Katie Hodges on Knowing When to do Your Own Thing
Known for her California cool aesthetic and luxe online pillow and furniture shop, we chatted with Katie Hodges about her interior design business, where she shops for vintage, and the design rule she always follows.
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You own and operate Katie Hodges Design in LA. Tell us a little bit about how you got started.
Through all of high school and college, I was one of those people who had an array different jobs - catering, nanny, In’n’Out Burger, personal assistant, store merchandiser, shoe salesperson... you name it! So when it came time to figuring out my career post-college, I knew it would have to be something dynamic, fast-paced, creative and client-facing. I had this gut feeling that it would be either fashion or interior design, so I took an internship in both, and after 4 months in each, it was a no-brainer that I had found my niche in interiors. I taught myself AutoCAD and photoshop, and once I got those under my belt, it all clicked pretty quickly and I got my first job as a Design Assistant. After 3 years of working for high-end residential design firms, I began itching to find my own design voice. Once I put that into the universe, I immediately got my first client, and took that as a sign to take the plunge as a solo act.
Your design work always has so many beautiful elements to it. What are a few design principles you always follow to elevate your work?
Thank you so much! I’m constantly reworking and expanding my design principles, but I’d say my MAIN principle pertains to scale. Varying scale/proportions between furniture pieces is so important in creating a good flow in a room. If everything in a room is the same height and visual weight, the space falls flat very quickly. Alternate between solid and leggy pieces, being careful to not have too many of either This entirely depends on your space - large vs small - but as a room of thumb, I try to have at least one classic foundation piece of furniture (ie tuxedo sofa, or a trestle dining table), and then sprinkle in the funky chairs and tables to add interest.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever received is to maintain consistency and momentum. It’s so easy to hit the brakes when things aren’t going swimmingly (which, in this industry is almost daily!). But, I’ve learned that grit and pushing through blocks when you least want to, is what fosters growth.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to refresh their home on a budget?
Sometimes we tend to clutter our spaces and call it “layered,” so I recommend evaluating your current inventory, and doing a thoughtful edit of existing pieces. Remove extra accessories and textiles to see the canvas of your space, and from there, start adding individual pieces back in until you reach a point where it feels good. A good edit will help discern what you need to keep, remove and/or replace.
Let’s talk trade secrets. What is one thing you always have up your sleeve to make a space perfect?
Incredible pillows and a statement plant… always.
You are both an architectural and interior designer. What is your favorite type of space to design?
I suppose I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to architecture and interiors. I think most artists are, and I would argue that you wouldn’t want anything less! For that reason, I like to get a hold of a project from its very initial phases and work alongside my client until completion. This process also allows for the most streamlined, cost efficient, and ultimately successful projects.
What are a few of your best tips or tricks to someone designing a space of their own to add character and interest?
Start with good bones, layer with authentic materials, and remember that less is usually more. Don’t be scared to try something new, as long as it is something you love.
What was the tipping point in your career when you knew you were right where you’re supposed to be?
Honestly, it was when I shot my 1-bedroom apartment with my pal Amy Bartlam, and MyDomaine featured it online. I remember feeling so proud and shocked, because at the time, I didn’t know if people would even like my work. That validation gave me the confidence and push I needed to really go after every potential opportunity that came my way.
What is a decor faux-pas you see all too often?
Hm, I feel like pretty much anything goes these days as long as its finely curated, but if I had to name one it would be people using rugs that are too small for the space. It really stands out to me and makes me wonder how someone can put bath mat down under a coffee table and call it a day…
You always have such a knack for finding the coolest vintage pieces. What are some tips you have for vintage shopping?
Etsy and Chairish are my #1 go-to’s for vintage, and I hardly source vintage in-person anymore because there’s just SO MUCH online. It’s a little risky sometimes, but I know the right questions to ask and if something feels fishy or like there’s a chance the condition could be worse than pictures, I pass.
How would you describe your personal style?
It changes all the time depending on my mood and what I am working on, but I tend to dress pretty feminine with (hopefully) a bit of edge. I’ve always been a jeans + heels girl, but lately have been inspired to wear more pants and tailored blazers. Talk to me in a year and I’ll probably be back in my leather jacket phase… ha, hope not!
What’s next for Katie Hodges Design?
On the horizon is KHD, Inc rebranding as more of a design + build firm, which has been years in the making. I wanted to wait until my team was rock solid and we can take on anything from a simple kitchen remodel to complete ground up construction with ease. I’m also working on shooting video content, so hopefully I don’t chicken out and actually show my face a little more in the coming months :)
Photos by Haris Kenjar and Amy Bartlam