Meet Katie Gebhardt founder of Solstice Interiors, a full-service interior design firm honoured by San Diego Magazine as "Best Interior Design Firm" of 2019.
Katie's portfolio ranges from commercial and boutique spaces to more intimate residential projects. Her designs favour a timeless approach which encourages comfort and functionality to ultimately improve the day of its inhabitants.
How did you get started in design?
I was fortunate enough to know I loved interior design pretty early on. I always loved setting up my room as a kid and rearranging things within the home so when FIDM came to my high school to talk about the majors offered and I learned interior design was a thing, that really clicked for me. I went to college for interior design + business, and since college have worked in a few different areas of the interior design industry ranging from project management within the hospitality field to residential and commercial interior design. Being able to experience so many different avenues of interior design has been really cool for me to hone in on exactly what I want to do and the types of projects I want to work on. I started my own business towards the end of 2016 and have been working on a mix of residential and commercial projects ever since. It's been a dream!
What is your design ethos?
My intention through design is to create spaces that are not only functional but beautiful, and catered specifically to each clients lifestyle or brand. Interiors and the space you're in highly influence and affect your day-to-day life, so for me it's really all about curating spaces - whether it be residential or commercial - that evoke a sense of comfort and wholeness. My goal is to create a timeless, thoughtful, and personalized space you really look forward to being in.
What are your biggest design challenges?
I would say as a relatively newer and younger designer a challenge for me can be differentiating myself from all other amazing designers out there! It's so important to partner with clients and brands that trust and allow me to have creative freedom, otherwise designs end up really not being a true representation of my style or what I would design. So making sure I'm taking on projects and clients that will really end up portraying my vibe is important and can be challenging as I grow and expand my business! Another challenge is the endless amount of resources online, and clients shopping designs with a quick Google search! A ton of time and thought goes into sourcing specific options or pieces for clients so it can be tricky when so much is accessible to clients online and they start searching for other versions of what you presented, find similar alternatives that might be half the price, but the quality is really a mystery! Endless products and sources available online can definitely be challenging.
Who are your biggest design influencers?
My all-time favorite designers at the moment are of course Amber Lewis from Amber Interiors - she absolutely kills it and watching her style evolve is so inspiring. She is constantly one-upping herself and raising the bar which is something I really strive to do. I love Raili Clasen with Raili CA Design, Natalie Myers, Jessica Helgerson, Kelly Wearstler, and Sarah Sherman Samuels. They each have such a unique and distinct vibe to them - and they're all so badass in their own way. I am also SO inspired by basically everything coming from Australia right now and I LOVE The New, a New Zealand design journal. I could go on forever! So many amazing designers out there right now that I really look up to and these are just a few of them.
What is your favorite project to date?
I have to say I have two favorite projects to date (although this was tough, I love all of my projects for different reasons!) I designed a nail, massage, and wellness salon - Leo - that has to be one of my favorite projects to date. This was a blend of an amazing client, a really cool brand and company I love personally, and the opportunity to express another side of my style I hadn't been able to before. Having a client with a similar style to your own, a client that gives you creative freedom, and allows you to showcase something you haven't before is so priceless. Another project of mine I love is a residential project I've been working on over the last year. Again, this is a mix of a really cool original Spanish-style home with some beautiful bones and a client that really trusts in my process and gave me creative freedom to blend their vision with mine. We kept to the original style and footprint of the home, terracotta floors and all, and it's been really cool to pay homage to an already cool space and work with it vs. against it or reinventing the wheel.
What do you think is the key to good design?
I think what makes for good design is a space that is inspired by timeless elements, is functional, and inviting. I'm all about a neutral base, having those core pieces really be timeless with pops of warmth and pattern through accents and less-permanent features. Creating a space that evokes a feeling of being at home - whether that be residential or commercial. I think it's so important to make sure design has life, character, and personality to it and doesn't feel cold or like you can't connect with it in some way. All in all, creating a space you can't wait to be in is what good design is all about for me.
What do you like about George & Willy?
I love how simple, minimal, and functional every George & Willy product is yet each product still feels so special. Simple can sometimes feel basic, yet it's those little details that George & Willy products possess that feel anything but basic. I love that products feel so versatile and could essentially go in SO many types of spaces and serve so many different purposes.
What is your favourite George & Willy product and why?
I honestly love the Market Chalkboard tiles we used in JuneShine Ranch! There were so many ideas thrown around for a menu board and we loved the versatility and simplicity of the chalk tiles with that classic green chalk tile color. There's something so personal about writing out each flavor or product available on tiles with that stencil vs. just a printed menu, and also seemed like a really sustainable option compared to other forms of menus we see so often.
What’s your top tip to staying creative?
I would say for me it's really getting out of my own head and taking time to step back and get inspired. Going on a walk, being in nature, getting inspired by architecture - old & new! - going to a yoga class. Taking that time to reset and not get bogged down by the business side of things and letting your mind wander is so important. Not to mention some good ole' Pinterest time. Ha! So in short, my top tip to staying creative is to not only take care of yourself first, but to allow yourself and prioritize time to let your mind wander.