Grace Kaynor

Grace Kaynor has had a colorful career as an interior designer, but she says her success would not have been possible without early encouragement from a well-known local artist.

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“My biggest source of inspiration was my high school art teacher, Tim Trapolin,” Kaynor said. “He always said he raised us, and I was in awe of his talent. He encouraged us and supported us and believed in us, and it really brought out our creativity, whether we were going to be artists or something else.”

Kaynor ended up earning a law degree and moving to New York, where she also earned her master’s in the history of decorative art after deciding to switch careers. Eventually, Kaynor moved back home to New Orleans, where she began a career as an interior decorator.

She found a town lacking in the colors she had immersed herself in.

“Fourteen years ago, everybody was still beige and gold in this town,” she said. “People really liked my sense of color, and I had kind of a New York style.”

Kaynor said she also made a pledge to use environmentally friendly materials whenever possible, something that has become more and more important as the effects of climate change worsen by the year.

“Ninety percent of everything in our store is eco-friendly, sustainable, responsible, or organic,” she said. “When you come in here, you don’t think that because it’s all colorful and looks like everything else, but we select things with care.”

Kaynor said she employed all of her favorite materials and techniques when working on a modern, Lee Ledbetter designed house, a project she ranks among her favorites.

“It was the perfect project for me,” she said. “They called me because they knew I understood antiques, but they wanted a modern look that was very eclectic. I was able to meld the two together really well. The result is something that feels modern but that also respects the past.”

Kaynor said that experience allowed her to bring all of her passions together into one project.


Grace Kaynor

Kaynor credits her focus on the environment to the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

“I started reading more and more about it, and I got certified in design wellness,” she said. “Last year, the National Builders Association awarded me the Healthiest House in America award. Our store is actually the first brand ambassador certified in wellness.”

Sotre/Grace Kaynor Designs, 3909 Magazine St., 504-814-9356, gracekaynordesigns.com, sotrecollection.com.