Gladys Schanstra: Contemporary at Heart

GladysAs Gladys Schanstra knows, you don’t need a lot of clutter to make your interior design a hit.

Thanks for joining us, Gladys! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design.

I actually began as an engineering student (double major in mechanical and aerospace engineering).  After a couple of years, I decided to change to interior design as I am naturally drawn to space planning and enjoy working with different materials to recreate an environment.

What would you describe as your style? Influences? Designers you emulate?

I am probably more contemporary at heart – clean lines with a hint or mixture of the unexpected such as adding a reclaimed post or beam in a minimalist kitchen.  I initially started school at IIT so Mies van der Rohe was everywhere.  It was interesting that I actually hated the “boxes” as we referred to them then, but now get fired up when asked to do a similar modern classic design.  In the kitchen and bath industry, there is a lot of DeGiulio and Christopher Peacock influences as well as Candace Olson.  I admire their creativity.

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

Yes, because there is balance and coordination of shapes and colors and patterns.  When you enter a room that has been designed properly, it feels welcoming and it draws you in.  Most times people don’t even know why they like something and why they don’t.

Illinois is a state that does everything on a massive scale. What are some projects you most proud of and why?

There is one project that I had the privilege to work on – it was a whole house remodel and the client’s taste were modern with a hint of “old world”.  It was actually a cape cod style home that was gutted and with an addition that enlarged the kitchen and living space and created a master suite in the second floor, it was pretty rewarding.  Between dark cabinets with white engineered stone and wavy “ebb & flow” backsplash tiles and drum pendants, the contemporary side was certainly dominant.  However, the family room had old reclaimed wood shelves above the TV console, adding that element of surprise/unexpected.  I also worked on a project in Bermuda on a historical home that is the site of the first tennis court in the Western Hemisphere.

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

I always think it is great to know and master the rules so you know when to break them.  I think understanding the five principles of design (alignment, contrast, repetition, proximity, and balance) is important and utilizing them beyond the obvious is how you get unique and creative spaces.  I think it is a good idea to consult a designer whether remodeling/building an entire home or a small room or nook.  The contributions they add to the process and the final result is invaluable.

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

I like to use rugs as accents as well as to define space.  It can frame an area or draw your eye towards a direction.  It can add color, texture, or patterns, and helps with sound absorption.  Rugs can also be hung or framed.

Why do you rely on area rugs? What is the biggest addition they make to a room? Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work? Any that you avoid?

Area rugs give you the flexibility of moving them around, changing the orientation, and using a different material for the permanent flooring.  They add color and warmth.  I have used many sizes, ranging from 8′x 10′ or larger, runners that are 4′ x 10′, or modular units.  There is not one size I avoid in particular, I think they all have a purpose depending on the application.

Thanks for your time! 

Kimberly JOI McDonald: Living, Breathing, and Designing Vegas

Photo-KimberlyJoiMcDonaldSin City is best known for big shows and gaudy interiors, but Kimberly Joi McDonald proves that with hard work and dedication to design Vegas can once again be chic.

Thanks for joining us, Kimberly Joi.  Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in interior design?

Thank you for having me as part of .  I have always had an interest in interior design.  However, as a very young girl, my interest in design and creativity actually began with fashion design.  In fact, during high school, there was a very brief stint of which I designed a few hand-sewn garments.  Subsequently, during my college years, I branched out and created elaborate and hand-sewn Halloween costumes such as Super Girl, Cleopatra and Daffy Duck.  I have always been creative, and I played the flute and piccolo in my formative years, high school and college. 

As a “go-getter,” and after a successful first career as a 12-year local government lobbyist and executive, I forged an exciting second career in the interior design world.  From 1997-2008, I was the State Legislative Affairs Officer/Lead Lobbyist for the City of North Las Vegas at the Nevada State Legislature. In October 2005, I began going to school full-time at night to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design.  In June 2008, I left to recover from a very serious health scare, formed Designing JOI, LLC  in 2008, and finally graduated from the Art Institute of Las Vegas with Honors in March 2009.  I then served as a professional interior designer in the Design Salon of the Las Vegas Design Center at World Market Center Las Vegas (under the auspice of the American Society of Interior Designers [ASID]).  Regarding my academic credentials, I possess a Masters in Public Administration (Magna Cum Laude), a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design (Honors).  

My design mantra is to execute successful, beautiful and custom sustainable designs, for high-end residential and hospitality projects, with efficient, functional spaces tailored to meet the client’s needs.  I am the Founder and Past President of the Interior Design Society Las  Vegas Chapter (2011-12), a first for Nevada, and I served a brief stint as Finance Director of the ASID California Central/Nevada Chapter (Oct. 2011 – Feb. 2012).  I was asked to serve on the National Interior Design Society Board of Directors (2013-14).  In September 2012, I was awarded to be one of the Winners of the ASID Design Excellence Awards (3rd Place Remodel) of the ASID California Central/ Nevada Chapter.   And there you have it, as my budding design career continues to grow.   

