podcast | Dec 6, 2023 |
How Caren Rideau turned her design specialty into a sprawling brand

Caren Rideau still remembers the final days of design school, when her classmates eagerly discussed the paths their careers might take. Personally, she had a certain specialty in mind—the one thing her eyes were drawn to every time she opened a design magazine: kitchens.

Rideau soon left her home state of Arizona for a fresh start in Los Angeles, where she kicked off a career in kitchen design that has now spanned more than three decades. As founder of Kitchen Design Group, she became an expert in crafting one particular kind of space; still, she has never closed the door to new possibilities of what her business could become. It wasn’t until roughly seven years ago that she started documenting her work—and from that decision came a new knack for attracting clients and employees on social media, not to mention a full-blown book deal.

Elsewhere in the episode, Rideau shares how being a kitchen specialist in an industry filled with full-service designers has its advantages, and how combining design with her other passions (wine, pottery and entertaining, to name a few) has paved the way for an entirely new brand to emerge.

Crucial insight: Coming into the design process to develop plans for only the client’s kitchen poses an obvious opportunity for friction—if, for example, a kitchen designer doesn’t agree with the vision that an architect or full-service interior designer has already set forth for the home. However, Rideau opts to see the situation as an opportunity for shared creativity. “You start to collaborate. You know they have an aesthetic view of the kitchen and how it relates to the rest of the house, so you become part of a larger team,” she says. “You have to respect everybody's talent.” Her flexibility has paid off: As the practice of kitchen design becomes more complex, a growing number of architects and designers are sending their clients her way.

Key quote: “It’s very easy for me—it’s very easy for everybody—to put limitations on themselves and say, ‘OK, when I get here, then [I’ve] almost reached the finish line,’” says Rideau. “But the finish line keeps moving with you. It’s about being open to what comes into your world at this moment.”

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode was sponsored by Jaipur Living.

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