Interior Design Roundtable Partner Website

Inside the Local Vernacular

A Roundtable Discussion with Four Interior Designers

moderated by DJ Quinney & edited by Cassidy Mantor

Above: (Pictured left to right: Amy Troute, Jamie King, DJ Quinney, Jane Wirth, and Kerri Rossi)

Special thanks to Viaggio Wine Merchant – Bend’s new retail wine shop and wine bar – for hosting WHJ’s roundtable discussion.

Interior designers have the responsibility of holding the vision for an environment and bringing it to life. They balance form and function with their client’s goals to harness the potential of a space and are able to transform ideas into visceral feelings experienced in a home. In Bend, the art of interior design involves an additional balance of curating spaces that make an aesthetic impact and also work for the Central Oregon lifestyle. The following designers weigh in on how they approach their projects in Bend and beyond. While each designer brings her own perspective to her work, this discussion revealed two things they all share in common: a genuine gratitude for being part of Bend’s community and their love for wallpaper. We hope you enjoy learning more about these stylish tastemakers.

Jane Wirth and Kerri Rossi are co-owners and interior designers at Element Design Collective, a full-service interior design studio and showroom that is home to a dynamic group of seasoned designers. After years of working with interior design showrooms in Bend, along with five years of building homes as a general contractor, Jane started Element Design. Her true love is interior design, and she wanted to focus on that while making the design and build process easier for clients. Kerri was formerly an interior designer for a custom home builder in Bend for 20 years. Inspired to venture out and create her own business, she formed KMR Interior and also partnered with Jane to form Element Design Collective. Element’s design showroom that has been referred to as a “delicatessen for design materials.”

Amy Troute is Principal Designer at Amy Troute Inspired Interior Design, a full-service residential interior design firm creating beautiful homes throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Their team specializes in furnishings for primary and secondary residences and vacation homes. They work with clients to find inspiration, realize their vision, and create spaces that work for family and guests, and/or graciously welcome the masses for income-producing vacation rentals. ATIID began transforming homes in Portland 20 years ago, and in 2019 Amy mixed business with pleasure and took ATIID to her “happy place,” Bend, Oregon, and continues to welcome new projects throughout Central Oregon.

Jamie King Owner and Principal Designer of JLK Interiors, established her design firm in 2001. A former stay-at-home mom, Jamie completed her design degree at the encouragement of her friends and family who admired her flair for style and interior design. JLK Interiors believe that creating a beautiful space is a true collaboration between client and designer. Serving Bend, Oregon, and California, Jamie has been named one of the Top 25 designers by the Los Angeles Times.


whj : How do you describe Central Oregon’s interior aesthetic?

AT: Bend tends to represent relaxation, recreation, and escape. Each client brings their own style, and we look to the architecture and surroundings, as well as their lifestyle, to craft their interiors. Inviting, natural, and luxurious are words I’d use to describe the general aesthetic of the area.

JLK: I see Central Oregon’s aesthetic evolving. The beautiful “mountain modern” aesthetic, while organic, textural, and neutral in color, isn’t for everyone. There are lots of newcomers to the area who appreciate all of the beauty Central Oregon has to offer, yet don’t want the “Mountain Modern” aesthetic which is commonly found in the Bend area. As we roll into 2024, I believe we will see more of an aesthetic that continues to pay homage to the beautiful blue sky, moody river waters, and green landscapes, but with more vibrancy. Yes, I mean 2024 will bring more color!

KR & JW: Decades ago, the design scene in Bend was very rustic and catered more towards Arts & Crafts homes. With Bend’s steady growth, we’re enjoying a change to more diverse styles that reflect clients from all walks of life, blending organic, nature-inspired vibes with casual sophistication, often with a focus on outdoor lifestyle.

whj : How do you create a sense of place for a client new to Bend?

KR: Being an Oregon native and living in Bend for over 30 years, I get excited to welcome newcomers to our beautiful community! Aside from helping clients create a sense of home, I love sharing my favorite local restaurants, coffee shops, hikes, and the beautiful areas that we can explore out our front doors.

AT: We are continuously inspired by our client’s definition of “home.” A recent project in Caldera Springs brought Arizona flavor to their high desert vacation getaway. We used area rugs in saturated hues from the low desert to inform each space, and the result was the familiar embrace of home, balanced with a clean, mountain-modern aesthetic.

JLK: Creating a sense of place for someone new to Bend requires a designer to ask a lot of questions, and to be a good listener. That client was probably drawn to the beauty and lifestyle that Bend has to offer, but may be leaving elements from their past home that they really enjoy and may miss. It is our job as designers to welcome them, listen to them, and most of all collaborate with them to create a new home they love.


whj : Are there any iconic selections or “must-haves” for Bend homes?

