A Conversation with Cat Lykins Part II

For the past 5 years, Catherine has inspired her clients and designed stunning spaces with her personal approach, attention to detail and desire to go above and beyond with every project she works on. “From the beginning, I establish an open and honest relationship with my clients. It’s so important to build a foundation of trust, so we’re able to create spaces that are deeply personal.”

Cat’s been busy with projects ranging from new construction and remodels to space planning and full furnishings projects, covering all aspects and stages of design.

We’ve had a conversation with Cat before, but here we take a deeper dive into how she helps her clients find their vision of home, what influences her style and her secrets to creating unique, yet timeless spaces.

How do you start the design process and help clients figure out their style?
We really get to know each other. It’s so important to build that client-designer relationship so we are able to work together and continue to build trust. The more questions I ask, the better I get to know my clients and can hone in on their style and become inspired.

I also ask my clients to browse through magazines and get inspiration from Houzz or Pinterest. These tools help us to explore their creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. By walking through images they like and dislike, it helps me dial in on specifics and hit the ground running with concepts and ideas.

What spaces inspire you most?
I love designing and furnishing living rooms and bedrooms. These are the two spaces we spend the most time in, whether that’s spending quality time with friends and family or relaxing in bed after a long day. I create these spaces to be beautiful and comfortable with my client’s style in mind.

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What clues about your personality and style does your home reveal?
You might notice that I love neutrals, textures, natural wood elements, and of course, anything soft, or glitzy!

What’s your favorite trend right now in the design world?
I will forever love black bathrooms! Black is the new gray! I’m excited about the bolder, darker styles, especially black matte fixtures – they’re so sleek and moody!

What do you enjoy picking out more? Finishes or furnishings?
I truly love both, but if I had to pick one, I’d say that I enjoy sourcing furnishings a little more! Finishes make your home custom to you, but I love furnishings because they make your home that much more unique to you and your family. When each item is handpicked and curated to your style, nothing else compares!

What spaces are you currently designing?
Right now, I’m hitting every stage of design. I’m working on three full-furnishings projects, two new construction projects, and three remodels!

One project I’m excited about and just wrapped up is a whimsical cabin in the woods. The cabin features wood logs in the center of the house that helps divide the main floor! I am introducing a more mountain-modern vibe, while keeping the overall charm of the house. I love that the client has a vision of what they desire and they depend on me to curate a whole home of furnishings to match that.

What’s your secret to creating timeless spaces?
Symmetry is always timeless because we are naturally drawn to balance, meaning whatever the outcome may be, style-wise, the room is always pleasant to look at and be in. Much like symmetry, focal points help ground the room.

That being said, I would say the best kept secret to creating timeless design is to select high-quality fabrics, and colorful accessories. These items should last for many years to come. My best advice is to think long-term and choose something you truly love, no questions asked. It’s these items that give your home character!

When it comes to upholstery, a classic, neutral color palette is always timeless. What I love about sticking to neutrals is the flexibility to play with colorful accessories. That way, when the time comes for a change, it’s easy to update those pops of color without changing the overall design on your home.

So, what do you think about customizing upholstery?
Customizations are another exciting part of our job. First, we find the perfect item for you, a sofa, for example. I build it, piece by piece, to fit your space perfectly, based on the layout of the room and how the sofa will be used. Then, I select fabric options based on color schemes and other pieces in the room. Then it’s all about the details! I work together with you to select wood finishes, a variety of nail head finishes and sizes, and of course, the icing on the cake, the pillows and throws! This process helps allows me to create a different look with each client!


What do you see for the future of design?
I see a continued effort to mix timeless styles with modern twists, as well as mixing and layering the old with the new. Performance fabrics are also the future of design; fabrics that stand the test of durability. I think a lot more of our clients are recognizing this as the way to go, as these products will last much longer and are able to be taken care of.

Greatest accomplishment with Collective?
Every single project I work on is an accomplishment! Each is so different and unique. All of my clients have different wants and needs, so dialing in on those in and figuring out exactly what they want is the most fun part. The best part of any project is the reveal. Nothing compares to that moment when a client sees their space for the first time. It’s truly an unbeatable feeling, knowing we created it together. I couldn’t be happier when clients tell me they love every last detail!

What does a successful project mean to you?
Happy clients! My goal is always to exceed expectations, and to create spaces that you’ve been dreaming of and more.


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Collective Design Group is an award-winning interior design firm serving Vail Valley, Summit County, Winter Park and surrounding areas.

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