Designer Spotlight: The Beautifully Blended Designs of Karen Arpino Interiors

Karen Arpino living room design Photo courtesy: Karen Arpino Interiors

This month, we sat down with Karen Arpino of Karen Arpino Interiors for an inspiring conversation about how she brings beauty and elegance to her designs by using a mix of transitional and traditional styles. Here’s a hint on how she does it: It’s all in the “details.”

Your designs are a perfect blend of traditional and transitional styles. What elements do you choose for creating such elegant spaces?

My designs are usually a mix of transitional and traditional styles. For example, when I’m upholstering a traditional piece of furniture, I will choose fabric that is more modern. This twist on styles gives the furniture an unexpected flair. I like clean lines with beautiful details, but not overdone. It should always be a comfortable space using fabrics, rugs, and furniture that clients are not afraid to use. I often mix a grasscloth wall covering with traditional pieces, which makes everything more casual. I also like to mix modern / abstract art and accessories with traditional or transitional furniture, which changes the vibe to a more modern feel.

Karen Arpino entryway design
Photo courtesy: Karen Arpino Interiors

Your use of window treatments truly makes a statement in your designs. How do you decide on the perfect window treatment for a room?

Window treatments are an important part of all the rooms I design. A room feels incomplete to me without beautiful window treatments for both decorative and functional reasons. Part of the decision on style is privacy needs versus decorative. I like using panels or Roman shades—both if possible—in fabrics that become an integral part of the design. I also love to use trim if possible. It gives another level of detail to the window treatments and the overall room. Drapery hardware is also an important design element. I like using wood or metal finishes that coordinate with the other finishes in the room. Hardware, like beautiful lighting, is like jewelry in the room. It adds an extra level of detail and dimension.

Karen Arpino living room design
Photo courtesy: Karen Arpino Interiors

Your use of area rugs ties your designs together beautifully. What is your best tip when choosing an area rug (or rugs)?

Area rugs are extremely important. Sometimes they are the star of the show and sometimes more of a beautiful backdrop. When designing a room, there are many important elements, but I always keep in mind how the room will be used. I’m looking for totally different qualities in an area rug for a den or family room than I am in a low-traffic primary bedroom or formal living room. In a high use area, I’m looking for a beautiful rug, but using a durable construction that will stand up to use. For a low traffic area, I would consider a more delicate construction in silk or viscose. 

Karen Arpino theater room design
Photo courtesy: Karen Arpino Interiors

I look for inspiration when I’m starting a project in the fabrics, or the rug and each job is a little different as to which comes first. Many people start with the rug and work up from there, which I also do. Sometimes, if we have fallen in love with certain fabrics and they are the jumping off-point, then I am looking for a beautiful area rug to work with the existing selections. I often like to include a decorative border for an area rug out of linen, leather, or faux leather.  It makes the rug look more custom, without adding a lot of additional expense. 

We love your attention to detail—especially to ceilings. What elements inspire you to design a beautiful ceiling?

Ceilings are often overlooked and they are such an important part of the room.  My first choice is to use beautiful architectural details, such as a coffered ceiling or other similar architectural element. Even the smallest detail brings your eye up and gives huge visual interest. It breaks up what would normally be a flat, uninteresting surface. Whether it’s contrast painted, faux painted, or all one finish, it’s a fabulous addition and I encourage everyone to add ceiling detail if it works in the space. I also like to add crown molding if the room doesn’t already have it. The more detail, the better.

Karen Arpino family room design
Photo courtesy: Karen Arpino Interiors

We absolutely love your use of chandeliers and beautiful lighting fixtures in your designs? How do you choose these standout fixtures to suit each particular room?

Lighting obviously serves a fundamental need in any room but it’s also an essential part of the overall design and helps create a certain mood. I like to use dimmers with any ceiling or wall mounted lights so you can adjust the level of brightness and create highs and lows. I also like to use multiple light sources—ceiling, wall, and table lamps. The selections should communicate the same look, feel and elegance or whimsy of any other part of the design scheme and should enhance the overall look. Lighting is like jewelry or a beautiful accessory and should elevate the space visually as well as functionally. In the selection process, I establish the look and feel of the overall space. Then I look for pieces that add light and beauty. 

Karen Arpino bedroom design
Photo courtesy: Karen Arpino Interiors

We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Karen Arpino. Whether it inspires you to light up your spaces with beautiful fixtures or express your creative side with a unique ceiling design, Country Carpet is here to help you design the room of your dreams. We invite you to visit our showroom to explore the design possibilities to make these dreams come true. You can schedule an appointment with us at your convenience. And walk-ins are always welcome. We look forward to seeing you!

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