Q&A With Kate O’Hara
Casaza: How did you get your start?
Kate O’Hara: It was such an unlikely situation for me! I was on a different career path in education, when one summer, I offered to fill in for one of my mom’s employees. My role was pretty small back then, but over the course of the summer I set up a new website, started running our photo shoots, and discovered a love for interior styling that was entirely new to me.
C: How would you describe your style?
KO: I love it when architecture, design, and styling come together in almost any aesthetic. I do have some musts though: lots of natural light, high ceilings, and minimal clutter. If something doesn’t serve a purpose, then I don’t want it!
I love white walls paired with natural finishes and textiles. I’m a sucker for a gorgeous rug. Oh, and I’m always jealous of people with green thumbs… Probably because I can’t keep many plants alive.
C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
KO: My role at MOI involves a lot of travel, and I find that to be a tremendous source of inspiration. From color palettes and architecture, to seeing how people live, and eat, and spend time together – those are the things that feed my creativity.
C: Favorite room in the house?
KO: A house is a reflection of the person who lives there, so choosing a favorite room is tricky. Bedroom suites are special because they’re the most personal part of a home – it’s where you get to design solely for yourself (and maybe your spouse/partner). But, if I’m being honest, it’s rarely a bedroom that has me clicking on Insta. If we’re talking photos, I’m a sucker for living rooms, offices, and kitchens.
C: Design rule you don’t subscribe to?
KO: I can think of a lot! I love white rooms; accents and accessories don’t have to come in odd numbers; symmetry isn’t always the best design option; I love mixing prints in unusual ways; dining rooms can be for more than dining; most people don’t have to love their designs 10 years from now (they’ll probably want new haircuts by then too, right?). I could keep going!
C: Recent project that inspired you?
KO: We’re currently working on a luxury high rise. To prepare for that, I got to tour some of the most exclusive and prestigious condos of downtown Austin. That was exciting and left me with a lot of love ‘ems and leave ‘ems.
C: What is “good design” to you?
KO: Good design solves problems you didn’t even realize you had. It can make you enjoy doing those chores you dread, like laundry or dishes. It can raise your mood by offering more light, open space, coziness, or whatever you’re missing. For me, it’s when architecture, design, and styling come together to make me feel good.
C: Pack your bag! You’re moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
KO: I don’t know… Mr. Darcy’s estate might be nice. Probably rather drafty, though. I would happily live in any home designed by Ellen – she’s got such a great eye for design. Honestly though, I’d rather have a house designed for me. Does that sound as narcissistic as I fear?
C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
KO: It’s not about me! Being a great hostess means thinking about each of your guests and planning an event they would love with people they would love to know (if they don’t already). I change my menu and drink list according to the group, and I rearrange my interior spaces to accommodate the people.
C: Best advice for DIYers?
KO: Take risks, but don’t cut corners – you’ll pay more for them later.
C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
KO: Ask questions and get to know the process. What services do they offer? Can they handle technical designs, finish selections, furnishings, art and accessories? Have they worked with builders, remodelers, contractors, and installers before? What is their pricing structure? Will they give you a bid, cost estimate, or budget from the outset? What’s the timeline for their work? Can they give you referrals or links to reviews from past clients?
The best advice I can give is this: don’t hire anyone until you have truly committed to trusting them and valuing their time and talent.
C: How do you take your coffee?
KO: I’m a skim latte lady. That or licorice tea.