Karen Kettler, the president of Karen Kettler Design, based in Charlotte, NC, talked with Contemporary Stone & Tile Design to discuss her 20 years of experience with using stone and tile in her designs and the trends she is seeing in the industry.

Talk a bit about your company.

KK: Design through installation – luxury kitchens and baths for discerning professionals and homeowners. 

I design, order and install cabinetry, countertops, tile and plumbing – anything you need for a kitchen or bath, whether it is new construction or renovation. 

How did you first develop an interest in design?

KK: I’ve always been interested in fashion. I earned my BS degree in Fashion Merchandising and Interior Design. Initially, I worked in the furniture industry in the Carolinas, but a move to Boston landed me at the Boston Design Center with Alno Cabinetry. I love the technical challenge of executing a kitchen or bath renovation. Every project is different, which makes my job very interesting. Getting the photos at the end of the project and hearing from the homeowner that they wouldn’t change a thing is my favorite.

How often does your company use stone in its designs?

KK: I love natural stone, especially quartzite, but have been doing more quartz and porcelain recently. Consumers are discovering these materials have improved immensely and love the low-maintenance properties.

How would you describe your company’s design philosophy?

KK: I prefer monochromatic color schemes with lots of texture. It’s classic and elegant, yet interesting. 

How do you go about choosing stone for a project?

KK: My business is referral-based. Most of my clients desire a professional touch and don’t want too many choices. My design style is a collaboration with the client through conversation and style of home. The client tells you what they want, but so does the home.

What are some trends you are seeing out there right now with stone and tile?

KK: Dark and moody with splashes of reflective light. Antique mirror with soft black accents and light countertops add drama without darkening the room. Shimmery tile with gold and creamy accents give a warm “holiday experience” every morning when you make your coffee. Splashes of color like teal green and blue or yellow lift a space and add interest. Large-format florals are bold and fun.

What are trends you are seeing for stone and tile in commercial design?

KK: Large-format tile continues to be a trend with lots of monochromatic texture. Mixing same color matte and glossy tiles in various shapes and directions is calming in a large space. Serenity is good.

What advice would you offer to a young architect?

KK: Be a good listener and realize that every project is a collaboration. Very rarely do you get a client without an opinion – they’re depending on the professional to produce a cohesive design that they can live with.