Q&A With Cara Anderson
Casaza: How did you get your start?
Cara Anderson: I can honestly say that I did not choose my career as an interior designer, it chose me. I grew up with parents who always encouraged being creative, getting my hands dirty and following my passions. I started university immediately upon graduating high school and entered the Faculty of Architecture with little to no idea why. Before I knew it I felt right at home and allowed the journey to unfold. Following graduation, I worked in the industry for six years and discovered my passion for sustainable and environmental design methods. In 2018, I decided to start consulting on my own while staying home with our little one. This led to Plant Roost Design, a company that focuses on unique and beautiful ways to incorporate plants into interior spaces.
C: How would you describe your style?
CA: Clean, bright, minimal, and natural. The funny thing is I would never use the colour green (except maybe a green velvet couch, of course) other than through the green in plants – it’s one of my least favourite colours. I always encourage the use of real materials over synthetic ones like wood, concrete, steel, marble, rattan. I believe that using natural materials allow the space to be timeless rather than have a 10-year lifespan that will end up in the landfill. I love reusing or refinishing existing materials whenever possible.
C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
CA: All around me! Walking down the street, analyzing the materials of a heritage building, exploring the colours of a greenhouse; nature is truly the best designer. Social media has opened up a whole new world in inspiration; there are so many amazing designers, artists, and enthusiasts out there who have amazing ideas to offer.
What really matters it putting your own spin on things and not feeling the need to fit in with a current trend or style. There is no one right way and being unique is what gives a space character.
C: Favourite room in the house?
CA: This is a tough one because it depends on the layout of the house. Open concept designs are certainly what’s happening these days which means the idea of a “room” doesn’t exist in the same way it did before. That said, I love any room that has the ability to be modular with multiple functions. Large kitchens are great that way, they are useful but yet are often used as a gathering spaces. Living rooms that are modular are fantastic; they have the ability to host large crowds but also allow private conversations to happen comfortably in the corner. At the end the day I believe that all rooms should be strategically designed to not waste any space. They should only be as big or as small as they need to be.
C: Design rule you don’t subscribe to?
CA: I believe most design rules are meant to be guidelines more than strict rules. One of my favourite rules to break is the idea that everything needs to be symmetrical and perfectly balanced. Think of those two matching end tables on either side of a couch with matching lamps that also match the big lamp in the corner. It can get so boring, so fast. I love when there is a colour, furniture piece, or item thrown in that is completely unexpected and doesn’t match anything to the point that it does match. A well done asymmetrical design can read as symmetrical and balanced even if it’s not.
C: Recent project that inspired you?
CA: As an Instagrammer, my own house is inevitably my main source of project inspiration. Not a month goes by that I am not doing something new whether it’s plant-styling, painting a wall, installing new decor or starting a DIY project. Additionally, I recently completed a new cottage design in Whiteshell, MB, that is under construction. It will consist of a cathedral pine ceiling, hardwood floors, birch countertops, a stone fireplace, and large timbers throughout. I’m thrilled to see all of the natural materials come together.
C: Favourite texture/pattern/colour?
CA: Wood grains, veins in a slab of granite, raw iron or corten steel that is starting to weather. Natural materials seem to have a way of making us feel warm and comfortable yet read as modern and contemporary. I think as humans we automatically connect with real materials much differently than synthetic ones. I love letting the natural characteristics of a material determine the design of everything else.
C: What is “good design” to you?
CA: Functionality over everything. There is nothing worse than a beautiful design that does not function well. What’s the point? I think this is actually the hardest part of being a designer – ensuring everything is functional but is also beautiful. I live by the rule that If no one notices how good your design is, you’ve done it right.
C: Pack your bag! You’re moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
CA: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, of course. I mean, look at it! Intimately situated in the middle of the woods surrounded by natural streams, I don’t know if it gets any better. The interior is full of natural stone, incredible natural lighting and revolves around the concept of blurring the boundaries between the outdoors and indoors. It’s incredible.
C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
CA: Cater your space to all personality types. As an introvert, I tend to immediately look for the cozy corner space to sink into at large gatherings. This is another great reason to design modular and versatile spaces whether it’s through the layout of the space or selection of furniture; it allows the flexibility to comfortably cater to both small or large crowds and makes all of your guests feel at home.
C: Best advice for DIYers?
CA: DIY projects can be deceiving. Everything looks faster and easier when other people do them, especially online. My best advice is to do your research, make sure you have the correct tools and resources, and give yourself twice the amount of time you think you’ll need. Often the DIY projects you come across are being completed by people with experience in that specific field. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to accomplish the same results, but it does mean you need to take your time and plan for a few hiccups along the way.
C: Best advice for hiring a pro?
CA: Research their qualifications, career history, and completed projects. Unfortunately, there are many companies out there who advertise themselves as qualified pros and are far from it. Always meet with multiple companies for comparison and take your time when choosing who to hire. If you have to put off a project longer than you hoped to get your desired company, it’s totally worth it! Remember, the fastest and cheapest option is rarely the best option.
C: What is one design trend you are most excited about this season?
CA: Everything about the mid-century modern comeback. From furniture, plants, colour palettes, and light fixtures, this period of design did everything right. It seemed to carefully consider materials and details beyond what we see being produced these days.
C: How do you take your coffee?
CA: No coffee for me! I’ve never been a coffee drinker. Black tea with a splash of sugar and almond milk will win me over every time.