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! 

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