Coffee With: Karin Bennett of Karin Bennett Designs

Karin Bennett wants to help you love the space you live in. We chatted with the founder of Karin Bennnett Designs about neutrals, Nate Berkus, and champagne velvet.

Q&A With Karin Bennett

Casaza: How did you get your start?
Karin Bennett:
I grew up with a mom who was an interior designer and realtor so we moved around a lot as kids. My parents were what you’d call modern day “house flippers.” I fell in love with decorating at an early age but didn’t open up my firm till my early 30’s. It took me a while to have the guts to live out my dream and make a career of my passion. It’s been nine years and I haven’t looked back. It was the scariest thing I’ve done since giving birth to my twins but I believe that anything worthwhile takes a level of courage combined with blind faith.

Library Design by Karin Bennett Designs
Design by Karin Bennett Designs

C: How would you describe your style?
My style is what I refer to as livable modern with a twist of traditional . The spaces we design are bright and welcoming, pairing white walls with layered neutrals and lots of texture. We love warm woods and pops of black. Contrast makes me happy!

C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere and it’s often unexpected. Sometimes I find it walking into a new coffee house I’ve stepped into or scrolling the pages of Instagram. I follow a lot of amazing designers and seeing daily inspiration from the people I look up to i so incredible. But I’d say the biggest form of inspiration comes from my travels. Living in Toronto we like a certain aesthetic but when I travel I see how every corner of the earth has their own style!

Kitchen and sitting room Design by Karin Bennett Designs
Design by Karin Bennett Designs

C: Favourite room in the house?
I love designing kitchens and living rooms! Kitchens give me the opportunity to use my design skills. It’s so fun starting from scratch and giving our clients a completely new interpretation of what their space can look like! Living rooms are rewarding as we get to work with gorgeous fabrics, mixing patterns and textures, creating a unique design for each client.

C: Design rule you don’t describe to?
Painting a small room a light colour. I wholeheartedly disagree with that one! I love the idea of painting a tiny footprint in a highly saturated moody colour like maroon, navy, or even black.

C: Recent project that inspired you?
We are currently working with a young couple, designing their second home. He’s a hockey player and this will be their summer home in the off season. It’s been a lot of fun as we are purchasing everything for them so the vision is very cohesive. Most of our clients are between 40-60 years old so partnering with this young couple has been revitalizing for our team. It is slated to be complete by summer. I can’t wait!

C: Favorite texture/pattern/color?
I’m a lover of neutrals, always. It’s not purposeful but in every room I design it is a blended neutral palette with pops of black for drama so for me texture is key. I like to mix fabrics and textures for a great tactile experience for my clients. My favourites are lush velvets and sumptuous leather, jute and sheepskin. For me, texture adds dimension to a home and elevates a design.

C: What is “good design” to you?
Scale and dimension are key to good design. Design is about how elements play off each other.

Office and bathroom design by Karin Bennett Designs
Design by Karin Bennett Designs

C: Pack your bag, you’re moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
Nate Berkus’ home in California. I studied his home from the pages of magazines and my jaw drops at how understated and casual yet purposeful it is. It is pure magic. Plus if I could meet Nate I know we’d hit it off famously!

C: What’s your rule for entertaining?
Honestly, I love entertaining but I’m not a good cook. I’m better at hosting a cocktail party cause I like to drink and socialize so this kinda night is for me!! I’ll put out a good spread ahead of time, a giant charcuterie board filled with a variety of meat, cheese, nuts, and fruit, and then I forget about it and just enjoy my guests! I leave all the mess to the next day, that’s key for me 🙂

C: Best advice for DIYers?
I admire a good DIYer! It’s time-consuming doing things on your own and takes skill! My advice is if you are making something from scratch, make sure you love it because time is money and no one likes to waste their time!

Karin Bennett with Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott
Karin Bennett with Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott

C: Best advice for those hiring pro?
Meet your designer first. Don’t just go by photos on their website. You will spend a lot of time with your designer so you want to like him or her. Trust is an integral part of our job so getting to know your designer before you hire them is so important. Your gut will tell you if it’s the right fit!

C: What is the design trend you are most excited about this season?
I am falling hard for horizontal channel tufting lately. I love it on a bench or on a sofa. We just designed a custom headboard with wide horizontal channelling for a client of ours. It’s going to be gorgeous! We selected a sumptuous champagne velvet for the upholstery.

C: How do you take your coffee?
I like my coffee strong with one milk! Oh, and hot. I’m a bit fussy about good coffee.

Living room design by Karin Bennett Designs
Design by Karin Bennett Designs

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