“It feels crazy that it’s been almost 15 years with my life revolving around design,” muses Collective designer Lisa Yates, as she flashes her trademark bright smile. And in that time, Lisa’s work has done nothing but impact and inspire others. Being ahead of design trends and pushing out of the box while keeping a timeless design are just a few of her fortes.
Recently, she added to her accolades with recognition for her incredible work on a full-service project, designed from the ground up. Lisa, well deservingly, received multiple awards from this year’s Parade of Homes including Best Interior Finishes, Best Furnishings, the Mountain Living Peak Award and more.
We’ve gotten to know Lisa before, but here we dive deeper into her design process, hear more about her award-winning project, get the newest insider trends and how her personal approach shines through her stunning designs.
How do you begin a design process?
I need to know my clients really personally right off the bat. Everything is easier if I have a good idea of who they are. If you don’t like a color, I need to know right away. Knowing something so simple narrows down a lot. What are your goals? Are you going to be living in this home full time or rent it out?
I tend to be a chameleon. No two clients are the same so in order to get to the bottom of what they want, I need to figure out their personalities. The deeper we can connect, the easier it is to help them define their style and get things moving.
Any simple starter tips you give your clients?
Go with your gut. Usually, clients find pieces they like and overthink it, then go back to that original piece. Go with what speaks to you right away because that’s what’s going to make the most impact. And have fun! We take care of all of the behind-the-scenes work so the clients can have a great design experience.
What does a successful project mean to you?
If my clients are happy and I exceeded their expectation, that to me is success. That speaks volumes. Then I can forget all the headaches and little things that were maybe tough to get through because every project has that. That makes everything worth it.
The ideal project for me for the feeling of highest success is when we start from the ground up. The full-service, complete package; construction, finishes, fixtures, furnishings, accessories. But that can also happen with just furnishings or just finishes, piecing everything together to where it’s a cohesive design.
How does your style influence your client’s style and project?
I always feel like because I graduated from college and went right into the industry, I never had the chance to find and hone my personal style. It’s always about others. I’ve always wanted to give my clients what they want, the better version of the design they’re after. I don’t let a lot of external stuff influence me, I just focus on what the client wants while bringing my expertise. I definitely have a “less is more” approach to my personal style!
How do you help your clients figure out their style?
We will pick finish by finish, piece by piece, and I’ll try to make sure they don’t over think it and guide them along the way. As designers, we see the vibe way before the clients do. That’s where we can start gathering an overall style. Houzz and Pinterest, and the plethora of design-specific magazines that are available are great tools. Pin it, save it and tell me why. They’ll see that they’re drawn to similar design styles and ideas.
What clues about your personality and style does your home reveal?
We’re always bringing the outdoors, inside. We have rocks, skulls and feathers scattered throughout our home from places we’ve been. I keep it comfortable and minimal. I’m transitional, clean and eclectic. I’ll pick out specific pieces and I purchase with intention. I need to fully love it and be invested in it. I live by the less is more approach, keeping more meaningful pieces around. I like to think that I’m very practical.
What spaces inspire you most?
The main area inspires me most because that space tells the full story of the home. And the exterior should definitely play a role in what’s happening inside, especially where we live.
What’s your favorite trend right now in the design world?
I love that people are getting away from grays and cool tones. I love the color, so I like seeing the upwards trend of warm colors and tones making a comeback – mixing browns, beiges, neutrals, blacks and grays. I saw a lot of these tones at High Point. The trend used to be very traditional, then very gray and now we’re reintroducing warmer palettes. Hunter green is trending as well. Since it’s cool outside here in the mountains for most of the year, I love to bring warmth inside. Carrying hardwood floors throughout the home (with the exception of bathrooms) is another hot trend we’re seeing and is a way to warm up your spaces with an organic texture.
What do you enjoy picking out more? Finishes or furnishings?
Depends on the client, their personality and the style of the project. I do love both. Finishes and furnishings need to complement each other. Everything feels more cohesive and thought out when it all works together.
What’s a new piece we’re offering in retail that you’re excited about?
Oh, I have a few! One of our vendors just launched an ottoman program where they take original, one of a kind, unique Turkish rugs and upholster ottomans with them. We have a few coming in and I’m so excited to have them on the floor. They work for traditional or modern clients, too.
I also love these chairs that are really cool and contemporary. The wood frame is a unique shape and I love the steel butterflies on the back. It’s subtle details like these that make a big impact!
There’s a sectional on the floor that I also love. It has a single cushion design and is half sofa, half chaise which gives people more flexibility.
Also, very excited about all of the holiday decor coming in that’s not holiday specific. You can have it in your mountain home through winter since it’s natural, organic, and not your typical blingy accessories.
What spaces are you currently designing?
Anything and everything right now unless it’s hospitality or corporate. A project I am really enjoying right now is a 9000 square foot, new build. The clients let Elle and I take the reins and run with it. It’s our fourth project with these clients and we know them very well. We have that relationship and they have a lot of trust in us so there’s a level of comfort there. It’s going to be really cool; very modern but softer with a warm, contemporary interior.
Greatest accomplishment with Collective?
Absolutely this year’s Parade of Homes winner. It was my first truly full-service project that was from the ground up since I’ve been with Collective. When the clients went through the design process originally, the home design was very traditional, but as they started talking with us and seeing more mountain-modern homes, they wanted to switch to that and asked to be “pushed out of the box.” I think we did a really good job of pushing them, but not so far that they ever felt uncomfortable. They even challenged me to do things outside the box, from a designer’s perspective. We were able to form a bond right at the beginning. They were incredible clients that I now consider friends. They fully trusted us, and without that trust, I don’t think that we would have had the results that we had. They really allowed us to show our strengths and let them shine with every little detail.
I know a lot of pieces from that project were custom upholstered with durable, performance fabrics. What’s your secret to achieving that livable luxury design?
I always like pieces to be “bomb proof” so you can sit on it in your ski pants and it’s completely fine. We do this really well at Collective. We use performance fabrics that are stain and fade resistant. There are so many fabric options, even the softest velvet. We’ll help you pick out the most beautiful pieces while making sure it’s durable, and so your kid and dog can sit on it.
What do you like best about your line of work?
Every day is different, every client is different. Working in residential design I get to be very personal and creative. This goes back to when I think a project is successful. When a client says, “this is what I wanted and then some,” that’s ultimate.
What do you see for the future of design?
Sustainability. I want to see more people moving away from the big box stores to purchasing things that are made in the US and locally. Our retail store offers pieces that are sustainable and of the highest-quality. Some of the best furniture manufacturers and trades-people are right here in Colorado and throughout the United States. You can truly feel the difference with something that is made locally or even in this country.
When you shop with us, we can tell you exactly where our pieces are being made, where the fabric came from and how many hands touched it. We go with the highest-quality vendors because there’s much more control over the quality of the pieces.
Want to hear more from Lisa? She breaks down How To Style Your Bed in manageable steps, complete with styling tips, to put together a picture-perfect, comfortable bedding ensemble.