We’ve been following Kaemingk Design‘s work for the last few years, and today, we finally get to chat with the team behind the operation. Meet Chelsea and Brandt Kaemingk, husband and wife design duo based in Portland, Oregon who creates spaces that are guided by vibe, make you feel calm, and are begging to be lived in.
Their design firm Kaemingk Design was born out of passion — it wasn’t necessarily part of the ‘plan,’ but we’re certainly glad about how it all turned out. Their story is an important one. One that we think many of you will resonate with, because they forged their way in this industry and learned along the way. It’s been a whole lot of trial and error, yet their passion for design continuously grew over the years.
Take a moment to hear more about their journey, become inspired, and see some of the stunning work they’ve created. They will forever be our inspiration.
Tell us about you!
We are Chelsea and Brandt Kaemingk, a husband and wife design duo in Portland, OR. Our passion for homes runs deep and our style is ever evolving. We are not guided by any particular era or aesthetic but more so a vibe. Whether modern or traditional or somewhere in between, we like our spaces to breathe and evoke a sense of calm. We highly covet natural, humble materials that will age well over time and add that much needed texture and movement to the pared down spaces we design. In the end, our goal is always to create a space that begs to be touched.
Tell us about your design journey. How did you get started and how did you get here?
Our journey began about 15 years ago when we jumped into investing in real estate on the Oregon Coast. We were young, ambitious and had a passion for homes. That youth and drive propelled us hard in the beginning as we spent those first several years renovating each home we purchased from top to bottom, mainly just the two of us, with our own hands. We moved to Portland in 2012 and continued to work on and invest in real estate. With each home we renovated, our passion for design grew and each home became more inspired. To be completely frank, our bottom line suffered at times for the sake of design!
In 2016, as we were finishing up our final investment property, we began to receive an increasing number of inquiries to work for clientele. We were presented with a few opportunities that we couldn’t pass up so we decided to take the leap and become a full service interior design studio in 2017. From there we hit the ground running and haven’t looked back. It’s just the two of us and we plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. Remaining small aligns with our goals to take on a few inspiring projects each year so we can maintain our intimate approach toward design for our clients and their homes.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when you first got started?
For us it was the act of selling…selling ourselves, our ideas, the design. When we worked on our own projects, we had only ourselves to please and any decisions being made on the project went directly through us, so we were able to make a lot of on the fly design decisions throughout the process. Once the project was done it would virtually sell itself (with the help of our real estate agent of course) and we could dust ourselves off and stand back. Adding clientele to the mix proved different and there was a steep learning curve in the beginning. Thankfully we were blessed with incredible clientele out the gate, who trusted us and our visions, even if we’re still learning what our process would be.
In the current state of our world, how have you adjusted to how you manage projects and work with clients?
Although there is this eerie cloud looming over the world right now, we have worked to provide some normalcy in our new routine. We have always worked from home and we continue to do so, providing as much as we can through phone and email. Thank goodness for the Internet! We were able to connect with our clients in the beginning and devise a plan to continue work virtually as things shut down and postponing smaller projects until things improve. Now, as restrictions are easing we are making it out to the projects periodically, masked up and sanitized. Our tradespeople are doing the same. It’s the new normal for now and we are okay with that.
What fuels your inspiration?
So much! Of course, travel is a huge player in our inspiration as we love touring prominent homes, hotels and historic forts while we are away. Most importantly though, we love to create and experiment. Problem solving and the ability to work with our hands is the foundation of our career. We strive to do things we haven’t seen or done before and accomplishing that requires a lot of experimentation on our part. Being able to have the time to do this not only informs us but leads the way to new ideas and inspiration. It’s a part of who we are.
What’s something you think people get wrong about interior design?
These days, with the beautiful images of homes floating around social media and TV shows falsifying budgets and timelines of home renovations, it’s easy to lose sight of what really happens behind the scenes. Interior designers are hired to solve problems and leave beautiful spaces in their wake. We typically don’t share the multitude of hurdles we have had to jump over that day or the hundredth detail that needed to be ironed out, because it’s our job to take care of those issues for our clients and leave them with something beautiful. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. The reality is, designing a home is not a simple task, it’s expensive and can take way longer than imagined, but isn’t that the case with most good things?
What advice do you have for someone looking to get started in the interior design business?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Since we have forged our own way in this career, we feel it is more about the lessons we have learned along the way. The most important lesson we have learned thus far is to embrace failure. Whether it is a huge fail or a slight misstep look back at that situation as an opportunity to learn and grow. Our biggest failures hurt like hell but growth and success were waiting shortly after.
What are 5 things you can’t live without right now?
Cocktails, Liam our kitty, our yard, Sonos and let’s be real…the Internet.
What’s next for Kaemingk Design?
We have some incredible projects that we are currently working on and cannot wait to share. One in particular that we are design-building is going to be pretty architecturally significant when finished. We have also begun to start with the renovations on our personal home (after 4 years!) so needless to say, we are excited to finally be moving forward.