Style Talk With Kim Myles!

Kim Myles

I am happy to bring you another wonderful Style Talk interview this week. Today I am speaking with one of my favorite interior designers, Kim Myles.  I have been following Kim’s work since she was a contestant on HGTV Design Star, and then the host of Myles of Style on HGTV. A few months ago, I was excited to discover Kim’s wonderful blog. After becoming a dedicated reader, I knew I had to ask her to participate in Style Talk and I am so happy she said yes! Today we discuss Kim’s design philosophy, blogging, and what’s next for this design diva.

Can you tell us about your interior design philosophy?
I’m all about approachable glamour – spaces that dazzle the eye, but still invite you to come in and put your feet up. I also love a melting pot of materials. I don’t care if it’s old or new, high or low, modern or rustic – if the pieces vibe off of each other in an interesting way, they’ll work.

What inspires you as a designer?
Life is just one big visual candy store as far as inspiration goes! Fashion, nature, travel…it all goes into the hopper. Lately I’ve been using some of the roses in my garden as an inspiration for monochromatic palettes. (There are literally 7 different shades of pink in this one bloom – so you get a space that’s restful, and yet totally lush and interesting.)

Kim Myles Portfolio

You are the first African-American woman to have your own television show on HGTV. What was that experience like? What would you say to other designers of color who are trying to break through in the world of interior design?
It’s funny, but I didn’t realize that I was ‘the first’ until a year or so into Myles of Style. I was focused on maintaining my creativity, developing my skills, and trying to keep up with an absolutely brutal schedule. And I think that’s exactly as it should be – I’m a designer who happens to be a woman of color, not the other way around. I’m not interested in my gender, or the color of my skin defining my place in the industry, because my abilities and success don’t depend on either.

Having said that, I do understand that my achievements have inspired other people to reach for the stars, and that’s an amazingly powerful thing – I don’t take it for granted. My advice for other designers is to follow 3 simple rules:
1.  Work hard.
2.  Define, and be true to your visual voice.
3.  Practice professionalism in all aspects of the job.

These rules have helped me create success no matter what I endeavor to do. They’re basic, but they work. It also helps to be clear about what your success should look like so that you can recognize and seize opportunities when they show up. Most importantly, have fun! It’s sounds so trite, but it really is the key to it all. This business is highly competitive (and struggling, thanks to our economy), so it’s absolutely vital to love what you do.

Before entering interior design, you had a successful career as a hair and makeup artist. How did you find interior design?
I’m a visual person first, and a control freak second! If I see something (animal, vegetable, mineral) that clearly needs a tweak, I want to make it better. As a hairdresser in NYC, my gift was my ability to really see other people, and I think that I was successful because I saw beauty where maybe the client didn’t. Holding up that mirror for them and showing them their own possibilities was totally empowering and addictive. Interior design is much the same in that it’s a passion of mine, something that I’d practiced on the side for years, and it’s about really seeing the space, and bringing out what I think is it’s best incarnation.

Kim Myles Portfolio

What was the experience like transitioning to a new career path?
As far as the transition from one career to another, it was instantaneous! On September 16th I was a New Yorker who became the Design Star, and by October 1st I was living in L.A. and beginning my new job. There was really no time to adjust to the idea of this new life. I just had to jump in and grab the bull by the horns.

I am such a fan of your blog. What has the blogging experience been like?
Thank you! Blogging has been an interesting experience, no doubt. The first part of the process is so insular – just me, and my laptop. It still trips me out to realize how many people are tuning in to read my thoughts! I totally love the interaction and feedback that blogging gives, because TV is so removed and manufactured. The projects on my show were completed many months prior to airing, and I’ve already moved on by the time I hear from fans. But with my blog, I can let it rip and the response is instant! I also get to be ‘me’. No PR considerations, no towing the network line….it’s just me and my readers, and it’s totally great. Plus, I’m now a member of this rich community of blogs and bloggers (like AphroChic!), and it feels like we’re all part of this fantastic tribe together. It’s really fulfilling.

Has blogging had an impact on your voice as a designer?
As far as how it’s affected my designs, I’m able to explore the visuals that intrigue me most at any given moment – and I love immediate gratification. It really does influence the projects that I’m working on in a positive way because I’m able to move past weak ideas more quickly, as well as develop the stronger concepts more fully, and in less time.

Kim Myles Portfolio

Fall is in the air. Do you have any tips for readers who are transitioning from Summer to Fall style at home?
Yes! Fall is all about crisp air, longer nights, and the beginning of the holiday season, so you need to create warmth. Start by changing out the curtains – I’d go with velvet, silk or heavy canvas in a deep hue. I like charcoal grey, navy or black, myself. (I know it sounds heavy, but there’s a formality to darker window dressings that seems to fit the season – and you can always add bright color via pillows and rugs.)

Adding light is key thanks to shorter days, so consider a great floor lamp with an architectural vibe, or table lamps with real height and presence. Another great trick is the addition of mirrors – they bounce light around, and add that extra sparkle that’s perfect during the holidays. Consider switching out art in favor of a fantastic mirror – something with either great scale or frame details.

You have gone from successful businesswoman to design star in a matter of years. What is next for Kim Myles?
Well, my hope is to complete the circle and come back to the business side of it all. I launched my design firm, KM(d), this Spring, and I’ve been enjoying private residential design at a leisurely pace. TV production is crazy hectic, so it’s lovely to be in a creative process that feels more organic and less stressed. I’m also the host of two new shows on HGTV coming this fall – Endless Yard Sale, and Holiday Battle on the Block.

Another goal is to debut a line of home accessories in late 2011. I’m busy looking for the right partners and manufacturers at this point, and strategizing the launch. I want to celebrate a lifestyle that’s vibrant, highly individual and luxurious, while maintaining a reasonable price point. I’m thrilled to be doing what I love, and creating a brand that’s authentic and accessible to my fans, because without them, I wouldn’t even be here talking to you! I couldn’t be more grateful!

Thank you so much Kim for talking to us today! I can’t wait to see the new home accessories line and your new shows on HGTV airing this Fall.

{Images furnished by Kim Myles}

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