Heather Bates Interior Design www.heatherbates.com
The Home Trust International (HTI): What first compelled you to become an Interior Designer?
Heather Bates (HB): At the Age of 9 I was able to pick out what I wanted in my room. I was so excited by the results, that I wanted other people to feel the same way.
HTI: Who or what has been the strongest influence on your career and why?
HB: My mother was a true entrepreneur. She started many successful businesses in her lifetime, and seeing her do this, showed me the way to run my own. I started my first business at 16 called the “Kitchenettes” with my sister. I was a busy babysitter, then decided to help my clients with their dinner parties. My sister lasted all of two events. I kept going and scored a great recipe for garlic chicken and a fabulous salad dressing. Still have this, if anyone is interested.
HTI: If you could have told your 20-year-old self one thing, what would it have been?
HB: Be Fearless! Get over it! 20 years from now, your “issue” won’t matter at all.
HTI: Please tell us about your family and your personal life.
HB: We moved a lot due to my father’s military service, finally landed in Lake Forest Illinois, at the age of 7 and we moved to McLean, Virginia when I was 15. By that time, my mother had turned her eye to Real Estate, hitting the Million Dollar Roundtable and she created the original MLS. My Father had a Nuclear Engineering Degree and turned to Commercial and Residential developing. I’d travel with him, and picked up a lot of information, which led me to work in the same industry. All this moving around, informed my need to create a welcoming home.
HTI: What is the best advice you have received and who was it from?
HB: To pursue my passion – from my youngest sister. Thanks to her, I finally made the leap to running my own business.
HTI: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products?
HB: Attention to detail, and the quality of workmanship. Without these two, the product will not be great.
HTI:: Do you prefer the country or the city?
HB: Is this a trick question? Somewhere in between. I believe both are necessary.
HTI: What recent project or transaction are you most proud of?
HB: The 11,000 sq. ft. 102-year-old historic house that I worked on with my clients. I enjoyed using the best ateliers in the world. It was eye-opening working on the 2 year-long renovation.
HTI: In what ways has your company or your industry changed over the years?
HB: People have become much more aware of Interior Design, due to TV shows and the Internet. Some are happy to DIY, and shop for a deal. Most don’t have the know-how or time to do this. Personally, my office has added a mix of new marketing, and diversified by starting to sell our custom products on our website. We must adapt. We’ve also added Google Chats and Facetime to interact with long-distance clients when we aren’t needed in the physical space yet, or when we are at the project while they are out of town. Then they can see the work going on.
HTI: The one thing I’ve had forever is:
HB: A scallop edged French Silk handkerchief from the mid 1600’s. Marigolds are embroidered in the scallops. This has been carried during the wedding of the first daughter of each mother in my mother’s maternal line. I keep it in a special box, with a list of the family brides. My daughter will have this, then her daughter, etc.
HTI: What do you miss the most?
HB: Honestly, it’s the time before we were surrounded 24 x 7 by technology. While this has improved our culture in many ways, it has also pulled us farther apart. I remember all the dinner parties my parents had. Time is the true luxury. Even with that, people don’t take their vacations! To counter this, I’ve started a book club, and a dining club with topic. So far, we’ve got 16 members of the book club and 9 for dinner club. All this came from a simple post in the Next Door app. The responses came from many neighborhoods around me and were swift! There is tech again, being useful.
HTI: What is your favorite object that reflects extraordinary design (or love, etc) and why?
HB: A Stradivarius violin. Despite their age, they sound sublime. This is supreme attention to detail and quality. I picked this object because I also played violin, piano and flute.
HTI: What makes a room sing?
HB: When everything in the design works seamlessly. It should be like a symphony, with each part referring to the other, for maximum effect.
HTI: What place most inspires you?
HB: Venice. I love everything about it. The buildings, canals, and there are almost too many masters of their arts. All a feast for the eyes! Everything from Calligraphy to Fortuny, Tessitura Belvaquia, and Murano.
HTI: Please tell us about your taste in music or books.
HB: I appreciate most music, but dislike what I call “lazy singers” Hard to pick a favorite. I read Historical Fiction, by Edward Rutherford and Phillipa Gregory, I also Grew up reading Robert Ludlum books, so today’s version for me are the stories by Neal Stevenson.
HTI: Do you have a favorite museum?
HB: I love the National Gallery of Art West building for its classical design, and that gorgeous central, circular garden space. I like the East Building’s Sculpture Garden. The Louvre Dubai is stunning in its novel design.
HTI: What is your favorite brand and why?
HB: The House of Dior. I love seeing the new seasons’ clothes on the catwalk. They pay such attention to all their products. Meticulous design details and fine fabrics in their clothing. Even their Makeup and Skin Care line has the same attention to design and what’s in the products.
HTI: When you’re not working where are you most likely to be found?
HB: Traveling with family or friends, or at various industry events. I’m picky about what event I pick, as Time is finite. The Bold Summit was worth my time, as is High Point Market.
HTI: What makes a great organization?
HB: Leading from a Service View, Trust and Transparency. Everyone has to understand the goal/mission of the organization.
HTI: Why The Home Trust International?
HB: I met Chris Ramey at the Bold Summit, and we instantly clicked. We are aligned on our view of the industry. He and his team understand what we need as designers, which most marketers don’t. We are not a normal professional service, so marketing for us needs to come from knowledge of how the design industry works.
HTI: If you could be granted one wish. What would it be?
HB: Super Human Health. I want to live long and prosper. Without our health, we cannot run our business well.
HTI: If you weren’t in your current field, what would you be doing?
HB: I’d be partnering with my favorite California winery, VGS Chateau Potelle to start my own. At this point, pretty much all their wines are at 100 points! If they said no, then I’d go to Dues Ex Machina for their Chateauneuf de Pape (Robert Parkers new Death bed wine) or Italy for their Super Tuscans.
HTI: Anything else you’d like to share with us? This question is meant for you to share ‘parting words of wisdom or philosophy.’ You are welcome to add a question you’d like to share too!
HB: Never hurry up to meet your goals. Take time to plan them out and you will surely succeed.
HTI: Heather, thank you for your time today. You are a friend and we’re grateful you’re a member of The Home Trust International and a Leader in Luxury + Design.
Heather Bates is well known for her use of color, luxury fabrics and products in her designs. Clients tell her she’s a great listener and Design therapist. “She managed to mesh the styles of me and my partner in a way that I thought we’d never have imagined” They value her design sense, and are “Amazed by her ability to work with challenging spaces”, being hands on with sub-contractors and giving them freedom from the stress of too many choices. Being so busy, Clients often say “Her vast knowledge and unlimited ideas for the their personalized project, allows them to trust her to lead their projects to a joyful completion.”
As the Owner and principal designer of Heather Bates Interior Design, Bates has fused her love of design with her history of so many moves into an eclectic, collected style of design. Her joy seeing the nature surrounding her in Virginia, informs her decisions to use as many sustainable products as she can in her designs.