Q+A: Natalie O’Shaughnessy, interior designer and owner of O’Home shop

Updated: 2013-02-17T02:46:11Z


The Kansas City Star

Natalie O’Shaughnessy opened her interior decorating shop O’Home last October in the Crestwood Shops in Brookside.

A native of Wichita, O’Shaughnessy studied environmental policy in school and intended to become an attorney. Instead, she followed her love of decorating and established O’Shaughnessy Interiors when she moved to Kansas City a decade ago. She and her team do their design work for clients in a studio below the O’Home shop, where she sells furniture and accessories.

Q. You’ve been in this field for a while. What’s your background?

A. I’ve been working as a decorator for 10 years. I’m self-taught. I learned from my parents, who were Realtors and commercial developers. They flipped properties. I was always around construction, architects and designers.

Q. And how did you start out?

A. By word of mouth. After seeing my home (in Stratford Gardens along Ward Parkway), people started asking me to do theirs. My husband and I always bought houses that needed fixing up. I love the construction process and the design process. I see design as a puzzle. For me it’s all fun. It can be challenging.

Q. What do you think is important in a home?

A. It needs to be beautiful, but approachable for every member of the family. We have three children and a dog and nothing is off limits. We live in every inch of it.

Q. How would you describe your aesthetic?

A. Young traditional. It’s not stuffy. It’s a nod to traditional but looking to modern and transitional, like this camel back sofa with a herringbone Thibaut fabric on it (in the shop). I would add oversized, bright damask pattern pillows.

Q. Do you have a design goal?

A. When I design a room, I want it to look interesting and pretty from every doorway and vantage point. I try to keep to the motto: “Make it pretty.”

Q. Are there certain elements you return to again and again?

A. For accents: ginger jars, lacquer trays, stools, occasional chairs and tables, and benches. You can throw them in a room and add instant style. They’re easy to work with. I like fresh cut flowers and greenery. I like to decorate with mother-in-law’s tongue.

Q. What are your feelings about clutter?

A. I’m a firm believer in containerizing, having storage baskets, a chest of drawers. You don’t get your design across if there’s clutter.

Q. What is your philosophy on color?

A. You really have to be able to look and know what hue and depth of color should be next to each other. I pay attention to what the client says. For myself, I like a neutral wall and neutral furnishings. I put more color in the accessories. Q. What’s popular now?

A. I think what is on trend is peacock blue as an accent color, and orange is still there.

Q. Where do you find inspiration?

A. Beautiful local neighborhoods, museums and the seasons. There’s nothing more beautiful than the leaves changing along Ward Parkway in the fall.

Q. Do you have a favorite style of architecture?

A. I love Tudors, Colonials and center hall plans.

Q. What’s your advice to someone who is designing a room?

A. You have to mix and match. If it doesn’t come naturally, ask a decorator or a friend. Do choose statement pieces. Choose a sofa and two club chairs that match and an occasional chair that’s antique. For accents, use trays, ginger jars, mirrors and artworks. You don’t want it to look like someone tried too hard. You want effortless style that really works.

To reach Alice Thorson, call 816-234-4783 or send email to

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