Kriste Michelini Kriste Michelini

Kriste Michelini






We sat down with California-based interior designer, Kriste Michelini, to discover the importance of space planning and creating a cohesive design using complementary fabrics and finishes.

Architecture and landscape designed by John Rowland and Sarah Broughton

Living space designed by Kriste Michelini
Photographed by Thomas Kuoh

Kriste Michelini Interior Designer

Kriste Michelini

Interior Designer

Can you tell us how your career in interior design started?

I started out on a much different career path. I worked in software sales and commercial real estate always with an eye to move closer to my love of beautiful homes. I took the leap in 2002— turning my long-time passion for creating cool, calm spaces into an interior design career. I remodeled several of my own homes. Friends took notice and started to hire me to help them with their homes. I started small and my business grew organically. I’ve been fortunate to be able to build a successful design firm, along with having a family.

Who are your design mentors, if any?

Vicente Wolf for his restrained style of design. David Hicks for his mastery of mixing antique and modern furnishings. Ralph Lauren for bringing his iconic fashion style to home design. Brad Ford for his modern aesthetic and love of handcrafted work.

Where do you go for design inspiration?

I find new energy and inspiration in exploring other countries and cultures. I love to travel. I was lucky to travel to India recently. I was infatuated with the colors, textiles, hand-knotted rugs, and the ornamental detail of the palaces. I also love reading. I have a rotating stack of design books on my desk at work and at home.

Foyer designed by Kriste Michelini Details of a dining room Details of a bedroom Details of a living space

Foryer designed by Kriste Michelini
Photographed by Thomas Kuoh

“You can design a beautiful room; however, if the space does not work, it is not a successful room. Scale is critical and paramount to the beauty of a room. And of course, complementary fabrics and finishes create a cohesive design and pull it all together.”

What are the most important steps to take into consideration when designing a new space?

The function of the space drives the design. The process begins with space planning a room which should address a client’s lifestyle and needs while taking into account any outdoor views, seating arrangements, media requirements, and circulation. You can design a beautiful room; however, if the space does not work, it is not a successful room. Scale is critical and paramount to the beauty of a room. And of course, complementary fabrics and finishes create a cohesive design and pull it all together.

Which book, magazine or site related to design is your favorite?

We recently designed a stunning lakefront property in Idaho and I re-read Victoria Hagen’s book “Dream Spaces.” She has such a talent for connecting a home to its surroundings. I’m an avid reader of C (California) Magazine – as it aptly captures the style and culture of California. Architectural Digest is also a go-to. It is the authority on all things design.

From your experience, what is the best decorating advice you can offer someone?

Hands down, buy quality over quantity. The saying “you get what you pay for” has never been more true than in home decor. I advise clients to invest in key pieces that are worth paying more for and that will stand the test of time.

Are there any upcoming projects you’re especially excited about?

We're excited about bringing to life a home in Lake Tahoe. The design is inspired by the mountain and lake scenery right outside the front door, combining a feeling of indoor and outdoor living. We are also getting ready to work on a ground-up home construction project with a modern aesthetic in the Los Altos Hills, just south of San Francisco.

How did you go about decorating your own home?

I wanted to create a juxtaposition between a traditional New England home and more modern architectural elements. I wanted my home to be open, spacious and welcoming. I repeated colors and design motifs throughout to create a sense of expansiveness. I chose white as a unifying color to use throughout. I added a sense of warmth and visual consistency by installing chocolate walnut hardwood floors along with various warm woods.

What is your personal Style of Living?

I’m a believer in setting goals, being content and enjoying the journey. My notebook and oversized tote are always nearby. I try to push myself out of my comfort zone and not take myself too seriously. Good health, close family, great friends and wonderful clients inspire my personal Style of Living.

Why is the quality of sleep important to you?

We spend over a third of our lives sleeping, so it is important to me to have a welcoming and comfortable bed. I like a bed that’s luxurious and inviting to the eye. The headboard, pillows and bed linens should create an oasis that contributes to the overall quality of sleep.

What are your “Frette Favorites?”

Across and Grace collections are a few of my favorites.

What is currently on your nightstand?

Fresh flowers in a cut-glass vase and my favorite scented candle adorn my nightstand. I am also reading “Born Free” by Joy Adamson, in anticipation of my trip to South Africa this month.

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