Heidi Lachapelle and Katie Judkins on Storytelling in Design

For several years, Heidi Lachapelle worked as visual manager at Anthropologie, crafting the way store displays told the brand’s story. Katie Judkins worked in corporate at L.L.Bean. After renovating their own houses, and becoming mothers who craved more flexible schedules, Lachapelle and Judkins decided to combine their business and creative acumens and go into business for themselves. In May of last year, the pair launched Heidi Lachapelle Interiors to create spaces that combine beauty and practicality, with Lachapelle as head designer and Judkins as project manager. Read on for their insider picks on updating and organizing a space.

Q. How have your corporate careers contributed to this new business?

Lachapelle: At Anthropologie, my job was already about paying attention to details and making a home—it was about storytelling and creating narrative. Now with this business, I think, “how can we tell the story of who you are in your home?”

Judkins: My background is more business-focused. I want to make an authentic, seamless experience for our client. And I make sure that we’re true to our vision for the business.

Q. How would you describe your style?

Lachapelle: We’re always creating a mix of old and new. That’s at our core, it’s who we are as a brand. For example, we have a client who we’re working with right now who describes herself as bohemian—she’s interested in that modern farmhouse aesthetic, but she lives in a townhouse in Portland’s West End. Those seemingly oppositional ideas are perfect for us.

Judkins: We love the word “juxtaposition.” We also like to do a lot of collaboration and understand our client as best we can.

Q. Do you always agree with what the client wants?

Judkins: There should be a little bit of that healthy tension between a designer and a client, too. It’s about taking the client’s taste and then maybe pushing a little bit further than they would normally expect by showing new ways to present their ideas or mixing in some great new accessories. We breathe new life into their space. We want to make everybody happy at the end of the day.

Q. You’re both mothers, so you understand that the design needs to work for families. How does your work reflect that?

Lachapelle: We’re great advocates for mothers because we have our own kids. We speak from experience. We totally get it, and we tell our clients that they don’t have to sacrifice good design if they have a family.

Judkins: And it’s about organization too. It’s about finding places to put things away.

Lachapelle: Aesthetically pleasing baskets in your storage place to dump all your toys. I live and die by that. It’s the best.

Q. What are your favorite color combinations right now?

 Judkins: We’re hot on green right now. And matte black. Then there’s brass accents, we can’t get enough of those.

Lachapelle: We also treat jewel tones as a neutral. With jewel tones, you can still have that richness that a color provides, but they don’t necessarily scream color.

Q. Any other recommendations for creating interest in a space?

Lachapelle: We love mixing metals. A lot of people are hesitant to go all chrome or all silver. It’s okay to just do a brass light or do a copper accent here and there. It’s okay to incorporate all those different elements instead of switching over all the materials and having it be one thing or the other.