Charm reigns supreme in today’s home tour from Reena Sotropa In House Design, as apparent in the ridiculously stunning entry—the shot that first caught our attention from this show home the team designed for Maillot Homes. Every room is layered with Reena’s signature style that effortlessly blends classic elements with youthful energy. Take a peek below for the full tour and our interview with Reena—from her early inspirations to her ‘design style cocktail’, and the very best advice for crafting a beautiful home.
Tell us a bit about your story. What was your journey to becoming an interior designer and business owner?
I have been interested in architecture, design and decorating since I was a kid, despite being raised in a tiny little farming community with practically no exposure to design! I have had a “style file” since I was about 12 years old. No Pinterest then… just photos cut from magazines. I still have a few of my inspo originals—one of a gorgeous emerald green and chartreuse colour combination worn by Linda Evangelista in a spectacular garden party themed Annie Leibowitz photo shoot for Vogue Magazine. Another is of the iconic Mies Van der Rohe Barcelona daybed in a beautiful light filled space with white oak herringbone floors and ornate plaster mouldings. To this very day I am drawn to layered greens and the juxtaposition of clean minimalism and ornate detailing.
After graduating high school my path did not lead me directly to this field. I studied Art History, which I loved and I draw on this part of my education all the time. After completing this degree I went straight to design school, and never looked back. I have been a business owner since 2005, first with a business partner and since 2015 on my own. I enjoy the business side of design very much, especially as it relates to leading my team of super talented designers. I sometimes struggle with the social media side of this business which is becoming more and more interwoven with the design industry. I didn’t grow up with social media and I’m not naturally wired to give a hot damn about numbers of “likes” but the ladies on my team always help to steer me right and it is one of the many reasons I love them dearly!
If you had to describe your design style like a cocktail, what would it be?
If my design style were a drink it would be a Boulevardier served in a vintage Baccarat old fashion glass (from a complete set of 6 rumored to have come from the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, found at a second hand shop in NYC).
A Boulevardier is twist on a classic (The Negroni.) The foundation of my design style is clean and classic but always with a spin that makes it my own! The substitution of bourbon for gin adds lovely warmth to the Boulevardier. Even in my most clean and contemporary designs I try to add a patina of warmth and elegance that will make the space feel well-collected, interesting and above all, livable.
The glass would signify the “signature sparkle” that our projects are known for, and the importance of adding beautiful and meaningful items into our living spaces. As far as the fantasy provenance… can you EVEN imagine?
Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this specific home we’re featuring today? It’s stunning and has so much character!
This home is located in Bearspaw, an acreage community just north of Calgary. This home was designed as a show home for our friends at Maillot Homes (a luxury home builder in Calgary). The inspiration for this home was rooted in a pared back European aesthetic.
There are so many original design elements in this home, if you had to pick 1-2 favorites, which would they be?
The kitchen backsplash detail is a favourite of mine. The front entry hall with its beautiful light, symmetry, crisp white paneling, mouldings and herringbone floors also hit me where I live!
What advice would you give your younger self in your first year of business?
To trust myself and my intuition about people.
You have a fantastic team to help run Reena Sotropa In House Design Group! What did that process look like growing your team?
I don’t mind shouting it from the rooftops, “I love my team!”. I have come to realize that I am largely responsible for our workplace environment and I know with 100% certainty that any good vibes that I create, support and nurture in our workplace environment will come back to me in the loyalty and dedication of my team. It is important to me that we are relaxed, laugh and have fun during the day because that is the kind of environment that I want for myself and for those around me.
What does a beautiful home mean to you and what is your number one tip for crafting a space you’ll love for years to come?
A beautiful home for me personally is one that my family feels comfortable in, being surrounded by original art and meaningful objects, and having a reason to enter every single room every day. My number one tip for crafting a home that you will love forever would be summed up an old Billy Baldwin quote: “Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style.”
If you had to pick only one room to design for an entire year, which would it be?
If I could only design one room for a year it would be a project/utility room like the one that I imagine Martha Stewart must have… It would have a huge worktable island, vintage utility pendant lighting and it would have miles of custom millwork to store all of my cleaning products and supplies, my gift wrapping supplies, my extensive collection of vases for flower arranging, and all of my supplies for sewing and crafting.
If you could sit next to any other boss babe in the world on flight across the country, who would it be and why?
I would choose to sit next to Iris Apfel because she is super cool and owns who she is, never justifying her choices. At 97, she has the benefit of hindsight and zero effs to give.
Instagram account(s) you’re currently crushing on:
@mrsparanjape @rajnialexdesign @emdesigninc
Current favorite book and/or podcast:
My all-time favourite book, never to be toppled from its throne is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.
3 apps you can’t live without:
Instagram – our whole team uses Instagram to keep up to date with friends and family, as well as keep on the pulse of the latest design trends, products and inspirations.
Pinterest – We love using Pinterest to collect design detail ideas to illustrate concepts to our clients as well as share our own designs with the world.
Google Drive – allows us to access photos and drawings right from our phones.
Favorite beats usually playing in the studio:
One of my designers, Ania has sort of adopted the role of “studio DJ”. She usually plays a mix of indie rock, top 40 and 1970’s throwbacks and every once in a while they indulge me with some of my 90’s post-grunge rock faves. Alanna, my Senior Designer has recently let us in on her secret weapon song for working to a deadline: Dolly Parton’s 9-5. It works! Nothing makes your fingers fly on your keyboard faster that that opening percussion!