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Designer Spotlight

Kobel + Co

Photography by Sarah Van Zandt

Meet Elizabeth and Mallory of Kobel + Co! Based in Kansas City, Missouri, this dynamic duo creates the most beautiful rooms that feature a blend of styles and textures. Read on to learn more about this pair!

How did you start Kobel + Co?

Kobel + Co was born five years ago…before there even was a “co!” I (Mallory) was fresh out of the corporate world and had the itch to stretch a design muscle, something I’d long loved doing for friends and family but hadn’t ever pursued professionally (I have a professional background/MBA in brand management).

A few years into doing design part-time, I quickly realized there was more demand than I had capacity for, and simultaneously I very much craved the collaboration I had experienced in my corporate days. Right around that time, I ran into Elizabeth who had been a college sorority sister that I had not seen in ten or so years. Her home had just been photographed in a local publication – she has the most beautiful, relaxed elegant style, with an incredible eye for styling. We grabbed coffee, and I knew at that moment she was the person I needed in my life. I asked her on the spot to quit her (well paying!) career in international product design to take a chance on my small yet growing (read, not as well paying!) design studio as my partner. In an even more daring moment, she said yes.

We flipped from part time to an aggressive full time, and somehow even amidst the pandemic, birthing another kiddo, a complete year of working virtually from each other, homeschooling/e-schooling and all that crazy, we’ve managed to grow the company some 10x in the last two years. We now have a full blown studio, an amazing team, and clients coast to coast.

Personality wise, we are incredibly different (I guarantee all of our answers below will be total opposites – except where it comes to design!) but I think that’s what makes us a dynamic duo. She’s the yin to my yang and I can’t imagine a better human to work this damn hard with. We genuinely LOVE what we do. We’re currently expanding our team, growing both our Shoppable Design (e-design) and Full Service Design work, and have big plans on the horizon for 2022.

Nate Sheet Photography
Bill Mathews Photography

How would each of you best describe your interior design styles?

Elizabeth: I am a big believer that your home should feel uniquely “you”, and not just your designer–the best way to do this is to lean into art + patterns + colors you are drawn to and love.  The common thread throughout the space will be you, subtly tying it all together. 

Mallory: Professionally, ​I couldn’t echo Elizabeth more. We love to wear different “hats” in design and channel the inherent style of the client, bringing their look to life through our lens. How does that translate to our personal style? I fall in love with too many things and then struggle to commit! Whereas we always approach client projects with a strong game plan, at home I tend to be a “buy what I love when I find it kind” of gal, making for a look that’s ever evolving.

Bill Mathews Photography

What is your very favorite room to design?

Elizabeth: Living Rooms offer great opportunity to create interest and tension between textures and sculptural forms.  There is so much to play with, be it layered lighting, millwork, color or material juxtaposition.  It is also often the room clients “want” to spend time in but struggle to achieve a winning balance between their aesthetic aspirations and functional needs.

Nate Sheet Photography

Mallory: Kids’s spaces. I love the opportunity to be playful and really throw convention out the window. Clients’ tend to attach less need for longevity to kids’ spaces and thus are more open to taking risks.​

Nate Sheet Photography

If a client is on a strict budget, what are your favorite cost-effective ways to add a big impact?

Elizabeth: Paint–it is transformative for any space and serves as the biggest backdrop + story teller in your home. It is definitely an investment, but do it right and go all in!  Painting the trim and windows the same color as the walls always creates a tailored finish especially when using non whites.

Mallory: And trim work! While we always recommend hiring a professional if you’re really out of your comfort zone, there are some molding elements that can have a huge impact on a tight budget if you’re willing to put in the sweat equity. If it fits with the style of your home, picture frame molding and a robust crown are a great way to add a huge impact to a room.

You are all about a good “zhuzh” – can you tell us what that means to you?

Elizabeth: A good edit! Every few months our homes need an edit–move art + furniture around, reassess your accessories and take time to purge items that have cluttered up inside.

Mallory: And fresh eyes! People tend to get used to things being a certain way – step back and assess what opportunity you might be missing to try something new with things you already own. Don’t be afraid to try moving the biggest piece of furniture in the room to another location (you can always move it back!); a fresh view can create new energy in the space. Elizabeth and I love going into people’s houses and asking “have you ever tried it this way?” A quick rotation of the dining table and a flip of an accent chair, and it’s like a brand new space.

