13 January 2019

INTERIOR MOTIVES: Kristell Interiors, LLC of Delaware

Here we are folks! Finally! The first ever 'INTERIOR MOTIVES'! I've been wanting to launch this feature of The American Man$ion after a pretty successful ADDRESSING THE AGENT launch back in October. I mean, a great deal of my blog is about interior design, so it was only right to begin featuring some incredible designers. So some time ago, I started following a bright young interior designer on Instagram. Her stories impressed me! I saw that she loved what she does and takes it very seriously. She had a fresh sense of style, a style that stood out and that is hard to do on social media at times because so much of it is gloss. Of course I contacted her and asked if she'd like to lead the charge for my new 'INTERIOR MOTIVES' features. And she gratefully agreed. It's been a few weeks in the making but without further delay, please enjoy this casual Q&A-style interview with Chalice K. Johnson, Founder and Principal Designer of Kristell Interiors, LLC!

Marcus: Let me get a snippet of your background. Where were you born and
raised? How many siblings do you have, if any?
Chalice: I was born and raised in New Castle County, Delaware. Yes, the very small, but tax-free, first state! Also, I am the oldest of four, with a sister (22) and two younger brothers (13 and 4).
Marcus: Your parents, what did they do for a living? Was it anything related to interior design?

Chalice: My parents had “normal” non-related jobs in human resources and logistics management; however, my mother actually indirectly jump-started my interest in interior design. Growing up, we moved into a new apartment almost every 1-2 years, but I always admired how her stylish, modern decor managed to make each place feel like a home that we’ve been living at forever!

Marcus: When did you begin your career in interior design?

Chalice: I officially began my career, in 2012, while still full-time in undergrad. I was an Interior Designer for La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries...and believe it or not, I would actually commute two hours from Howard University in Washington, D.C. to my job in Delaware. I worked every weekend-plus some weekdays, depending on my class schedule. I really
wanted some design experience under my belt before graduating. While it was a challenge, I’m really glad that I made that decision. As for my personal design firm, Kristell Interiors LLC. I officially launched it this past Fall of 2018. Although I have freelanced for many
years, I just never made it “official”. Why? Well...I was extremely busy working toward my masters degree, which caused a delay in developing and branding my very own firm.

Marcus: Before launching your career in interior design, what did you do professionally?

Chalice: Before launching Kristell Interiors, LLC I worked for several other design companies. From commercial furniture, to residential, and bathroom/kitchen
remodeling companies. A non- related job that I did, prior to interiors, was actually an
elementary school tutor. I enjoyed it so much, and I’m sure that you can imagine how entertaining it was working with first graders.

Marcus: What was your motivation for launching a career in interior design?

Chalice: My motivation was actually seeing and experiencing how others live-including relatives, friends, and even strangers on social media. People take for granted all of the luxuries that they have. Like simply having a bed or sofa. I launched my career to be able to create affordable design services for people of all incomes. To create the most aesthetically pleasing and functional interior that I can with a budget that they can afford, even if
it’s limited. I’m all for “revamping” and bringing old furniture back to life.

MarcusWhat has been your biggest success in your interior design career thus far?

ChaliceMy biggest success may sound cliche, but it is just believing in myself. I took a leap of faith by jump-starting my very own business with absolutely no project leads; but in such a short period of time I managed to gain a ton of new clients and have some exciting projects for everyone to look forward to.

Click photo to enlarge
The American Mansion by Marcus Langford
The American Mansion by Marcus Langford
The American Mansion by Marcus Langford
The American Mansion by Marcus Langford

MarcusWhat adversities have you faced in life and how did these adversities shape your career in interior design?

Chalice: To be completely honest, I have had a very blessed and fortunate life. But I will say that I’m very empathetic, and feel for others, which help shaped my career.
Mini-story: I visited some distant relatives years ago (who I’d like to keep anonymous), and the family lived in a section 8 home. The home itself was actually in nice condition, but it saddened me to see that the living room only had two lawn chairs in it and a small TV on the ground. The bedroom had sheets on the floor and a pillow. They did NOT recently move
into the home. I remember thinking to myself, I wish I could give back and create a space that they are proud to call home. You wouldn't believe what miracle I could do with the money that they spent on the TV alone. This inspired my mission for Kristell Interiors, LLC.

Marcus: I see that you recently became engaged? Is your fiance' in a related field?

Chalice: Yes, I have. But no, unfortunately he is not in a related field; however, he has been a great handyman and helper for many of my projects.

Marcus: Have you ever done anything that was out of your comfort zone? If so, how did it affect your life?

Chalice: Hmm, this is a tough one. Let’s see… Oh. I know! Talking to clients. Yes, crazy right? I’m a quiet and shy introvert at heart, but college and my past work experiences managed to break me out of my shell. While my family still teases me about how quiet I am, I’m sure my clients would beg to differ. Design is just something I’m passionate about, so we can chat about that all day and night!

Marcus: Do you have any hidden talents?

