AMIDST OUR MODERN ERA WHERE “FAKE NEWS” AND “ALTERNATIVE FACTS” wastefully contributes to the wealth of information and inspiration for our culture, authenticity in all aspects of lifestyle reigns a supreme value as believed by interior designer Aaron B. Duke.

“My approach to interior design is visual storytelling and creating authentic interiors that reflect the lifestyle of the client,” explains Aaron. “I spend a great deal of time upfront getting to know my clients. It is important to understand how they live, how they entertain, what they are passionate about, where they like to travel, what is their style, what are their preferences, how do they spend their free time, do they have children, do they have pets, is this their forever home?”

As a core philosophy, Aaron believes that interior design is “an outward extension of who and what we are – similar to fashion.” Twice already in my previous conversations with him, Aaron charmingly recollects his admiration for the great American fashion designer Ralph Lauren, who has a similar approach to creativity.

“The clothes that I design and everything I’ve done is about life and how people live and how they want to live and how they dream they’ll live. That’s what I do.” – Ralph Lauren

Questions for (lifestyle design) introspection

Aaron shares his top questions to encourage an insightful description that guides how a home can be authentically designed to your intrinsic nature:

  • What do you truly want out of your home?
  • How do you live on a daily basis?
  • What is important to the functionality of your home?
  • When you entertain, what does that look like and feel like to you?
  • What is your aesthetic?
  • Do you spend your weekends at home, and if so, what do you do?
  • How does your partner or spouse want your home to look and what brings them joy?
  • Do you have children to consider and will they be part of the design process of their own personal rooms?
  • Is this home going to be for only a few years or are you creating the home that you will keep for many years to come?
  • Do you have collections or family heirlooms that are important for you to feature?
  • What colors do you like?
  • Where do you like to travel and has that inspired your taste in interiors?

The design “trap” to watch out for

“One trap I see clients make is playing into comparison. I think design magazines and Pinterest are great resources to find design inspiration and help clients identify visually their style that they may not be able to put into words. You really have to look at these with a critical eye. You never know what the budget was for a particular project and it may not match your intended financial investment in your home,” Aaron reveals.

Another important aspect that Aaron hopes individuals consider is space availability. He warns that smaller homes may not be able to accommodate larger scale furniture on both a functional and aesthetic perspective. Aaron also cautions individuals that although seeing the home remodeling of friends, family and neighbors is thrilling and may make renovations seem more doable, the constraints or amenities your home has to offer still needs to be considered.

“I believe that when designing your authentic home, you really have to look inside and not outward,” says Aaron.

On being cognizant of the architecture and time period of homes

“The interiors and exterior of a home should be married,” mentions Aaron. This is, of course, with the exception of bringing up a very old home to modern day standards. It is not about creating a period room or home. It is about complimenting the era and architecture in which the house was originally built to honor its traditions while also infusing your own lifestyle and taste.

Aaron’s best tips to make this happen include incorporating colors of a style you wish to add to the home, using traditional or transitional furnishing, and displaying antique pieces for decoration. For those who are planning to move on to another home later in the future, Aaron reminds that, “Many older homes kitchen, bathrooms, and closets were designed for a different way of living than we do today. Invest money in remodeling these areas, as they will be investments should you decide to sell your home.”

Aaron is one of the selected designers for the upcoming 2017 Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts. He will be designing the library.

The collective goal of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts is to provide funding to programs that benefit the community through diverse music programs that nurture the study and appreciation of music, provide music as a vehicle towards health and healing, offer music education knowing that the study of music enhances other academic subjects, as well as cultural enrichment, and ensure that music is available to a broad range of audiences. Learn more about Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts. Purchase tickets for the upcoming show taking place April 23 – May 21, 2017.

Stay tuned for more exclusive articles featuring this year’s Showcase designers (previous posts here)! For updates, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or sign up for the mailing list.

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Photos: Lonny@margaret__zhang | @songofstyle | Serena Crawford | Chinoiserie Chic | Lonny | Suzanne Kasler (previously featured here) | Architectural Digest | The Decorista | Pinterest@emmagelaude | T Magazine@onekingslane