The dream for many parents is to have a successful family owned business. Robyn Karp and Sara Karp Golden is a mother daughter team that is a true inspiration to that dream. Robyn started her interior decorating firm 20 years ago and it has grown to become successful business that she does with her daughter. They have worked on projects all over the world such as, hotels in Paris and law firms in Seoul. Their firm is known for their reputation for their impeccable taste and attention to detail.
What is one of the most unique element that you have added to a project that changed the feel/look of a room?
The most unique element was a child’s room we designed. We pushed the envelope and had my friend – a very talented artist/designer paint the entire bedroom ceiling to resemble a faded American flag. The bedroom walls were painted to look like exposed bricks. It was memorable, unique and a whole lot of fun – just, like the child.
Robyn and Sara, how and why did you get into the interior business?
“I started as an event planner and after doing many successful events one of my clients asked me to help design her living room. Simultaneously, a single, 30-something male friend had just moved into a stunning townhouse on West 10th street in NYC. He was always working & did not have a girlfriend at the time, so, he begged me to design his home. He told me how the dollar amount he wanted to spend and handed me his credit card. I agreed to design his townhouse as long as he did not micro manage. Fortunately, it was a great success and soon after, his best friend called me. Soon after that, his best friend’s sister in law called me and asked if I would design her entire house in Scarsdale. The rest is history…
How is it working together as a mother and daughter team?
There is nothing better. Although we do not always agree, we find ways to compromise. We both have strong opinions and end up recommending the idea that one of us feels more strongly about. More often we complement each other. Many times, we discuss our favorite ideas in front of the client, so they can benefit from both points of view. The best part is that there is no ego involved. We want the client to decide what feels best for their look and or lifestyles. The best part is we can be brutally honest with one another and not fear being insulted.
What was the first project you both worked on together?
I was designing a beautiful home for a family of five in Greenwich, Connecticut. The couple had three young and vibrant girls – ages three, five & eight. I thought the design of the girls’ bedrooms was the perfect project to have Sara contribute her youthful & fun design ideas. I was amazed at Sara’s ability to listen to the girl’s & get an understanding for their hobbies, favorite colors & then also listen to the parents on their practical needs as well. Sara took charge & soon after, three of the most spirited, fun & gorgeous rooms were designed. Each room reflected the different personality of each girl. The rest was history, after that project – Sara & I were a forever team.
How would you describe your design styles? Do you have a signature touch with your designs?
Our approach is usually relaxed elegance. Most of our clients have children, so we are acutely aware of lifestyle, function and how a good design must also be practical for sticky little fingers and the teenage mess. We appreciate clean and straight lines. We feel the largest pieces of furniture should be neutral enough to work with changes later on. We love trendy accessories, but not trendy rooms.
Was it easy a transition leaving event planning and focus on interior design and what were some of the challenges you faced?
There was actually an overlap period of about six years when I was planning & executing events and simultaneously building an interior design firm. So, there was really no transition period. Eventually, my passion & drive for interior design dominated and I started turning down event offers to concentrate on learning as much as I could about the interior design world. When Sara joined me, it made the decision to leave event planning easier as I knew we would thrive as a team.
You have designed numerous homes and apartments. If you had the opportunity to pick one celebrity to do their home, who would that be, why and what are some of your ideas for their home?
I don’t even have to think about it! I would design a beach home for Sarah Jessica Parker and her family. Her style & taste is impeccable. She is fun, classy & youthful and most importantly family oriented. Because celebrity parents spend a lot of time traveling away from home, we would create a private & serene beach getaway to escape the pressures of fame & the chaos of life and constant emails. The house would be on the beach enveloped by nature and the calming sounds of the ocean. We would create a cozy, stress free, low maintenance, understated yet elegant home. We would use natural organic elements & materials. We would design the kids’ rooms to reflect each personality & the hobbies they love. It would be a safe place for the family to escape and just bbq on the beach in peace & quiet. And of course, we would design a dream closet for SJP and all of her shoes!
When you are working on someone’s home, you draw inspiration from them, give us a space that you enjoyed creating from your own inspiration in your home?
My father always loved to cook and my son inherited that passion, as well. So, I was inspired to create a kitchen in my Westchester tutor home that was conducive for cooking, baking, grilling and just hanging out with friends and family, (way before it was chic to do so.) I went downtown to the Bowery in NYC and bought an old Traulsen Refrigerator with a glass front. I used stainless steel countertops and a removable butcher-block countertop next to the Viking Range, so that it could be washed in the sink. I designed open shelves with incredible displays of plates and bowls. The walls were exposed brick. The only thing missing was a fireplace. It was the room everyone gravitated to and it was the room where most our memories were created in. I was sad when I sold that house, but someone is cooking up some unforgettable meals in that kitchen, I am sure of it!
What makes this Mother and Daughter team stands out against all the other interior designers.
We stand out because the clients are getting two opinions & two perspectives instead of one. We also appeal to two generations and profoundly understand a family’s lifestyle and needs. We understand the desire a client has to want a room to look stylish and beautiful, but be functional and practical for a growing and always evolving family. We are the mix of classic & youthful. We are the mix of traditional and pop culture.