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Meet Kristin Mendonsa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Mendonsa, Owner and Lead Designer if Kristin Mendonsa Interior Design.

Hi Kristin, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
It was 2018. Springtime. Pregnant at 44 years old. I should have been sleeping as it was after midnight. “What am I doing?”, I thought. I had class the next morning and I was trying to finish up a project. I was so tired, but I kept pushing through because I was going after something I should’ve done years earlier.

Let’s go back in time a little further. I was young and single and having the time of my life in college. I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and so that’s what I went to school for. (Psychology, for those of you wondering). Once I had graduated and started getting ready to go to grad school, I realized that my chosen profession was not for me. So now what? I had that piece of paper in my hand that said I knew enough to get a job in that profession but my heart was not in it. I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do! I decided to play it safe, so I continued to work the job I had been working while I was in school. I was able to pay the bills and move up within the company, but it was a ‘job.’ It wasn’t something I wanted to do forever, nor was it something I loved. They say that it doesn’t feel like work when you love your work, and I wanted to find what that was for me.

Eventually, I married and started a family. I became a stay-at-home mom, giving me some of the greatest joys I may ever experience. Being at home a lot gave me time to look around the spaces where my family lived. I started making a checklist of what I wanted to fix or change. It was during a time when I could walk into Home Depot and see the different painting techniques displayed and that was all the rage, so I bought supplies and started painting an accent wall in my master bedroom. It was a mustard yellow, and then using a darker mustard color, I blotted over the base layer using a rag. I bought new bedding and new decor items for the walls, and ‘voila!’ I had just completed a room makeover. and I had fun doing it. This was the start of completing a long list of room makeovers. Lots of people like DIY. You can get on social media and find thousands of tutorials or room reveals. I wanted to do more than just slap a coat of paint up on a wall and buy a few new things. I wanted to do full-service interiors. I knew I had a creative side, work ethic, and drive, but I wasn’t quite sure where to go to feel like I had enough knowledge to be an interior designer and get paid to do it. I was living in Oregon at the time, and our kids were all in school, so it was perfect timing for me to do something about all of this. I found out about The Heritage School of Interior Design in Portland and discovered that it would be a great fit for me. Right after this, my husband and I found out that we were expecting a baby. We were shocked, to say the least. We had not planned on this at all! My husband who is my equal partner and lifts me up when I need it most encouraged me to stick with my plan by going to design school. So, I did. Pregnant at 44 years old and going back to school to get a degree in custom residential interior design.

It got a little chaotic at times as we already had 7 children at home. They were all gone to school during the day, and I had older kids and parents close by to help with the younger kids if needed, but our evenings were crazy with extracurricular activities, homework, and school functions. Everyone pitched in and supported me and helped carry the load of taking care of our family. I had homework just like the kids had. I had tests. I had projects that I worked on into the late hours of the night. I tried to look at it as just getting ready for sleepless nights with a newborn again. In the summer of 2018, I graduated, and 7 weeks later, we welcomed a little boy who has been the perfect little caboose to our family.

I didn’t do much with interior design after graduation as I had a newborn plus 7 other kids to take care of. I decided on my business name, Kristin Mendonsa Interior Design, and logo and started to build my own website. I started an Instagram account, and in 2019, I got my first job as the interior designer for a local vineyard’s wine tasting room. I really learned a lot from that first job. I learned about designer-client relationships (which you don’t learn in school) and what things I liked best through the design process. I’ve discovered a love for tile and lighting, and I love the look of joy on a client’s face when it’s something they love. With my family’s move to Utah, I’ve had to start all over with getting my name out there. On my website, I’ve started a blog on the home that my husband and I plan to build and hope that people will find inspiration in the process. I hope they see my other work and like it and realize that working with me will make their life easier. Becoming an interior designer has really been a dream come true!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I learned at a young age that the skies won’t always be blue. There have been challenges in balancing the startup of a new business and being a wife and mother. I’ve had to go through the startup twice, once in Oregon and now in Utah. Interior design is a lot of networking with others in the design and construction business. It’s hard when you’re the new person in town. I’m lucky to have a supportive husband who wants me to do things I enjoy and will be my partner in making it all happen. I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome at times but have overcome that by just telling myself that I can do this. I can succeed, and I have a lot to offer people. Growth comes from challenges that we learn to overcome.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in residential transitional design, which is a mixture of traditional and modern styles, but I design in any style my clients want. I like to make sure that my projects have some originality to them and do not look like everything else out there. I am not afraid to use a bold paint color or a busy wallpaper for an accent wall or powder bath. Every person has their own unique personality, and their home should reflect that and not look like everything else you see. One of the first projects that I did was a beach house in the Pacific Northwest. I wanted something unique in the home, and so I created a headboard made of vintage boat oars that I procured from antique shops, classified ads, and restoration building materials businesses. Another project, also located in the Pacific Northwest, was a local wine tasting room at a vineyard. The backsplash that I put together consisted of random hand-made glazed tiles with different patterns and colors. The end result was a beautiful bohemian look. My most complimented project has been a music room. It showcases a black baby grand piano. Bold blue paint, an urban-style rug, leather cantilever chairs, and modern mid-century lighting and accents are what made this space truly unique. I take great pride in all of my projects.

I have an outgoing, friendly disposition. I have learned that people want to work with someone who is genuine. I want to give people what they want in a design but I will also be truthful with them if it’s something that won’t work. I believe that true service is going above and beyond the scope of work and building a great working relationship with clients.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
I love to work with others! No project is too small. Design is a very creative profession, and designers support one another. I can be reached through my website and social media.

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