Kitchen & Bath Design News

AUG 2018

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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Page 36 of 108

WESTMONT, IL — For some, the path to their career is clear and straightforward – a tidy line from point A to point B. Others, however, arrive at their professional destination via a more winding road, accumulating a wealth of diverse experiences along the way. Designer Stephanie Frees falls into the latter category. "I was headed off to college and law school and ended up getting married and living in Mexico City," Frees explains. As a young stay- at-home wife eager to make her first house feel like home, she frequently visited a nearby interior design store for inspiration. "Within a month or so, they approached me and asked me if I would come work for them," she continues. "I said, 'Oh, that's great, but I don't have any design experience.' And they said, 'No, we think you have a keen eye and we can train you.' And that was my start in the design industry." The women who ran the store became Frees' mentors, teaching her the ins and outs of the industry and helping her to hone her skills as a designer. When Frees and her family eventually relocated to the U.S., she continued to pursue interior design, as well as architec- ture – in fact, she designed and built her fami- ly's house, in conjunction with an architect. A serendipitous meeting with a major Chicagoland remodeling firm at a charity event led her to a new career in remodeling. "I designed additions and all kinds of things, but part of that was kitchens and baths, and I just fell madly in love with the kitchen design part of the industry," Frees recounts. In 2006, Frees opened her own design firm, Plain & Posh, followed in 2015 by a storefront showroom in Westmont, IL. Her reputation has since expanded beyond the Chicagoland area, gaining her nationwide recognition, leading to projects in Florida, California, Oregon, New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire. FLEXIBLE STYLE For Frees, designing a kitchen or bath isn't about putting her stamp on a space. Rather, her focus is on truly understanding her clients' style and bringing their vision to life. "I don't have a 'look,'" Frees remarks. Rather, she believes that tailoring her designs to precisely match her clients' tastes necessitates a flexible and insightful approach. "I really work hard to 'get' who my client is, and then design a beauti- ful space that feels like 'them.'" Frees relates an anecdote of one client who, during a meeting to discuss design ideas, remarked to her husband, "I can't believe she totally gets who I am." Frees adds, "That's what I love to hear. It's not me. It's not my pretty design. It's [about them]." Of course, Frees is focused on making sure her designs are not only attractive, but highly functional and suited to her clients' lifestyles. "I really stress form and function to make sure that ultimately, it's not just a pretty kitchen, but that it really works for them," she says. In order to cre- ate a design perfectly fitted to her clients' needs, Designer Puts Clients' Visions First BY AUTUMN MCGARR Largely self-taught designer Stephanie Frees of Plain & Posh works to understand exactly who her clients are in order to design the perfect space for them. Frees opened up two doorways from the kitchen into the dining room for this complete renovation to allow the south facing window light to stream into the kitchen. Adding the two new doorways also enabled Frees to create a 10' shiplap-paneled freestanding range area. Anchoring the space is a large custom stained alder island. Photos: Picture Perfect House Double French doors from the master bedroom used to provide a messy view of the vanity in this remod- eled master bath. Frees improved the view by relocating the vanity and shower and creating a bookcase unit to face the doors. Beautiful mosaic tile and an elegant chandelier complement the existing arched windows. 36 Kitchen & Bath Design News • August 2018 DESIGNER PROFILE

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