Kelly-Ann Baptiste on Trusting the Process
Kelly-Ann Baptiste has a deep appreciation for not rushing ahead. The track and field Olympian finalist is the founder of the interiors and lifestyle design studio Pure Collected Living and understands the hours of focus and dedication behind every project. shelves and layered sculptural, organic furniture pieces, and accents to create a simple and beautifully styled space. We recently had the opportunity to virtually tour her new office and connect with Kelly-Ann on her minimalist aesthetic, her approach to curating a space, and the surprising amount of crossover between being a creative and soon-to-be 4-time Olympian.
Tell us about Pure Collected Living and how you got started.
It began in a serendipitous way. Never did I think my passion for design would turn into a business, but as I began sharing more of my home online and helping friends design their spaces, I realized this was something I wanted to turn into a career. There’s just something about watching the process and unfolding of an idea come to life, coupled with the joy it brings the person or family and knowing you were a part of it.
It is not every day an Olympic track star breaks into the world of interior design. How did you navigate one jump into the next?
It’s certainly a rare thing, but athletes are some of the most creative people I know. A lot of my training partners and competitors tend to explore photography, music, and different arts aside from their athletic pursuits. Inherently, I believe a lot of athletes crave somewhat of a distraction from the everyday grind and intense focus that goes into training for an Olympic sport. So I wouldn’t say the jump was particularly tough. I think the challenging part was finding balance. Making sure one art form isn't taking away from the other. It's something I'm still trying to figure out, especially as I resume training for the games next year.
From the perfect muted tones to the minimalist aesthetic to your office space, what do you love the most about your refresh?
As I’m drawn to a minimalist aesthetic, architectural details are super important to me. They make up for what may be lacking in furniture and decor, and add interest to space. So the built-ins are one of the things I love the most. I also love some of the sculptural pieces of furniture like the mid-century desk, concrete side table, and vintage equipable chair.
Working from home seems like it is going to be the new normal. When updating your home to accommodate new office space, what are three tips you would give to a beginner?
It’s definitely become the new normal. Firstly, think about how you intend to use the space. An office can be very multifunctional; you can be working behind your computer most of the day but may want to carve out a space to sit and read or enjoy a cup of coffee for breaks in between. So, my advice is to truly think about function. Also, focus on your storage needs (housing papers, documents, printer, etc.) and don’t be afraid to add a fun element, a nice chair, or funky light fixture.
Are there any lessons you learned to become a 4-time Olympian that you bring into your creative firm?
There are so many lessons, but I'd say the major one is to focus on the process to get to the outcome. Sport is highly outcome-driven—you train to win, attain medals, but the only way you get there is by following a process and not rushing ahead, doing the small things daily that may seem insignificant but are part of a bigger picture.
With my creative firm, it's the same. I try to stress the importance of getting the process right. It’s tempting to want to get right to the styling, pretty photos, and for clients, a finished space. But it takes a lot of steps that may seem insignificant or a waste of time to get there.
Your home is filled with vintage and collected treasures but still feels minimal and curated. How do you strike that balance?
It can be a challenge to find that balance, but one thing that has helped is being intentional about what I bring into my home and waiting to purchase the things I love. Over the years, I’ve learned that furnishing and curating a space are vastly different things. It’s possible to furnish your home in one weekend, and there are times when we may need to do so. But in general, I find the latter—curating your space—to be the one that brings more lasting fulfillment in regards to being happy with the way your space is designed.
Describe your aesthetic. How do your style and sensibility carry over into your approach to business?
Simplicity, I'd say, is the overarching theme in my aesthetic. It carries over easily to how I approach my business. There’s always a strive to keep things simple and uncomplicated, whether that is simplifying the process for clients or coming up with a design concept. It doesn't mean that I don't try to push the boundaries creatively, but always starting from a foundation of simplicity: simple materials, simple lines.
One of our favorite things about your design is that without seeing the handle, we know it is a space from Pure Collected Living. What is one tip for making sure your complete home is overall consistent?
Keeping consistency throughout a home can be a challenge, but repeating elements in different spaces is a great way to make things cohesive. For example, it can be repeating a color, texture, pattern, or architectural detail in various spaces throughout your home.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Styling is certainly my favorite part. It’s like the finishing touch, the part which makes your design come to life.
Describe your style in 3 words.
Restrained; serene; inspiring.
Favorite account to follow on Instagram?
I love following design accounts, and there are so many good ones, so it’s tough to choose one. But to name a few: @studiolifestyle_, @laurenliess, @nubiinteriors, @discinteriors, @jakearnold, @cestesdesign, @galleriehalf, @colinking, @clementsdesign, and @heidicaillier. I can go on as there are so many talented and inspiring accounts out there!
What is next for you and Pure Collected Living?
I’ll be preparing for the 2021 Olympic Games which will be my final year as a professional athlete. The Games will be my main focus in 2021. So on the business side, things will slow down a bit. But once my time on the track is over, I’d like to start taking on a lot more projects.