A question we often ask our interviewees is “What does a well-lived home mean to you?”. For Kristin Hildebrand of KH Interiors, that’s “…somewhere where memories are made, and families grow. It is loved, layered, and LIVED-IN.”
The walls of our homes see both celebrations and challenges, milestones and setbacks, they welcome new friends and they also witness the grief that comes from loss. When 87-year-old John’s wife passed, his daughter and her husband moved across the country to be with him. With a new need for functionality, they called on KH Interiors to completely remodel their Hermosa Beach home. Kristin and team did just that and yet, preserved the layer of love that existed within those walls.
We tapped Kristin to learn more about this powerful renovation story, to learn about her business mission, how she got her start (you’ll never believe what she did before becoming an interior designer!), and even more. Start scrolling to dive in!
Tell us a bit about the inception of KH Interiors. How and when did you become a designer?
My path to design was a bit atypical, as right after graduating from Stanford I became a professional athlete and competed for TEAM USA for the next 9 years. After retiring from my pro-volleyball career, I decided to finally pursue my passion for interior design. It was fall of 2018 when I took classes up in Los Angeles to get my accreditation, and shortly thereafter in November of 2018, KH Interiors was born!
What did you do before becoming an interior designer? How did your previous career path help shape what you do now?
I played professional volleyball for Team USA while simultaneously living abroad for 9 years during Team USA’s offseason (August-May). I lived in 6 different countries and learned 4 different languages, completely immersing myself in new cultures and loving every second of it. Although I lived abroad to play volleyball, I always found myself wandering around getting lost in old historic city centers being inspired by their age-old architecture and design.
If you had to describe your design style like a cocktail, what would it be?
A gin and basil martini.
Can you tell us a bit about the story behind the home we’re featuring today?
This home was a dream to design. My clients gave me really good direction in the beginning, and then lots of freedom throughout as we navigated the hard material selection phase for the entire home. It has a sweet backstory! The home belongs to John (87 years old) and he raised his family there with his wife Gretchen who recently passed away. John’s daughter, Sonja, decided to move coasts to be with her father and move into her childhood home with him. She called on the KH Interiors team, to completely remodel the home—down to the studs—and create a modern, open concept that she, her husband, and her father could all enjoy. A lot of the artifacts/accessories you see in the home are all John’s, from his WWII books to the toy car in the guest room. John was floored with the remodel that took place during quarantine. They are now all living in this home as one happy family.
We chose transitional finishes blending modern and traditional design, and worked a bit of California-coastal in as well! Styling this project was really special because everything that you see styled in are antiques that belong to John, including that weathered blue Physiology book on the coffee table which is from 1951 from his time at Northeastern University.
Design-wise, my favorite part (and to date, the most epic before and after of my career) is what we did to the back wall of the house off the kitchen that leads out to their patio. We blew out the entire wall and replaced it with 25 feet of a bi-fold window and door system creating a true indoor/outdoor living concept for our clients! It is so incredibly dreamy—the photos don’t even do it justice! It is definitely one of those projects that you finish and then ask your client if you can move in.
What does your morning ritual look like? What are a few things you do to set the tone before you begin a busy day at KH Interiors?
I am my most productive if I wake up early, drink an XXL cup of coffee, get my 20 minute morning yoga in, and do a 10-minute meditation. It helps set the tone and get me in the right mindset for the day.
What does a well-lived home mean to you?
A well-lived home is somewhere where memories are made, and families grow. It is loved, layered, and LIVED-IN.
Tell us about the mission behind your shop, KH Home?
As I started my interior design career, I was determined to find a way to connect my passion for interior design with my passion for volunteerism. That’s when I thought to myself, why not fuse the two into one socially-conscious business where the more successful I am the more difference I can make? That’s when the concept for giving back through KH Home was born.
Once I had made that choice, things started to fall into place – internally. I felt the magic, the potential, and the possibility unlock. I closed my eyes and saw my business growing big – but more importantly, the opportunity to help others in need, even bigger. This is when things really started to take off — when my passion and my inspiration to build this biz reached new heights.
My vision for this business is – of course – to design beautiful, warm, functional spaces that allow my clients to make meaningful memories with their families. Designing is my gift, my creative outlet, and my passion. But far beyond design, my heart hopes to connect and impact the lives of others in need. I plan to build KH Home out to be a beautiful and booming product line that my clients (and any and everyone else!) can come, find, and purchase inspired pieces for their homes. And my hope is that as my KH Home line continues to grow, so will my ability to give back. The more we sell, the more we’re able to give. And that excites me beyond words.
We chose to partner with the Yoga Girl Foundation to give 10% of proceeds from KH Home sales to. If you have time, please click through to their website to learn more about them for yourself.
Where do you draw inspiration from when designing?
Everywhere! Often, nature. If I’m experiencing design fatigue or stuck on something, I’ll take a break and take a long walk. It clears my mind and helps reset my focus. In the past, I’ve even discovered palettes for projects while spending time outside.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back and tell yourself in your first few months of business?
You’re going to make mistakes and you know what’s awesome? Mistakes are an opportunity for growth.
We’re not a big fan of the term ‘trends’, but we can get behind an appreciation for beautifully enduring design moments. Are there any timeless design elements you’re looking forward to using in your upcoming projects?
I’d love to implement 2 different materials on a kitchen island countertop – running a marble slab over 3/4 of the island and then finishing the other 1/4 with butcher block. I’ve seen it done a few times and it’s incredible.
Do you have any favorite podcasts/books/resources that you’ve discovered during this past year of change in our world that you recommend?
Sam Harris’ Waking Up meditation app has been an incredible resource, as it has helped me stay grounded through all the uncertainty this year has brought. Podcasts: Yoga Girl, Conversations from the Heart – a podcast about the importance of embracing our humanity and vulnerability, and How I Built This by Guy Raz. Listening to other entrepreneurs that have built businesses talk about their successes and failures is rad.
What changes have you experienced with running a business during this pandemic and how have you shifted your process to adapt to this new norm?
Through the pandemic, very gratefully, my business has experienced more growth than ever before. I think that now that we’re all spending most of our time at home, more than ever before people realize the importance of a thoughtfully designed space, and have started to understand the true value of interior design. But along with all the growth through quarantine, I’ve also done plenty of adapting and adjusting. Lots of our projects are out of state, which pre-COVID, I’d fly out several times over the course of a project to check in, get measurements, select finishes, install furnishings, etc. Over the last 6 months, I haven’t flown at all, and have relied very heavily on our clients to get us all of the information we need in order to do all of the design work remotely. I’m definitely looking forward to the days that we’re able to travel again.
Can you share a few Instagram accounts right now that are fueling your creativity?
@amberinteriors, @jakearnoldalexander, @studiomcgee, @hauslove, @whittneyparkinson, @nordiskakok, @jmiller_mlps!
The Haven Workshop is an intimate, community-driven learning experience for interior designers who are looking to up-level their business and build a successful brand.