Q&A with Barbara Schmidt

The leading lady behind studiobstyle talks tile trends.
Barbara Schmidt. Photo by Joel Larson

Barbara Schmidt, the leading lady behind studiobstyle, is a queen of all trades. Based in Minneapolis and New York, her integrated branding company offers services in every realm of the creative industry. She’s an innovative stylist with a careful eye for set design, a marketing guru with a knack for strategy, and an interior designer who has been crafting spaces fit for royalty since 2004.

But considering the many crowns she wears, the latter might be the grandest. Her design style is clean and modern, while her attention to detail elevates every room. From plan development and renderings to material selection and installation, Barb delivers an aesthetic perfectly tailored to her clients.

Give us a little insight about what you do from your own perspective.

I would say there are two things you can qualify me with: interiors, and style and storytelling. I’m actually really driven by editorial, and that’s my love. I love telling stories visually—and verbally, too.

What are some trends you anticipate for the fall season?

In general, I think color is coming back. People aren’t as afraid of it anymore. We’re coming out of that whole black and white and gray thing that was going on. When it comes to color mixed into pattern, they’re not afraid of it.

Which colors are most popular this year?

It’s a lot of black and white, but green is definitely a hot color. Right now, I’m doing a full-on dark green kitchen, and I’ve got another English green kitchen I’m working on, too. Neon with that pale nude color is also a big trend.

Tell us more about this popular shade of green you mentioned.

It’s a dark green that’s very sexy. Not a Kelly green. It has a little bit of black in it, maybe even a little bit of blue. I’m seeing that everywhere, and I’ve even played with it a little bit. Honestly, Kelly Wearstler did it first, probably about 15 years ago. Now, it’s filtered into regular society.

What tile trends are you seeing this summer?

Patterned tile is huge. They’re somewhat Mediterranean in style, but they’re not multi-color. They’re not blue, yellow, and white—they’re white and black; white and blue; white and green. It’s more of that contrast that’s drawing favor. Another pattern that’s really hot is hexagon. It’s a turn-of-the-century pattern that’s coming back in different forms; it’s not just the little hex anymore.

Photo by Tim Nehotte

How can we incorporate this patterned tile trend into our own spaces?

Tile is an expensive commitment, so choose smaller areas that are high-traffic—like small bathrooms. The great thing about patterned tile on the floor is that it hides the dirt and it’s also not right in your face. If you put it on the wall, it’s going to be the focal point. Not that a floor can’t be the focal point, but you can be a little louder because you’re not looking right at it. You can also do it in an entryway or put them vertically on the stair tread, but not over the whole stair.

Tell us about what you’ve been seeing in countertops.

This is a huge industry change. Once in a while, we’ll see a color change; other times, we’ll see changes in material—it was granite, then marble, and then it became quartz. Plus, we would cut and miter stone to make it really thick. Now, the opposite is happening and we’re swinging to thin. The whole big, chunky stone thing is over.

Photo by Tim Nehotte

What are the benefits to a thinner countertop?

Well, now you can undermount—that’s the big thing. There’s a lot of variety, too. It’s easy to fabricate, easy to carry, and you don’t need extra guys to bring it in. Plus, it doesn’t snap off like quartz or granite.

Tell us about an interior design project you’re currently working on.

Right now, I have 12 projects plus a whole house I’m working on. The coolest one is @Dohmicile. It’s a historic home in West St. Paul. [The owner’s] not afraid of color; she’s very Hollywood Regency driven, and this French Revival home is perfect for her because it’s exactly that. But it needs everything: plumbing, electrical; every room needs to be touched. The first phase will be finished in early fall, and then phase two will begin.

What are you tackling during the first phase of the project?

Right now, we’re working on the kitchen, mudroom, powder room, and master bath. We’re doing main parts of the house first because the family is living there. All of the bathroom fixtures have been chosen, so now we’re just trying to dial in on the tile. She’s using patterned tile everywhere, and this is one of the projects I mentioned—the dark green kitchen.

What advice do you have for readers planning a remodel?

Classic kitchens never go out of style. It’s totally up to the homeowner, but I’ve never been sorry that I went classic on a whole-house remodel.

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