will help promote change and growth. So as a designer my goal and desire are not to just create a beautiful space, but to transform my client’s life!

When making design decisions I don’t want to create any designs alike. The most important thing is to stay true to your own sense of style. It’s also important to be aware of the needs of your clients and to understand the trends in the design industry. By keeping these factors in mind, you can create beautiful, unique, and innovative designs that will stand the test of time. Keeping that in mind I am inspired by unique and different design elements and concepts while using a few things that have become my signature stamp of Karenna’s Design Studio that I used in every design.

What questions do you typically ask your clients before getting to work, and how do the answers factor into your design decisions?

Karen: Before beginning any design project, it’s important that I get to know my client and their specific needs. To do this, I typically ask a series of questions about their goals for the space, their budget, their timelines, and their personal style preferences. By understanding all of these factors, I can then begin to create a custom design that meets all of their needs and expectations. I have found that is equally important to know how my client wants to see and feel in their space.

Some of the specific questions I might ask include:

– What are your goals for this space? Do you want it to be more functional, or do you want it to have a specific aesthetic?

– What is your budget for this project? This will help me determine what materials and furniture we can use that will fit within your budget.

– What is your timeline for this project? This will help me understand how much time I have to complete the design, and what kind of deadlines we need to work towards.

– What is your personal style? Do you prefer more traditional or contemporary designs? Do you like bold colors or more subdued tones? By understanding your personal style, I can ensure that the overall design reflects your taste and preferences.

This allows me to get to know my client. Answers to these questions will help me create a custom design that meets all of my client’s needs and expectations. I’ll use this information to develop a space that is both stylish and functional, and that reflects my client’s personal taste and style. Together, we can create a space that they will love for years to come. When creating a design space it should be a true reflection of my client. Not only should the space reflect their personality, but also their desires and dreams of what they want out of life! It is my job to create a space that will cultivate and nourish what is hidden deep down on the inside waiting to be unleashed.

What is your favorite room to design and why?

Karen: There’s no one room that I love designing more than another — each space presents its own challenges and opportunities. But if I had to pick, I’d say it’s the living room and bedroom. My signature services are the living room and bedroom. I especially love these two spaces for a number of reasons.

For me, the living room is the heart of the home. It’s where we entertain guests, relax with family, and curl up with a good book. Creating a space that is both functional and stylish is always a fun challenge. We spend a lot of time in our living rooms, so it’s important to design a space that reflects our personal style and lives up to our expectations.

I also love bedroom design because it’s a chance to create a serene and inviting space where you can relax and recharge. A space you can escape to, your own retreat inside your home. It is the only space that is personal and intimate and a space where guests truly feel welcome. Whether it’s a luxurious master suite or a cozy guest room, I always aim to design bedrooms that are both stylish and functional.

Within the design space, I love working with different furniture layouts, choosing colors and fabrics, and finding just the right accessories to pull it all together. Seeing the final product come together — and knowing that my clients will be spending time in a room that I designed — is always a great feeling.

Is there any interior design style you favor/dislike?

Karen: There’s no one interior design style that I absolutely love or hate — I’m pretty open to all kinds of aesthetics. However, it would probably be mid-century modern if I had to pick a favorite. I particularly love this style design style is all about clean lines, simplicity, and functionality. This style is perfect for those who appreciate good design and are looking to create a stylish and comfortable home. Mid-century modern design is timeless, comfortable, and versatile. Its timeless design aesthetic can easily be incorporated into any home, no matter what your personal style may be and it can be used in various ways to create different looks.

I also really enjoy contemporary looks with a little bit of glamour thrown in. Contemporary design is known for its clean lines and simple shapes. If you’re looking for a stylish and comfortable furniture style that will stand the test of time, mid-century modern and/ or contemporary design may be the perfect choice for you.

I really enjoy mixing different design styles together to create a design space that is unique, different, and more tailored to my client’s personality and needs.

What are some of your latest design projects that you are proud of?

Karen: Some of my latest design projects include a residential new construction home and a renovation commercial design project. We’re extremely proud of both of these projects, as they allowed us to explore new vendors and allowed me the freedom to design beautiful spaces and bring their vision to life!

Our residential new construction home was truly a fresh and innovative project. This project allowed me to work with some amazing vendors who helped us bring the client’s vision to life. My client told me what she wanted in her new home and we exceeded her expectations. We’re so proud of the final product and the way it turned out. As a designer, these are the reactions you want from your clients.

We are currently working on a commercial design project, which has been amazing thus far. This project has pushed and challenged me as a designer. I was able to work with some awesome companies and people who helped us create a truly innovative, modern, and fresh space. Also, I have built some new business relationships with so great people. I’m so excited about this project and can’t wait to see the final product.

What does the second half of the year look like for you?

Karen: There’s no doubt that the past few months have been challenging. I’ve had to pivot and adapt in ways that I never could have imagined. But even in the midst of uncertainty, there’s still so much to be grateful for.

As we move into the second half of the year, it’s time to start thinking about what our goals are and how we can best achieve them. I’m focused on continuing my personal growth and expansion as an interior designer, taking on more residential and commercial designs.

My goals include, just to name a few:

  • More commercial design projects
  • Work with more high-end clientele
  • Travel to visit clients
  • Do a few speaking engagements
  • Launch an online course
  • Finish writing my book
  • Submit design work to be published
  • Mentor other designers or interns
  • Attend more industry events and/or conferences

As we move into the second half of the year, I’m planning for a successful end of the year.

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Photo Credits: ©RhaynaCPhotography

Tammy Reese

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