Regional Award Winner KDC 2010-12
I am a lifelong resident of Massachusetts and the daughter of an artistic mother and analytical father… I inherited both of these traits and use them all the time as a kitchen designer. I received my Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Many years later after having my two beautiful and inspiring children, Paige (age 11) and Charlie (age 7), I pursued the Kitchen and Bath Design Program at the Boston Architectural College (the BAC). As part of this program I interned with the talented designers at Family Kitchens in Salem, MA (their showroom is integrated with a Sub-Zero/Wolf Living Kitchen display). Upon graduating from the BAC I was hired by Mark Karas, NKBA past president, to work at Adams Kitchens (a Sub-Zero/Wolf dealer).
Approximately 1-1/2 years ago I opened my own independent kitchen design business, New England Design Works. I feel blessed to work in an industry and at a career that I love and with clients who become friends as we work together to change their kitchens and enhance their lives.
Q&A with Karen Swanson
Where do you find design inspiration?
I am and will always be a student of design… whether it is interior design that I see on the pages of Elle Décor, or floral design in a hotel lobby, whether art or architecture or even at dinner when a chef strives to do things that the culinary world hasn’t seen before… I am always inspired by things that go outside the box and push the boundaries of design and creativity. I strive to be this type of kitchen designer and never stop being amazed by the cool and creative things I see all over the place.
How do you approach the design process?
Most of my clients have a budget they need to adhere to and thus the design process starts with a necessary interchange of how that budget can be used… Assessing what types of appliances they’d like to see, how they like to cook and entertain and what their existing problems are from a layout and functional stand point drive the process.
What makes your aesthetic stand out amongst other designers?
I love to make bold choices and enjoy a bit of subtle bling. To the degree that my clients can stomach making some choices that would be considered "unsafe" I urge them to push their boundaries as I find the unique elements that result are what becomes everyone’s favorite thing.
What is the greatest value you provide to your clients?
Far and away to serve as their advocate during the design and construction process... To guide them to make decisions that will use their budget in a way that will best enhance their project (and thereby their life at home in the kitchen). I also provide value by protecting them from making decisions they may regret.