Be honest with me here… are you one of those who will read this intro paragraph and then scroll straight to the visual goods without stopping to read the in-between interview? While I can agree that today’s home tour is absolutely pin-worthy (and you should pin it ALL), I truly hope that every single one of you will take a moment to get to know the designer behind all this goodness. Her name is Whittney Parkinson and she’ll have you girl-crushing hard if you take the time to get to know her. Whether you’re here for the home inspo, a designer or a mom also running your own biz—I don’t doubt you’ll leave her work and her words today without feeling inspired.
Tell us a bit about how you got your start as a designer. How and when did you launch Whittney Parkinson Design?
Well, I’m the offspring of an architect & an interior designer, so genetically I didn’t really stand a chance in any other field! It’s in my DNA. After graduating from interior architecture school in Chicago, I joined my fathers’ firm from 2008 until 2016. After the birth of my daughter, I really wanted to incorporate my own firm, so I had the freedom to take on projects that spoke to me aesthetically, and provided a challenge. If I was going to be away from my child, I wanted to create something I was passionate about. As a result, I incorporated Whittney Parkinson Design in the fall of 2016!
If you had to describe your design style like a cocktail, what would it be?
What if I prefer beer? It’s like a Guinness. Light and airy on the surface, but there’s a depth there, that you have to look for. The after taste and effect is also a surprise. A nice little palette cleanser.
Can you tell us a bit about the home that we’re featuring today? What was the inspiration behind the design?
This 13-year-old home had great bones architecturally, however, the aesthetic was not my client’s own. During the conceptual mood board phase of our design process, we really kept gravitating to European (English in particular) inspired interiors. Interiors that were hard to pin down, in regards to their age, they were THAT timeless. There may have been a little influence, as I had just returned on the heels of a 2-week stay in England, so the European inspiration runneth over for me. There was also a constant narrative early on in the conceptual design, about bucking trend, and creating a space that will age gracefully over time, with just a touch of modern. The design is functional, packed full of sneaky storage, as well as tailored to this specific vivacious family of 4!
What does your morning routine look like? What are a few things you do to get your day started off on the right foot?
I pray the second my eyes open. I thank God for a new day and anyone close to me with troubles. I also journal. It’s a way for me to shake off any negative thoughts that I may be grappling with, seek the truth, and then the page typically turns into a bunch of sketches of interiors. ha!
Tell us what a typical day in the life of Whittney Parkinson is like?
I only work in the studio several days a week, because the balance of motherhood is very important to me. Workdays are never the same, and I love that! I typically visit my job sites to ensure things are going as per my plans. Some days I’ll be drafting on AutoCAD, or preparing for a presentation. Other days I’ll be specifying materials. Lastly, my other (least favorite) days are administrative; invoicing, purchase orders, taxes, etc. I’m a one-woman show, so the word “typical” doesn’t apply here.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your first year of business?
To LISTEN. Listen before speaking. My parents were incredible at this with their own clients, so it was modeled to me from early on. When you listen to what a client wants, or about themselves or their family, before pushing your wants, the design organically unfolds before you. At the end of the day, it’s their home. You leave after 9 months or a year. When you listen, that’s when you separate just creating an ordinary design than could apply to anyone, and instead, you achieve a unique, tailored design for a special family.
You’re on a flight across the country and your entrepreneur crush sits next to you. Who would it be and why?
I follow a blogger named Mimi Ikonn. She started Intelligent Change & The Five Minute Journal (which I use religiously). Her story is incredible. She’s self-made and truly seeks the positive in EVERY life situation. She’s transparent, and I often find myself gravitating to her page when I need uplifting. Our daughters are the same age, and I envision myself being that highly annoying seatmate on the plane, that just keeps asking questions all over the board, while she is desperately wanting to just put her earbuds in. I have a feeling she’s nicer than that though.
What does a ‘dream home’ mean to you?
A dream home to me means a space that not only speaks to me personally but my entire family. A place we would all long to come back to, after being away. A space my children would feel nostalgic about in their adult years. A home that is filled with architectural character, a sense of tradition but just enough edge & modernity that it feels fresh & unique.
We’re not a big fan of the terms ‘trends’, but are there any timeless design elements you’re currently looking forward to using in your upcoming projects?
I despise that word, too. Glad we can agree on that! I love that in America we are seeing this influence of European ageless design. As a culture, we have become so trend-driven, and design becomes dispensable. As a designer, I’ve turned to Europe these past two years for inspiration, to dissect what it is about their spaces that feel so layered, ageless, sophisticated, yet fresh. From the metals, down to the natural stones. I’ve very excited to incorporate those elements and remove the idea of perfection altogether.
Instagram account(s) you’re currently crushing on:
Steven Gambrel always & forever. Alyssa Kapito Interiors, & Jake Alexander Arnold
Current favorite book and/or podcast:
The Bible. no joke (You can thank Kanye)
3 must-haves on every shelfie:
Books with neutral spines, a vintage vase, artwork that is meaningful or personal
Favorite beats usually playing in the studio:
Currently, it’s Kanye’s new album and Christmas music. Lots of shout out’s to Jesus going on!