MH+D Inside Out: Kathy Harding of Park Row Interiors on Real Color

At Park Row Interiors, the interior design business Kathy Harding owns in Brunswick, the designer preaches the transformative effects of color and pattern. In her interview with Maine Home+Design, Harding dives into her past as a color puller and explains her theory of universalism in the design world.

Q. How long do you maintain your relationships with clients?

A. My business is about families, sometimes multiple generations of families. Also, most of my business is in the midcoast: Brunswick, Bath, and the islands. I see those people in town all the time, and I get invited to their parties.

Q. What are your strengths?

A. One is floor plan design, and I also like to draft. My other real strength is color. In fact, in a former life I used to do what is called “pulling color.”

Q. What is color pulling, and why is it useful in your business?

A. When a magazine or catalog had to change pages or ink at the last minute before it went to press, I used to be the one that they would wake up at two o’clock in the morning to ask, “Is this the same color as the one we were using before?” I see subtleties in color right away. I also remember fabrics. I have fun going to the design center, and just from memory, I can remember the color that a client wanted to use. I do take a picture, though, to be safe.

Q. What’s your opinion on design trends?

A. All I can say is, I’m tired of neutrals and grays. Just let me have some real color and real pattern. However, I don’t believe in trends. I think there are some universal principles at work when people zero in on a design, color, or pattern that they like and that many others like as well. It turns out it’s a classic. That said, I’m still tired of neutrals.

Q. Who is your ideal client?

A. One who is open to suggestions and who doesn’t say “no” right up front. Those clients shut the door on what might have been a tremendous success. I love it when people have a little obvious humor in their home like a fun pattern, such as an eclectic wallpaper in a small powder room. You can get away with an awful lot in such a small space.