Karen Chien Inc., a boutique interior design firm based in Dumbo, brings an innate understanding of the blossoming neighborhood’s needs to her projects. See, owner Karen Chien not only works in Brooklyn but lives, designs and finds much of her inspiration in the borough. Many of her clients, therefore, are also her neighbors so her empathetic approach is ingrained in her work.
Case in point: Chien recently finished a design project in Dumbo for a couple with a new baby. Their goal was to transform a space with bachelor furniture into a grown-up apartment — a common problem in Brooklyn. The result, pictured above, was a “comfortable modern” look that works for the whole family. Success!
Chien has worked in the design industry since 1996, when she oversaw multiple large-scale residential projects in Manhattan and the Hamptons for interior design icon Thomas Britt. She continued to oversee large-scale projects at Peter Marino Architect, including a 30,000-square-foot interior project in Dallas, Texas.
When Chien ventured out onto her own in 2005, her goal was to bring her experience and connections garnered from years working for larger firms to a smaller, more intimate setting. For clients wanting to avoid the headaches of large-scale renovation projects, Karen has a reliable network of New York contractors, painters and architects to ensure that projects finish on time. She also works closely with Brooklyn-based artisans, like Mark Jupiter furniture, to find unique pieces sourced right here in the borough. Her corporate experience allows her to ably guide the construction process, though she also offers more hands-off design assistance for smaller-scale projects.
For the Dumbo renovation, the couple had their baby seven weeks early and Chien was available to pull together loose ends and finish the project by the time they came home from the hospital. In the end, the project focused on subtle cosmetic changes – such as new colors and furniture — to change the interior. “We made the apartment feel like home without totally renovating it,” explains Chien. After the job, she had to shift gears (and boroughs), designing a duplex apartment on the Upper East Side.
Chien understands that the key to her business’s success is combining a level of service normally associated with bigger firms with a small-firm’s personalization and flexibility—regardless of location.
“The firm can be as minimal or as full service as any client wants,” Chien explains. “We understand that everyone is different.” Just like the beautiful city of Brooklyn she calls home.