It’s not surprising that Lisa Loushin Kroskin, owner of Haute Kitchens and Interiors, is best known as a kitchen designer. She loves space planning and making the most of every inch, plus she’s an accomplished cook. And now that most kitchens are open to other spaces, her business has naturally evolved to encompass the rest of the house, too.
Her affinity for kitchens began early in her life’s journey from Seoul, South Korea, where she spent the first 10 years of her life, to Babbitt, Minnesota, where she spent the next 10. Her Korean childhood ended suddenly and tragically when she lost both parents to cancer. She and three of her five siblings (aged two to 18) were adopted and — speaking no English — began the transformation to landlocked Minnesotans. She recalls the shock of switching from flavorful, colorful Korean cuisine to oft bland Iron Range/Scandinavian fare. “Our diet was white on white, and seasoning was optional,” she says wryly. “As I got older, I figured out I needed to learn to cook.”
Loushin Kroskin wasn’t set on a design career. In fact, isolated in northern Minnesota, she had never heard the term “interior designer.” But her mother, observing her penchant for redecorating her room and rearranging furniture, encouraged her to consider the field. It was a perfect fit, and she’s been practicing her craft for more than 30 years (the past 14 as a mostly solo act).
Along the way, Loushin Kroskin realized her background helped shape her adaptability. “Which, as a designer, translates into adapting for my clients,” she notes. Her unique East-meets-Midwest experience also informs her favorites.
Space to Design
“The kitchen, by far!” she exclaims. “Cooking is how I decompress at the end of a busy day.” She passed this passion on to her children, and when her grown sons visit from Duluth, they make meals together.
Designing beautiful kitchens makes the most of her talents. “If you’re a cook — or even if you aren’t — you need the space to function really well,” she adds. She also loves the hard materials that go into the hearth of the home: cabinetry, fixtures, hardware, stone and tile.
Her personal style is Scandinavian/Asian fusion. “It’s an actual style, not something I just made up,” she laughs. The emphasis is on simplicity of line and lack of pretense. “With my Asian and Scandinavian background, it just works naturally. I love tone-on-tone neutrals with a pop of color or texture.”
As for her design work, she doesn’t have one style preference she pushes. Instead, she curates a unique style that reflects each client’s story. She recently started creating a Haute Design Box, which includes samples, photos and sketches for clients.
“I have a collection of tables: sofa tables, coffee tables, end tables,” she notes. “They come in all different styles, from modern to midcentury to Asian. I love each of them for their individual use and purpose because I’m a very practical person, but at the same time, they all bring me joy.”
As versatile as they are beautiful, ginger jars can be the traditional blue-and-white or come in countless colors and patterns. They can be used as storage vessels, vases or objets d’art. And they work well solo or grouped together in traditional, modern or farmhouse settings.
Anywhere near water. She grew up summering on Lake Vermilion and now spends her free time in Duluth with her family. “I love just floating on the lake — surrounded by tall pines, hearing the loons, soaking up the quietness of it all,” she gushes. “The ocean is constantly calling me as well. I love the East Coast and the never-ending expanses of beach and blue water. I feel at home.”
Buffalo plaid fleece. “Here’s where my two worlds collide,” Loushin Kroskin explains. “It’s an homage to where I grew up. Buffalo plaid mentally and physically gives me warmth and reminds me of northern Minnesota.”