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Interior Designer Kim Radovich in the Hamptons

Interior designer Kim Radovich says “As a kid your family decides who you are. I was the artist in the family.” As such, she was sent to the School of Art and Design in Manhattan. Afterwards she attended the Art Students League, the School of Visual Arts and finally Parsons, where she studied interior design. Her background in art “informs everything I do. I also have an appreciation for the decorative arts and all sorts of architecture.”

She cut her teeth in interior design on Long Island’s “Gold Coast,” where she worked on many an old manor house. “My greatest joy is saving an old dowager from being torn down. They were built with so much thought and attention to detail. If you have an understanding [of these places] it’s a wonderful reference to bring with you to new spaces.”

Radovich, who is President-elect of the ASID New York Metro Chapter, is based in Huntington Bay, but works extensively in the city, Florida and the Hamptons. Besides residential design, she is equally prolific with commercial projects – from law offices to spas – where her work is sleek and contemporary.

The designer is nothing if not a perfectionist. Before she does any decorating she first sees that all finishes are up to par from floors to wall surfaces to moldings, whose profiles must be “ample and clean.” “I cannot tell you how many times I have to bring my own people in to fix walls that aren’t prepared properly.”

Her next step is space planning. Here’s where she determines how a family navigates the house so that the space flows properly and the furniture is the correct scale. It is also the stage at which she helps her clients “find their aesthetic.”

For an empty nest couple who moved from Cold Spring Harbor to a year-round house in Southampton, she faced “a bit of a challenge” when they asked her to incorporate some of their traditional furnishings while making the feel of the home modern.

“The kitchen is a perfect example of where I had to honor their aesthetic. Instead of that chic Hamptons modern look, it was more country, a little French.” All the better for displaying the owners’ collection of dishes.

For the wife’s vanity Radovich switched out its silk skirt and had it redressed in a more contemporary linen with tailored dressmaker’s pleats. “It’s still feminine,” she says. “but not frou-frou.”

“The dining table is not what I would have chosen for the space, but the client had had it made and loved it,” says Radovich. The designer’s solution was to customize the dining chairs. The legs worked with the table’s wood while the chairs were fully upholstered in a transitional style except for a skirt that acted as “a nod to the traditional.”

The upholstery was made of ivory Crypton®, a resilient indoor/outdoor fabric that Radovich uses a lot, especially when working with young families with children. “If your palette is ivory or white, with all these new fabrics the world is your oyster.”

She is also a big fan of wallcoverings. “The moment you install it half the decorating is done for you,” she says. “It completes the space much more effectively than paint by adding texture or pattern. As soon as the wall covering is up, before even the window treatments are up, the space feels cozier. It feels like home.”

One place Radovich enjoys going bold with wall coverings is in powder rooms “where you can have fun,” she says. “You can create a wow space that puts a smile on your guests’ faces.”

In the Southampton house she used a large urchin-like pattern in the powder room, by Celerie Kemble for Shumacher, breaking an old rule against large patterns in small spaces. “Lots of rules can be broken, as long as you know how to.”

In the same house, there were rooms where she employed a “feature wall,” usually a wall behind the bed. In one room, she installed a navy blue raffia wall. “It was very dramatic and beautiful, but I don’t do it often.” Why? “It’s a little bit trendy and I like classic design that transcends fads.” She likens classic to owning a little black dress. “You spend a lot of money on it but it lasts you a decade.”

A home’s interior design should also be changed every ten years. “Have a foundation of good pieces and have fun jazzing it up with beautiful accessories. “

As for the outdoors, Radovich waxes enthusiastic about “so many amazing materials” such as “anodized aluminum that looks like wood” and “beautiful teak for an organic aesthetic.” Outside, where open spaces are not confined by walls “you have to create your own living spaces so you can be more creative.” She creates boundaries with plantings, furniture and draperies. “Pool houses are a big deal now.” She has been known to make outdoor spaces that “look like the Beverly Hills Hotel” replete with black and white stripes and hibiscus bushes aplenty.