Student Success - Kitty Karr

By Sarah Van Arsdale on February 24 2003

NYIAD students are out there in droves decorating clients' homes, serving as consultants in department stores, and re-designing everything from metropolitan penthouses to lakeshore cottages. If you've started your own business, if you've been hired by a decorating firm, or if you've achieved success in some other way in the field of interior design, we want to hear from you! Click here to let us know about the waves you're making!

If you missed earlier installments of this series, here's your chance to read more about the accomplishments of NYIAD students. Just visit our NYIAD Student Success page.

© NYIAD Student- Kitty Karr

NYIAD Graduate Kitty Karr's story shows that when you're following your passion, everything can fall into place ' sometimes much sooner than you think it will. She was only on Lesson Five of the NYIAD Course when she landed her first interior design job this past summer, and now, six months later, she's already been hired for another job, sending her on her way into her new career.

As many NYIAD graduates have learned, getting the first job can be the most difficult, and building a client base and a word-of-mouth reputation requires tenacity and patience. Kitty got her first client simply by mentioning to friends and acquaintances that she was studying interior design last spring. Come late summer, one of those people asked Kitty to redesign her living room, and KAK Designs was launched.

'I basically had to just jump in with two feet and pray a lot. I knew I could do it ' I just had to fight my first time fears and jitters,' Kitty told us.

Like any new endeavor, a designer's first job is never easy, and Kitty had the added challenge of having a client who looked to her for all the decision making.

'The client made it clearer and clearer each day that she did not want to have a lot to do with the decision making, and to just do what I thought was best. It really forced me to step out of my comfort zone and have faith in myself and my passion for interior wasn't easy for me!'

But what was easy for Kitty was showing the client just how much enthusiasm she had for the work.

'I tried to let her know up front that she would come out with a room that she would feel good about being in, that she would be proud for others to see, and that would allow her comfort and a beautiful look without clutter,' she said.

Throughout the job, Kitty was quite aware of the importance of making this, her first interior design job, the best it could be, and so she enlisted the aid of her husband, Kelly, with his 'back pocket' skills as a painter, carpenter, and 'overall perfectionist.' By saving money through having her husband do some of the work, Kitty was able to put more cash into other areas of the project.

'I knew now there was no turning back, and that I was going to design a room that would be one of the best investments I could make in terms of experience and confidence. It would not be the same without that real-life success.'

© NYIAD Student- Kitty Karr
© NYIAD Student- Kitty Karr

These photos show the living room before and after Kitty's work. 'I am proud of the work, and I can honestly say when you walk in the room it is a 'wow.' I have been at my client's house on several occasions when other people were seeing it for the first time, and the response has been amazing,' she says.

Word of Kitty's work spread, and now she's working on children's bedrooms for another client. Already, the client has offered to show off Kitty's work and to pass her name along to other prospective clients.

'This is more than just another design job. This client lives in a beautiful subdivision of executive luxury homes. Equally rewarding to me is that I admire her as a person, and she said she has total confidence in me ' that means a lot coming from her,' Kitty said.

'So, in the immediate future anyway, I plan to increase my business 'One Super-Satisfied Client' at a time,' she said.

Now that Kitty has launched her own business, she finds that the work is exactly what she is best suited for. 'Interior designing for me is a marriage of high creativity, along with strategic planning, timing and solutions. It just seems to represent what I'm wired to do best. The process and outcome of Interior designing is beyond rewarding for me! Designing is a superior quality fuel to who I am and all of the things I love to do!'

One thing that's surprised Kitty is just how much she has learned in the NYIAD Course; she now sees that with her education and training, she really can help clients make decisions that will enhance their homes and their lives.

'What has been one of the many invaluable lessons I have learned in my NYIAD Education is that as you proceed towards and complete a finished presentation for a client, you realize where your value lies. You are delivering to your client a finished concept, a beautiful room design and excellent solutions to their needs,' she said.

But what makes all the difference is seeing the project through to completion.

'To discipline yourself to the point that you put together a concept so tight that it's a mere blueprint for execution is the distinction between you and everyone else who isn't an interior designer.'

Of course, the work itself has its challenges. For Kitty, it's a difficult moment when she has to stop adding items and making more changes, and just go ahead and complete the project.

'I think you can overwhelm yourself ' and I know I have ' with all of the endless possibilities to a new, potential room design. But once again, you must discipline yourself to look ahead and wrap it up! This is one of the hardest things for me to do,' she says.

What's ahead in Kitty's future' She points out that she lives in Arkansas, the home state of the world's largest retailer, and she's planning to pursue some freelance work related to retail display and design with companies and corporations. And then there's the idea of designing clothing 'knocking on my creative door,' she says. 'I would also like to look into commercial set design and revisiting my original roots of Advertising and an Interior Design Professional!'

Seeing how successful she's already become at interior design, we're sure Kitty's passion and flair will make her a success in any design endeavor!

Come learn at our interior decorating school and become a success just like Kitty!