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Inspiring Conversations with Keri Lainas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keri Lainas.

Hi Keri, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
As a single mom of two boys and starting my own design company in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I sometimes look back at the last eight months wondering, “How in the world did I get here?” and at the same time thinking, “Wow, I really did it!”

I grew up in Northern California, graduated from high school in a small town called Davis, and couldn’t decide whether to attend college in San Francisco for Interior Design or Santa Barbara for teaching. I chose Santa Barbara, then transferred to San Diego State where I received my degree and teaching credentials.  I taught for 10 years until the birth of my first child and I decided to be a stay-at-home mom.  I loved that I was able to be home with my boys. But after eight years of being a stay-at-home mom, I started to feel a desire to want to do something for myself again so it was then I decided I was going to follow my path/dream of being an interior designer.

Ambition and drive are very important to me. Nothing is ever handed to you, you have to work really hard to get what you want. I want to be a role model for my children to show them that with the right attitude and hard work, they can achieve their dreams as well.

I enrolled in school for interior design and really had to hustle, educate myself, network and take chances to get where I am today. My mantra is, “success is not an accident,” so I just kept looking forward. I had very little experience in the beginning but knew I needed to jump in, so I started working for a tile and stone studio in Solana Beach followed by a design/project manager for a local contractor.  Before I knew it, I was designing and managing small and large home remodels. I didn’t hold back and would reach out to any and everybody that I could, learning all about the ins and outs of this design/construction world. In October 2020 I opened Keri Michelle Interiors where I now make visons and dreams come true for all of San Diego.

I wake up every day wearing two different hats: mom and designer. My first priority is always being the best mom to my boys. Once my children are set up for the day and at school, I get a workout in and then switch hats to designer. A typical day might entail 3-5 meetings, sourcing materials for my clients, meeting with trades and contractors, visiting my job sites, admin and drawing, etc.  It is literally nonstop until my children need me again after school. It’s quite the juggle but I can truly say I absolutely love what I do and it’s worth the grind.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Yes we do, in my opinion it’s the way we face the challenge is what matters. I feel it’s about taking risks with confidence, and with great risk comes great reward.  

However, the biggest challenge for me is probably balancing my career and being a single mom to two children. I wake up early in the morning (5:00 am!) to get some work done and prep for meetings before my boys are up and need me. I want my boys to be proud of the work I’m doing, but also know that they are always my number one priority.  Between work, site visiting and designing I find my self being a taxi for my boys taking them to school, friends houses, skateboarding, and football practice.

It also wasn’t easy starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic, especially trying to work from home while my boys were doing virtual learning. I set up a workspace in my garage so I could have a place of my own to focus and get creative without the many interruptions from my kids and dog, Ruby. 

These are challenges faced by many people all the time, whether you have a family, or a single parent, starting a business, or working for someone else.  These challenges can be tough but honestly, I wouldn’t have It any other way.  I get to do what I’m passionate about and have the full support of my family and friends.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I really love this question! I often hear, “What’s your niche as an interior designer?” Each and every one of us have our own aesthetic that shines through a variety of settings if we concentrate on our values, styles, and media.  I see each home/project as a blank canvas. I really enjoy making a space light and airy, mixing modern style with earthy elements, and bringing in various textures and colors. This could mean choosing a backsplash with highs and lows and installing in a different pattern, incorporating a glamorous light fixture or mirror in a rustic space or choosing finishes that elevate the space making it ever so subtle but makes a beautiful statement. 

I also really like the construction and materials side. Designing a space literally changes the entire vibe of the home, whether through reconfiguring the layout for functionality and choosing new materials such as flooring, countertops, backsplash, lighting, cabinetry, hardware, molding, paint color, door style, etc. All this fuels my passion for design!

By the time I am finished with a project, not only have I helped create a beautiful new space, but my relationship with my clients is also VERY rewarding as we build a friendship along the way. I am a designer who is involved in the process from start to finish. I am in communication with my team/clients almost every day and on my job sites daily. Construction can be stressful, it just is. There are always some issues I have to help solve along the way, and my clients know that I will always support them.

Last but not least, I appreciate the people that work with me, my team. Watching projects from start to finish blow me away-the before and after are my favorite! This is probably one aspect that I love about my job the most, how it all comes together. It is not a one-person job, it’s a team and when I walk onto my job sites, I always want everyone involved to know how much I appreciate them. They make my vision a reality and I am beyond grateful!

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I dislike numbers and measurement! It’s part of my daily job but thankfully, I have many tools to help guide me and I always have the builders or contractors triple-check my work. I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again, I so appreciate the team I work with on each project. They know my strengths and we lean on each other for support.

Contact Info:

  • Email: keri@kerimichelleinteriors.com
  • Website: kerimichelleinteriors.com
  • Instagram: kerimichelleinteriors
  • Facebook: kerimicelleinteriors

Image Credits
@Leighcastelliphotography

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