Spotlight On: Kirsty Froelich, Tile Shop Design Manager
We’re excited to feature one of our own Tile Shop team members, Kirsty Froelich, in our latest spotlight. If you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll remember her fantastic design tips from previous posts. Kirsty is the design manager at our corporate headquarters and designs the stunning vignettes in all our stores. Read on to learn about how she keeps her ideas fresh, what tiles she loves the most and what TV shows she’s streaming right now (prepare for your queue to fill up fast!).
Have you always been interested in interior design?
Absolutely. I always loved babysitting as a kid because I could go into other people’s home and see what they looked like. In 6thgrade, I bought all new furniture for my bedroom on my own because I didn’t like how my mom decorated. I took the bus to Dayton’s, spent my babysitting money on furniture, artwork and bedding and I had it all delivered one day. My mom asked me, “What are you doing?!” And I just said, “I’m redoing my room.” She had no idea! I don’t know what they thought at the store, but it seemed perfectly normal to me.
Tell us about your college experience.
Even then, I was always designing. I went to the University of North Dakota and decorated my dorm room in a Marilyn Monroe theme. It caught the attention of other people on my floor, and, before I knew it, I’d started a small business decorating dorm rooms. Then, I transferred to North Dakota State University where I graduated with a degree in apparel textiles and a minor in art. I wanted to be a textile designer but I ended up not being interested in the science aspect. So I went back to school and got a 2-year degree from NKBA (the National Kitchen and Bath Association) for a kitchen and bath design focused program.
How have you seen kitchen and bath design evolve since the beginning of your career?
Definitely, especially because it’s a relatively new field. Years ago, bathrooms and kitchens were largely utilitarian spaces, not places where the family gathered. Now they’re two of the most important areas in the home. When I started out, it was all beige and cherry wood. Everyone had very similar stuff because every company sold very similar stuff. Then the style became much more contemporary. Now the trend has swung back towards the middle and become a more transitional, warm style.
“I truly believe that you shouldn’t worry about what’s in fashion because if you go with what you love, you make the fashion.”
What have you been most proud of in your career?
When I see a customer photo and realize they’ve taken my design from a store and recreated it in their homes, that’s when I feel most proud. I just want people to love my designs, and it makes me feel good that they want something I created in their homes. I’m also proud of the trim pieces that allow people to customize and elevate their projects and the unique mosaics that I’ve designed for The Tile Shop.
What is your favorite tile?
I love Hall Blanco. It goes with every mosaic and with almost everything. The unique size and cool color add a contemporary feeling to bathrooms. I’m also immediately attracted to anything blue and purple because they’re my favorite colors. Our Beachwalk tiles have all my favorite colors in them.
Do you have any tips for young designers?
Listen and ask a lot of questions. Your client will clue you into what he or she is looking for. Everyone has a style, and you just have to narrow theirs down. To be a great designer, you have to be a great salesperson, too. If you can’t communicate a vision to your customer, it doesn’t matter how great it is. It won’t go anywhere because the client isn’t going to buy it.
“To be a great designer, you have to be a great listener as well as a great salesperson.”
Where do you find inspiration?
Every morning I look at Pinterest, Houzz and Decor Pad to see what’s new. I read hundreds of blogs so I know what our customers are seeing. And I actually get a lot of inspiration from going to nice stores like Nordstrom, Williams-Sonoma or Pottery Barn. You might not relate them to tile but it’s about the lifestyle that people want to emulate and bettering their lives. If you think about it, your bathroom is the first thing you see every morning. Don’t you want to like what you see? Design is a big part of that.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
It’s very clean and contemporary, and I think that’s because there’s so much going on in my head. I like my house to be clean and uncluttered. I have a lot of contemporary artwork around my home and a lot of blues, tans and whites. The vibe is modern California coastal style mixed with East Coast Hamptons style.
How do you keep ideas fresh when you’re working in the same medium day after day?
Plan, plan, plan! I make sure I am using a wide variety of tiles that will get people excited. I also like to divide and conquer, so I don’t try to do too much at once. Splitting every project into little parts, making each one the best it can be and then going to the next part helps me focus. It’s been really easy this year because our selection has grown so much that I couldn’t possibly use all the new tiles. Sometimes I can’t sleep the night before I am designing a project because I’m so excited.
Who are your biggest design influences and inspirations?
Kelly Hoppen is my favorite. She has a clean, beautiful, contemporary aesthetic. I respect that she’s branched out into other things and created an entire business based on the thoughts in her head. I also love Dayna Decker, Kristin Cavallari, Reese Witherspoon and Chyka Keebaugh. It’s hard to get your vision out there, so I love those success stories. Contemporary artists, like Kandinsky, Klee and Picasso, and expressionists inspire me. Art has been a big part of my life, and I always try to include nice art in our showrooms. Coco Chanel and Zac Posen are a couple of my icons from the fashion world.
What’s your favorite part of your own home?
Probably my living room. I’ve always wanted a great sectional, and it’s perfect for my dog and I to lay on and watch Netflix. Being able to make choices and buy the furniture I want is really exciting for me. I don’t take it for granted.
What is your dream client or project to work on designing?
It would actually be a project for myself. I would love to buy a mid-century modern home, gut it and make it contemporary.
The Fun Five
What is your dream vacation?
I’m a big British TV fan, and one of my favorite shows ever is called Midsummer Murders. I would love to rent a cottage in the Cotswolds where it takes place for a week and take a cooking or painting class there.
What are you streaming right now?
I watch lots of British and Australian TV shows on Acorn TV. I love the Australian show Offspring. It has amazing scenery and quirky design. I also love Killing Eve and Death in Paradise.
What song do you always get stuck in your head?
I’ll get one song in my head and listen to it 20 times in a row when I’m running. Plus, I love 80s music and Sade for listening to while I’m designing and shopping.
Who would play you in a movie?
Either Lisa Whelchel who played Blair in The Facts of Life or Nicole Richie. Those are the celebrities I’ve been compared to the most.
If you weren’t doing what you do, what would your career be?
I would love to be a realtor because I love seeing people’s homes.