Every artist needs a source of inspiration. For designer Kate Singer, it’s right outside. Growing up between her grandparent’s house in Palm Springs, California and her parents’ home in Smithtown, Long Island, Singer is heavily influenced by mother nature. “The landscape out in the Hamptons, and the overall beauty that surrounds you, I try to draw that inside in the most connected way,” she says of her work.
Among her fondest memories from childhood are trips to nurseries, along with lumber and stone yards, helping her father pick out materials for water features, pergolas and plantings in their garden. Singer’s mother, meanwhile, taught her how to create an inviting home and set a table for a party of four — or 40. “My parents were always working on the interior and exterior of my childhood home,” she recalls. “My mother was a wonderful decorator and hostess and my father was known to sketch and build a new room or cabinetry in a weekend.”
Singer later studied broadcast journalism at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and says her grandparents’ house was the place to be on weekends and holidays. “My grandparents had a very chic home in the 70s and 80s, when Palm Springs was one of the most glamorous places to live and play in California,” she says.
But Singer didn’t begin her design career right after graduation. Instead, she came back east and spent her 20s in Manhattan working as a television writer and producer for programs like “The Phil Donahue Show” and “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.” Her first job in design was under Eileen Kathryn Boyd in Huntington, who noticed her gift. Singer describes Boyd as “a generous and talented mentor,” who taught her the ins and outs of the creative industry. After starting out in Boyd’s textile library and showroom, Singer eventually assisted with client projects and high-profile showhouses.
Flash forward to present day, and Singer now runs her own firm, Kate Singer Home. She’s based out of Huntington, but frequently takes clients in the Hamptons, along with the greater tristate area. In her spare time, she continues her design education (which she began at the KLC School of Design in London) with workshops and seminars, and travels to Europe to shop and explore.
She also renovated and designed her own 110-year-old converted carriage house in Huntington Bay, which she loves so much it comes up in just about every conversation with the designer. Recently, Singer had the pleasure of helping longtime client-friends of hers design their own restored carriage house, which she said was her favorite project as of late. “This is the third home I have designed for them and one of the most modern residences I’ve ever done — which was a refreshing change and challenge,” Singer says. In the end, “seeing this special family enjoy their beautiful home as a peaceful and joyful respite, where they welcome and share special times with family and friends, is the most gratifying aspect of my work.”
The most difficult part of her job, with any client anywhere, is indecisiveness, Singer says. “When a client has a difficult time making decisions or trusting the design process, it can be very challenging,” she explains. Luckily, visuals like sketches, renderings and photo examples can be very helpful in clearing up the confusion.
And despite her travels from Manhattan to Montauk and across the Atlantic, Singer says the environment on Long Island is her favorite stimulus. “The sheer beauty that exists in the Hamptons, the North Fork, and the north and south shores and beaches, is my greatest source of inspiration,” she says. “The landscape, sunrises and sunsets over the water are as breathtaking and inspiring as can be.”