An interesting mix: At home with Kathy Heiner

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Kathy Heiner, pictured here in a client's home with her French bulldogs, Otis and Willy, says her favorite room in her house is her bedroom. "I have dear friends who call it 'getting lost at sea,' when you and your children and your dogs are all piled on the big bed with laptops watching a movie or reading together," she says. Photo: Kip Dawkins Kathy Heiner, pictured here in a client's home with her French bulldogs, Otis and Willy, says her favorite room in her house is her bedroom. "I have dear friends who call it 'getting lost at sea,' when you and your children and your dogs are all piled on the big bed with laptops watching a movie or reading together," she says. Photo: Kip Dawkins

Décor-wise, designer Kathy Heiner says homeowners should never scrimp on art. As she puts it, “Paintings, pottery and sculpture can transform a space, create interest and provide a topic for conversation.” And she practices what she preaches in her own home, where each wall is a veritable gallery of framed pieces—from prints and line drawings to portraits of her French bulldogs. It’s no wonder she’s interested in big visual impact: Heiner spent the early part of her career working at ELLE magazine, then transitioned to the television and film industry.

In 2007, she launched KLH Designs to utilize her range of interests in fashion, art and film. We asked Heiner to tell us about the house she grew up in, the design rule she likes to break and what piece of furniture she’d like to be reborn as

Antique or modern?

I gravitate toward clean lines in both antique and contemporary pieces. If I have to choose one, it would be contemporary.

Which colors do you gravitate toward?

Cooler colors: blues, grays, taupes and whites for walls, to provide a backdrop for brighter, more saturated accents.

Which materials or textures do you frequently use in your own home?

I have a lot of bright, colorful art, family photos, Moroccan rugs and books.

What is your favorite interior design-related word?

Transitions, which I like to minimize, and function, which I like to maximize.

Does your home look like the one you grew up in?

It’s similar. My mother was an interior designer based in Atlanta. I got my love of design from her, and the home we grew up in was very eclectic. It was also filled with interesting things from family and travels and lots of art.

If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be?

A Saarinen pedestal table. It is pure elegance meets perfect function.

If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?

Picasso’s home in the south of France.

What’s one thing that can really transform a room?

Lighting. Bright, well-lit spaces can have a tremendous impact on mood. I always prefer to use dimmers that can be adjusted to suit.

Favorite designer?

Peter Dunham out of L.A. I like the way he mixes antique, mid-century and contemporary pieces with color and ethnic prints. He maintains clean lines while creating a high level of interest. His spaces always look like a place where I would love to hang out.

Which design blog, website, TV show or magazine do you peruse religiously?

Houzz, Veranda, Milieu and ELLE Décor.

Design rule you like to break?

Perfect symmetry. Sometimes it’s more fun to create the illusion of symmetry than have it be perfect.

What is your favorite room in the house?

The kitchen, because it is always the heart of the house.

What is your most treasured possession?

Besides my two sons and my Frenchies, a Milton Avery charcoal from my mother.

What do you wish you could do without?

Firewood. I love a wood-burning fire, but would rather not have all the accoutrements that junk up the hearth.

What are you afraid to DIY?

Painting. I am too much of a perfectionist and would end up making a big mess!

Have you ever had a change of heart about an object or a style?

I used to collect 1950s ceramics when I worked in costuming in the film industry. We would spend our downtime on location searching flea markets and antique stores for these treasures. When I think back on those days, it just seems like a lot of clutter.

On what movie set would you like to live?

Anything by Nancy Meyers. Her sense of production design is very strong and her team creates very comfortable-looking spaces in the movies It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give.

What is your first design memory?

The first time my mother let me decorate my room at age 12. Everything was green and white. I even had beads hanging in my closet door. It was the ’70s after all.

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