Interior Designer Spotlight with Kay Genua
Kay Genua Designs: Fort Worth, Boston, Houston, Beaver Creek, Miami
Kay Genua’s multimillion dollar interior design firm has been on the Best Designers in Dallas list for two years running. After receiving her business degree from Tulane, Kay joined Bloomingdale’s New York buying office and later moved to Bloomingdale’s, Dallas. After developing an interest in interior design Kay joined Market Antiques & Furnishings in Fort Worth, Texas where she soon became known as the resident rug expert. She later founded Kay Genua Design where she has placed over 20 Asmara rugs in the homes of clients in Texas, Florida, Colorado, California and Massachusetts. Kay’s passion for mixing color, pattern, antiques and bespoke furnishings has led many happy clients to keep coming back for their multiple homes.
Join me as Kay shares why her clients prefer personalized traditional design over the bleached Restoration Hardware look prevalent in magazines, how she shops for large new projects, why she loves the Paris Flea Market and much more…
A blue and white Asmara Basketweave Needlepoint Rug grounds the blues in the table setting.
Are There Any Trends You Intentionally Avoid?
“This is going to be so mean for me to say but the Restoration Hardware look. That bleached-out look that’s all beige and gray. If someone wants that, I will certainly give them that look, but I tell my clients, don’t decorate your home for what’s going on in the world. Do it for what you love. Then it will always be you and your style. I really steer people clear of bleached furniture.”
Are Clients Willing to Wait for Custom Work?
“Yes! I have a few instant gratification clients and I know when they want something, they want it quickly. If it’s drapery, my drapery work room can produce things pretty quickly. A lot of the sofas I order, I can get in six to eight weeks. I do more high-end design work and I’m a fabric and rug snob. My clients want the good stuff and are willing to wait for it. I never cut corners on quality. I don’t run into a lot of people who want to buy Restoration Hardware unless it’s for their child where I’m advising them on their first apartment or house.”
“The client wanted everything to be a soft palette, except for the strength of the Asmara Canterbury Needlepoint Rug.” – Kay Genua
Do You Foresee Any New Trends?
“I see vibrant colors coming back in a strong way. Everything was beige for a while. The trend is still there to have fewer accessories, but the ones that are staying are more important. I think more and more of my clients want every room in their home to be very comfortable and usable for themselves as well as for entertaining. Clients now want to sit on sofas before they buy them, before they used to just trust my design skills. Now they care more about how a sofa, or a fabric or a designer rug feels and how it touches their lives every day.”
A beige and red Aubusson rug pulls together coral and red upholstery in a stately living room.
Why Do You Use Antiques and Vibrant Colors?
“Personally, I’m an antique collector and I love color. Even though a lot of my current designs have fewer accessories, I am a very sentimental person and have a lot of picture frames, a lot of Herend and a lot of things I’ve inherited and collected over the years. I’m 56 years old and I spent my graduation money from college on antiques. So I’ve been collecting since I was 22. My favorite style to design is traditional since it’s the style I love the most. Being that I get most of my business through referrals I tend to attract traditional people, but I also do contemporary work.”
“The Asmara Canterbury Oushak Rug picked up all the colors in the room and added more. We used the warmth of the rug with the saturation of blue, salmon and other colors.” – Kay Genua.
How Do You Start a New Project?
“When I start a really large project from scratch, I either go fabric shopping or I take my client fabric shopping. I tell my clients not to worry about which room a fabric would go in. If we like it, we pull it. With our fabrics selected, I took one of my clients to view Asmara rugs and the client went ballistic! I was so fortunate that Interior Resources in Dallas had almost the entire Asmara Collection. She got to see all the rugs in person and we filled her entire house with Asmara rugs . I wasn’t sure they were going to do the oversized Canterbury Oushak Rug in the living room, because when I gave them the price, she said she would get back to me. The next day she said, ‘I’m getting that rug!’ and giggled. I took another client shopping all over Dallas for rugs and the client wasn’t liking anything until I took her into Interior Resources and she saw Asmara rugs. She said ‘That’s it! That’s what I want!'”
Another view of the open plan living and dining areas with the Canterbury Oushak Rug anchoring the sitting area.
Is it Possible to Create A Different Look Using the Same Rug?
“I used the Asmara Canterbury Rug in two of my clients’ spaces in two different ways. In the first living room the rug picked up all the colors in the room and added more. We used the warmth of the rug with the saturation of blue, salmon and other colors—it was the thicker Canterbury Oushak Rug. Another living room had a white sofa the client wanted everything to be a soft palette except for the strength of Canterbury Needlepoint Rug. And we painted the back of the bookcases a Chinese red-orange color. Those were the pop of color in the room.”
We brought over the the Canterbury Needlepoint Rug and the custom sofa from the previous house.
Do You Ever Re-purpose a Client’s Favorite Rug or Sofa?
“I am in the midst of helping a client with their fifth house. In the last house we used this gorgeous red in the bookcases. We repeated the red in her new living room to pick up the reds in the Asmara Canterbury Needlepoint Rug which was brought over from the previous house, and the rug is looking fabulous, as is the cream sofa we designed for the last house. We are going to do new pillows with trim to pull in more of the Chinese red from the rug on to the sofa.”
The Hermitage Oriental Rug picked up the colors of the drapery and sofa fabrics which had already been chosen.
Is it More Difficult to Find a Rug After the Fabrics Have Been Chosen?
“We had fabrics already chosen for this library when we went rug shopping. The lead fabric for this library was the drapery. We thought the color and feel of the Asmara Hermitage Oriental Rug went perfectly with the fabric as well as the red in the sofa. I love Asmara rugs so much.”
What Has Been Your Greatest Inspiration?
“Paris! When I graduated from college I was almost fluent in French. When I worked for Market Antiques & Furnishings they found out that their French interpreter was having everyone in the Marché aux Puces de Paris, St.-Ouen up their prices so he could get a kick-back. So they started taking me. When you shop at the Paris flea market you start working at 5:00 a.m. and are finished by noon. So I would walk every day and look at architecture, doors, door knobs, windows, window displays—anything that had architectural elements. I walked all over Paris and it has influenced me a lot.”
What’s it Like Doing a Client’s Second, Third or Fourth Home?
“I love my clients in Fort Worth who send me places to do their second, third or fourth homes. I love doing jobs in Miami. I was able to learn about the local flavor and restaurants. Miami has so much culture from South America. The job I’m doing right now is in Palm Springs. I’ve never been to Palm Springs before and I think it’s fascinating. We went to see the house in February and they really do have a season when people are there. When I went back in June, it went from a vibrant place in February to a ghost town. It was 120 F and intense. No wonder no one wants to be there. Installing a job in Edwards, Colorado was really wonderful being able to work in the snow. All of my out-of-town jobs have had their own unique experiences.”
Do You Have a Favorite Design Publication?
“Veranda. I like Architectural Digest, but I feel like they focus too much on Los Angeles, New York and on small spaces without any color. I find what’s in Veranda to be more applicable to my clients.”
For more on Kay Genua, visit http://kaygenuadesigns.com.