By Melissa McCullough Photos Supplied
Kate Walker founded Kate Walker Design in 2013. Having worked in the tile industry for over 15 years, Kate identified the need for a streamlined solution for busy people who need support with their complete hard finish requirements. With entrepreneurial skills in her DNA, Kate naturally grew the business – seeing opportunities and seizing them with both hands. With an unrivalled network of manufacturers, importers and trades, Kate is now at the helm of a dynamic team of project managers and design enthusiasts.
Mother of two, Kate has noticed how COVID and lockdown restrictions have impacted every Australian, personally and professionally, and that the focus of concern is now firmly on our children. She said, “So aptly expressed and championed by #shadowpandemicvic, children of all ages are suffering in immeasurable ways. Not being able to attend school, and partake in extracurricular activities like sport, music and dance, is having such a detrimental impact on our children.”
At home, her teenagers were not immune. Her teen daughter, Jemima, has suffered her way through COVID, with deep-seated anxiety and depression. A collaborative worker, her teen daughter thrives off the physical presence of others. As an extrovert, she gets her energy from her friendship group. Kate says, “Unfortunately, when you only see people through a filtered version of their lives on social media, you are presented with a false reality. My daughter didn’t realise that other people were suffering as well that they were just presenting what they thought was a socially acceptable version of themselves.”
Feeling socially isolated, Jemima retreated to her room. She did her schooling from her bed and wouldn’t even celebrate her 13th birthday. Kate recalls, “At that time we were renovating our home, so we were living elsewhere, and Jemima didn’t have her own space and was living in limbo.” Whilst the family did engage professionals to help Jemima, it wasn’t until they moved into their home and she had a beautiful room that was all hers, that she began to smile again. “Having her own space helped Jemima find her identity and gave her a sense of pride and self-worth. She found hope. The change was like night and day,” said Kate.
Fortunately, her other teen, 15-year-old Charlie, enjoys online learning. Kate says, “He loves computers, so the system really works for him, but he is acutely aware that many of his friends are struggling.” One of the most significant issues for both of Kate’s children was that their favourite activity, snow sports, had been taken away.
“For so many children losing the chance to engage in any of their hobbies that take place outside of the home leaves a massive hole in their lives,” said Kate. According to Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s leading psychologists, children need ‘islands of competence’. Being good at something gives you a sense of identity and self-worth.
When the things you are good at are taken away from you, you also lose your energy and purpose.
All these experiences, and what we have seen happening to children everywhere, has led Kate and the KWD & Co. team to develop a program called #myhappyspacemovement. They have created a support package for two students who will be gifted a KWD & Co. Access design consultation. “We want to give these children some control back in their lives, because COVID has taken so much of that control away. They can’t control what activities they do, where they go or who they see – but with this opportunity they can control how their private space looks and feels,” said Kate.
Once the team has talked to the beneficiaries about ‘their’ space and how ‘they’ want it to look, they will work with their supply partners and trades to make their happy space a reality – make their dream come true. Kate said, “I want these children to have a sanctuary. A safe space and an environment that they feel proud of, and they are happy to share with their friends, particularly during online classes, house parties and Zoom catch ups.”
Kate is passionate about creating spaces that ‘feel’ good. It’s not just about how it looks – it’s about how the space makes you feel.
With many years of design experience across every design aesthetic, Kate can appreciate what it takes to make a home successful in terms of livability and functionality. She understands space planning, joinery, hard finishes, textures, lighting, furniture, flooring and soft furnishings, colour palettes, art and the decorative touches that make a house a home.
As her daughter so succinctly said, “The people I’m with, and the space I’m in completely impacts my mood. I get my vibe from my space. And if the space is beautiful, it’s a happy vibe.”
“I am so proud of Charlie and Jemima who are championing this movement with me and my KWD & Co. team, and we hope to ignite a flame for others to follow suit. Let’s make happy spaces, one room at a time, one smile at a time,” said Kate.