An Interview with Kapan Shipman of Habitar Design

As the Senior Designer with Habitar Design in Chicago Kapan Shipman understands what it takes to design a room for the needs of a client, and how the right rug can help turn a normal space into something more dramatic.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design.
I moved around a bit growing up so I wherever we moved, I had a subconscious need to make the new, unfamiliar place feel like my own space, my room. I learned early on that the feeling of “being home” can be a very powerful thing.  I graduated from Harrington Institute of Interior Design in 2000.  I love all sorts of Design and take my inspiration from everything I see and from the talented, quirky and creative group of friends I know.


When you enter a room can you tell if it has been professionally decorated? What are the tell tale signs?

It doesn’t happen so often as most of my clients have been interior design newbies! I’m often their first designer experience.  I would like to think that if you do it right, it would be more of a “did they or didn’t they hire a designer?” not a space that is so obviously staged or looks like its a page from a catalogue.  I feel that the space should reflect the client’s tastes and preferences but is balanced, design-wise. The space should be “you, but the best version of you”.

Which project are you most proud of and why?

I know this sounds like a total cliche but each and every project I’ve had the pleasure to work on makes me proud — I put a lot of work and thought into every project because ultimately, my job is my liveliness, I really enjoy what I do.  Even when it doesn’t go as smooth as planned or when there were problems or mistakes, I’m still proud that we worked hard to get it right for each client and we do everything we can to make our clients happy with the end results. I’m always proud of that. Always.

Are there any rules you must follow when decorating your own space? When should you call in a designer?

I’m not big on rules. When should one call a designer? I would say when you need help getting your space from what it is to what you imagine in your mind but haven’t the slightest idea how to go about doing that. Then give me a holler.

We like rugs. Tell me a little about the various ways your incorporate them into your designs.

I love rugs, too! They anchor the furniture in a room, add a bit of coziness and warmth, I use them to create separate areas within spaces with an open floor plan. And yes sometimes they are just decorative, used as beautiful pieces of art that adds a little bit of flair to the room.

Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work?

Not really, it all depends on the project, the budget, the look, the purpose.

Any that you avoid?

Yes, a cheap one that looks and feels cheap. Or if the client has pets or children, I would not use a rug that wasn’t going to hold up to spills and accidents.

Are their times where a rug just won’t do the job?

Not often but whenever using a rug makes the space look crowded. I had that happen recently, that the client had a very small area where adding the rug would just make it very busy and too cramped. Had to get it out of there!


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An Interview with Interior Decorator Cindy Schlesinger

A Former underwriter and account manager, Cindy Schlesinger transitioned to interior design so she could fulfill her need to create. Her  decorating business, Interior Minded uses rugs to accent and stylize her client’s homes. 


From insurance to this! How’d you realize you wanted to be in interior decorating?

I was always creative, and I majored in graphic design in college. After graduation I had a difficult time finding a job in my field. I started temping and ended up at an insurance company, eventually becoming an underwriter and account manager.  My clients were Fortune 1000 companies. After 10 years I was becoming very unfulfilled, and I knew I didn’t want to be in the insurance industry forever. One day I received a form letter from a local retail furniture store.  The first line said, “Have you ever considered a career in design?” I thought the job opportunity was the perfect next step in my career because it combined my sales background with my passion for decorating.  I worked there for four years and left to start my own interior decorating business.

Can you tell if a room has been professionally decorated? Any sure fire tells?

I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure I know the answer to that because I’ve never been to someone’s home that was professionally decorated! There was one instance someone received 2 hrs of my services through a silent auction. When I arrived at his home it was so impeccably decorated, and I thought for sure he used a designer.  It turned out he had done everything himself. I kept asking him why he felt he needed me because he was so talented! I think he just wanted validation that everything he was doing looked good.  What led me to believe his home had been professionally decorated was that the furnishings were beautiful, everything was coordinated from a style and color perspective, the furnishings were spaced apart perfectly, the wall art and accessories were in just the right places, and there was no clutter.

Do you have a room or project you think of as your best work?

