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Work by Interior Design Graduate Featured in Washington Spaces

RADFORD – The spring issue of Washington Spaces magazine, one of the most prestigious professional publications in the world of interior design, features the work of RU graduate Kelsie Hornby ’85. In the issue’s letter from editor-in-chief Trish Donnally, Hornby’s work in a Fairfax Station home is described as “an art deco beauty that has the grace, styling and elegant air of an ocean liner.”

Hornby’s firm, Elegant Designs Inc., was hired to redesign The Woodley House with a mission of modernizing the spacious home to make visitors feel like they are stepping aboard the SS Normandie and time-traveling back to the 1930s.

 The clients have two sons and were accustomed to having up to 40 teenager guests during the weekends. After the sons went to college, the house grew quieter.  But where most families would choose to downsize after their children leave home, the Woodleys wanted to expand, and Hornby went to work making a dramatic change.

Kelsie HornbyHornby (right) worked with the family on previous projects and knew their likes and dislikes in design. Monarc Construction teamed with Hornby and helped transform the home into one suitable for large-scale entertaining, gourmet cooking (separate kitchen stations for the husband and wife), and even a bathroom specially designed for the wife who is 4-foot-11. A two-story library includes a balcony and game table where the couple frequently spend time playing Scrabble. A back staircase, which the article refers to as a “staircase to heaven,” is uniquely incorporated into the design. The clients saw a similar staircase on a cruise ship and were impressed by its beauty.

Hornby took a semester-long course in interior design while in high school. Her teacher realized she had a talent and should consider taking that talent to college.  Hornby says, “I still wasn't sure and entered school with an undecided major.  I had considered geology but decided to try design again and found my calling.”

After graduation, she was employed by a large furniture store chain to decorate the showroom. Hornby says, “It was a great way to learn in the real world the act of accessorizing and mixing colors and textures.  I then moved to a firm where I began to practice design and stayed there for about 20 years.  I began my business six years ago and love it.”

Hornby recalls professors that made an impact on her RU experience. Among them were now-retired interior design professor Betty Jo Tilley. She still remembers “some good, heartfelt advice that Mrs. Tilley gave us one day: ‘Now class, just because you are learning about different styles and how to put the appropriate designs and textures together, please don't go home and insult your parents by telling them that their homes are decorating nightmares and that they've done it all wrong.  That's good advice to remember with clients as well.  They obviously wouldn't have hired you if they knew what they were doing wrong.’”

Hornby urges students to pursue internships, one of many ways interior design majors can gain experience in their field. Her advice to students includes interviewing people in the field and becoming a member of a student interior design group or a professional organization. Networking is also important, she says. “Networking helps get you started and makes you aware of upcoming events and opportunities.”

May 21, 2009
Contact: Bonnie Roberts Erickson (; 540-831-5324)

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