Mary Kate Gaines’ first bedroom style makeover occurred when she was in first grade. “My bedroom was my happy place,” she recalls, “and even at a young age I had an opinion of what I wanted it to look like. My mother was my greatest champion and agreed to the green and white gingham check fabric with pale yellow walls. Mom sewed curtains and a window seat cushion. I loved it and felt proud of what I created.”
From there, she went on to paint furniture and rearrange all the rooms at home. “I grew up in a busy, cluttered home full of love, creativity and unfinished projects. The microwave was a favorite place to stash things when company arrived.” It may have been this crowded, relatively disorganized home that imprinted Mary Kate with a passion for order and harmony.
Around age 14, Mary Kate found a saw and cut a hole in the outside wall of a loft apartment over their garage. “The space simply needed more light,” she explains. “My very sweet and handy grandfather found a little antique window and, with a huge grin on his face and not saying a single word, fixed my mess and completed my vision.”
After working a decade and a half as an optician and restyling her own house from a dark lodge 1980s everything look to a bright, attractive home, Mary Kate decided to launch her own home design business, In Focus Interiors. The approach she finds most effective is through vision boards that pull the whole look together. “I use an inspiration piece to capture each client’s general design style. Then I find shoppable links to products they can buy on their own, order and DIY install. Or, I install and give them an HGTV style reveal, incorporating what they already have, which is what I really love!”
For a recent master bedroom makeover for Danny and Meredith White, the inspiration anchor was photos of their children at the beach. This offered Mary Kate the color scheme and a light and airy beach theme. For this project, the homeowners let her buy everything and do a 1-day installation and final reveal of the finished space.
“Our budget was $2,500 to $3,000,” says Meredith. “As working parents with four children, I was happy to let Mary Kate do everything.” Meredith is a photographer and the founder of Valley Classical School, which blends homeschool with classroom time. Danny is a senior associate athletic director at Virginia Tech. It’s a crazy busy household. In the end, the White’s bedroom incorporated beachy colors with a new headboard, bedside tables, lamps, rug, art, decorative accents, pillows and throws, an armoire from a local antique shop and the bench. The greenery was already there.
Cassidy Jones, development manager and lead designer for the Blacksburg design-build-remodel firm Slate Creek Builders, has worked with Mary Kate on several projects. One was a remodel project in her own home and others included team work for new construction as well as renovations. “I cannot speak highly enough of her vision, creative eye and ability to design to a wide variety of styles and price points,” Cassidy says. “Her passion for creating warm, comfortable interiors shines through, and she understands the value of curating one’s surroundings to create homes that her clients love.”
With a mission that embraces insightful design, useful décor and beautiful delivery, the business offers this convenient 3-step process:
• Reveal your story
• Restyle your space
• Relax your stress
In Focus offers restyling and staging for kitchens and baths, but does not do remodels in these spaces. The name In Focus Interiors comes out of Mary Kate’s years in the vision business, and certainly, figuratively, we want our homes in focus with our lifestyles and comfort zones.
Text by Joanne M. Anderson