Designer SpotlightFeb 18, 2020

Designer Spotlight: Kate Abt

Written by All Sorts Of

We’re big fans of British design, and Kate Abt’s work is no exception. Her work evokes feelings of a mix of British chic and California cool, and we couldn’t be any more obsessed. Hear more about Kate’s beginnings, how she forged her path in design, and her best advice for aspiring designers. So take a seat, scroll on down, and don’t forget to follow Kate on IG for more inspo!

a conversation with kate…

Tell us about your design journey.  How did you get started and how did you get to where you are now?

I was born in England and grew up surrounded by architecture, antique shops, and historical homes — which helped inspire my love of design. Before moving to the USA, I was a marketing manager for a large kitchen manufacturer and realized I loved the creative side more and more, often styling their photoshoots for marketing campaigns. I eventually moved to California when I married my husband, and I cold called a local designer in San Diego and was hired as a design assistant. Quicker than I ever thought possible, I was given more and more responsibility for running the business — I went in at the deep end. In many ways I was self taught and learned very quickly how to run a design business and how not too. It was a wild ride, and taught me to listen to clients, which is an imperative skill to have as a designer. After 10 years in California, we moved to the East Coast to be close to family. I just had my daughter and wanted to be at home with her for a while. After putting off starting my own design business, I dove right in — and it was the best decision I ever made. I am grateful every day to my clients who recommend me and literally the work hasn’t stopped since.

When you were first getting started what were some of the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?

Getting established on my own. I had worked for a large design firm where relationships with trades and vendors were already there for me. Starting on your own takes time to find all those people that will represent you well and that you can build long term relationships with.

What’s something about the interior design business that shocked you the most, that you wish you knew before you got started?

Just how much work goes on behind the pretty stuff!  I’m also amazed at how little people know about the scope of design work. You really wear many hats…some things you do better than others, and that’s okay!


What inspires you?

Nature — just looking at my surroundings – the colors, textures and tones. I’m always inspired by travel, particularly in England and Europe… I love looking at the architecture there. I’m lucky I get to go back to England twice a year and it’s my grounding place and inspires me endlessly. I absorb so much whilst I am there.

You’ve lived all over the world, from West Coast to the East Coast, and of course England!  How have all of those places influenced your designs?

I grew up surrounded by history and old architecture, historical homes, and antiques, and it all greatly influences me now. Living in California showed me an aspect of relaxed coastal design: clean, simple, and modern. I absolutely love the juxtaposition of the two. Old and new really resonates with me. I love authentic design that has meaning to my clients, not trendy but classic and timeless, fresh and welcoming. A home needs soul and should be a sanctuary for us — my aim is to create that for my clients.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started in design, but doesn’t know where to begin?

Absorb as much as you can.  Do design projects for friends and family and your own home to start and build your portfolio.  Take some classes to see if it’s what you really want to do, find a design firm (large or small), and start from the bottom and work hard. Experience is vital and schooling is important, particularly for CAD drawing, but not everything. The concept of design is that it’s all glamorous, shopping and picking paints and fabrics all day, but a lot of what we do is behind the scenes and entails many jobs. True talent shines through and client recommendations are the best way to grow. It takes time to build your business — be prepared for long hours and hard work. Clients will go with you for your own unique style and your portfolio.

What are five things you can’t live without right now?

1. My husband and daughter – they’re my world and support me so much
2.  My veggie/flower garden.  We live surrounded by nature (deer, rabbits, ground hogs, you name it!) so we created a fenced in garden that is my little slice of heaven and peace.
3. Watching Netflix’s The Crown… yes I’m way behind but catching up fast!
4. Vintage art – I have a slight obsession with it and I love the hunt for pieces that speak to me or my clients.  I like to try and find out the story behind the artist or where it is from.
5. Diet Coke (and plenty of water!) I’m not a typical Brit as I don’t drink tea or coffee!!!

What’s next for Kate Abt Design?

This year is already packed with some exciting projects that I can’t wait for, some I’ve been working on for a year or so, just getting all the architectural structure correct which I love.  Other projects will be coming into completion too so I can’t wait to share those. Creating the vision for clients on blueprints is just as exciting as installing all of the interiors at the end.


Leave a Comment