AT: Every delicious shade of GREEN. Everywhere you look in Central Oregon, pine, juniper, cedar, and fir provide colors that will make any interior come alive. The landscape provides such a rich palette of earthy tones and my clients have been eager to welcome the warm neutrals and greens into their homes.

JLK: I think every Bend home should have an organic element that embraces the beauty of Bend’s outdoors. This can be in the form of a stone fireplace, large windows to appreciate the views, textured fabrics, a natural wood element, woven goods, or paint colors that compliment all of the shades of green found in Bend.

KR & JW: Being a mountain town, nature is a dominating aspect of the Bend lifestyle. The concept of bringing the outdoors indoors is a common theme that we like to play with. Not only with aesthetics, but also with finding and mixing materials and textures that are durable and sustainable. Having quality materials that can withstand the mountain lifestyle is a must.

whj : Describe your style: Do you have a signature look?

JLK: My style is timeless and classic. I love to incorporate current trends but apply them in a very classic and timeless way. I don’t want my projects to be time-stamped by the materials I use and how I apply them. Think 1980s honey oak, and the ‘90s glass tile. My signature look in a kitchen is the use of glass front cabinetry. It is a great opportunity for display without having it open (dust collector). It is also a great way to create mood and texture, with interior lights and the objects you display. You can also use a variety of textured glass for the fronts and the interior lights can be dimmed to a glow or turned up to draw attention to the contents.

AT: Many of our projects are vacation homes, and the preferred aesthetic is approachable and welcoming. We don’t want anything to be too precious; instead, we design spaces that invite you in with softness and layers of comfort. We are mindful of all ages, groups, and furry companions who will enjoy the spaces, while keeping the look classic and clean.

KR & JW: Our signature look is listening to our clients. Being designers, it is our job to take the client’s ideas, dreams, and concerns, then translate them into beautiful home interiors that they only could imagine. We go into each project totally open!


whj : How do you marry a structure’s architecture and landscape with interior design?

AT: Scale, color, and lighting are everything when it comes to meeting a home’s architecture, style, and surroundings. I often look to exterior stone and plantings to establish a strong foundational palette of neutrals for a home’s interior. Being inspired by the existing elements creates a cohesive and comfortable design. Expansive, open homes require larger furnishings and we’re equipped to meet that demand with custom wood, metal, and upholstered pieces that bring balance to a space. Artful layers of lighting can also play a major role in creating warmth and drama where the scale of a structure or the minimalist nature of landscape can feel vast and impersonal.

KR & JW: We work closely with the builders and architects of each home. To design a house’s interior, we look at the elements of its structure and translate them into smaller details. We take aspects of a house’s unique features, style, color, and overall feel, and find complementary pieces that will create a lovely flow, giving each home a character as unique as its owner.

JLK: The best way to marry a structure’s architecture and landscape with interior design is to embrace it. If the structure has lots of angles and hard lines, soften the interior with the use of curved furniture and soft textures. Balance is the key to great design..

whj : Wallpaper – do you love it or hate it?

KR & JW: We love it. Hug it. Embrace it. It has great power to add bold, striking elements into a space. We like to use wallpaper for accent walls and to “zhuzh up” powder rooms.

JLK: I love wallpaper! Wallpaper can create an affordable WOW factor for a client with a tight budget. It can bring mood and imagination to a space that can be lacking.

AT: LOVE it. Whether it’s a classic texture like grasscloth or linen, a colorful repeat, or a mural that tells a story, wallpaper is here to stay, and can make the same impact as key furniture pieces! We often hang vinyl papers in high-use or wet spaces, introducing gorgeous pattern and texture AND long-lasting wearability.


whj : How do you balance designing spaces that are both showpieces and are also livable?

JLK: Function, function, function is the key to balancing a space that is a showpiece yet livable. There are so many performance materials and products available. A beautiful space with great function that will withstand daily wear and tear is truly an amazing space.

JW: Picking the right products is key. Livable to me means easy upkeep. That can be accomplished in many aesthetics.

KR: In the design world today, it is very easy to find materials that are both luxurious and durable. I seek out pieces that are beautiful to look at, as well as functional for daily living. Finding that balance in all aspects of a house—lighting, flooring, fabrics, etc—is key for creating an upscale home.

AT: It’s no fun to invest in a spectacular space if you are nervous to use it. Hard-wearing fabrics can still be opulent, natural materials like wool and leather are always the answer, and less is more when it comes to ease of cleaning and preparing your home for the next day, the next season, or the next guest. Layering rich texture and color in un-fussy ways is an art, and when done well, is extremely inviting.


whj : What’s the most foundational aspect that will make or break a space?

