Flow and function: The timeless touch of Kate FitzGerald-Wilks
By J. Chambless
Kate FitzGerald-Wilks of Timeless Design. (Photo by Jie Deng)
By Richard L. Gaw
There is really no other way of keeping
up with the pace of Landenberg resident and interior designer Kate
FitzGerald-Wilks than to tell your inner motor, 'Get your move on.'
Before you catch your breath, you quickly realize that the passion FitzGerald-Wilks brings to her company -- Timeless Design -- is a shared one. Her design team brings an infectious energy and an eclectic blend of backgrounds to each home or business space they design. Kelly Fialkowski had once been a theater designer. Donna Dixon had been a real estate stager, and Alison Chase has a background in fine art.
Working with her team, architects and some of the top home and accessory suppliers in the area, FitzGerald-Wilks is nearly everywhere these days, just as she has been when she brought her full-service design firm to Pennsylvania in 2004. From Chester County to northern Delaware to the shore homes of Sussex County and beyond, FitzGerald-Wilks has become known for creating warm, livable interiors, and blending patterns, colors and textures.
FitzGerald-Wilks' signature style is most visible in her use of what she calls her "supporting players of design," such as custom window treatments, creating a proper flow of light throughout a living space, and complimenting hardware, flooring and furniture with a unique accent mark -- such as a family heirloom or a piece of artwork.
Before a pencil hits a piece of paper or a piece of furniture is ordered, FitzGerald-Wilks feels for the ebb and flow of the family who lives in the home she is about to design. Through the art of listening, she understands who the family is, how they identify themselves and what their day-to-day needs are.
"When we first sit down with a client, we study their needs and begin the design from the ground up with the architectural plan, often switching a few things around in order to add space and flow," FitzGerald-Wilks said. "We work efficiently, taking into consideration the fact that our clients are also trying to run a family life, balance it with their career and a constantly-changing schedule that involves having to hand their children back and forth to each other."
Similar to Fialkowski, Dixon and Chase, FitzGerald-Wilks brings a wealth of experience to her company. Before founding Timeless Design in 2001, she managed a woman's boutique, where she traveled to New York City to purchase clothing, as well as design the boutique's window displays. While working for the U.S Commerce Department's Textile Office and as an international trade officer, the experience opened her eyes to the richness of other world cultures. After leaving Washington, D.C., she became an antique dealer, which sharpened her skills as an interior designer.
If achieving beauty is one skill FitzGerald-Wilks brings to each home, then increasing a home's workability is another. During a recent tour of homes she has designed in Unionville, Avondale and in the Rockford Park section of Wilmington, the stuff of function is everywhere. In one home, a small tray is conveniently placed in a high traffic area for a family to deposit mail in every day. In another home, FitzGerald-Wilks has designed a tidy compartment for children to place their muddy boots and shoes.
"We find that a lot of people don't have time to designate spots, but we find that if we do that for them, they respond to the systems we create for them," she said. "They don't have time to pay attention to a lot of the small things. Our job is not just to create beauty in a home. It's to also help them live well."
The beauty, form and functionality that Timeless Design is bringing to homes is now being carried to the business world. Over the last year, FitzGerald-Wilks and her staff have worked with the management team at Parcels, Inc., a leader provider of litigation support, document management, retrieval and delivery services for legal and corporate clients.
The company's headquarters, located at the corner of 3rd and Market Street in Wilmington, sits at the heart of the city's revitalized LOMA commercial center. Previously, the area was known as the Ships Tavern District, it was named in honor of an 18th-Century tavern visited by our nation’s forefathers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Aaron Burr. In an effort to preserve the building’s history, the Johnsons worked with FitzGerald-Wilks to create a historically-themed meeting space on the building’s second floor.
The result is nothing short of a stunning excavation into the original "bones" of the building. One hundred year-old wooden floors have been preserved and polished. A classic, exposed brick wall design has brought out the industrial "feel" of the space, and individual offices are not separated by walls but by glass partitions. Eventually, FitzGerald-Wilks and her team will redesign the company's first and second floors.
"We always work with a client toward the things that he or she loves," she said. "It's a constant state of assessment, of doing what we can in order to bring in the elements of what a client will love.
"This is not about us representing our company. We're here to listen. We want to help families teach their children to know where their shoes belong and where the coats go. We want to create workspaces that increase functionality and productivity. We find systems that make spaces function well, and then look beautiful."
To learn more about Kate FitzGerald-Wilks and Timeless Design,