A few months after graduating from Harvard’s School of Design in 2005, designer Chloe Warner moved to San Francisco and hung a sign in her window announcing that Redmond Aldrich Design was open for business. Warner’s appreciation for meticulously designed spaces was sparked at an early age by visits to her grandparents’ home (decorated by the legendary Sister Parrish), and she started her own career by working on projects for her family and friends. But when the economy soured and the demand for interior designers softened, Warner had a novel idea.
“People were taking more of a go-it-alone approach to design,” says Warner. So I thought it might be a good opportunity to offer some professional guidance with a more cost-friendly and less hands-on approach.”
This realization resulted in what Warner calls her “design kit,” a service that provides clients with a 20-inch tall inspiration board and includes floor plans, images, swatches and a shopping list for all the items recommended for the space. All communication is typically done over the phone or by email, making for a less interactive but also far less expensive relationship with an interior designer. It was the concept of the design kit that first piqued homeowner Kate Leraris’ interest when she checked out Warner’s website at the suggestion of a mutual friend. Leraris and her family (husband Mike, daughter Ava, 9, and son Roman, 7) had recently purchased a home in SF’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. “I had never used an interior designer before and wasn’t sure I was going to this time,” says Leraris. “But the idea of a little professional advice was certainly appealing.”
The main objective for Leraris was to create a home that lived like a comfortable beach house but looked like a sophisticated urban dwelling. She called Warner, discussed her hopes and dreams for the interiors and waited for her inspiration boards to arrive. When they did, it immediately became clear to Leraris that she had made the right choice. “Before talking to Chloe, I had snapped a picture of some pendant light from a design magazine because I thought they would look great in the dining room,” says Leraris. “I never shared the image with Chloe, but sure enough, those same lights were on my inspiration board!”
Another thing that immediately became clear to both Leraris and Warner was that this project was destined to become much more than a typical design kit job. “I’ve dubbed it a design kit plus,” says Warner. “Phone calls and emails weren’t going to cut it. Kate was really excited about being involved, so it quickly became a more traditional experience.” Leraris wasn’t the only member of the family to roll up her sleeves and get in on the fun: Ava had her very own private meeting in Warner’s office before calling her mother in to explain what they had selected and why. “I really couldn’t be any happier with how the house turned out,” says Leraris. “This home reflects who we are and how we want to live.”