Charest-Valentine is the eponymous practice of Carrie Valentine, an interior designer whose style exudes ease, elegance and calm. Her thoughtful design and decor choices beautifully infuse her personal home with both old and new dimensions. Valentine gave us a glimpse inside her sophisticated St. Paul brownstone, where she’s left no detail unconsidered.
What’s your approach to design when it comes to your own living space?
It’s about a feeling. Just like with clients, I start with one piece that anchors a room and fits that aesthetic perfectly. I then allow for it to fall into place from there. It has to come naturally.
What are some of your favorite decor, design or architectural elements in your home?
My living room. Just over two years ago, my husband and I were looking for a place to call home in St. Paul. The moment I saw the living room in this 1903 Cathedral Hill brownstone with its tall ceilings, dentil crown molding and a pair of French doors that opens to a quaint private terrace, I was all in.
How did you approach the design of your home?
This sounds a little too much, but you have to ask, What does the house want? When you first enter our pullman-style apartment, you are greeted by a 30-foot-long hallway. All of the bedrooms are off the main corridor, which leads to our formal dining room and kitchen. I knew that the track lighting installed in the latter half of the 20th century had to go and be replaced with something that complemented the length and height of the hall as well as the era the home was built in. To do this, I introduced three lantern lights to this once overly lit hallway to create a more unified connection from our living room to the dining room and kitchen.
What’s your process for finding pieces for your home?
Lots of patience then sudden action. I love to go out and search for one-of-a-kind pieces in person. From experience, I know that when you find the right sculpture or mirror, you have to trust yourself and just buy it. I practice restraint fairly often and tell myself “no” until I find the right piece. Slow design is not just necessary but satisfying when you catch the elusive feeling you are trying to curate.
If you could add one design item to your home, what would it be?
My white whale: an Aubusson tapestry to hang on my wall. You just can’t replicate something that old and good.
Do you have a favorite room?
I appreciate spending time in our living room. As I work from home, the living room has become an office and a place to thumb through piles of design books. It also serves as a toy room for my almost one-year-old son, Leo. The room is big enough to host all these activities while still holding its own architecturally.
What room do you spend most of your time in? How does this room serve you?
Honestly, I spend most of my time in my kitchen. A good meal every day is necessary.
How are your personal spaces bringing you comfort or joy right now?
This year has definitely shed light on just how important it is to have a place where we feel comfortable and supported in our daily life. My unsolicited advice: Beautiful, useful things make a huge impact.