Kate Walker of Kate Walker Design saw a gap in the interior design market, and she ran with it. Kate specialises in helping clients select their hard finishes, working with both commercial and residential clients.
Design was always part of Kate’s life, and she worked in the tile business for 15 years. During that time she saw that it was difficult for people to pull together a cohesive, complete look for their kitchens, bathrooms, laundry and outdoor areas.
She decided to bring her love of design and her expertise in hard finishes together and launch a business focused on end-to-end hard finish design solutions. Kate had cultivated a wealth of contacts thanks to her time spent in the business.
She works with clients to bring together the sum of the parts into a beautiful story, integrating both form and function. She works with suppliers from throughout Australia and the world to source only the best materials including tiles, timber, natural stone, carpet, and landscaping stone.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with her about what she does, what inspires her and what she loves.
1. When did you first decide to become a designer and how did you get started with your design business?
I have been interested in design since I was a little girl. Design has always been a part of my life. I worked in the tile industry for 15 years in a family business and realised that many people found it really difficult to pull a whole look together for their kitchen, bathrooms, laundry flooring, joinery and outdoor areas. I saw a gap in the design market where I knew I could offer people guidance across the whole spectrum of hard finishes.
I also saw a unique opportunity to launch a business on the Mornington Peninsula offering complete hard finish design solutions to the local area. With the contacts I had with importers and manufacturers in Melbourne, around Australia and around the world, I could give my Mornington Peninsula clients access to best products available. We now work with clients Australia-wide, from Tasmania to the Northern Territory, and it’s so exciting to create designs that work in such a variety of climates.
2. What is the most challenging part of your job?
Managing the fact that clients today come to me with Pinterest photos that emulate properties way outside their budget. It’s a challenge pulling back that expectation of wanting to achieve a $300K kitchen with a budget of $60K. This is also where our skill set lies though – finding design solutions that work within a budget and achieve a look in line with what the client wants to achieve.
3. Is there an interior design style you favour and do you have your own design aesthetic?
I love all interiors so I find it hard to favour one design aesthetic. Given the business that we’re in, clients don’t come to us because we offer one particular design style but because we offer an outstanding solution across any number of styles – from coastal to Hamptons-style to industrial or contemporary.
A style that I love at the moment is what I have used recently in my own home renovation, and that’s Modern Farmhouse. It offers a class twist to the traditional Hamptons-style home, it’s more countrified in a way yet it’s not cluttered or fussy, possibly a little more masculine. And the colour palette based around sage green took me away from my comfort zone of blue tones.
4. Who are other interior designers you admire?
- Brooke Wagner Design for classic residential
- Flack Studio for modern
- Mim Design for commercial
5. What inspires you?
Travelling, and Mother Nature. Exploring the world provides perspective and wonder, and the landscape inspires me. I live in a small coastal town on the Mornington Peninsula surrounded by the wild waters of Western Port Bay, the calm tranquillity of Port Phillip Bay, the rugged green hills of Flinders and the peaceful Red Hill countryside. And over winter I spend a lot of time at Mt Buller in the midst of the mountains and the snow. Mother Nature is such a huge source of inspiration, and the natural hard finishes I work with are her gifts.
6. What do you think is the essential piece of furniture we should all have in our bedroom?
I love an ottoman at the end of the bed. It’s the perfect spot to sit and put your shoes on, to put your clothes on at the end of the day, to put your handbag on – without messing up the bed. And it prevents the ‘floor-drobe’.
7. What key element do we all need for a chic living room?
A bar cart, for sure.
8. Do you have a favourite project or story behind a project?
One of my favourite recent projects was in Mt Martha. It evolved from a very small component of a simple renovation to a very significant project. Our client worked closely with us, trusted the design process and believed in our vision, so we were able to achieve an incredible result.
The budget was there to achieve the very best in design, hard finishes and appliances. This combined with the time and the impetus meant that it all came together so seamlessly and so beautifully.
Let's get personal ......
1. What else are you passionate about besides your work? My two children.
2. What is your most treasured belonging? My children’s baby books.
3. What's one thing people may not know about you? I’m an insomniac.
4. In 10 years, I'd like to be .... Doing exactly what I’m doing now.
5. What can't you live without? Gin and tonic.
Kate’s looking forward to continuing her client work, integrating stunning materials for chic, stylish finished products and leading the way in terms of the very best in hard finishes.