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Interior designer Katie Adams has recently completed the most enjoyable job of her career so far – styling her own home.
Katie, who works for IDG in Cayman, moved into the three-storey San Sebastian town house in Autumn 2011.
The upscale complex in South Sound was developed by Davenport but Katie had a say in a number of the features, adapting the living space to meet her personal requirements.
“I bought pre-construction allowing me to add and subtract a few details before the building phase began,” she says.
“I was lucky enough to have been able to supply all my own fixtures and finishes, helping me achieve the look and style I wanted.”
The design literally came from the floor upwards, allowing the look to develop as she went along.
“Flooring was my biggest challenge,” she says. “I was (torn) fifty-fifty between a dark or light floor. It came down to the last five minutes before ordering and, after weighing up all the pros and cons, I went with the dark.
“From there, the design just unfolded, and with very little thought behind it. I knew what items I loved and wanted so that’s what went in.
“It was a completely different way of designing than that for clients. Normally I will take their design input and build a furniture package that will unify the look we are trying to achieve.”
Katie is Caymanian but was educated in the United Kingdom and has spent many years travelling to various parts of the world.
This has given her the opportunity to collect items along the way, which now play an integral role in the décor of her home.
“I studied for my Bachelor of Fine Arts in London at the American Intercontinental University, giving me a dual degree and the flexibility to work in both the USA and Europe,” she explains.
“Having been schooled in England from an early age, the world was a lot closer to travel to from there and I spent the majority of holidays seeing different parts of the globe visiting friends.
“If I had to say what style the house has, it would be something along the line of contemporary/eclectic with accents of travel memorabilia. Most of the artwork in the living room is fabric from Turkey, Egypt and India.
“Picture This have done a superb job of stretching and framing various items over the last year for me, which makes every piece, with a story of where and how I obtained it, part of the house.”
As the ground floor is quite small, Katie made clever design changes to maximise the space.
She opted to use slim furniture to ensure that the living area did not seem overcrowded and she had Mario & Sons make built-in pieces to fit.
And she had the same company make her kitchen, which was designed by friend and former co-worker Lydia Uzzell, owner and interior designer at Designworks Ltd.
“After working with Lydia and knowing that every designer has their niche area, this is truly hers,” says Katie.
“We started with my basic wants and wishes for the space, and she added features and touches, allowing for a well-designed and crafted kitchen to come to life.”
In the dining area, Katie again employed an effect to give the optical illusion of space.
“The dining room is not an overly big area so I chose one slim table and armless chairs that did not fill the space visually,” she says.
“The dark walls in both dining and living room draw the eye up, highlighting the height of the ceilings and helping the spaces appear larger.”
The area between the dining room and kitchen started off as a long wall with nothing to define the separate spaces, so Katie added two small retaining walls and had a desk built to put in place there.
Upstairs, Katie chose fun colours and furniture to decorate the guestroom, opting for a metal frame bed and industrial-look side tables. The bathroom tiles are a throwback to old English herringbone brickwork, which is coupled with a modern floating vanity and bold stripes.
In a unique move, Katie decided to install the washing machine and dryer in what was supposed to be the walk-in guestroom closet.
“Originally it was on the third floor and just seemed like a more sensible idea to have it on the floor that has all the bedding and clothes already,” says Katie.
“This has definitely been a change well spent.”
In her own master bedroom, Katie repositioned the layout for the bed, which had electrical outlets set up to face the bathroom. However, she much preferred the bed to face the window and overlook the San Sebastian gardens and pool.
She also changed the bathroom door to a pocket and removed the toilet door, as there were too many doors in such a small space.
The flooring in both bedrooms is made from bamboo, a greener alternative to hardwood but with a similar effect.
Once again making use of available space, Katie also had the niche wall in the hallway flipped so that it’s in the inside of the closet instead and used for storing her extensive shoe collection.
The roof terrace is her final project, which she hopes to complete in 2013, with plans to turn it into an entertainment area.
The experience of designing her own home has enabled Katie to gather tips for the future and advice for others thinking of undertaking a similar venture.
“First make sure that the developer will allow you to change areas–there will always be an up-charge to do this, so make sure you over-budget when sorting finances,” she says.
“I would recommend using local trades companies so that any problems can be fixed immediately, rather than having to hire a company to fix a cabinet that was built elsewhere and shipped in, for example, as this will only add to the final cost.
“As far as the design is concerned, start by collecting images that you like and see what trend you lean towards, if any, and use that as a starting base. It is a big undertaking if you are going to change the basic footprint of your house and I would suggest spending money in this area to have a designer or architect help.
“Furniture is always hard in Cayman, especially if your style is not catered for. Again, find images to see what style you gravitate towards and start with the largest item in the room, such as a bed or sofa, and then bring in the smaller items that work with it.”
So how does Katie’s house reflect her own personality and lifestyle?
“Pretty accurately,” she says.
“Well-travelled, eclectic and with a passion for the eccentric.”