Ellen Kavanaugh has been practicing interior design in Palm Beach for over ten years. She is known for her crisp color, organic texture, and individual style. With every project, Ellen aspires to marry architecture and interiors by selecting distinct fabrics and finishes, designing custom millwork, and sourcing unique furniture. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Ellen earned her interior design degree in 2004 from Florida State University and completed the National Certification for Interior Designer’s Qualification Exam. In 2015 she started her own boutique design firm based in Palm Beach. Ellen’s portfolio includes recently completed projects in Palm Beach, The Hamptons, Charleston, and Key Largo. Her work appears in House Beautiful, Southern Home, Traditional Home, Luxe, and Modern Luxury Palm Beach.
I am delighted to welcome Ellen to The Glam Pad today for a Style Profile Q&A! All photography is by Brantley Photography unless otherwise noted. Welcome, Ellen!
Q: How would you describe your style, and how has living in Florida influenced your design aesthetic?
A: I like to start with a balanced architectural space, design the necessities with clean lines to lay the foundation then finish it off with eclectic layers that add personality. Maybe you could call it, “minimal eclecticism” I don’t like a lot of “stuff” but I do believe “stuff” adds soul so items have to be chosen wisely and must be incorporated to achieve a successful design. It is far better to have just a few outstanding pieces in a space than too many or none. South Florida is vivid in color and any style pretty much goes. Designing mainly in Palm beach opens up all different types of style to work with; from traditional to modern and everything in between. We design a lot of vacation homes here so clients are willing and excited to take more design risks which is a lot of fun!
Q: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in interior design?
A: When I was a little girl I used to ride around with my Grandmother to the local thrift stores, estate sales and such to pick for her antique booth she had as long as I can remember. That was when I got the bug for “the hunt”. Antiquing and vintage shopping has always been a passion for me. That, mixed with a love for art, setting the table for holidays and then creating flower arrangements while still in grade school leads me to believe that I think I have always had a desire for interiors and beautiful things. College came around and my mother said , “Hey Ellen, sign up for Interior Design, you would be good at that!”. So I did and realized this was something I would have a passion for the rest of my life…
Q: What designers – past and present – do you most admire?
A: Andrea Palladio for his proportions, Frances Elkins for her daring risks that became staples, Michele Bonan for his classically chic interiors and Jeffery Bilhuber for his ability to create the most layered and comfortable interiors that look effortless.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Everywhere, always, everyday from anything.
Q: Do you have any favorite fabrics, paints, furnishings, etc. you particularly enjoy incorporating within your designs?
A: Pierre Frey is my favorite fabric House. I am especially loving the Braquenie collection introduced with fresh colors for today’s palette. Vintage and antique furnishings- Why buy new when old is so much more interesting and usually more thoughtfully made.
Q: When beginning work with a new client, where do you begin?
A: I ask the client what they envision for the space and what inspires them. I try my hardest to get inside my clients head aesthetically and then when I am selecting for their space I go to that place in my mind and try to channel their vision or what they would like. I always strive first and foremost to create spaces that are unique to each clients personal aesthetic. An interior that is aligned to an individuals vision of beauty can be life changing to that person to live in that space. I want our clients to feel that sense of fulfillment in their homes. I am not designing for my brand, I am designing for individual styles and striving to make them better. I also like to push the envelope with clients which usually opens their minds up to a new found joy that they didn’t know they had been missing. A pop of anything that is unexpected keeps the energy up.
Q: What are five material luxuries you could not live without?
A: I wouldn’t call these materialistic but they are luxuries to me… my dogs, worn jeans, a crisp linen top, a good straw hat and sandals from Capri. Throw a little jewelry on from Peggy Daven in Palm Beach and I am all set!
Q: When you aren’t busy designing, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: Being on the water with my husband.
Such an exquisite portfolio!! Thank you, Ellen, for joining us today, and thank you Brantley Photography for the beautiful images! To learn more about Ellen Kavanaugh, please visit her website and follow @ellenkavanaugh and @brantleyphoto for ongoing inspiration.