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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