Kate O’Hara, CEO and creative director of Martha O’Hara Interiors, expected a teaching career. But in 2007, her master’s in education complete, she took a temporary job helping out at her family’s design business.
Much to her surprise, she never left. She discovered an affinity for design and business (later earning her MBA), and her role evolved from part-time marketer to business development to CEO and creative director.
Kate’s job demands a mobile lifestyle. She travels from the company headquarters in Minneapolis to its growing brick-and-mortar studio in Austin, Texas, to the home she shares with her boyfriend outside Cleveland to design events and speaking gigs across the country. Geography influences the architecture she lives in: classic in Minneapolis, modern in Austin, historic loft in Cleveland. But regardless of location, she loves an eclectic mix of clean and classic, as her favorites demonstrate.
Black and White
It’s the perfect backdrop for Kate’s style preferences. “Black and white works in every situation,” she gushes. “It’s a classic combination that elevates a space and creates a level of sophistication that still feels youthful and appropriate for today.” She especially loves black casing around windows.
“I love a big kitchen island but, honestly, not for eating,” she explains. “I’m more likely to eat at an L-shaped island where I can face someone.” And don’t think you need upholstered chairs all the way around. “Lately we’ve been mixing bar stools. It’s an opportunity to create additional seating where you might not want a big or heavy piece.”
Fay + Belle Rugs
This distinctive line features vintage rugs, including Oushak, overdyed and patchwork varieties as well as a custom hand-knotted collection that can be tailored to complement upholstery, wallpaper or really whatever you like.
Jewelry by Ike + Leone
Launched by Katherine Gyolai last year, Ike + Leone offers bespoke jewelry handcrafted with leather, natural stones and naturally shed antlers. “Her gorgeous collection is brand new,” Kate explains. “I love being in on this amazing local secret.”
Artist Christina Twomey
The two grew up together in Minnesota and have stayed in touch. Twomey now lives in Los Angeles, where she creates luminous artwork made from natural resin, pigments and crystals. “My favorite is her geode art, but I also love her resin work,” Kate notes. Her favorite piece? “Agate,” which now hangs in the Thunderbird suite at the Mayhew Inn in Grand Marais.
You might think candles and diffusers when you think of Nest, but Kate thinks perfume. “Nest perfume has become my favorite, especially Citrine. I like a citrusy or herbal scent over a floral.”
Linden Hills’ favorite Argentinian/Italian fusion eatery is also Kate’s. “Whenever I’m in Minneapolis, regardless of the weather, I bundle up and walk over to Martina for an amazing Argentinian meal,” she says. Her go-to dish: spicy tuna tiradito. “The food is amazing, the bartenders are incredible and the ambiance is great. It’s my happy place.”
Kate spends roughly 15% of her time in Austin, a place she adores. “Austin always feels like a vacation to me, even when I’m working,” she notes. She loves the people, the food and the weather — almost all the things she loves about Minneapolis. “Every time I’m in town, I discover something new. It’s expanding so quickly.”
Briggs & Riley Luggage
This heritage brand (and the inventor of wheeled luggage) is her hands-down fave. “I travel a lot, and after replacing my third suitcase in a year, I needed something indestructible,” says Kate. Briggs & Riley luggage is functional — it actually fits where it’s supposed to — and tough to boot. “My carry-on has lived longer than any I’ve ever owned.”