A Conversation with Emily Keever
Emily Conley’s designs are timeless and extraordinary. Her 14-year career and countless number of clients will attest. From decorating backyard forts as a child to starting her own design studio in Denver, Emily has always been an exceptional and unique creative.
Originally from Nashville, Emily moved to Denver to attend design school and begin her career. She graduated from Rocky Mountain College of Design and leapt into commercial projects for OZ Architecture.
Soon after, she was hired to do a few big projects of her own. “I just went with it! I never thought that I would have my own firm. It was certainly stressful but fun. It took a lot of hard work. I’m proud to check it off my bucket list.”
Emily has moved on from running her own studio to join the Collective team. She continues to call her clients, past and present, friends. “Relationship is critical. Knowing how a client lives and uses different spaces is what makes the design feel like home.
“[Home is] a space that should be warm and inviting and, most importantly, livable. It should be enjoyed every day of the year. The secret is asking a lot of questions: How the space will be used, what’s important to the client, and how the space should make you feel.”
Here we get to know Emily, what inspires her, and how important relationships are when designing a client’s home.
How would you describe your style?
Coming from the south, I love traditional aspects mixed with modern. I love integrating different design aspects to create a timeless design.
What has inspired and informed that?
Traveling is what inspires me most for design. I love city destinations. Mexico City, New York and Paris are a few of my favorites. It’s always refreshing and energizing to see new places and architecture. I’ll always bring my camera while walking the city.
Anything else, maybe closer to home?
Antique markets can be fun. And being outdoors - in the mountains - and working out always sparks ideas.
photo credit: 3rd Eye Studios
How do you begin a design process?
I begin by gathering materials and inspirational photos. I have my clients do the same. We go through all of it. I fine-tune and adjust accordingly. We always talk budget and compare furniture or décor pieces that look similar.
How important is relationship when designing a client’s home?
Relationship is critical. I get so emotionally involved. I’ve learned the best way to communicate is by being open and honest. I want them to know they can talk to me about anything and can also tell me to push back if needed. There is a trust that clients and designers need to have with each other. A lot of my clients become my friends. We learn so much about each other by working together.
Do you try to nudge clients out of their comfort zone?
Yes and no; it always depends on the client. Some people are more open to taking risk and trusting my design. Others can be close-minded and know exactly what they want. At the end of the day, although I’m always there to guide them, it’s their space.
What spaces have you designed other than personal homes?
I’ve worked on a lot of commercial office spaces, resorts and multi-family projects.
What spaces are you currently designing?
Currently, I’m working on a 46-unit condo project, 2 remodels and a new construction home in Breckenridge.
Can you remember the first space that had an impact on your interior design career?
No one has asked me this before! When I was younger we lived in a rural home with open fields in Kansas. In the summer, my three sisters and I would each pick out a small plot of land in our backyard and build little forts or houses. We would paint the walls and use old boxes as furniture inside. They were like life-size doll houses.
What qualities do you look for when choosing furniture and accessories?
Pieces that are well-made and will stay timeless.
Which design trends are you most excited about in 2018?
Mixing metals, statement ceilings and spa-inspired baths.
What is your favorite go-to, basic color?
Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore - a neutral paint that everyone loves.
What about bold colors?
If I had to pick a bold color to accent, I’d choose high gloss black.
What clues about your personality and style does your house reveal?
I’m very laid-back. The things that I have are selective and meaningful. Whether it’s artwork or a dish, there’s a story behind it. My favorite object in my home is an antique armoire. I got it at Ski Country, a huge antique store in Evergreen. They bring in a ton of inventory from Europe and you can find some really unique pieces. When my grandparents sold their farm, they gave all the grandchildren a small sum of money. I wanted to invest in a piece I’d have forever that would always remind me of my grandparents and the farm I have so many memories of. It doesn’t exactly fit in my city condo in Denver, being a huge sculptural piece, but I love it.
Finish this sentence: Every room needs…
Dimmable lighting and candles.
Greatest accomplishment with your interior design firm?
Owning my own business and being recognized by ASID, the American Society of Interior Designers, on projects.
What do you still dream to achieve?
Designing my own house and having an original artwork collection.
What made you decide you wanted to be a part of the Collective team?
I love the small, family environment, being relational with clients, the work that the design team does and the mountain-modern theme. And meeting the team of course!
Creating a beautiful but comfortable space is essential to Collective’s portfolio. What’s your secret to achieving livable luxury?
A space should be warm and inviting and most importantly livable. A home should be enjoyed every day of the year. The secret is asking a lot of questions. Knowing how a client lives and uses different spaces is critical to the design. A space needs to be livable and functional so asking critical questions is important.
What do you like best about your line of work?
No matter what happens during the project, you always get a very visual and pleasing outcome. I love how everything comes together at the end. It’s truly rewarding.
photo credit: 3rd Eye Studios