Rules Were Made to be Broken: A Discussion on Design with Designer Kimberly Handler

Full of passion and energy, designer Kim Handler approaches her work with an infectious enthusiasm. Her love of design first took hold while working in the fashion industry but her career truly began to flourish when she shifted gears and focused her attention on interiors. After spending some time at a firm in NYC, she was inspired to go back to school, graduating from the New York School of Interior Design and later opening her own namesake firm in 2003.

Growing up on the East Coast, her taste leaned toward the Traditional but after spending a year in Malibu, her style faced an evolution that would have a strong impact on her aesthetic. “Personally, it was an amazing experience, however professionally it changed me. It was from this experience that my design flourished. I love taking east coast tradition and mixing it with west coast modern and fun. The two can co-exist beautifully together!”


Back on the East Coast, she has brought this blended style to her own home. “I have always loved mixing styles, but now I love mixing West coast Modern with East Coast tradition. We renovated our current home and I believe it exemplifies this style. I changed the entry stairway to have a modern glass railing, in a Cotswold style house.” For those who would like to add a bit of West Coast style to their home on the East Coast, she offers this advice: “Don’t be afraid to mix East Coast Traditional with West Coast Modern. For example take a traditional antique and mix it with a modern piece from Design Within Reach.”


To hear her describe her work, the process does sound exciting but that doesn’t mean that it comes without quite a bit of work and planning. “Trying to come up with a unique twist I always find to be the biggest challenge. I like mixing and matching but it is very important to make sure that is all works together and there is balance. You can not just “throw items together,” design has to be well thought out and work together to tell a story.”

Thanks Kim!


Three Questions with Kim Handler


TLV: Design a garden: groomed or freestyle?

KH: I like simple and clean. Lately I have been enjoying box woods, Stone drip edges, pachysandra. A simple, clean, low maintained look. Classic, yet modern.


TLV: What’s your go-to classic color choice?

KH:  I love black and white then a pop of color.


TLV: Ideal weekend plans?

KH: Getting out to town and away from commitments of everyday life. Vermont or California are my happy places.


Text by Liana Hayles Newton / Photos by Jane Beiles

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