Chalice: Yes, definitely playing basketball. No one believes me when I tell them
that I was a point-guard back in middle school. Til’ this day I still have a nice 3-point shot, haha!

Marcus: If you were not a passionate interior designer, what other career path would you have chosen?

Chalice: An elementary school teacher or if not, then a therapist. I’m a great listener and I love children.

Marcus: It's been a long day at work. You come home looking to unwind, are you going for wine or mixed drink?

Chalice: Wine! I used to love sweet white wine, but I am creeping over to the dry red wine side now.

Marcus: I am more of Mike's Harder Lemonade guy right now LOL!

Marcus: For dinner, are you eating steak or lobster?

Chalice: Lobster, mmm! I love any and all seafood. It’s my favorite food (tied in first place with pasta).

Marcus: Now, lobster I'd have to pass on but steak and pasta is right up my alley.

Marcus: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in life-both
personally and professionally?

Chalice: Definitely graduating with my BA, and directly afterward getting my MS in interior architecture. A lot of people usually take time off after undergrad, but my determination and drive pushed me through an additional three years of grad school. I’m so glad I made that decision!

Marcus: The first dollar you earned from your business, what did you spend it on?

Chalice: I invested it back into my business. From creating giveaways, to
sponsoring my work, designing a website, creating professional brochures. It was very necessary in order for me to maintain growth and further develop my brand.
“If you don’t invest in your own business, why would anyone else want to?
- Unknown”

Marcus: Smart move indeed. So many small business owners don't have this type of discipline and it bites them in the butt.

Marcus: If you were going out for lunch, what does your favorite casual outfit include?

Chalice: Depending on the weather, if it’s fall-like, lots of layers! Gold jewelry, my apple watch, jeans, a cute patterned shirt with a leather jacket over top, and some comfy casual heels.

Marcus: Oh you fancy huh!? LOL! All good. Nothing wrong with being stylish.

Marcus: If you had one day left on earth, what would you do with your time?

Chalice: Hang out with my family and loved ones. They are what makes me happy. Perhaps, we could all play Charades, or another fun game.

Marcus: What are some of the most memorable places that you have traveled to?

Chalice: My all time favorite was Puerto Rico. It’s so beautiful, and the food is delicious! My mother is actually Puerto Rican, so visiting the island felt like a home away from home. I also loved paddling on the bioluminescent bay, so relaxing! Los Angeles was a close second because I experienced so many awesome new experiences. Such as biking along Venice Beach, sitting in the audience of a game show, and the best experience was watching my sister’s performances live on “The Voice” (Season 14).

Marcus: Oh wow! Now how cool is it to have a sister appear on such a popular show. I'd try out but I can't sing. Hahaha!

Marcus: We all have an all-time favorite movie. Mine is The Neverending Story. What is yours?

Chalice: Brown Sugar with Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs. I love, love, love a good romance movie, and this one I could actually relate to.

Marcus: I almost got this confused with Love & Basketball, which is practically the same movie only with balls in it hahaha!

Marcus: You look pretty studious, what kind of books do you like to read?

Chalice: I’m actually not a big book reader, but I love reading Interior Design magazine. I’m a very visual person-as you can imagine.

Marcus: You can still learn plenty from magazines. Don't you just love the smell of a fresh magazine!? I know I do!

Marcus: You have booted up Netflix and ready to chill, what are you watching?

Chalice: Impractical Jokers. Oh my goodness, I will be up laughing all night long watching this show.

Marcus: Sounds like one of my favorite shows Ridiculousness on MTV. There's nothing funnier than watching viral videos of idiots getting hurt doing what idiots do!

Marcus: What's your biggest pet peeve as an interior designer?

Chalice: Being confused as an “interior decorator”. While decorating is in fact a portion of Interior Design, being a designer has many more aspects to it.

Marcus: I understand that. I am an architectural design professional and you'd be surprised how many people think we are builders. Nope! We design what the builders, build.

Marcus: Is there something that you've done and you told yourself that you'd never do it again?

Chalice: Yes, working pro bono. I did not mind doing it at first, to help build my portfolio. But now that I am more established, I feel as though people can see the value that they can receive when booking with Kristell Interiors, LLC.

Marcus: A valuable and quality service should never been free and/or cheap, so it's good that you are being compensated accordingly for your gifts.

Marcus: What makes you happy in life?

Chalice: Shopping! Creating beautiful and functional interiors, and also, spending time with my family, fiance, and puppy, Lola!

Marcus: For anyone who missed her, scroll back up to see Lola :)

Marcus: Any final words that you'd like to share with the readers? 

Chalice: Yes, although you many of you (the readers) may not be local to Delaware
or the DMV area, you can still have access to designs from Kristell Interiors, LLC by booking an “E-Design” appointment. We’ll schedule a video conference call and be able to virtually design your home or business. Fun fact: Our E-Design service also cuts your design fee cost in HALF!

Marcus: Great interview Chalice. Thank you for your time and I look forward to the readers of The American Man$ion get to know you.


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