More Than Chairs Series: Exploring Design with Kelley Harris
We are thrilled to continue our “More Than Chairs Series” to learn more about interior design. For this installment, Eustis Chair had a conversation with Kelley Harris, President of Harris Interiors. Eustis Chair had the pleasure of talking with Kelley about his business, how Covid-19 has changed their work, and more!
Please share a brief overview of Harris Interiors.
We are full-service interior design firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. We specialize in the hospitality market, concentrating on private country clubs and senior living.
How did you find yourself in the design world? Please share more about your education and background.
I always had a passion and interest in interior design. It wasn’t until I graduated from The University of Georgia that I learned I could specialize in private club design. I have more recently become interested in improving Senior Living through interior design.
How do you approach your projects? I would love to learn more about your design process and how your amazing projects come to life.
My business model is centered around client input and collaboration. Our clients typically know what they want, and it’s my job to meet that expectation, but we also like to encourage out-of-the-box thinking so our projects can exceed expectations.
For an elaborate project, what is a rough timeline from start to open? What are some of the phases and milestones for those that haven’t done a major project?
Timelines and schedules vary from project to project. Our larger projects can take 2-3 years, while others can take 8-12 months. We prefer to be involved from the very beginning, when we can help our clients define their first project.
What are some of your most memorable projects over the years, and what makes them stand out in your mind?
I really enjoy renovations, even though they can be more challenging. In the design phase, there is a lot of assumption and unknown when renovating an older facility. Once under construction, we have to be flexible and creative with solutions. For example, we may not know that a structural beam was hidden underneath a ceiling, so we have to problem solve on the fly. We’ve learned that sometimes a lower ceiling can make a space more intimate!
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of my team and what we have accomplished in just four years. We are small, but we are mighty. We are honest and transparent. I couldn’t do this without them, and I wouldn’t want to either.
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal client acknowledges that we are professionals who want to work together with them to create something special.
How is your team’s work shifting and changing due to Covid-19?
We are taking it day by day, trying to stay informed. For our client base, country clubs and senior living consist of several restaurants and gathering spaces. At this point, we are learning more from our clients and helping them adjust accordingly (ie. adjusting dining room capacities, modifying or eliminating buffets). We also have clients who have taken advantage of the downtime to renovate or improve their facilities.
Where do you find inspiration typically vs now?
I have always enjoyed interior design and architecture books and magazines. I’m certainly guilty of Instagram and Pinterest scrolling, but I find that our clients also frequent these internet tools. So in order to stay ahead of our clients, I still pull from the old books and magazines!
On a more personal note, we have collaborated so many times on dining spaces. Do you enjoy dining, or is food more means to an ends. What are some of your favorite dishes and foods?
I enjoy dining. I feel inspired by dining. Whether it is the presentation of the food, the interior architecture of the restaurant, the color palate or even the way the servers navigate the space, there’s always something I can learn… good or bad. For quick and easy dining, I am a creature of habit and choose a restaurant for their food. On a weekend or special occasion, I choose a restaurant for design intrigue.
Away from work, how do you relax and take care of yourself? Any favorite getaway destinations?
More recently I have taken time to exercise outside. I’ve also enjoyed dining outdoors. When we can actually go somewhere again, I’d like to travel outside of the US again. As a business owner who has a hard time disconnecting, it helps to go somewhere in a different time zone.
We had a great time speaking with Kelley, and we cannot wait to work with Harris Interiors again.