It’s so difficult to choose just one! One of my favorite projects was redecorating a master bedroom.  Many times clients hire me after they’ve bought some furnishings and they bring me in because they don’t know how to complete the room. This project was a rare occasion when I was able to design the room from top to bottom. I really clicked with the client personally, and her decorating style was the same as mine, so it was very easy and enjoyable to design the space.  Despite the custom drapery and rug I selected for the room, I was proud to have added equally beautiful furnishings at great prices. For example, the nightstands were only $225 each, and the chandelier was under $200.

We are rug people. Tell us the various ways your incorporate rugs into your designs. Do you have process?

I like to use rugs in living rooms, bedrooms, and if there’s space, runners in hallways and foyers. Once I have a floor plan completed, the first item I select is the rug.  Many people think they should paint first, find the furniture, and then buy the rug, but I think that’s doing everything backwards.  It’s so much easier to begin with the rug first, and then select furnishings, fabrics, and paint colors based on the rug’s pattern and colors.

What’s the biggest addition a rug can do for a room?

First and foremost they make a room cozy and comfortable to be in; they really warm up a space.  All tile or all wood floors feel cold to me and the rooms look unfinished; Second, rugs anchor a space by defining a seating area; and third, rugs are great sound absorbers.

Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work?

There are many things to consider when selecting a rug.  The type depends on the client’s style, budget, and the function of the room.  The size is dependent on the space it’s going in and what furniture will be placed on it.  In a living room, the furniture should either be half on and half off the rug, or the rug should be large enough to fit beyond the perimeter of all the furniture that’s sitting on it.  In the bedroom, an 8×10 is all you need under a queen size bed.

Any rugs that you highly recommend, or ones dissuade homeowners from using?


It really depends on the client. If the client has a budget for a hand knotted rug, I’ll choose one over a machine made. A well-made hand knotted rug can last a lifetime if you take care of it. If the rug will be in a high traffic area, light colors probably aren’t a good idea.  If there are children or pets at home, a rug that’s not a big investment might be a better idea in the short term, or consider something in darker colors that won’t show crayon marks or food stains.

Where do you shy away from using a rug? 

I don’t like to use rugs under kitchen or dining tables.  You’ll be cleaning up drink spills and crumbs off the rug on a daily basis!  I think it’s okay to put a rug under a formal dining table that you don’t use too often.


Thanks for your time and good luck!


Thanks, and please check out my site at www.interiorminded .com

An Interview with Karyn Musick of Divas N’ Design

Chicago homes and apartments are some of the best-decorated spaces in the world. Karyn Musick and her team at Divas N’ Design are leading the to create even better spaces, many of which the design expert says includes the use of rugs.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design.

My passion was always to create wonderful room schemes at a very young age and after high school, I decided to go to design school to pursue my passion. I graduated from Harrington School of Design in 1985 and began working for a design firm in Chicago. In 2001, I started my own firm Divas N’ Design Inc.


Looks like you have a fun and interesting business partnership. Tell us more about your arrangement.

We have a lot of fun and we all work very well together. When we work with our clients, we work as a team. Each one of us brings something to the table, as far as, creativity and balance. It’s a nice chemistry!

When you enter a room can you tell if it has been professionally decorated? What are the tell tale signs? 

Absolutely, I always notice the consistency and scale of the furniture and elements in the space. Color scheming and how everything flows together is another tell tale sign.

Which designs are you most proud of and why? 

I am proud of all of our designs because when a client hires us to come in and scheme their space, it’s all about them. They need to verbalize (as best as they can) to what they are envisioning and we need to deliver the visual end result. It’s very gratifying when you know you hit the ball out of the park!

Is there anyone you admire for their work? 

I am inspired by Martha O’Hara. I love her style

We like rugs. Tell me a little about the various ways your incorporate them into your designs. 

Rugs are a very important element in a design scheme, especially on hard flooring surfaces. Not only do they warm up a space by providing texture, pattern or color, they help absorb sound (especially with hardwood). I also like layering a rug over carpeting to add another dimension.

Why do you rely on area rugs? What is the biggest addition they make to a room? 

They are an important accessory, they help define an area within a space, by adding color, pattern, texture and pulling the room together.

Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work? 

It all depends on the space … the size of the rug is always portioned to the scale of the space and the area to where it is going and the color scheme.

Any that you avoid? 

I tend to avoid 100% wool if the family has kids and pets.

Yeah, I could see that being a problem!

You have NO idea!

Are their times where a rug just won’t do the job? 

Not very often (laughs)