Keri Heyne is a Frisco resident, artist, mother of two young boys, and founder of Starwood Custom Interiors. With a degree in fashion design and a background as a scenic artist in production companies, she loves bringing in the elements of design to help make her client’s homes beautiful. What makes her business different from others like it is that she believes in taking the time to understand her client’s style and likes before incorporating that into her work. Her goal is to train her employees to have the same integrity and love for their work so that she can move more into pursuing her passion of design and oil painting. She even hopes to someday bring the two together and sell her paintings to clients in a further attempt to make their home a truly beautiful place.
Do you have children? How old are they?
I have 2 sweet boys, my little demolition team. Elliot is 4 and Reece is 8.
What made you want to start your company Starwood Custom Interiors?
I've always enjoyed working with my hands. I have a background as a scenic artist in production companies that taught me a lot of skills when it comes to building and finishing things out to look wonderful. After I had kids, I wanted to stay home while they were little, and only freelanced here and there. When my marriage tanked, I had to leave with 2 children to provide for. The horrible experience of going through domestic violence and a train wreck of a divorce actually gave me the grit to jump in with both feet on this. Starwood Custom Interiors in a way has been a life-line for me. While trying to process everything that has happened and make the best out of it for my boys, I have the opportunity to make people’s homes more beautiful. Seeing a client excited about a transformation is the BEST.
Where are you originally from?
All over the country. My Dad is a retired Colonel in the Air Force. But funny enough I was actually born here in Texas just after dad joined the Air Force.
Where was your favorite place to live growing up? What brought you back here?
I think the coolest thing about moving all over the country was, at a young age I developed the opinion that all places have their pro's and con's; it’s really who you are and where you are in your head that makes the difference. I came to Dallas to attend the Art Institute. There I earned a degree in fashion design, which I love the element of design now in my work. Getting to carry that experience and knowledge over is awesome.
What exactly is it that your company does? How is it different than other home improvement companies?
For the most part Starwood Custom Interiors does interior painting and cabinet resurfacing. But the great part is I come in as a contractor AND designer. The client will get direction on which white is actually the right white for their kitchen cabinets for example. And a lot of times, once I'm in a home a domino effect will begin. I may suggest adding trim to the island or a tricked-out chalk board for the kiddos at the end of some lower cabinets. I enjoy building custom elements that really personalize a client’s home. I feel like other companies come in for a job and don't really get to know their client’s needs. I enjoy taking the time to understand their style and likes and incorporating that into my work for them.
Do you do art as a side career or is it central to being a designer and contractor?
I LOVE to do oil paintings. My dream is to someday have a solid portfolio of oil paintings to also be able to offer clients.
Would you say working as a scenic artist has made you a better contractor?
Absolutely. While working as a scenic artist for example, at the Dallas Theater Center, you're expected to maintain a level of quality that makes you the best. The designers brought in, either local or from New York expected things to be done right and look amazing. I love that my quality control is some of the best. I not only want a happy client but when I leave, I want to be proud of what I spent my day doing.
How many artistic pieces have you completed?
Oh, ha! Dozens. I almost always have something going. Even if it’s not on my easel, I am working on something lovely. I've had the opportunity with my church to love on them with art, it’s been an honor to get to do their VBS stuff and the sanctuaries backgrounds.
What is one of your favorites?
Oh man, I'm not sure I could pick just one, it would be like favoring a kiddo… I suppose one of the portraits I've done. I really enjoy the human form and skies, those are my favorite subjects.
Where would you like to take your career in the future? Maybe on a national level?
Sure, an artist can dream! But why not? Seriously though, my goal is to train my employees to possess the same quality integrity and love for their work so that I may move more towards design and painting.
What was your main motivation of being involved with scenic painting, especially with a degree in fashion design?
Yeah, that was a tough year; I graduated in 2007, with honors and a coveted internship with a clothing company that designed ready to wear for the 1%. With the recession hitting, that company wound up eventually going under along with a lot of the fashion industry in Dallas. I needed to be working so I went to my first passion, painting and was hired on at the Dallas Theater Center as a scenic artist.
How do you think your art has changed the community around you?
Oh, I don't know that I've thought about it… I suppose what I have the opportunity to do for my church may be the most impacting. Getting to personalize a space, bringing beauty into a building that is unembellished is really cool. The response from the congregation
is incredible, how awesome to aid in their worship experience!
How many hours go into the ideology, design, and execution of a particular piece?
It really depends on the piece. Some get knocked out in a couple days, some take a couple weeks. For a serious oil painting, man, I never feel like they’re done… my mom (my best and favorite person to have critique my work) will usually tell me to put it down at some point.
What do you do besides oil painting?
I also love pastels. I've dabbled in photography a bit too. Someday I would like to do sculptures, there’s a long list of what I would like to get try as an artist. But I think that’s part of being an artist, wanting to learn more and more about it.
Favorite TV Show?
I'm a total nerd, I would have to say the X-Files. Anything Sci-fi.
What does your family think of your art?
Awww, they are my biggest fans. I couldn't ask for a better family.