Your “Room with a View” project was a deeply personal project for you, Mallory. It displayed just how revitalizing a calming, well-designed home can be during challenging walks of life. The before and after is just incredible, and the reveal absolutely brought us to tears. Tell us all about it!

My parents, who had been riding out the pandemic in Florida, had just purchased a condo here in Kansas City with the hopes of getting back to life with their four young grandkids. About a month later, my dad (an amazing human and among my closest of friends), passed unexpectedly. Along with her grief, my mom was left with a condo in bad need of renovation. They had planned to slowly fix it up together, and now there was really a need for it to come together quickly so she could be near her kids.

Without hesitation, Elizabeth suggested we take on the project, and my mom turned full decision making over to us. It was a hard project to tackle on a few levels – tight timelines in a challenging delivery climate, restrictive building codes, managing through my own loss, and also a bit nerve-racking entirely surprising someone!  But also a very rewarding, cathartic project, and as you saw, my mom could not love the renovation more. She was so surprised. It truly feels like an oasis up there – a calm hideout among the trees.

Nate Sheet Photography
Nate Sheet Photography
Nate Sheet Photography

You used our Henry Crown Bed in Luxe Velvet, White in your mom’s bedroom. Walk us through your design process!

The Coley Bed was a lifesaver! The aforementioned tight timeline really limited a lot of furniture options for us, and being able to have a bed shipped to us in a matter of days made Coley a no-brainer. It’s beautiful, incredibly easy to install/move in a condo with a small elevator, and despite that, has a very permanent look to it. Amazingly, my mom has never owned an upholstered bed! It has such an immediate calmness to it. With so many great fabrics to choose from, it was hard to pick! But we painted the walls a soft creamy white, and the velvet we settled on is nearly tone on tone, creating an overall beautiful, peaceful, and very classic look. Her bedroom is such a retreat to her!

Nate Sheet Photography

Quick Questions:

Favorite accounts to follow on Instagram?

Elizabeth: Tough one!  I question all my life choices while stalking “la vie en rose”” in the south of France via the ethereal Jamie Beck. And when in need of a reminder on the importance and power of creating beautiful proportions and subtle details, no one does it better than McAlpine.

Mallory: ​I love following @collins_interiors – its the amazing design and incredible puns for me. Also @_ig_art for new artists, @chairishco/@chairishbydesign for over the top design. And in non-design, @upworthy. An eternal optimist, I love that daily dose of good news.

TV show you are binging

Elizabeth: Everything.  My husband and I are big TV bingers.  Currently we are not-so-patiently awaiting the return of Succession by rewatching the last season–the banter between characters in this show is the best.

Mallory: I am the WORST at watching tv. Ask me nothing about pop culture – I will inevitably disappoint you! I do absolutely adore Ted Lasso though … You can’t beat that kind of feel good. ​

Book you are reading?

Elizabeth: Honestly, I am terrible at making time to sit and read!  It is always top on my New Year’s resolution list but alas, I have a long list of great titles I need to get to.

Mallory: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD. Absolutely fascinating. I’m also in the midst of an epic Nancy Drew binge with my six year old – we’re on book fifteen (she found my old collection in the attic) and she and I can’t get enough​. Nancy is the ultimate boss babe – smart, confident, fearless and always one step ahead.

Favorite bold paint color?

Elizabeth: I am really drawn to murky salmons and violets right now. Dying to do a deep plum or eggplant room

Mallory: I’ve got a major itch to do a room in mint…with trellis walls. There really is a southerner in me somewhere waiting to get out.​

Favorite neutral paint color?

Elizabeth: White. Everyday, White. It makes spaces look larger, takes on unique undertones during the day and is surprisingly warm + cozy at night. It is always our go to.

Mallory: Yup. You truly can’t beat a clean, white wall.​  Instantly fresh and ready for a new vibe.

Dream travel destination?

Elizabeth: Hosting a fabulous weekend for friends at Le Mas des Poiriers in Provence.  I mean touring the grounds alone would be worth the splurge!

Mallory: I have a – maybe crazy? – dream to take my family to a dude ranch when our three girls’ are old enough. Your own horse for the week!? What’s not to love? Aside from that ridiculousness, I’d love a trip to Switzerland; our family is from there originally  – so is Elizabeth’s! Our studio’s name is Swiss!