Coffee With: Rose Ott of Rose Ott Design

Rose Ott reminds us to be here now with mindful design thinking.

Rose Ott believes a home that’s designed well and with intention can change someone’s life. We chatted about how she breaks down walls (and rules) to create a serene space that influences clients’ thoughts and feelings.

Q&A With Rose Ott

Wood dining table with black leather chairs in modern-style house
Fire Island Organic | Image Courtesy of Rose Ott Design

Casaza: How did you get your start?
Rose Ott: I’ve always had a passion for design everything – interiors, fashion, graphics, architecture, fine art – you name it. It’s my calling and everything I’ve ever done in my life led me to this career. As early as age 10, when my parents would go out I would rearrange their house… Move the sofa over a bit, turn the chairs, group the accessories, and angle the area rug. They would come home to a different house, but I guess they liked it because they would leave it. I went to college for fine arts and graphic design and my first job after college was in fashion. After I had children, I worked for a painter doing faux finishes and murals in children’s rooms and started helping the clients with decorating their spaces. I realized this is what I was meant to be doing so I went back to school for interior design. My husband is a builder and in addition to my interior design business we build spec houses together.

C: How would you describe your style?
RO: My style is minimal, clean, and transitional, but my real focus is on mindfulness in interior design. I’ve seen firsthand how correct use of color, scale and the proper integration of visual elements can heal. A space that has been designed well and with intention can change someone’s life. The client may not always know what they are looking for but it is my job to tap in, ask the right questions and pay attention to the answers to help understand what will bring positive change. I’m currently working on my masters degree in mindfulness because I think we are just at the cusp of a very powerful movement.

C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
RO: When I travel, I become super focused on everything around me, almost as if I am in a lab. I look at the culture, decor, how they entertain, the fabrics they use, what they are wearing, the types of utensils and plates they use… Literally everything. I immerse myself in that place completely. Additionally, I take classes whenever I can to learn about emerging technologies because everything is constantly changing in this industry and it’s important to know what is going on.

Kitchen with white cabinets, wood counters, blue island, and stainless steel appliances
For The Love Of Walnut | Image Courtesy of Rose Ott Design

 

C: Favorite room in the house?
RO: My absolute favorite room in the house is the kitchen. It’s the heart of the home and where everyone gravitates. There’s nothing better in the world than spending time in the kitchen – creating and sharing a meal with loved ones. I love tearing down all the walls to turn the kitchen into a great room and have found that families are happier, more productive, and organized when the space is designed well.

C: Design rule you don’t subscribe to?
RO: It’s funny – sometimes when I present ideas to clients they ask, “We can do that?” Yes, there are standards and paradigms we are all taught, but the most sophisticated and interesting designs are the ones where we break the rules. Those images we’re pinning and reposting haven’t subscribed to rules and have created something we have not seen before.

C: Recent project that inspired you?
RO: I’m working on something right now that I find super interesting. I am creating “comfort rooms” in two funeral homes that include kitchens, dining areas and lounges. More people are having memorial services rather than traditional wakes and the law has changed after 60 years, so funeral homes are now allowed to serve food to accommodate this new trend. I am renovating the coffin rooms to create beautiful, compassionate, private spaces people can go to before and after a memorial service to be with their loved ones.

C: Favorite texture/color/pattern?
RO: Linen – I absolutely love linen! Alone or blended with silk or wool, it just has such an organic, luxurious quality and is so drapable. I use it for everything – furniture, window treatments, bedding. It goes back 36,000 years and is considered sacred in some cultures.

C: What is “good design” to you?
RO: Good design is timeless design. It’s something you can look back at after many, many years and you say you still love it and it’s still relevant. I love looking at old Architectural Digest magazines and seeing design images that still translate to modern times.

Diane Keaton's home in the movie "Something's Gotta Give"
Diane Keaton’s Home in Something’s Gotta Give | Images from Architectual Digest

 

C: Pack your bag! You’re moving into a famous home… Whose is it?
RO: Diane Keaton’s home in the movie Something’s Gotta Give. This house is a perfect example of “good design” – the movie took place over fifteen years ago yet it could have been designed today. It’s a classic, cedar-clad Hampton-style home with an open, clean, elegant yet relaxed interior. That house stuck with me all these years and because many of the homes I design are on the water, and I like for them to have that exact feel. This never goes out of style.

C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
RO: When I’m entertaining, I want to have as much fun as my guests so the most important thing for me is to be organized. If everything is meticulously planned, I’m able to relax and enjoy myself.

C: Best advice for DIYers?
RO: Do your research before embarking on a project. Sometimes it looks so easy when you see makeovers on T.V. or furniture building on YouTube, but it takes a lot of time and patience.

Brightly colored home homes designed by Dorothy Draper
Early Designs of Dorothy Draper | Images from Dorothy Draper & Company

C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
RO: Make sure you feel a connection with the person you are hiring because you’ll spend a lot of time with them. Make sure your preferences are aligned with the work you see on their website. Save rooms and products you find on Casaza 🙂 to show them what your likes and dislikes are. It’s always a good idea to have these visuals for discussion. What one person thinks is “rustic-modern” may be completely different from another. Have a list of questions for them about timeframes, delivery costs and added fees. The more dialog you have, the smoother the project will go when understanding the roles of the professional and you, the client.

C: What’s one design trend you’re excited about this season?
RO: I love the florals we are seeing, both the soft pastels and the bright, vibrant ones. There is an energy to it that reminds me of the fabulous early designs of Dorothy Draper. Once we see it on a sofa in chintz, we have arrived!

C: How do you take your coffee?
RO: Hot, low fat milk, no sugar, and often.