JW: There needs to be somewhere for your eye to land. Not too much, not too little, finding that balance of materials, textures, colors.

KR: I believe that the most foundational aspect of interior design is lighting. Lighting has the ability to transform a room’s depth perception, highlight key design aspects, and add whole new dimension of art. I feel that decorative lighting in a space is like finishing an outfit by accessorizing the space.

AT: It’s too easy to get scale wrong, and that’s a huge part of space planning and determining how you’ll live in the home specifically. Next, what is your priority for function in the space? Do you entertain often, and should your furniture groupings flex to allow rearranging? Do you have three dogs and are they allowed on the furniture? Lastly, does your space need to serve a dual purpose? Often in smaller homes, one room is called upon to serve multiple functions; guest, office, hobby, play…Address scale and function first, and you can’t go wrong.

JLK: If a space is beautiful but doesn’t function well, the project is a failure in my opinion. Anyone can create beauty at some level, but not everyone can plan a space that has great function.


whj : What are your most popular requests? Are they for spaces that deliver particular feelings or that incorporate particular items?

JLK: The most popular request I get is to make a space function better. I would say 95% of the time, poor function is the reason the space isn’t working for a client. Kitchens are notorious for this. Our lifestyles have evolved! The way we entertain has changed! Having an open floor plan is very popular. People want to be where the action is! Guests are hanging out in the kitchen with the host offering help and looking to socialize. We also see families cooking together more now than in past years. Kitchens from the early 2000s and before just don’t have the function that most clients are currently looking for.

AT: Both. We encourage a dialogue with our clients early on so we can understand their lifestyles, their families, what’s important to them. We find every way to bring “them” in to their new or reimagined spaces, whether it’s with artwork, accessories, heirloom pieces, or color palette. We have a client who purchased a second home in Widgi Creek and asked that we “shop” their current Portland home for art and accessories. The result was a new home they immediately connected with, and they sold their primary residence soon after to enjoy Bend every day.

KR: The most popular request I experience with clients is the functionality of each room. I want to create spaces that are not only beautiful, but also cater to the unique needs of each client’s lifestyles.

JW: Light, bright spaces that are still cozy and inviting.


whj : How are people living in their homes differently since COVID?

JLK: COVID impacted the design world in a big way. Can you say “home office?” I think that may have been the number-one request during COVID. At the time, we thought it might be temporary, but we now know that home offices are here to stay and are a huge “must-have” for most of our clients. We have had a lot of fun creating these beautiful yet practical spaces.

AT: The pandemic brought out the “nester” in all of us. The comfort of home was priority, and any disfunction – in kitchens, workspaces, living areas, was addressed to ensure that staying put was a joyful experience. COVID amplified a need for homeowners to feel comforted by their interiors. The call we received most in 2020 and 2021 was from past clients, saying, “You made us so happy when we worked together last, let’s do it again.”


whj : Would you like to share if you have a favorite artist or artisan partner for the pieces you incorporate? Is it local or from global sourcing trips?

AT: We love incorporating local artwork and photography in our projects and building spaces around them. Resources like the High Desert Museum, Sisters-based art consultant Arterra, and local galleries and artists give us a wide range of options to share with our clients. We recently showcased the regional landscape photography of Bend photographer Chris Murray throughout a premier vacation rental in Caldera Springs. Many clients come with art or furnishings they’ve invested in and love, and we start there, curating spaces that celebrate those artists.

KR & JW: We get to work with an amazing group of women who inspire us daily. We are the co-owners of Element Design Collective, which is a collective of seasoned interior designers who share a showroom here in Bend.

whj : Do you have a collection or collaboration and if so, where can we find it?

JLK: We are currently working on a custom upholstered line. More to come on that soon.

whj : What’s the best part about being a designer in Bend?

JLK: The best part about being a designer in Bend is simple. Being a part of the community and waking up every day to the beauty Bend offers.

JW: Our long-term relationships. After 20+ years designing in Bend, I’ve developed great relationships with those in my industry! It makes a HUGE difference in getting things done.

KR: The best part of being a designer in Bend is being a part of the community. In establishing myself here for the past 30 years, the majority of my workflow comes from word of mouth. I am blessed to have created true and loving connections with many of my clients.

AT: Bend is my happy place and people who live here tend to feel the same way. There’s a magic in the scenery, and the air is magnetic. That common ground, and the shared appreciation for the natural beauty of the landscape, makes collaborating on homes here so rewarding.