Heirloom is one of the fastest growing vacation rental management companies in the United States, and it is known for its striking modern, luxury style. VRM Insider had the amazing opportunity to sit down with one of their interior designer associates, Kelly Theriault, to learn more about what it takes to become a top vacation rental designer.

Selection of Heirloom Designed Homes

Interview with Heirloom Designer, Kelly Theriault

Please describe your educational background:

I graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design and a minor in General Business.

Describe your position with Heirloom?

My official title for Heirloom is Design Associate. This means I am responsible for planning, ordering, and the setup process of properties across multiple markets.

How did you become interested in interior design?

My first recollection of an interest in design was around 10 years old when I received my first sewing machine as a gift from a relative. Soon after, my mother enrolled me in sewing classes with an elderly woman in the neighboring town. I then realized my passion for textiles and began studying fashion design. I took a few courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology during High School and realized I wanted something broader than fashion design. This is when I began my interest in Interior Design. I realized that design on a larger scale provides more opportunity for creativity and experimentation.

How would you describe your interior design style?

I have always had a slight obsession with the Bauhaus movement and clean lines so I would say my style is a mix between Mid-Century Modern, Scandinavian, and an Urban aesthetic.

How would you describe the Heirloom aesthetic?

I believe that each of our markets, or even more specifically each of our properties, have different aesthetic qualities. A few styles that I find of most prominence throughout include Mid-Century Modern, a bit Scandinavian, and very clearly modern.  

What are your favorite places or websites to shop for items? Online? Offline?

We do our absolute best to purchase as many “found” items as possible, meaning in-person shopping at antique or thrift shops for art and decor. This provides us with our most interesting pieces. We like to mix these items with new pieces from stores whether in person or online such as 2modern, Apt2B, West Elm, CB2, Article, and Joybird, etc.

What is different about designing for a vacation rental vs. a private residence?

With experience in both, I find that vacation rentals allow for more experimentation. When designing properties without a specific client in mind, it allows you to sort of “create” your own client in your head and design based on that. This allows to design for a varied target market during each project.

Where do you go to get new ideas and inspiration?

Recently, a lot of my inspiration has been coming from the cities we have been visiting for work. In each city we make time to do a lot of in person shopping at local stores or visit design centers to find emerging trends and ideas. I find I’m inspired most when I have the ability to touch and feel products. Along with this, social media sites and blogs offer limitless inspiration.

What online publications or stores do you visit for new ideas or pieces?

What are your tips for decorating vacation rental spaces that most people would not realize?

I believe the most important factor for making a vacation rental space memorable is making it feel clean and comfortable. Remembering that when clients are staying at a vacation rental, the goal should be for them to feel as comfortable as being in their own home. We always strive to create a space that is lush and is sure to provide comfort, while also providing all things that are necessary in a home for daily life.

What’s an interior design trend that you love right now?

  • Mixing various patterns and textures – the right way
  • Colors – blush and dark shades of green (not together necessarily)

What’s a trend that you hate right now?

  • Open kitchen cabinetry – unless kept completely tidy at all times, messes should be hidden!

Big thanks to Kelly for her time and amazing advice on interior design for vacation rentals! Be sure to check out all of Heirloom’s amazing homes on their website.


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