Interview with Interior Designer Crea of Hampton Rowe

We are so excited to introduce our followers to Crea Henry, Principal Designer and founder of Hampton Rowe Design. She is our latest design crush, and you may have seen her designs on our Instagram! We had the chance to get to know Crea a little better in our recent interview, and her approach to design really resonated with Dorai. Read on to see how she broke into the industry, what her design pet peeve is, and more about her sustainable must-haves! Be sure to check out her website and follow her on Instagram at @hamptonrowedesign.


D: How did you get into interior design? Has it always been a passion of yours? Tell us about yourself! 

C: So I guess you can say I've always been into interior design. When I was little there were definitely signs. I would do things like making forts as any kid would. Where I differed was in my interest in improving the structural integrity every time I'd make one. Like "maybe if I put books on this corner of the sheet it won't keep caving in." But more often than not though the books would fall on my head. I was always decorating strange little places in my home like under the basement stairs or in closets until I got old enough to actually move my furniture.
Funny enough though I didn't even consider interior design until my mom mentioned that I should apply to take it in university. I thought I'd go into engineering but I was missing one course by the end of grade 12 so on a whim I applied for architecture and when I saw that I needed to do a portfolio I was like "no thank you" and applied for interior design as my mom had mentioned. Well silly me. I needed way more than a portfolio for that and by the time I figured that out it was too late to switch so I figured "Alright. Let's see what happens". Well, I got in and the rest is history. I didn't really know what interior design was until I was immersed in it. I didn't realize the level of structural knowledge and theory that goes into creating a space, and a couple of months in I was hooked.

Where do you gather inspiration for your work?

I gather inspiration a bunch of ways but one of my most powerful sources of inspiration is travel. Sometimes it's from the colours and randomness of nature. Sometimes it's from a tour of old buildings. And sometimes it's from the experience of sitting in an airport thinking of ways to make it more efficient and delightful. I know a lot of designers from different disciplines say "I get inspiration from all around me" and it holds true for interior design. If you let your mind wander, it will find inspiration.

Your style is "Laid Back Luxury", and we love your modern approach. Why is that important to you?

Laid-back Luxury is this idea that your spaces should be experienced to the fullest extent. You should be able to be completely relaxed in your environment and the experience should feed your soul and mind. 
Why can't your home feel like a luxury resort or spa all the time? Are you worried about the practicality of a piece or you think 'people just don't live like that'. That doesn't have to be the case when you consider quality and functionality through the entire design. You should be able to have a stunning piece of furniture that you don't have to be afraid to let your children jump on. Your backyard should be a resort and your replacement for vacation. And your linens should make you want to stay in bed forever. 
It's really an attention to every detail to maximize your experience of life. It is important that I give people the best backdrop to experience all of life's moments. 

Can you give us 5 tips for achieving form and function in the bathroom? How about in the kitchen?

1. Ergonomics. The first thing you want to do is make sure that you have the right clearances. You need a certain amount of space around a toilet or in front of a vanity or in a shower for that space to be functional. Once you know all of those then you know your washroom will function well and feel comfortable. I like to make my washroom barrier-free whenever possible even if everyone in the home is of able-body because it is more inclusive. It is a bonus for resale or will be able to grow with you through injuries or general aging. 
2. I love using a mix of materials, colours and textures in washrooms to fight off that sterile look. Washrooms are a place where you're mostly going to use hard materials such as tile, stone countertops glass. To create warmth I like to make sure I use some wood, textures tiles or warm colours. 
3. What do you see when you first open the door? What do you see from the window? Sight lines are so important in a washroom. You want natural light but most people in a regular neighbourhood don't want a full-length window in their shower and I think their neighbours would agree. A functional washroom will take into consideration privacy and what is viewed from where. It's part of the reason most people don't like to put the toilet directly in front of the open door. 
4. Speaking of open washroom doors, you can use that as an opportunity to create a beautiful visual. Take the time to put your vanity and mirror there. You will actually be able to stand back and appreciate those items that you've chosen. 
5. Smart storage. You can purchase dividers for your vanity drawers to hide all of those daily items that you use so your countertops will be clear of clutter. Shower niches for shampoo bottles and soap will allow you to have these things at a comfortable height. Placing outlets in inconspicuous places so you can keep your razor or electric toothbrush out but off to the side are all great ways of decluttering your space. by giving all of your items a home you will not only declutter your space but your mind.When you account for things like that your daily bathroom experience will increase 10 fold. 
You can apply all of these tips in one way or another to the kitchen but the most important in my opinion is storage. If you take the time to sit down and analyze how you use your kitchen you will be so much happier with the final product. Trust me. Asking yourself where you microwave will go might make you consider buying a built-in option. If you sweep every day you might consider installing a tall cabinet to keep your broom in. I find cabinet organization so much fun and there's so many interesting in-cabinet accessories out there.  

