Connected Design recently chatted with Kerrie Kelly, FASID, NKBA, CAPS. With more than 25 years experience, Kelly is the creative director for Kerrie Kelly Design Lab; an award-winning California interior designer, author and contributor; product designer and multi-media consultant for the interior design market. 

What are the top trends you are seeing in design currently?

We are seeing the rise voice-activated faucets and larger indoor and outdoor appliances that incorporate smart technology.

Outdoor kitchens are more popular. Outdoor areas are now being transformed for year-round enjoyment with everything from outside heaters to pergolas and fire pits.

Multifunctional flex spaces are being designed to be used for whatever purpose is important at the time whether that is a Zoom room, study room, home-office, craft room, toy room or den.

Expanded garages are no longer just for storing vehicles; they now serve as workshops and casual gathering spaces.

Clients are becoming more comfortable with the integration of smart home accessories, especially when it comes to at-home entertaining. My current favorite smart home accessory is the Plum Wine dispenser, which uses technology to perfectly store two bottles of wine for up to 90 days. The unit serves as a virtual sommelier that provides details about the wine on a digital screen based on the label information. It keeps track of the different wine varietals, identifies the perfect temperature to preserve and serve the wine, and allows you to identify how much you would like to pour It’s a great way to enjoy a more expensive bottle of wine throughout the week and not worry about wasting it later or to allow guests to dispense one of two wines themselves. 

What has been your experience working with technology integrators?

Technology takes everything to the next level. Lighting, for example, creates a mood and supports a lifestyle. 

As people sit in their homes more now and think of their best vacation, they want to bring that home. A lot of this involves lighting and music.

As interior designers, we have many elements of a project to specify for and manage. We see our technology integrator partners as an extension of our business and professionals in their field. We love to loop in those pros to make our client projects the best they can be.

With my tech integrator partner, I can modify or suggest ideas. He can elevate my design; so it is very interactive. We both elevate each other.

Specifically with the outdoor season approaching, what has been requested?

With wellness being top of mind in 2021, I think many are looking to improve well-being by enhancing their outdoor living spaces. For some clients, this means creating the perfect backyard oasis with user-friendly pool and spa automation while enjoying environmental controls to set the perfect mood with audio and lighting. 

When it comes to entertainment, clients are considering motorized screens that bring the home theater experience outdoors when combined with a projector. In smaller outdoor areas, clients are breathing life into patios, balconies and gardens with layers of accent lighting and weather-resistant, high-performance audio for a striking landscape. 

In my own home, we now instantly receive notice when someone arrives to our remote driveway gate and control access from anywhere via our smartphone or touch panel. We also recently installed a motorized awning so we can spend more time on our side patio while controlling the sun and shade.

What are you seeing in the lighting/shade category?

All-inclusive packages like “smart pergolas,” from companies like StructureX, that create a comprehensive structure for housing outdoor technologies are definitely something clients are considering. I think we can all agree that it is nice to be able to escape to the patio to enjoy the fresh air while relaxing to your favorite playlist and soaking in a well-thought-out environment, thanks to smart shading and lighting controls. Optimized lighting and immersive audio and video can easily complement any dinner or celebration. 

Similar to my own yard, motorized outdoor shades can also balance solar exposure and mitigate UV light. In all of these situations, my team partners with our local experts to design experiences that will support our clients’ desires and lifestyle.

What tips do you have for tech integrators and design professionals for making a project run smoothly for all involved, including the homeowners/clients?

We bring in all members of our extended team when we understand the home features a client is considering. As a part of our client interview process, we realize the team we will need to put together for a specific project and make introductions from the start. Just like our wallpaper installer, painter and electrician, the integrator team is a part of our extended business who we introduce to our clients from the project start. This way we can plan for specifics that may affect our design, efficiently and effectively see the project through together, and celebrate together in the end with our clients.

If we need to hide components or display controls, we work togethers. For speakers we try to match color and keep finishes smooth. I like the mystery of not knowing where the audio is coming from. 

Kelly is a Fellow and Chair to the National Board for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID); Global Connect Advisor for the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA); Houzz Pro Advisory Board Member; and Zillow Interior Design National Spokesperson.

Kerrie Kelly Design Lab works with residential clients and builders for new construction and full-blown renovations. Kelly also partners with brands to reach the interior design market through brand ambassador work, content creation, educational events and consulting.