Rebecca Kinerson, the winner of the 2020 Design Inspiration Awards in the closet and storage category, was born and raised in St Johnsbury, Vermont. She graduated from Mt. Ida College, Newton, Massachusetts, in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in interior design. 
 
Kinerson worked as a lighting designer and design assistant before landing a job as a kitchen and bath designer, a job that also allows her to delve into mudroom and storage design. She quickly found this area to be her passion.
 
After starting a family, she moved back to Vermont. Kinerson stayed home to raise her two daughters, consulting on a few jobs. Now that her daughters are teenagers, she has rejoined the workforce as a full-time kitchen and bath designer - a job she absolutely loves.
 
Rebecca Kinerson, Deep Water Venturees, won the 2020 Design Inspiration Awards.
 
What inspired you to become a designer?
Even as a child I thought about spaces, rooms, and houses and re-imagined them. I didn’t want to simply redecorate; I wanted to change the layout, so interior design seemed a natural fit.
 
What were some of your struggles when you first started off?
The hardest part at first was simply finding a job in my field. I got married right after graduating from college and we moved to Connecticut. I was in a new place, starting a new career, with no contacts and honestly no strong sense of where I wanted my degree to take me, other than that I preferred residential to commercial design. I worked in lighting design, decorating and then kitchen design. Once I started working on kitchen designs I knew that that was what I was meant to design.
 
What are your favorite storage design trends?
I am a fan of using every nook and cranny in a space. As we move away from formal rooms that are used infrequently and as we downsize our homes, it becomes more important to make the most of the space we have and to make that space serve multiple functions.
 
Where do you get your storage design inspirations?
I find inspiration all around me - TV, magazines, friends, customers, trial and error. I believe that design is a collaborative activity and that collaboration is what leads to unique design solutions.
 
What are some of your favorite paint colors?
Benjamin Moore Alaskan Skies #972 is a current favorite. It is the perfect khaki/off-white. And it pairs well with smoky blues, another favorite of mine.
 
What is your favorite space to design?
Kitchens! Mudrooms, bathrooms and laundry rooms are fun too, but I enjoy kitchens the most. It isn’t enough for a kitchen to look good, it also has to work well. I like being able to design a space that is useful as well as beautiful.
 
What do you like most about your job?
I love the challenge of designing on a budget. Our customers often have limited funds to devote to a kitchen remodel and my job is to create a beautiful, functional space that works within their budget. This leads to some of the most creative design solutions.
 
What should someone starting a career in design know?
One of the great things about a design degree is that it is so versatile, and one of the drawbacks to a design degree is that there are so many career paths. Design is often broken down into residential versus commercial, but those categories are very broad. Any aspect of design could become your focus; office buildings, closets, furniture, lighting, fabric, paint, hardware - the options are almost endless. Hopefully, your college classes will help you narrow down your focus and those first jobs out of school will fine-tune it even more.
 
 
What will be the top design trends for 2019?
Storage! Society is constantly looking for better ways to manage the items we collect. Whether that means multifunctional items or tucking storage into previously overlooked spaces, like the shallow space between wall studs, storage is on everyone’s design wish list.
 
Do you have any closet and/or storage design hacks?
One of my favorite design tools is the wall cabinet used as a base cabinet. With the field creation of a toe kick or the addition of feet, you can have a 12-inch deep cabinet with open shelves, closed storage, a combo of the two, or a 24-inch deep short cabinet that makes great built-in seating. 
 
What was your inspiration for your winning submission?
Mudrooms today are classic multi-purpose rooms. They can be a combination of many spaces; your entry, storage area, office, craft space, laundry - and they are often the first impression of your home that guests have. My goal was to create a space with zones to handle the many tasks asked of the space. Closed storage allows for quick cleanup of items you don’t want to display, while hooks provide easy access to items used every day.  A desk area for office work and/or crafts is differentiated by lighter cabinets that add interest as well as visual separation. 
 
Are there other unique storage spaces you’ve designed?
I generally design kitchens, but nowadays kitchens often include entry spaces and work or message centers that create unique opportunities for design.
 
Who has inspired your work?
I live in a remote area without an interior design community. However, we do have a rich community of local artisans that inspire me with their unique use of materials and their ability to combine function and beauty. 
 
Learn more at 2020spaces.com/closets.
 
Editor's Note: Rita Melkonian is a marketing content specialist at 2020.

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