down2earth Interior Design - Tea with Tara - Meet Design Consultant Stephanie

Tea with Tara: Meet Design Consultant Stephanie

I am so excited to start this Tea with Tara series, featuring our team of design consultants.  While they share a commonality in the work that they do, they all lead such uniquely different lives outside of the design world.  To me, knowing the person behind the job is always fascinating.  I hope you think so, too!  Pursuing your passion isn’t always a straight line and the journey can be equally interesting.  Grab a cuppa or your favorite beverage and let’s get to know Stephanie.

One size does not fit all when it comes to designer, Stephanie. She strives to find the perfect design to match the individual. Her background in model home design has given her the opportunity to work on projects from the initial concept to the final staging of the home. Stephanie views the world through an artistic lens and finds inspiration all around her. With a passion for traveling and exploring the outdoors, she loves to incorporate natural elements and unique decor for a relaxed, but curated design.

How long have you worked at d2e?

I have worked with d2e for four years!  I have always been into the arts.  Growing up, I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer.  When I got into high school, I got interested in fine arts and design.  I took local drawing classes in South Jersey and Philly and I went to art and design camps at NC State and SVA (School of Visual Arts).  While at these camps, I found out that I could major in interior design.  I always loved changing my room, which sounds so cliché.  Shout out to my parents for letting me do some of these things: bright red walls and a black and gold sponge painted ceiling (and closet).  I was really interested in learning about Chinese art and culture and that was the theme for the room.  No idea why I needed the ceiling to be sponge painted for that. I painted a paisley mural on one wall once.  I had mint green and peach walls.  In college, when I was asked why I went into interior design I said, “The Rainforest Cafe” and my teacher told me to never say that in an interview.  But I think it is one of the things I love most about interior design.  It can completely transform a space.

Navy boy's bedroom

Design by Stephanie Ebner

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day would be WARM and would start with a challenging hike up a mountain to catch the sunrise with an epic view.  During the hardest part of the hike, someone would surprise me with the vegan rainbow unicorn gummies from Sprouts.  This would be followed by a mid-morning hammock nap.  A nice warm breeze, rocking the hammock back and forth, the sound of leaves rustling in the trees.  After the nap would be a large feast of delicious food to fuel up for another hike that is easier and more secluded.  This hike would lead to a secret waterfall where you could swim.  There would be no one else there except for the people I am with.  I’d spend the rest of the day soaking up the sun and swimming in beautiful blue water.  Maybe some kayaking.  Oh, and drinking some very cold and very bubbly seltzies (seltzer water).  Then hike back to our camping spot for dinner and a fire.  Obviously s’mores.  We’d play music and have good conversation until it gets super dark and the cajillion stars come out.  This would spark good conversations/debates about aliens and time travel.  Then I would have an excellent night of sleep.

Stephanie on rustic bridge over creek

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Ebner

Do you have a hobby or passion outside of the world of interiors?

Traveling, camping, hiking/nature, and weight lifting.  I love exploring new places.  I always appreciate and enjoy traveling in luxury, but I LOVE roughing it.  I love throwing all of my hiking and camping gear into my Jeep and hitting the road.  I love finding awesome free camping spots and challenging myself with hikes where 20 minutes in I’m regretting it, but by the end I’m like let’s do it again!

I’ve also gotten into weight lifting recently.  I love getting stronger and pushing myself.  It’s great for preparing for all the crazy hikes I want to do…and also maybe the apocalypse.

Jeep in the woods

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash

How does travel (near or far) influence your lifestyle and/or work?

I think I caught the travel bug early in life. Growing up we were always taking day trips, going to camps, and my mom planned our family vacations to the max. In college, I was able to study abroad and went to Florence which was awesome. One of the classes I took was History of Architecture. One day, the teacher taught our lesson and pointed out the window and we could see the Medici Palace across the street from our school. It was such a cool experience to be able to see the things I had been learning about in person. When I had a test on things at the Colosseum and Pantheon, I went to Colosseum and Pantheon to study. I went to Pompeii which was so cool because it’s so well preserved. We got to see how the homes were laid out and the paintings on the walls.  I’m all in favor of an atrium in every home!

After I graduated, I did a cross country cycling trip where I rode a bicycle from Rhode Island to California. Along the way we volunteered with affordable housing organizations like Habitat for Humanity. There were so many reasons why it was such a great trip, but one of the things I experienced in relation to design was that everywhere has a different flavor and that affects the design of the area. One of my favorite places and also my favorite organization we volunteered with was in Moab, Utah.  I had never been out west so I was blown away by what Utah looked like. I had no idea that there were parts of the US that looked like this. The canyons and rock formations, everything’s red and orangey, so much dirt and clay. It’s so beautiful. The organization we worked with there was Community Rebuilds. Moab was a town that was huge in the Uranium boom so companies built trailer homes for their workers to live in. Once Moab started becoming more of a place for tourists and outdoorsy people the vacation side was built up, but the residential trailer homes were neglected. Community Rebuilds’ mission is to help the local community by replacing the trailer homes with strawbale houses which are both affordable and sustainable. These are some of the coolest houses and they are literally built from straw and dirt. They fit in so well to the landscape surrounding Moab and I think all the materials are sourced locally. I love the story and the history and how it plays into design and how homes change as our needs and world changes.

Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah
Photo by Ben Stiefel on Unsplash

I think traveling can influence design so much because location, culture, and history play such a big part in how we build our homes/ interiors. As an outdoorsy, warm weather girl, I LOVED being in Bali. Because the weather is nice and warm year round, so many buildings are not enclosed. The airport does not have doors, you are just all of a sudden outside of the airport. The hotel had no doors into the lobby. The bathroom at my retreat had one wall missing and instead had a wall of lush bamboo. Sometimes if you went to the bathroom at night you’d notice a little baby lizard (or two) on the wall. You would not find a bathroom like this in Pennsylvania. And even though I might not be designing bathrooms with bamboo walls anytime soon, that experience might influence a tile selection or a wall color.

Bathroom in Bali

Bali, Indonesia
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Ebner

If you weren’t designing spaces, what else would you be doing?

Hmmm, I think I’d be a travel agent/ trip planner. But I wouldn’t work for an agency, I would just make epic trips that people could purchase a detailed spreadsheet for. So I would obviously have to do a lot of research for this and test out the trips before I sell them.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Ebner

Can you share a personal goal or hope for the future?

Turn a school bus into a tiny house and travel the US.

Continue to learn about how to live a more sustainable life and how to make interiors more sustainable.

Do a pull up.

We all can’t wait for the world to fully open up again.  When that day comes, where would you go, if money and time were no object?

I think my pick would be Thailand. Little bit of everything…oceans, mountains, waterfalls, and cities. AND WARMTH!! I almost cried when I went to the gym this morning; it was so cold!

Wiang Kum Kam, Thailand

Wiang Kum Kam, Thailand
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash


1 Comment
  • Stephanie Karpell
    Posted at 15:04h, 05 January Reply

    So enjoyed reading personal details about a great gal. I would imagine her travels helped her develop adaptive attitudes towards other people’s sensibilities. A real delight to work with, she helped us create a comfortable and lovely home.

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