Dishing with a Designer: Teresa Karpala

Each month we sit down with a different designer to get a little insight into how they work, their design philosophy, and the industry. After a short hiatus from talking specifically to our design staff, we are back this month with an in-depth chat with one of our senior designers, Teresa Karpala.

An incredibly talented designer (and just all-around wonderful person), Teresa has been with LD & Co. for almost 20 years! It was fun to chat with her and learn her backstory.

LD & Co.: Thanks for sitting down to “dish” Teresa. So, what’s your backstory? How/why did you get into interior design?

Teresa: It actually started early in my childhood. I was fascinated by design from an early age. Growing up, I remember walking around my neighborhood and peeking into people’s windows because I wanted to see what their houses looked like. Any time we’d go to someone’s house for the first time I’d always ask, “can I look around?”

LD & Co.: Would you move things around and try and “design” the rooms?

Teresa: Ha, no I really just wanted to look. I liked observing.

LD & Co.: Did you go to school for interior design?

Teresa: I actually started my education with landscape architecture because I loved nature, biology, and design. There was no formal interior design program in Poland (where I grew up) at the time. You could specialize in interior design if you went through the art school but I stayed in my curriculum. That program allowed me to study plants, art, and natural elements. I had realized these elements align with all areas of design principles, such as repetition of things, including the unexpected, etc.

LD & Co.: When did you come to the US?

Teresa: I was 26 when I arrived in the US. It’s a long story. But, in short, I came here with my husband before I was able to get any kind of design career off the ground in Poland.

[After long interlude wherein, Teresa shares her coming to America story…]

LD & Co.:  Wow. That’s amazing. So how did you end up at Lita Dirks & Co.?

Teresa: Well, that took a while. When I first arrived in the US, I was looking for landscape architecture jobs since that’s what I studied. I decided to enroll at the Colorado Institute of Art instead to pursue a degree in my passion. After I received my degree, I was working in the interior design department at an architecture firm in downtown Denver. It was a great job and I gained a lot of experience. The firm decided to dissolve the interior design department after a housing crash, and I took my experience to LD & Co. in 2001. It has been a wonderful experience ever since.

LD & Co.: Yeah that was a tough time for a lot of people in the industry. I’m glad you finally found your home here! What is about interior design that excites you? Or, what would you say is your favorite thing?

Teresa: Every aspect. I love space planning, interior architecture, seeing the big picture…truly, it’s the joy in designing and creating things.

LD & Co.: What do you wish builders knew about working with an interior designer?

Teresa: I wish they would involve us from the very beginning stages of a project. I think it would be beneficial to have us work with the architect when it comes to flow and space. We can have a significant positive impact on branding and space planning. Architects think outside in while interior designers think inside out.

LD & Co.: Oh, I love that saying. That clearly explains what each professional can bring to the table to create the best collaboration.

Teresa: Exactly. Further, if we are involved from the very beginning, we can help save money. Not just at the onset, but when the inevitable happens and budgets are cut, we can redesign and not haphazardly “cut things out” to save money. By involving the interior designer from the beginning of a project we will truly understand the buyer profile, the branding, and the goal of the space. So, if the budget changes, we can redesign and still maintain the vision. Honestly it all comes down to communication. If the builders, architects, and designers have good, open communication (even when it’s bad news), the designs will always be more effective.

LD & Co.: What is a new trend that you wish wasn’t? Or a favorite trend? Or, thoughts on trends?

Teresa: It’s funny because we know that trends always come back, but they tend to come back a bit different, with a fresher look. I like to sprinkle trendy things in my designs as I don’t want my interiors to become out of fashion too quickly, either. And, I always try to create designs that will appeal to our clients’ buyer profile.

LD & Co.: That is something we just love about your designs. They are always so beautiful and timeless with just a hint of trend. If you’d like to see some of Teresa’s work, please visit our website and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook.  Thanks again Teresa for sitting down to dish!