While Kaitlyn Wolfe built up the street cred required to make her own mark right out of the gate, she went beyond the technical and business skills she picked up on the job, university studies—including her undergrad work in Biology and Neuroscience—and childhood memories to figure out what void she could fill in the competitive and innovative Phoenix market.
Her company’s mission—to meld together stunning aesthetics with feasibility and functionality—grew out of this realization.
Jennica E. Maes
During her post-graduate years working for others in interior design services, Kaitlyn Wolfe found there was a surprising lack of design expertise in construction. This was a major paradox, considering that the buildings her employers were conceiving were buildings where people would set down roots, start families and carve out their lifestyle and identity.
Her company’s mission—to meld together stunning aesthetics with feasibility and functionality—grew out of this realization. Furthermore, she observed that good home interior design needed to be as flexible as her clients’ ever-changing lifestyles.
“We always talk about balance, and we feel this is how we best achieve a timeless look,” says Kaitlyn Wolfe, regarding her approach to communicating with diverse clients. “To achieve this and attain versatility without sacrificing what makes a client feel at home, we typically stick to organic earth tones and textures.
The use of natural materials, one of Iconic Design + Build’s hallmarks, is something that will never go out of style. We have strong relationships with local fabricators who work with steel, wood, terrazzo and concrete for custom pieces. This allows our clients to have access to high quality, one-of-a-kind services that will make clients’ interior design spaces at once unique and comfortable.
Our goal is to create a space for every client that feels different from any other space they’ve been in, yet also feels familiar and natural. This juxtaposition is how we define what makes something iconic.”
While the philosophy is fairly new to many homeowners, it’s stuck with Kaitlyn Wolfe most of her life. She was introduced to design and architecture at a young age after her family moved to Elham, England, a small village outside of London. She notes that her formative years abroad left her inspired by the character and history of European architecture, leading her to incorporate elements of classic style into her contemporary designs.
"This juxtaposition is how we define what makes something iconic.”
With this middle ground, she finds the perfect set point between minimalism and maximalism to empower the clients to not only express personal taste but also rise above trends and statement making for its own sake.
“Our goal is to create a focal point in the space and allow your eye to flow throughout the room,” she explains. “We love to mix materials with our interior design services, ensuring that they complement each other instead of competing with each other in a space. We achieve minimalism by leaning towards simple tile patterns and shapes of the light fixtures, while getting that ideal degree of maximalism by utilizing every inch of a space for function. Depending on the client, it can be done through custom cabinetry, or ceiling or wall details that visually expand the space.”
She uses the headquarters for Iconic Design + Build as an example. She directs the eye to the custom terrazzo countertop for the kitchen, which is balanced out with a simple one by one grid limestone backsplash tile. One could argue that the floors are a canvas rendered in a cool grey, concrete-look, which takes on dimension and warmth with custom, slatted walnut cabinetry and a beige wallpaper.
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From there, Kaitlyn Wolfe describes the process of fleshing out a client’s vision.
“It’s really important that when we decide to work with a new client, our styles are aligned,” she continues. “I love learning about our client’s lifestyles, which definitely help drive design decisions. However, at the end of the day, the entire interior design services process and end result is improved when we find common ground and appreciation for the same type of art and aesthetics.”
“We make sure they are familiar with our previous work and feel like it resonates with them. From that point on, it’s inevitable that we will be taking a different direction with each project because every client and space is so unique. But in terms of getting the jobs done right, there needs to be a cohesion from project to project.”
While she and her Iconic Design + Build team agree there is something universally appealing about clean and minimal spaces, they want the final space to feel lived in and already claimed and embraced by the client. Nightstands and tables may be adorned by only one well-selected decorative item or coffee table book, but the bed will not be perfectly made…and therefore, inviting enough for one to just fall into.
She loves bringing the outdoors in by incorporating real plants, and while there are some designers now touting open shelving being out of style, she and the team challenge this notion by incorporating a mixed use of textures with curated books and pieces, giving the space visual interest. Items out in the open end up not being clutter, but an extension of the inhabitant’s personality.
“I encourage people to think about everything from their life history, lifestyle and current environment to the build’s architecture and how all the components come together to be fully functional as well as expressive,” Wolfe says. “Every client and project shouldn’t fit perfectly in a box. There should be intention behind every texture, color and shape that is incorporated into a space. This, in turn, ensures the design is functional and stands the test of time.”
Kaitlyn Wolfe acknowledges that 2020 and COVID has pretty much forced everybody to view their material possessions differently, which has led to a universal movement towards decluttering. She feels this signifies the population at large becoming in tune with what elements of design and utility define a home.
As many people are now working from home or realizing how much they can do virtually in the comfort of their home, functionality is playing a larger role in their personal visions…though they want to express it in style.
“In the year to come, I can see more natural materials being used, giving the home a more calming feeling,” Wolfe continues. “I can see the use of more creative/hidden storage solutions, allowing the home to be clutter free. In addition, our clients are more interested in performance fabrics and investing in furniture pieces that are made to last.”
“I love the elements of the desert, and we’re finding many people are relocating to Arizona because of our gorgeous weather, lighter traffic and desirable cost of living,”
The paradigm of what makes certain cities “design centers” is also shifting, with the outlook becoming more regionalized and compatible with the natural surroundings. “I love the elements of the desert, and we’re finding many people are relocating to Arizona because of our gorgeous weather, lighter traffic and desirable cost of living,” she affirms.
“There is a great community here, and we’ve been able to grow our interior design services business successfully, creating great relationships with industry partners and bringing a more unique design style to the desert.”
Just as a good fashion stylist helps her customer create a foundation before curating the best “statement” pieces to give them personal style without looking too “done,” Iconic Design + Build approaches each client in the same way emphasizing timeless style over the latest fashion.
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Wolfe notes the firm’s differentiation hinges on the staff’s collective experience in design, construction, and business as well as new inspiration and fresh perspectives from nature, technology, trends, textures, patterns and styles. She also stresses that each project is attended to with great attention to detail and a distinct focus on the client’s vision while staying mindful of his or her budget.
Most projects begin with an on-site interior design services consultation that sets the stage for Iconic Design + Build to create mood boards, floor plans, 2D elevations and 3D renderings to create the ideal custom living space.
Wolfe takes great pride in Iconic Design + Build’s “extremely collaborative” outlook intended to make everyone involved feel good about the transformation.