Today’s home tour is the kind that I am bursting at the seams to share with you. As I type this (well in advance of when you will actually be reading!), I want to instantly hit publish and share it with the world NOW. Rita Chan, one of my favorite designers ever, put her signature serene touch on it and let every corner breathe so beautifully. The best part? We’re chit-chatting with Rita for our Haven Maven series (she’s one of the first I asked to be a part of the series even before we launched!) and I couldn’t be more excited to share her inspiring advice, insight and a look into her process. Oh, and she does it all while being the best mom ever to three beauties. Mompreneur goals! Let’s dive into these incredible photos from Taryn Kent, shall we?
What did you do before becoming an interior designer and how did your business come to life?
I was an advertising sales executive for years before I landed in Interior Design. Much of my career was at Time Inc. working for magazines and then online lifestyle brands like Sunset and Coastal Living. I was in love with the home content I represented but I was super unhappy being in sales and working in a corporate environment. When I realized interior design was my calling, I enrolled in design school, got a job at a local design firm and worked my way from the bottom up. After about 4 years at the firm I was managing big projects and starting to get requests outside of the company. After a year or so of declining requests out of fear, I finally gave in and said yes to a project and realized I loved leading the process. From there the referrals started coming in and I was forced to create my own business!
How would you describe your design style?
Natural, clean and classic… I love relaxed environments that feel peaceful, inviting and thoughtful. I gravitate towards calming colors reflective of the beach or the mountains, along with organic textures and materials that feel timeless and in harmony with the natural world.
In a nutshell, what does your design process look like? What’s your favorite part of it all?
The process always starts with getting as much information from the client as possible about who they are, how they live, what their passions, hopes and dreams, their best memories… all of it! Then we take what we have learned and create the overall look and feel for the home or space we are designing, which I think is my favorite part of the process. If we’ve nailed it we get into the specifics of each space and build complete designs taking into account every fixed element in the room. Once we establish the renovation elements & furniture plans, we move on to furnishings. There are typically several rounds of presenting, tweaking if needed until it’s perfect, and then we move on to execute the plan! My second favorite part of the process is seeing it all come together at the end, and the big smiles on our client’s faces.
What is a typical day in the life of Rita Chan Interiors?
I typically start work around 8:30 where I head back to my studio, which is a detached garage & guest house that we renovated… it has big old barn doors that we open up daily, so it gets a ton of natural light and I love working in there! I always go over our priority list first, and then Lauren, my amazing right hand gal, arrives and we dive right in! Every day is different, but typically a mix of in person and phone meetings, designing and dealing with logistics. My favorite days start with one or two hours of studio time in the morning, followed by a couple in person meetings or site visits, and the rest of the afternoon in the studio. The day typically ends with me either rushing off to pick up my girls or having all three of them barrel into the office to announce the workday is done!
Favorite room in your home and why:
Our kitchen. It’s where all the action is and it’s just a super light filled space featuring all my favorites: honed marble, white glazed brick and lots of custom details like wood beams, T&G ceilings and custom cabinetry. It’s also surrounded by big windows so even if I’m inside all day I feel like I’m outside and I love that!
What has been your career highlight so far?
This will sound so cheesy but I feel like every day that I get to design feels like a dream, so when I look back at the last 5 years it’s all truly amazing! I’m so grateful for every project and client that I’ve worked with. But I suppose one highlight would be my first new build where I was trusted to select every element in the house with no questions asked… the clients could not have been more amazing, and that project was a real game changer. I learned so much and had the best time creating my own dream home… until I had to hand over the keys! Another highlight would be getting a little feature in Santa Barbara Magazine right around the time we moved here from Manhattan Beach. I’ve always adored the magazine so to be introduced to the community within those pages was definitely a moment where I was pinching myself.
What is your number one tip for crafting a beautiful home?
Don’t overcomplicate things with a ton of stuff… when in doubt keep it simple!
You’re an amazing mama to three little beauties. What’s your best advice for other entrepreneurial moms in balancing business and family life?
This is always a tough one, but I would say don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am so not in it alone when it comes to raising my girls. All of our Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and friends are involved in helping out on a day to day basis. I think all this extra love enriches their lives and also brings me peace to know they are with our loving tribe when I am working and makes it so much easier. So ask for help and help others in return so you build a community that you can rely on. Also don’t waste time on guilt… know that fulfilling your own needs outside of your mom role will make you the best mom and role model! Finally there is no one perfect model of balance. It’s about what feels right to you and your family… I think it’s different for everyone and you’ll know when you find the groove that works best for you!
Best advice for organically growing an Instagram community?
Be your truly authentic self and post from the heart! Besides that I would say I am not the most strategic social media expert as I typically only post when I am really inspired or excited about something… I don’t stick to a daily schedule but I hear that works great!
If you had to use only ONE paint color throughout a home, what hue would it be?
A soft white
Instagram account(s) you’re currently crushing on:
I’ve very intrigued by @courtneyadamo and @houseinhabit right now. I also love @velvetandlinen and newly obsessed with @kaemingkdesign… and always @alexanderdesignbuild.
3 inspiring reads on your book shelf:
Hmmm do Childrens Books and Podcasts count?!? I’ve been terrible at reading books the last few years it’s embarrassing, so I am going to give you a book (because I’m currently reading it and it’s amazing): When Breath Becomes Air, two Podcasts: GOOP and Oprahs Souls Series, and one of our favorite kids books: All The World!
Favorite shops for home decor:
Diani Living and Porch in the Santa Barbara area, Gum Tree and Waterleaf in Manhattan Beach.
Favorite beats usually playing in your studio:
I’m all over the place, but favorite playlists to work to are Pink Martini, Kings of Convenience or if I need a pick me up, The Knocks or 90s Hip Hop!