A ROOM WITH A VIEW, By Gloria Robertson, CACC
Today’s interview features Kelly Rogers, proprietor of Kelly Rogers Interiors. Kelly works with clients to create kid-, adult-, pet-friendly homes. She specializes in designing mid- to high-end spaces that are polished yet comfortable, colorful yet serene, and beautiful yet durable. Her style ranges from traditional to transitional, incorporating classic design motifs, global influences, fresh color, and unique pattern combinations.
Kelly Rogers was one of the designers selected to transform a room at the Junior League of Boston 2016 Decorators’ Show House.
GR: So tell us a little bit about this design challenge.
KR: This year, the Junior League of Boston hosted the 2016 Decorators’ Show House that took place at the 1854 Nathaniel Allen House in West Newton, MA. The Nathaniel Allen House was the site of the first coeducational school in the US and was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. Over time, it was converted into an apartment building. After more time and neglect, it stood empty and its interior and exterior rapidly decayed. Luckily, the Newton Cultural Alliance purchased the house and secured grants to restore the property and turn it into a multifunctional community space. The efforts of the show house designers in their designated spaces helped give the NCA a head start on that restoration.
GR: What about this house really stood out to you?
KR: This is not only a local landmark, but a property on the National Register of Historic Places. Certainly the beautiful architectural style and grand scale are self-evident, but the condition of the house was very poor. I applaud the Newton Cultural Alliance for rescuing this important property, and it was an honor to contribute to that effort by improving my space and leaving it in better condition than when I initially encountered it.
GR: Tell us about the designer selection process.
KR: I transformed one room into a Mother-in-Law bedroom.
Like many show houses, the Junior League of Boston hosted preview days at the Nathaniel Allen House and invited area designers to tour the home, measure and photograph spaces and determine whether or not they were interested in participating. While each room was designated for a particular purpose or use, designers could flex their creativity to interpret the spaces in truly unique ways. The application process involved the creation and submission of detailed proposals for one or more spaces that were due a few weeks after previews. As a first-time show house hopeful, I honed in on the smaller spaces during that first visit. I was also mindful of how these rooms would or wouldn’t fill a gap or strategic need in my portfolio, and reinforce my brand positioning as a family-friendly decorator. Although we were able to submit proposals on up to three rooms, I decided to focus my efforts and create the strongest proposal I could for just one room. I realized I was putting all my eggs in one basket, and, I figured it was a long shot, but that it was a great experience just going through the process. Well, I ultimately was not selected to decorate the room I applied for, but the Junior League liked my proposal and encouraged me to rework and resubmit it to suit another space – a guest bedroom. I worked with the Co-Chair of the Show House to slightly modify the room’s purpose, and set forth reimagining it as a Mother-In-Law bedroom – something I thought would be a little more salient for my core client – young families.
GR: Why a Mother-in-Law bedroom?
KR: Remember, my business goal is create family-friendly designs. With that in mind, I wanted to create a room for a close family member, keeping in mind that a mother-in-law is a frequent guest and, certainly, a most honored guest who deserved to have a room of her own.
My own mother-in law is a frequent guest in our home, staying with my husband and I for extended times. She always wants to help with the kids and be wherever she is needed. I thought for all she does for the family, a mother-in-law deserves a personalized and private getaway of her own that speaks to her personality.
GR: What was the biggest challenge and why?
KR: With this job, there were some limitations – budgetary and architectural, for example. One interesting challenge specific to my room was that it had a sink. In the bedroom! Rather than removing it, I incorporated it into my concept and made it look as charming as possible. And, of course, coordinating all the resources needed to get the work done in the right sequence and on time. Electricians, plasterers, painters, fabric wall installers, and movers all helped pull off this show house space. I loved being able to credit and promote the great people and companies who contributed.
GR: After all was said and done, what brought you the most pride?
KR: When I was present on Designer Days, visitors would enter and smile, sigh, and say how calm the room looked, repeating back the things I was trying to convey with my design. It was rewarding to see that, by enlarge, people ‘got’ what I was aiming to create and to be able to show people that you can have bright colors and bold patterns and still have a serene, well-balanced space. In the real world, I want my clients to be delighted with their homes – that’s my real reward. Knowing we were also helping the Junior League and Newton Cultural Alliance with their efforts was icing on the cake.
GR: Any advice to future Show House designers?
KR: Talk to designers who have done this in the past. Many area designers were generous in sharing their personal experiences. Be realistic about your budget, because doing a show house is not inexpensive – and it’s a long-term investment that likely won’t pay off right away. Reach out to your vendors and suppliers early on, and see if they will sponsor you at some level by providing free or discounted products and/or services or, by loaning you items.
At the end of the day, it’s a big marketing investment in your business and a significant time commitment. However, it benefits more than you; it benefits the community. I was so pleased to help the Junior League of Boston raise money to fund their mission, which is to support and nurture young women in need in the Greater Boston area.