An Invigorated Take On Coastal Design

Caitlin Flynn and Elyse Parkhurst of North Fork Design Co. are delivering a fresh take on creating livable spaces, offering design services through an artful and energized lens. Servicing clients in the Boston and Long Island, NY areas, their attention to detail combined with their coastal cool aesthetic can best be described as invigorating. Growing up, both were artistic and knew they wanted to be designers at an early age. Their enthusiasm for design is still fervent: “We work with some amazing clients and can take on certain projects that we’re excited about because they challenge us to reach out of our comfort zone.”

Photo: Kelly Dillon

Caitlin and Elyse employ their sunny and candid communication style as a blueprint to ensure a smooth design process for their clients. Featured within HGTV’s “Fresh Faces of Design” and Best of Houzz three years in a row, the common thread throughout their celebrated work is evident in their attention to detail, down to their own design blog. We grabbed a few minutes out of their busy schedule to learn more about their approach and influences, including their belief that the idea of home is “more of a feeling than a style.”

How would you describe your typical design process?

We have a lot of checkpoints and steps that we go through to get to a final design for a home: inspiration boards, initial space planning, pulling furniture and materials, and then narrowing it down to the perfectly curated design. We then have fun with art, accessories and styling! However, there are a lot of processes that go on behind the scenes that need to happen to get through these different steps.

Photo: Eric Roth

How do your styles complement one another?

This is funny because we are completely different in so many ways. I’m drawn to a much more muted palette with natural materials and textures throughout, while Elyse loves using color, pattern and more polished materials! In the end, there’s always a balance of our styles within each project. Our taste is constantly evolving as well, so our styles have begun to blend together in some regard.

How would you describe your signature style?

With the location of our projects being mostly within close proximity to the water, our projects frequently have a coastal vibe. Having grown up near the water, we’re both inherently drawn to clean, fresh spaces. We always tailor each project to represent the client’s personalities and strive to make it a unique reflection of them. At the end of the day, it’s their home and we’re so happy to be a part of the process to make their living environment one that they are happy to be in and hopefully very proud of.

Where do you find inspiration? Do you get asked to pull inspiration from nautical aspects for your coastal clients?

We get our inspiration from anything that may strike us—a fabric, a piece of artwork, or simply the surrounding landscape or water views. We aim to avoid a space feeling too cliché when it comes to nautical elements. Instead, we try to incorporate textures and materials that are reminiscent of the surrounding environment.

Photo: Mikhail Glabets

How do you source what pieces you will use?

We source from a variety of vendors, antique shops, local stores, or an existing piece from a client. We like a project to feel layered and collected over time, instead of feeling like it was all brought in at once.

How do you ensure expectations are set ahead of time to make the design process smoother?

We have a design agreement that we review with the client beforehand, and even before the initial consultation, we’ll have phone consult to answer any questions they have and explain our process in depth. With technology being such an asset in efficient communication, our clients are often savvy which makes the process much easier.

Photo: Mikhail Glabets

Do you struggle with designing for trendier customers and then worry it will look dated?

We think if someone LOVES something enough then it’s not ‘trendy’—people like what they like and it’s their home—we want them to love it, and make them happy every day. It’s inevitable that people’s taste will change, so we try to make the major components of the space be something that will grow with them for years to come.

What motivates you and gets you up in the morning?

The idea that every day is different and we’re responsible for keeping everything progressing forward. It’s exciting to see the changes each project undergoes, and the design possibilities are endless. We love what we do and the reward of seeing a project reach completion is very motivating!

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