BY SHALEEN DESTEFANO
I met Kim Blakenburg of Layers and Lines for the first time over breakfast at Fooducopia (rest in peace). She was the kind of person you meet and instantly realize with certainty, that you are now best friends. She’s down to earth yet at the same time brilliant. Her thoughtful approach of design is free of pretentious ideals and focused on real life. This spoke to me. I knew at once I wanted to feature her stunning work and that of her business partner Molly Bevan.
We met working in the marketing department of a local investment firm in 2006. Molly started a few weeks before me and we worked very closely together out of the gate heading up a new brand campaign. That turned into 10 years teaming up on everything related to the firm’s brand, creative and advertising. Luckily, we connected instantly and realized our shared love of fashion, design and family, which helped two very creative people get through 10 years at a financial company. As you might guess, finance is not typically where you go to live out your full artistic expression! Over the years, we found ourselves talking more and more about interiors and going to each other for opinions about things we were designing for our own homes. One day we looked at each other and said, “We should start a business.” It has felt so natural and instinctual from the beginning. That was in 2016 and here we are five years later.
Tell us a little about your philosophy and aesthetic.
Our philosophy is that everyone can live their real lives in a beautifully designed environment that is a reflection of who they are. We create designs to be truly lived in that are clean, comfortable, warm and beautiful and that feel good. In a lot of ways, we are able to take some of the principles we used to build brands in our past life and apply them to our clients’ homes.
Everyone has a history and core values and great adventures they have taken and expressing those things through their interiors helps them feel the most at home in their homes, safe and comfortable and inspired, surrounded by beauty and reminders of what is important to them.
Ultimately, the aesthetic of any of our designs comes from the cues we get from our clients. These can translate into big ideas as well as special details throughout their home. We are not hired to dictate any particular style, rather to really listen and explore ideas with our clients and help them develop a style of their own. Our desire is simply to articulate what our clients envision for their homes and guide them toward directions they may not have gone had they tackled the design themselves. One of our clients told us our thoughtful approach ensured each choice they made reflected their own personal style, while introducing new ideas and gently nudging them to move just outside their typical “box.” We love how that describes our approach and the trusted relationship required to get to the best end result on any project.
Finally, the name of our firm, Layers + Lines is a reflection of our aesthetic. We like to say that I am the layers to Molly’s lines — our individual design ideas complement each other so well. Molly sometimes pulls me back and I sometimes push her forward, and in doing so our designs end up right where they should be. Essentially, we believe in starting with clean lines as the foundation and then thoughtfully layering pieces, patterns and textures so a space feels curated and custom and tells a story, always with careful consideration for function. Timeless, expressive designs are what we love to create — sometimes they are restrained and sometimes they are not.
Both of us have a true love of textiles and are always inspired by new textile designers who are bringing something beautifully unique to the world through color, pattern and texture. Fabrics often become the starting point of our design concepts.
Molly: I look at Etsy A LOT for vintage ideas and have my local guy, Mid-century Mike who finds the most beautiful pieces that inspire some of our designs. Also, Instagram, of course. I love Gideon Mendelson’s work and artist Evelyn Ackerman, a mid-century California artist who made some of the most amazing textiles, wood carvings, etc.
Kim: Art is a big inspiration for me. I love works by Ana Zanic and Suchitra Mattai, am forever amazed by Afton Love, Marsha Robinson, Jordan Casteel and Alyson Kahn and love seeing what Kate Roebuck is up to. I follow @katefindsart on Instagram to drool over all of her beautiful finds. Travel is another big one. I try to capture special details wherever I go that I want to remember when we are designing for clients. I also love a good boutique hotel and can be brought to tears by some of them like The Beekman in lower Manhattan. I don’t take nature for granted as a source of inspiration. Growing up in Arizona, I find I am drawn more and more to the colors and textures of the desert landscape. And then there is Instagram.
What was one of your favorite design projects?
We have favorite things about so many projects and find ourselves quite attached to some of them. A recent Observatory Park remodel was a very special project for us as the homeowner is a young NY transplant who purchased the home from her grandmother. Our client plans to grow her own family in the home and it was an honor for us to play a part in her story.
Everyone has a different idea of what their dream home looks like. Tell us about yours.
Molly: My dream house, believe it or not, is the house in Rye, NY, where I was brought home from the hospital and grew up. I would describe it as timeless, classic modern. Vertical wood paneling flanked the exterior and large floor to ceiling windows flooded the house with light. The stone fireplace walked the line of rustic, yet simple enough to complement the overall simplistic feel of the home.
Kim: I would love to end up in a Spanish Colonial home with a courtyard entry, large arched windows and carved wood doors with a white stucco exterior and barrel tile roof. Of course there needs to be lots of bougainvillea growing all around.
Molly: (1) My phone, as it houses all the photos and videos of my children since their birth. (2) My Mary-Lou Hofsoos oil painting that was handed down to me from my Grandmother. This painting is the true foundation to my home – not just from an aesthetic standpoint but sentimental. All roads lead back to this painting. (3) My 1969 Syroco mid-century modern cityscape wall sculpture. Only a handful were made at the time so it is quite rare – but more importantly it reminds me of my roots, growing up in New York City.
Kim: Like Molly, my phone to preserve our family memories as well as photographs my parents have given me from my childhood and of them and my grandparents as children. (2) My rugs, which might be hard to maneuver in an emergency, but a couple are special finds from trips to India as well as other vintage Moroccan rugs I have collected over time. (3) My art pieces by Helen Gotlib and Jordan Wright Patterson.
What are you reading right now and what’s spinning on your record player?
Molly: Right now I am fully engrossed in Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent by Rich Cohen. With both of my children in the throes of hockey season and my life revolving much around it, I find comfort in hearing about other people’s experiences with the craziness of youth sports these day.
Kim: My family committed to buying local for the holidays, so a lot of Twist & Shout vinyl ended up under our Christmas tree. I fell in love with the documentary Echo in the Canyon so my husband got me the Pet Sounds album by the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield’s “Again” album. We have Jeff Tweedy’s new “Love is the King” on rotation as well as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings “Dap-dippin’”, which I got at the Color Red pop-up in The Farmer’s Market LSQ on Larimer.
Great things! We feel like we are just getting started.
If you’d like to re-imagine the design within your four walls, and you know you do, please reach out to Kim or Molly. For more information visit them at layersandlines.com