Creating Beloved Homes with Designer Katie Leede

Photographed by Lesley Unruh

Drawing influence from the intimate to the exotic, designer Katie Leede’s work often evokes a sense of the classic, even historical at times, and yet also feels simultaneously modern. This timelessness is perhaps due to her love of travel, study of culture and interest in antiques. As someone who has soaked up the love of beautiful design from her mother, it is clear that the designs she creates are carefully crafted and are incredibly dear to her heart. Her enthusiasm for the lifelong pursuits of learning and growing creatively have driven her to work with passion toward her goal of “creating beloved homes.” Her designs, layered, bold and elegant, can frequently be seen in the pages of magazines from Elle Décor to Traditional Home, where she was named as one of “Ten Young Designers to Watch.” In addition to running her studio, she can be found working on her line of textiles and hand printed wallpapers.

Photographed by Max Kim-Bee

As a young girl, Katie was constantly finding inspiration in the world around her. The designer describes growing up in a series of stylish homes in West Texas, Aspen, Manhattan and Seal Harbor, as an “education in living graciously” and credits this time in her life to fostering her “understanding of what the myriad elements are that turn a well-built house into a magical home that endlessly inspires and nourishes those lucky enough to live there.” Her mother, who taught her “the invaluable lesson of taking joy in running a well-organized home,” was not a student of design, but was adept nonetheless at passing along creative skills to her daughter including “the art of mixing handsome custom upholstery pieces with antiques and modern art with traditional landscapes” along with “how to make the best bed and serve the perfect cocktail.” Indeed mastering all of these skills, and more, are all a part of what she describes as “creating a great “Home” with a capital ‘H’.” And, as she points out, “Our homes (being where the heart is) ground us in the present and in our day-to-day reality. So why not make that experience as fabulous as possible?”

Photographed by Tim Street-Porter

And while she places a great deal of importance in the beauty and intimacy of a home, she derives inspiration from her love of travel. “Getting out and about in the world and feeding my visual pipeline through taking in local architecture and art, seeing new patterns and colors, and shopping the markets helps me problem solve for projects and always inspires me with ideas about the next fun thing I want to focus on design-wise.” Though she is always evolving and working on what is next and new, her design goal to create spaces that “age beautifully over time,” is always the primary initiative. “Rose Tarlow always advises “Go warm” and I agree! Avoid trends. Err on the side of comfortable beauty in lieu of cold chic. Look for the hidden gem in your grandmother’s hand-me-downs. Re-purpose but with flair– dressing up the old with an unexpected paint job. Think in layers and start quiet– with a textural wall finish or a rush rug– and build from there. Stay flexible when it comes to incorporating changes into your schemes, but remember: every shift in direction affects all the other choices, so adjust accordingly.”

Photographed by Lisa Romerein

One of the lovely aspects of her love of vintage and antiques to add soul to a home is that there is always room for the joy of discovery and the element of the unexpected. “Antiques and vintage items have already had a life. They possess soul. When well-curated, they add depth, patina, and story to a home. Only choose pieces, however, that you 100% LOVE. Anything you absolutely LOVE will somehow magically work with everything else.”

Photographed by Lesley Unruh

In her own home, she tunes into herself and looks for what truly brings her joy.  “I have an “I’m-an-excellent-friend-to-my-inner-child” style. I trust my barometer of what feels right and what will bring me personal pleasure and joy that particular day. But– generally– my vibe when decorating both home and person is relaxed and easy-going with pops of colorful scarves and big jewelry.” One piece in particular is particularly beloved. “I picked up a bronze Ganesh (an Indian deity associated with the removal of obstacles) in Jaipur. It has pride of place on my entry console and acts as a daily reminder to relax and trust in the plenty of the universe.”

Photographed by Max Kim-Bee

When she is not designing spaces her clients or traveling the world for (work and inspiration), she can be found working on her gorgeous line of textiles. “My textile lines spring out of the deep passion I experience when handling old remnants of cloth I find on my travels or see when visiting the great museums around the world. My first collection, in particular, was inspired by ancient Egyptians tomb paintings. My dear friend and celebrated rug designer, Christopher Farr, helped me navigate the initial process of design and fabrication.”

Photographed by Max Kim-Bee

Today, the designer is working on her next project which is currently under wraps until she is able to reveal more. “I am keeping hush-hush while the idea continues to percolate, but– yes! We are very much in process with a current fascination for the next collection.” We can’t wait to see what she will come up with next!

Photographed by Manu Rodriguez

5 Questions with Designer Katie Leede

TLV: What is your favorite place to travel (for design inspiration, pleasure or both)?

KL: Marrakech, Rajasthan, and Paris– always Paris! Mexico coming on strong, too.

Photographed by Scott Frances

Is there anywhere you have not yet been that you are dreaming of visiting (and why)?

KL: We want to take our clan to Paraty, Brazil for Christmas next year. It is supposed to be a super chill, colonial beach town that checks all the boxes for what we enjoy when together. Mostly good food, nature and each other. Bhutan holds tremendous exotic and spiritual appeal but we need to figure out the right timing.


TLV: What are the must-have items in your carry on?

KL: Depends where I’m headed but a cozy shawl, a long book, good headphones, pen and paper for ideas, and hat for upon arrival are the basics.

 Photographed by Scott Frances

TLV: Favorite way to pass the time on a flight?

KL: Reading, movies, snoozing, and getting organized either for the trip if going or for the office if coming back.


TLV: Most memorable keepsake from or piece purchased on a trip?

KL: I cherish three small striped rocks I purchased from a young Bedouin while exploring the caves of Petra. Also, I will never forget the two precious young girls who sold me ‘silver’ bracelets for pennies at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. All just trinkets but they hold lots of rich memories.


Click here to shop Katie’s favorite TLV finds.

Photos Courtesy of Katie Leede / Text by Liana Hayles Newton


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