Great Design for All Budgets

St. Paul, MN — In the years since Lynne Stryker, CKD, started her design firm, Spaces into Places, based here, she has gained a certain confidence that didn’t necessarily exist when she first opened the doors in 2003.

“At that time, I didn’t know anyone who was doing design only,” she says. “I didn’t even know if it was feasible to make a living just doing design work, without contracting and large project management. But I wanted to focus on things I love to do, things that give me the most happiness…rather than doing everything, and being all solutions to all people.”

Stryker’s background is in interior design, but she realized after gaining her Bachelor’s degree that doing kitchens and baths gave her the most pleasure. “I think it’s because of the architectural aspect of those spaces,” she says, noting that earning her CKD came out of this passion.


Flexible to all budgets

Stryker focuses on older historic homes in the St. Paul and South Minneapolis areas. “The radius of my work is small,” she says, adding that the 10-to-15-mile range keeps driving time down. “And, I’m also focused on older homes, since they tend to be more problematic than newer ones,” she says.

Her strength is in the consideration of the entirety of kitchen and bath spaces as they relate to the rest of the home. “When I design a kitchen or bath, I look at the entire home and how these spaces tie into other rooms,” she says. “As I work with people, oftentimes they’ll ask me to come back because I’ve made suggestions for other rooms…for example, lighting in the living room or carrying colors throughout. I don’t work in isolation and I’m very cognizant of the details, rather than only focusing on [just creating] a nice kitchen. There’s a sense of continuity.”

She also offers an array of services to her clients, including one-hour consults if someone just needs help to select paint colors, lay out furniture or add lighting.

“I’m flexible with all budget types,” she says. “I think everyone has the right to great design, regardless of budget. Hiring a designer used to be exclusive, but design has become more accessible. People have been given permission to ask for help, and to accept design help, even if they aren’t uber wealthy. I find it gratifying to have an impact on people, even if they don’t have that much money to spend.”

This design approach helped her maintain business through the recent recession, giving her more eggs in the basket from which to draw. “I was getting calls for exterior paint consultation,” she says, which she gladly accepted. “It’s a good relationship builder. People will call me even if they don’t have a giant project to do.”


Bring In The soul

She also feels the absence of a showroom has helped her business. “I thought about opening a showroom with a partner,” she says. “But I didn’t want to spread myself too thin. I realized that if I was going to work for myself, I wanted it to be a joyful use of what I love to do. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to give ourselves permission to do what we love.”

Stryker maintains a few samples from some of the major cabinet lines, as well as countertops…“the basics,” she says. But she relies most heavily on taking clients to area showrooms. “There are about 400 cabinet makers in the Minnesota region, from the very large ones to small mom and pop shops. The Twin Cities area really has some beautiful showrooms, and it’s great to have the freedom to go anywhere.”

One showroom she frequents is a tile showroom that features the work of more than 40 local and regional artisans, including the owner who makes product onsite. “He has bins of tiles in various colors and sizes,” she says, adding that this approach encourages mixing and matching. “People can pick up samples and play with them like puzzle pieces.”

Her clients also like the fact that the tile is a local product. “They consider it ‘green,’” she says. “They know who makes it, and it gives them a sense of satisfaction that they’re supporting local artists.”

Stryker encourages her clients to visit this showroom first to create excitement for more personal materials at the beginning of the budget. “The handmade tile is one of the first elements we pick,” she says. “My clients carry it around with them as they select countertops and flooring. That’s completely different from what most people do. But I want my clients to realize the importance of the jewelry on the black dress. The black dress is important, but it will be boring if you don’t have some beautiful details.

“My concern is that people pick appliances first,” she continues. “They blow too much of the budget, then are left scrambling to make every-thing else fit. My goal is to get people excited about ‘personal’ elements – those that put soul into the space – at the beginning so they don’t fall out of the budget.

“I think the handmade quality of products, such as this tile, is what’s missing from many designs,” she adds. “They change it from just a pretty kitchen to an interesting space. To a designer, a handcrafted backsplash or floor tile is what a great rug or a piece of artwork is to an interior designer. It gives inspiration for the room. Bring the soul of the room in first. Don’t wait to pick that last!”


At a Glance

Spaces Into Places

Location: St. Paul, MN

Principal: Lynne Stryker, CKD

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Number of Employees: 1

Design Software: Hand drafting

Business Philosophy: "Everyone has the right to great design, regardless of budget."