Cara Woodhouse specializes in luxury private residential & commercial projects. Through her firm in Brooklyn – Cara Woodhouse Interiors – she provides design services including architecture consulting, contract management, spatial planning, material & finish selections, custom furniture, millwork & antiquing. Cara has worked on multiple projects in Miami, Colorado, New York City, the Hamptons, New Jersey, Boston, Nantucket, Connecticut, Westchester, London & Los Angeles. Apart from being a worldwide successful designer, Cara is also a dynamic, joyful and passionate person! She loves her job and kindly shared with us her path to interior design and her inspirations.  

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Cara, I understand that your journey to become the worldwide designer you are today was a long one. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career path?

My career path started very early on. I always excelled in the arts and always dreamed of being a fine artist and sculptor. After attending FIT for fashion and realized it was not my passion, I attended NYSID. I studied interior design and knew that this was my calling and what I was meant to do. I had various internships during my college days and once I graduated, I worked for several prestigious NYC interior design firms including Cullman & Kravis. There, I learned the ins and outs of high-end design working on large-scaled projects with large budgets. It was a very well-oiled operating machine and I learned so much! I then moved on to run the NY office for Sherrill Canet interiors where I helped manage clients as well as co-design furniture. A couple of years into that firm I was approached to work on a friend of a friend’s home in South Beach, Miami. This was an opportunity I could not turn down. I quickly partnered with a close friend that I worked with at Cullman and Kravis and we formed our first design firm ZK interiors. After 5 years of growing that business I moved to London for a couple of year. I then returned back to NYC where I reinvented my business and started Cara Woodhouse Interiors LLC.

You are known for your unique patterns and shapes, your colorful palettes and unexpected details which always make your projects stand out. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from many places. Color palettes, shapes and forms… I am always inspired by my travels, art, other interior designers and architects and lots of history. I constantly think to myself, “how I can do this differently.” I want to be innovative and push myself all the time through my design process. I don’t want to be ordinary I want to be extraordinary! This is something I remind myself of on a daily basis!

Your projects are always very creative and artistic. What is your creative process when faced with a new project?

My process always starts with my clients. I truly get to know my clients and what their aesthetic and vision is, how they live and what inspires them. I love collaborating with my clients and achieving a home they LOVE! That is my ultimate goal. I try to always have some kind of eye candy; this doesn’t always have to be a pop of color. It is achieved in so many ways: using luxurious materials and finding a loophole of creating a unique design.

“Color palettes, shapes and forms… I am always inspired by my travels, art, other interior designers and architects and lots of history.” – Cara Woodhouse 

How has your style evolved through the years? Now that you have your own interior design company, do you feel you have more freedom in your projects?

My style has evolved tremendously over the years. I was very lucky to have the foundation of working early on in my career on very rich and elaborately layered traditional interiors. To be able to design that way was such a gift of knowledge and history. Over the years, I have stripped down my designs and have gone through a transitional period of design and now I am more of a modernist with a twist of playfulness and fun. Two things that will always be the upmost important in my designs are comfort and functionality. This is something that will always come first over anything else in my interiors.

Do you have a particular place in New York City that inspires you design-wise?

There is definitely not one place in NYC that inspires me because there is so much to be inspired by. All of the different areas of NYC from the West Village and its charming streets to the Upper East Side’s gorgeous townhouses, Central Park… all of it! All of the incredible styles, antique and furniture stores etc. I studied the history of NYC and how it developed and functioned early on, and it is something that fascinates me to this day. There is so much history in these city streets! New Yorkers, the people of this city, really inspire me the most! There is no place like NYC!!

I’ve seen incredible marble in some of your projects. Can you share your favorite materials to work with?

Yes, marble is for sure one of my most favorite materials to work with. All natural stone to be honest. The colors, shapes, patterns and feeling that stone gives off truly moves me. It always blows my mind that it is made by nature! I literally get a rush when I walk through a marble yard and the gears in my mind start cranking with how each gorgeous piece of stone can be used in furniture and homes. I am actually in the midst of designing a marble furniture collection as well as a jewelry collection using natural stone.

Working as a designer, you surely must know how fascinating and meticulous craftsmanship can be. How much importance do you attach to this process?

This is on top of my list. Quality and finish work. Being in this business for so long my eye is trained to pick up on these things! I am definitely always striving for perfection and consider myself to be the most meticulous. I have even helped some of my millworkers and upholsterers perfect their techniques and finishes to elevate their quality and level of work!

“I am definitely always striving for perfection and consider myself to be the most meticulous. I have even helped some of my millworkers and upholsterers perfect their techniques and finishes to elevate their quality and level of work! ” – Cara Woodhouse

If you had to pick one favorite project among all your interior design projects, which one would it be and why?

All of my projects and my clients are so important to me and they are all so different. They are like my babies… to pick a favorite at the moment, I would have to say my personal home. It is such a dream to have finally found a home that my husband and I both love so much! I can put my stamp on everything with total freedom and design how my family and I function. It feels like it is finally my turn…!

Finally, we have to mention your amazing blog and Instagram account, you often use your platform to give advice to emerging designers. What advice would you have liked to have received at the beginning of your career?

I wish I had a mentor early on in my career. I would have asked how to deal with difficult clients, how to run an interior design firm from accounting, protocols etc. I am always happy to share what I have learned over the years through trial and error. I always give the advice that it is important to get some work experience in the field before you go off on your own!

What’s next for you now? Do you have any projects coming up soon?

I do have several new projects that I am working on at the moment. I am finishing up a gorgeous modern home in Los Angeles, a Central Park West apartment and a gorgeous estate in Setauket, NY. I am working on several capsule collections with many different companies at the moment to expand my brand. I love mentoring and offer one-on-one consultations.