Kate Maloney Albiani ’00 embraces a challenge. She doesn’t blink when couples arrive at her interior design firm with entirely different visions for the living space they want to make over.
“I’m working with a husband and wife right now. He’s very traditional – likes the whole New England-style antique thing – while she is very modern. She wants a streamlined, tailored, high-gloss, glam look,” says the owner of Cambridge, Mass.-based Kate Maloney Interior (KMI) Design. “‘Good luck,’ they told me. ‘I don’t know how you’re going to do this.’”
But do it she did. Maloney reimagined the first floor of their home as a blend of old and new. Picture a mix of modern art, antiques-store finds, and objects d’art adorning the large open wall of a great room; a sleek marble and chrome coffee table set atop a centuries-old oriental rug; a flock of funky colorful throw pillows gracing a sofa with classic lines.
“Elements can complement each other. They don’t have to match,” she says. “The contrast is what adds visual interest to a room.”
“A fresh take on traditional is my bread and butter,” says Maloney, whose clients are spread liberally from southern Maine to the Berkshires to Cape Cod and the Islands. The near-suburbs of Boston are her most frequent stomping grounds. “Towns like Wellesley, Lexington and Weston are full of traditional homes; new owners most often want a more modern-feeling interior.”
Maloney didn’t start professional life as an interior designer. The former Marketing major joined advertising powerhouse Arnold Worldwide upon graduating from Bentley. Restless after a few years, she began exploring other fields via two part-time gigs as an administrative assistant: one at a Cambridge architectural firm, the other for an interior designer in Wellesley.
From there, she says, her business “grew organically.” She launched an interior design department within the architectural firm, and in 2007, went solo. Kate Maloney Interior Design has grown to include two additional full-time designers and an administrative assistant.
Trust in Design
Maloney credits her Bentley-honed business skills for providing a competitive advantage.
“My clients are business people: They respond well to lists and budgets. When they see a plan with line items and timelines, it builds trust. My business background absolutely sets me apart — that’s the feedback I get from people who have worked with other firms.”
KMI Design focuses on private homes, versus corporate interiors, and works with people in a range of income levels. Typically, Maloney meets with a client to review the design challenges, then draws up a likely plan of action. She can execute the whole plan – carpets, lighting, furniture, accessories – or leave recommendations for the client to pursue.
“The way I work accommodates all kinds of budgets,” she says. “Everyone deserves good design.”
Form and Function
Clients appreciate her distinctive style, which Maloney calls “eclectic and tailored.” The signature look incorporates astute purchases from purveyors worldwide, as she often scoops up furniture, wall décor, pillows, and the like well before they are needed for a particular project.
While word-of-mouth has brought many to Maloney’s door, she is expanding into social media to find new business. The strategy recognizes the personal nature of interior design.
“People are inviting me into their home. Facebook and Pinterest help give people a better sense of what I’m like,” explains Maloney, who is working with Paul Scott ’00 of GoingClear Interactive to integrate her website and social media presence; the work includes launching a blog, which is sure to reflect her form-follows-function philosophy.
“It doesn’t make sense to use silk brocade on a kitchen banquette – one spill and it’s all over! My goal is to design rooms that are just as beautiful to look at as they are comfortable to live in."