You live and work in Las Vegas.  What are some Sin City themes you carry into your design.  Is there a prevalent nautical influence in area designs? Which elements do you use?

“What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas,” is a notorious and brilliant slogan that comprehensively captures the spirit of our neon city.   Las Vegas is an internationally renowned and world class resort destination…. known for its gambling, fine dining, shopping, club scene, legendary entertainment, recreation, travel experience, party lifestyle, and yes, even art.  If one wanted to perceive that “sin city” themes are integrated in my design process, I would say that I abstractly translate and execute the philosophy of designing boldly….just as Las Vegas is a bold city.   In Las Vegas, we are very fortunate to have world-renowned brilliant design icons, visionaries and pioneers of exquisite and innovative design and architecture, especially regarding hospitality design.  Las Vegas has some of the most glamorous, modern, fantasy-like, unique and cutting edge hospitality design structures and businesses in the world.  The mere comforts of luxurious hospitality design and the hotel experience, coupled with smart home technology, continue to drive and greatly influence residential design and what residential clients desire.   Other sin city themes of Las Vegas that can be abstractly extrapolated are by providing clients with spaces that create ambience evoking fun, relaxation, serenity or excitement, as well as “playground spaces” that are bold, daring, and inspire creativity or contemplative thought. 

As a professional interior designer for both residential and hospitality design, I design according to the aesthetic or style of my client.  Moreover, I appreciate the beauty of all design styles.  The nautical or coastal design style is just one of many we use, in addition to traditional, contemporary, transitional, mid-century modern, minimalist, eclectic, English, French, Spanish, Tuscan,  tropical, country, other specific theme styles, or hybrids of these.  Design elements of line, color, form/shape, texture, pattern and space are employed, as well as, the design principles of proportion, scale, balance, rhythm, emphasis (focal point), unity and variety,  all of which designers use as our cornerstone to achieve great design.  These design elements and principles are “no gamble,” if you will,  for they are the  cornerstones of design.   

All spaces are unique, but in Vegas you must find that there are design features every client wants. Which are most popular? Any type of furniture or finishing you find dependable in pleasing your client? 

Consistent design features my clients want  are architectural details, crown molding, hardwood floors, decorative tiles, stainless steel appliances, unique lighting, granite, quartz or Caesar stone countertops, spa baths, smart home systems, and fun outdoor spaces.  The furnishings and finishes are diverse depending upon the project.  And no matter what the design style or aesthetic, casual or formal, my clients want a feeling and sense of luxury. 

What are your first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your design experiences and current forms of inspiration?

My priority in working with both new and existing clients is to listen very intently to identify their design needs, identify their design style or help them define their aesthetic, and introduce them to  unique design ideas….all the while enjoying a collaborative design experience.  It is very important that my clients are happy and enjoy their space, despite the ups and downs that may occur during the design process.  Designing is fun! The beautiful reality about inspiration is that it is both the origin and outcome of everything we see, interpret, articulate, touch and dare to dream.  As a  professional interior designer and former government executive, I maximize my creative and analytical experience, and corporate and professional sensibilities to ensure that my clients have an overall joyous design experience.      

Vegas is a unique city.  Tell us how you use area rugs in your designs.

I use area rugs as either decorative or functional components.  Area rugs can be used as a focal point, to define a space and unify seating arrangements or areas.  Area rugs can add texture, color and/or pattern to a room, add texture, and even reduce noise.  In short, area rugs pull a  space together and make it cohesive.  Sizes vary and can be room size rugs, dining room rugs, seating area rugs, hallway rugs, foyer rugs and runners. 

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Area rugs chosen for my designs are selected on a case-by-case basis.  As a professional interior designer, I truly appreciate the beauty of all styles and how area rugs enhance, unify and function in a space.  I hunt for the best accent rug for the space or project.  As a green and sustainable design advocate, I prefer natural fiber rugs such as wool with silk patterns or blends.  Other criteria I assess are durability and performance, design aesthetic, and cost.  

Is there a price limit on what you’ll spend on the area rug? 

Yes, there is a price limit, as with everything.  However, selecting the right area rug is contingent upon the design concept, function, performance, sustainability and, the client’s budget. 

Any words of design advice for the wannabe’s out there?!

First, my advice would be to live, eat and breathe design, which was good advice given to me.  Second, obtain a few key successful business and design mentors to learn from as you build your business or cultivate your design career.  Third, have the courage to treasure the moment by executing your goals while learning constructively from triumphs and missteps.  Fourth, be an organized and effective business owner or design professional.  Fifth, outsource or delegate as many functions that you can afford to do so to reliable and accountable sources in order to free your mind for creativity and business development.   Sixth, stay current on design sources, trends and technology.  And finally, most importantly, hone your oral and written communication skills, in addition to presentation skills in order to successfully relay your design and vision to clients throughout the design trajectory.  

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

I would love for readers to access my website at  My motto is to make your life joyous through design!

Thanks for your time!

Thank you very much for having me at  It was my pleasure and a joy!