How do you factor in sustainability in your design work?

1. A major issue with construction projects is waste, so we're very conscious of salvaging what we can and reuse many existing items in different areas of the home. Sometimes we give a piece a facelift but if it is something that needs to be replaced we oftentimes work with the client to sell items. These would be things like cabinets, furniture, and/ or accessories. 
2. Shipping is also an issue in terms of carbon footprint so sourcing local whenever possible is a great way to tip the scales. When you shop local you are helping to grow more businesses around you so that they can better service the people in their community. We are actively looking for local items or second hand pieces for projects.
3. We have a mostly paperless design process. Aside from the physical construction drawings everything else is done electronically. Design brainstorming, design boards and presentations are all presented via screens. It's not much but it's definitely a culture I promised I would grow in my business.

Do you have any sustainable product must-haves for the kitchen and bathroom?

You mean aside from the Dorai collection. I just want to take a minute and say that your products are quite amazing and you have a new customer for life.
Other than that, some sustainable must-haves for the washroom are refillable containers for soaps and daily items. I know here you can purchase package-free bars of soap at Bulk Barn. You might not expect it but they have the absolute best smelling soaps and they're made from healthy things like aloe or oatmeal. The actual soap dishes and containers save on having to purchase a bunch of little bottles only to throw them away. It's always great to take that opportunity to get a proper set that speaks to the design of your space and that can help the environment. 
Secondly, a lovely fabric shower curtain paired with a washable shower liner. West Elm has some fantastic options. My favourite is the "Organic Variegated Stripe Shower Curtain". It's so lovely and beachy and a simple shower curtain and really softens up the entire space. 

"It's really attention to every detail to maximize your experience of life. It is important that I give people the best backdrop to experience all of life's moments."


What is the biggest struggle for you in the industry right now?

The biggest struggle for myself in the industry not only right now, but since the beginning of time is educating potential clients on the value of an Interior Designer in a project. When you hire an Interior Designer you are essentially hiring someone who is going to bridge the gap between you and the contractor. Our job is to be well versed in dream interpretation and construction. This allows us to elaborate on your needs and translate your desires into reality. An Interior Designer is educated in the construction and safety of interior spaces. We create working drawings and collaborate with trades from the onset of a project. This is what sets a Designer apart from a Decorator. So feel free to expect more and look for credentials to make sure you are hiring someone that will fulfill the role you are looking for. 

Do you have a design pet peeve?

One of my design pet peeves would have to be poorly placed electrical. A well placed light switch or receptacle is something you don't notice when it's done right but that you notice when they're not. I put a lot of thought into their placement, their function and how they fit in that space. For instance, light switches function and aesthetics. In terms of function, you shouldn't have to walk through a dark room to get to a light switch. When it comes to aesthetics, I wouldn't want to specify a trim but have placed a switch too close to it and now have to cut into that trim so it could fit. I hide them, I put them in the sides of cupboards so they aren't in full-slab back-splashes, I get plates that are different colours. I could go on about them all day. 

Be sure to check out Crea's website and follow her on Instagram at @hamptonrowedesign.


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