Food & Home

13 Interior Tips from Kara Mann that Make a Big Impact

When we decided to head to Chicago for our third-ever goop Pop, we knew we needed to collaborate with interior designer Kara Mann, whose work manages to be both warm and modern, unexpected and clean. She pretty much nailed that aesthetic in the goop Pop (see Tips 6, 11-13), which she pulled together in a few short weeks: It feels more like a home than a boutique—even though everything, from the Tanya Aguiniga wall hanging to the lighting fixtures is shoppable. While Mann was born in Evanston, she splits time between the Windy City and New York, where she’s currently designing The Chelsea Hotel—no big deal. Here, some tips on small tweaks that can completely transform a space. (And for more from Kara, check out her favorite Chicago spots).

  • Kara Mann's Tip 1


    Strike a perfect balance by mixing modern with traditional.

    I find that the traditional elements look less fussy when juxtaposed with more modern items, and the modern pieces look less sterile next to the traditional touches.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 2


    Stray from the standard bathroom mirror and sconce combination.

    By opting for something more playful you can make your bathroom feel as thoughtful and reflective of your tastes as the rest of your home.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 3


    Double up on function.

    A dining room does double duty as a library with stacks of books on the table when not in use.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 4


    Think in multiples.

    A cluster of small tables can create a bigger impact than one table on its own. Plus you can re-purpose as needed!

  • Kara Mann's Tip 5



    Simple stacks of books mixed in with a carefully curated collection add interest without adding clutter. We all need to resist our urge to hoard!

  • Kara Mann's Tip 6


    Use small rooms to take big risks.

    A wallpaper pattern that would overwhelm your living room will be fabulous in your powder room or a small foyer. At goop Pop: wallpaper by Ellie Cashman, étagère, side table, rug, and basket from Jayson Home.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 7


    Add some life to your spaces.

    Adding plants inside blurs the boundaries between inside and out and can feel like a sanctuary from winter weather.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 8


    Less is more, visually speaking.

    Using a table in lieu of a standard kitchen island makes for more visual space.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 9


    Find a rich, unexpected paint color.

    It may take some trial and error, but when you find that perfect color it’s a statement by itself.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 10


    Celebrate the grand gesture.

    This room is all about the bed, and that’s all it needs.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 11


    Go for bold, unexpected art.

    Not all art has to be two dimensional; look for sculptures, tapestries, and wall hangings that speak to you. At goop Pop: Tanya Aguiniga artwork from Volume Gallery, Flemming Lassen lounge chair; B&B Italia settee, Paul Evans stool from Wright Now, Laverne Chan side table from Modern Drama, marble cocktail tables from Revival, Jonathan Nesci floor lamp from Casati Gallery, Stilnovo Chandelier from Pavilion, and lucite dining table from Jayson Home.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 12


    Create a functional niche.

    Not all niches need to be a showcase for art. Add a tabletop and you have a custom desk or vanity. At goop Pop: Rick Owen stool and hanging lamps from Pavilion, pair of Ward Bennett chairs from Modern Drama, Jonathan Nesci table from Casati Gallery, rug from Reza’s Rug Gallery, vintage cantilever chair and small accessories from Jayson Home, Gilbert Rohde mirror from Pegboard Modern.

  • Kara Mann's Tip 13


    Make your own furniture.

    A series of wall hung boxes becomes an artfully arranged shelving unit.