Image description goes here.

In Studio with Smith + Drake

With 25 years of combined experience in interior design and construction management, Smith + Drake have built a brand that showcases their unique style, deep appreciation for classical design, and their affinity for clean, modern lines.

The cornerstone of Smith + Drake’s design aesthetic is the integration of classical forms and restrained details, blended with a modern edge. The use of warm, natural materials juxtaposed with modern hard finishes, bridges the classical with the modern. Textural fabrics, leathers, and antique pieces sourced from around the world further push the aesthetic to something that is refined, unique and tasteful, while remaining approachable and livable to suit their client's lifestyles. Through their design work, Smith + Drake showcase the beauty in simplicity, and foster the notion of sustainability through the use of thoughtful and timeless materials.

FF: What path did you take for your education in design?
Kristin: I studied fine art at Metropolitan State, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. After college, I began dabbling in design with a small kitchen designer. I realized that in order to move forward in the field I needed further education, so I sought an associates degree for interior design at ACC. I was able to secure a design assistant position with a firm in Denver and worked my way up to lead designer, staying there for about 6 years. From that point I worked as a contract designer for two other firms, finally deciding that I was ready to run my own firm.
Kieu: I studied interior design at the Art Institutes here in Denver, which closed the year I was set to graduate. I was working as a custom furniture sales representative for 3 years prior and although the last year was tough, I did not want that to stop me from obtaining my degree. From there, I moved forward to figure out how to transfer my credits, finish my education, and receive my Bachelors of Fine Arts degree at RMCAD. I was able to connect myself to a firm here in Denver and became a design assistant. I worked my way up towards a lead designer for 4 years, and then soon left to also work as a contract designer for 2. These years of experience had also led me to form Smith and Drake with Kristin.

BSL 4168

FF: What propelled you to go out on your own and start your own firm?
S+D: We had worked together for about 5 years at two different firms, and during that time realized what a great team we made and how powerful the design outcomes were when we collaborated. We knew that our aesthetic, educational backgrounds, collective design experiences, and our deep understanding and appreciation of design was special and unique to us. We struggled with having our ideas filtered down by other firms and knew pretty early on that we needed to go out on our own. It was the start of the pandemic when we finally made the jump. Some people thought we were crazy, but it felt right and it was right.

BSL 4148

FF: How do you balance function and aesthetics in your work?
S+D: We think function is incredibly important in design, but give equal weight to aesthetics. We don't often, if ever, compromise on aesthetics. In our minds, there is always a way to make things functional and beautiful and we will work tirelessly to figure it out. This is why we urge clients to always include us in the process from the very beginning, so we may sit side by side with the architect to find those awkward moments and fix them right away. We think about window treatments, wall art placements, rugs and runners, locations for plants, etc. We think of all of this right out of the gate, to be sure that we don't have any function/aesthetic battles going on. We pride ourselves on looking at all of the fine details from beginning to end. That is the recipe for great design.

BSL 4174

FF: In addition to a home’s architecture, what role do you think furnishings and curated objects play in the story of our lives?
S+D: It feels like a 50/50 marriage of the two, but perhaps furniture and accessories tip the scales. You can have a basic white box of a room and really make it special with the right pieces. However, if that room has special trim, arches, or other architectural details it will make it that much more special. If you don't have the means to add architectural or millwork details, then you will want to rely heavily on specially curated items. We always encourage our clients to be patient, to collect what is meaningful, and don't buy things just to have things. A room filled with items from a big box retail store falls flat every single time. It's the rooms with collected items, meaningful items with patina and life to them, those are the rooms that feel special and unique. You don't have to spend a lot of money either, there are so many affordable sources out there to start a collection of meaningful items.

FF: Do you have a favorite city or place you like to visit for design inspiration?
S+D: Over the last three years we have been going to LA a few times a year and have developed a great sourcing list for that city. We have also been to Texas a few times to source in Houston and Round Top. We are very big fans of Europe for vacation and inspiration. London and Paris are two of our favorites, though we would not turn down a trip anywhere in the world. We love to travel and explore. Kieu is planning a trip to Japan this summer/fall. We are so excited to see the inspiration she brings back. Next on our design wish list is an Asian Modern, we're just waiting for the right client!

BSL 4152

FF: Is there a design aspect or area of a project that you would never compromise on?
S+D: We cannot urge our clients enough to use natural materials in their projects. They give a warmth that no other materials can. Often people are very worried about marbles, limestones and untreated woods. We remind our clients that so many historical sites were built with these materials, and a lot of them are still standing today. We don't design for perfect, untouched looking spaces. We like for our homes to be lived in and to show the life that is living there. A home is meant to be lived in.

BSL 4038

Thanks a lot for the nice chat Smith + Drake and good luck with a your future projects and collabs - truly amazing!




More News

Read more
To top