talks : with Kristie Castagna.

As many of you know, or perhaps some of you don’t, Kristie and I know each other well at this point. We co-host and co-produce our own podcast called Design Banter because after 3 years (having initially met via instagram) we realised we complimented each other well enough to go public!

What comes with that is actually invaluable. Where I sit firmly in the business marketing circle, Kristie’s design skills are something I learn from literally each time we come together. You’ll hear it on the podcast that when I go silent (which frankly, is ‘unusual’) it’s because I’m actually listening too.

There is a wealth of industry knowledge under this belt, and if you’ve tuned into the YouTube episode of Kristie you’ll know that almost 80% of the time we simply don’t see what projects Krisitie is across. As a marketer, I get a little let’s say ‘frustrated’ at how cavalier she is about it - if I could design like that I’d be ‘gramming’ my face off, but then, this is also testament to her entire approach and ethos. The beauty of being so multi-faceted. She simply gets on with it.

To make sure that those reading on today aren’t completely bored out of their gored with us as a duo, I set about asking some questions that were a bit more personal - mainly in part because Kristie isn’t a natural daily social media user. The only thing missing from this blog is the fact that every time we drop a pod she tries to feed me cornflake biscuits. She’s Italian but she can’t cook worth a damn! Lucky she’s such an accomplished interior designer.

Before we joined forces and started conversing about our local industry you ran a massively popular blog called Elements of Home. What was the best moment for you in that space and can we expect to see more of it ?

My blog, my poor poor blog. I used to bog (tries to convince us she actually IS Italian!, sorry blog in between clients and being a stay at home mum. Once my client work got more and more intense I found it difficult to spend as much time looking at visual images. I almost couldn’t bare to look at any more, which as a blogger makes blogging particularly hard…does that make sense? It became a little bit too much of a sensory overload. Anywho, I think my highlight was when Dulux offered to paint my new home and going to the Kidspot Blog awards as a finalist in the lifestyle category. I met some gorgeous bloggers who have gone on to do some amazing things and it’s actually a great feeling to see what their achieving in their own worlds

Styling : Elements at Home Cushions :  Hawtrey  + Throw via  Asbury Park Agency  Photography : Denise Rix Photographer

Styling : Elements at Home Cushions : Hawtrey + Throw via Asbury Park Agency Photography : Denise Rix Photographer

When we were filming 'Spreading Roomers - INSIDE' we talked about what people 'think' you do and you talked to me a little about 'what you love most' about what you do. It was a fun discussion (even though it didn’t all make the cut) so tell me, if I asked you that same question again would I get the same answer? “They think I am a designer/blogger??? I still don’t know what people ‘think’ I do.” Is that still true?

What I realised in that filming that discussion is that because I don’t actively define myself, perhaps my perception of what others think I do is questionable.

When it comes to my clients though, they find me via so many different resources and because I absolutely love all facets of being the industry - like truly, I can go from doing the full interior design, to simply offering my time as a consultant for someone wanting to project manager their own renovation, to styling a campaign - I actually feel pretty privileged not to be pigeonholed in any way.

Ultimately; when you love what you do you’re in a position to share what you know. It’s the passing of knowledge to client or even within the industry that really outlines what I would like to be known for.

The MULTI-FACETED DESIGNER – From left to right Ongoing Interior Stylist Peppermint Willow Editorial Stylist The Little Italian Villa as The Little Italian School Display Home Interior Design Aveling Homes.

“ I really struggle to 100% dedicate myself to only one area of interiors. Each day I’m presented with a new challenge or task and frankly, I take on as many as I can. It has really helped me evolve into a better Interior Designer than I think I would have been had I only pursued one avenue. It you ask me which particular part of the process I LOVE the most, it’s always about that ‘wow’ moment straight after completion. That’s the addiction” - Kristie


You've built / reno'd 11 houses now right or did I just make that number up? So essentially 11+ years in the industry and having had a ridiculous amount of practical experience - how do you convey that to your clients and how do they respond?

Yes well done, we have done that mix (reno/build) across 11 homes since Pete and I have been together. I do often catch myself saying to my clients…. "I had that once, I chose those timber floors in one build"…I love that I have had that experience of living in a space that I have created and actually experiencing the functionality of my decisions. I guess that is why I am often a designer who will not just choose function over style but add style to functional spaces.

Stylist : Elements at Home Architect :  Hillam Architectects  Builder :  Probuild  Stools :  Empire Homewares  Vase :  Asbury Park Agency  Photography : Denise Rix Photographer - Aria Luxury Apartments by Developer :  Blackburne Property Group

Stylist : Elements at Home Architect : Hillam Architectects Builder : Probuild Stools : Empire Homewares Vase : Asbury Park Agency Photography : Denise Rix Photographer - Aria Luxury Apartments by Developer : Blackburne Property Group

Not everyone has an endless budget right, and as much as it looks from the outside, that having someone else's money to play with must be a dream job, what's it really like to be given a tight brief and having to sometimes deliver 'champagne on a beer' budget outcomes?

Well I am not the person that looks at a clients budget and rubs their hands together and wonders how I can spend it, I really just love to create amazing spaces for my clients and to their brief. If their brief is Champagne and they give me beer I let them know I am going to do my best but if we had to take out 3 things to achieve budget where would you pull them from?

Because you ghost design for a number of reputable businesses in Perth (that means we don't know and we don't ask) how hard is it watch your work used by these businesses and yet receive no credit OR be able to use them as part of your own portfolio?

It’s actually not hard at all, in fact, being able to quietly achieve and hit those goals is a pretty amazing feeling. I do sometimes consider though, if I was the one showcasing that project would it bring me more work or ideal clients and the answer ultimately is no. The right ‘fit’ always tends to make it back to the origin and given other people promote my work - often the client starts there and they redirect them through to me anyway.

It all goes back to question 2 - what do I love most? Helping people. How we get there is academic as long as we succeed.

Styling : Elements at Home Feat :  MRD Home ,  Empire Homewares ,  Designer Boys ,  Wattyl Paint  Photography : Denise Rix Photographer

Styling : Elements at Home Feat : MRD Home, Empire Homewares, Designer Boys, Wattyl Paint Photography : Denise Rix Photographer

So there you have it. When you go looking for someone to hire in this industry, you can strike absolute jackpot in terms of their skill set and the knowledge they bring to the table. What I love most about Kristie - the quiet achievements, made each day, on behalf of her client.

Special mention to Denise Rix Photographer who captured each of these images


Author : Deb Whincop started Spreading Roomers over 3 years ago with a vision to bring local design a different voice. She started by adapting her past corporate development and construction experience into a new style of niche business coaching. Now, having gained the trust of the industry she loves, she shares the stories she finds most intriguing that you will likely not read elsewhere. Deb also has 3 boys at home, lives in a ‘bounce house’ (the one that shoulda been flipped but didn’t), owns 2 cats - one questionably thinks himself a dog, and considers interpretive dance a definite ‘skill set’.