By Dahlia Dandashi Texas Christian University alum Emilee Kunas’ Austin home could have come straight from a design catalog.
Kunas opens the door with a tousled, dirty blonde bun and bright blue eyes. Her navy-blue and white tablecloth button-up shows a taste of her style before stepping through her red door.
Kunas balances natural furniture with modern pieces. A large bamboo swing complements a brown leather couch. The living room blooms with ferns and other plants while a mix of copper and white wooden chairs surround the dining table.
Though Kunas is not an interior designer, she has the taste and talent for it. ORANGE chatted with Kunas to get the tips and tricks of design.
ORANGE: What does ‘good’ interior design mean to you?
Kunas: 'Good' interior design is all about bringing a vision to life and creating a mood within the space. Whether you are designing for yourself or someone else, I think the most important part to is to bring whatever vision is in their head and bring it to life in a comfortable manner. You should want to spend time in the room and feel at ease when you are.
ORANGE: How did you get into interior design?
Kunas: I really don’t know! I have always been interested in all types of design. I studied graphic design in school and worked for a bit as a designer, but interior design has always been my passion. The idea of being able to create and establish a mood in a space for someone is very appealing to me. I think interior design and architecture are often times taken for granted because people do not realize how much they affect their mood and day-to-day life. I like that I have a little bit of control of the overall happiness in my community and peers.
ORANGE: What would you describe as your style? Your favorite color and color schemes?
Kunas: I am all over the map. I haven’t quite established a style for myself yet. I go through phases — I have been through the minimalistic, uber-modern stage, the beachy, relaxed lifestyle stage to the boho, eclectic stage. I think my house is a big mix of all of the stages I have been through.
ORANGE: What do you take into account before all things when designing a space?
Kunas: Before designing a space, I think it is crucial to understand who the person really is that you are designing for. It is important to get a sense of who the person is, what they enjoy, and what is important to them. Once you understand those things, it makes the designing process much easier and much more natural.
ORANGE: What is your designing process?
Kunas: First thing I do is evaluate what the feel for the space is going to be. Once that is established, I will find inspiration, whether it be artwork, furniture, textures, color schemes etc. Then, I begin compiling loads of pictures. Once I feel comfortable with the amount of inspiration I have, I will make a mood board. I will sift through my inspiration photos and mix and match photos that portray the feeling of the space. After that is complete, I will be on the hunt for the pieces that the room is in need of. I do most of my shopping online, that way I am able to create another mood board of the pieces I need and can see which work well with each other. I usually end up with a few different variations to keep the possibilities open. It is all about finding pieces that complement each other and giving others a visual idea similar to that of the final result.
ORANGE: What room is the most important to you and what room is your favorite? Why?
Kunas: The living space, no doubt. I think the community areas such as the family room and the dining room are the most important. It is the area that brings people together. I want everyone who steps foot into a space that I design to feel comfortable. I am not asking for everyone to be in love or like every decision I make, but I do want them to feel like they can relax and want to spend time in the space. I want the feeling of comfort to be shared.
In my house now, the dining room is my favorite. I love to cook, so there is nothing better than being able to sit down at the table at the end of a long day and share a meal with my boyfriend and my roommate. Having friends over for dinner and drinks is one of my favorite things to do, and the table is the perfect gathering place to do that. Nothing can beat a night of good company and good food.
ORANGE: What are your future goals in the world of interior design?
Kunas: I want to have my own interior design firm one day. I want to work with other creatives where we can feed off each other’s ideas and create unique spaces for people that bring joy to their lives.
ORANGE: What is your advice to aspiring designers? What is your advice to anyone who wants to design his or her home like you did?
Kunas: As an aspiring designer myself, I think it is just important to do what feels good to you and what you believe in. Just work toward your goals and do a little something that pushes you toward your goals everyday. Things will fall into place. Just be true to what is most important to you.