FRINGE Decor: Design with Feeling, featuring Senior Designer Charlene Warren 

Charlene Warren is a senior designer and innovative member of the FRINGE design team at bkm OfficeWorks, where she has worked for seven years. She feels strongly that her role is to “support designing for your mood and tastes at whatever life stage you are in, and what makes you feel the best.” Charlene describes herself as a “creative since childhood” who played the piano, taught herself how to play guitar, and constantly rearranged and redecorated her bedroom as a teenager.

Three weeks after her 18th birthday, Charlene moved from her native New Jersey to go to film school in Los Angeles. 

While making short films, Charlene realized what she enjoyed most was the set building and design process, and upcycling cheap or free furniture she found for productions. After graduating with a degree in film and television, she decided to go to design school.

Charlene says, “In the past five years I’ve explored photography for the first time since college. It has become a fulfilling part of my life, and I’ve sort of become bkm’s resident photographer. I have even recently taken new headshots for the entire company, and regularly take photos of our large project installations.” (See example below.)

Q: What is FRINGE to you?

A: FRINGE is kind of like the icing on the design cake. The cake by itself still tastes pretty good, but the icing makes it a whole lot better and gives it a distinctive look and flavor.

Q: Why do you think FRINGE is essential?

A: You know design is good not just by the way it looks but also by the way it makes you feel, which is arguably more important. The FRINGE experience focuses on that feeling to help clients create spaces that reflect the most meaningful aspects of their culture and brand message.

Q: What is your favorite facet of FRINGE?

A: I love watching our clients get excited about their spaces during the design process. That’s what makes it fun and worthwhile.

Q: What are your passions/things you enjoy doing?

A: I love thrifting! It’s so fun to hunt for those unique and interesting vintage pieces that I can upcycle. Getting them for a bargain makes it even better. It’s also really lovely taking a piece that’s in rough shape and giving it new life. My mother-in-law gave me a wood table that had been sitting outside for a few years. I was able to strip the layers of paint off the table, give it a good sanding, stain it, and finish it, giving it new life. It came out so cute and ended up being perfect for our friends who had moved into a new apartment and needed a dining table. If my mother-in-law hadn’t thought to give me a shot at saving it, it would have ended up in a landfill, and I think that’s such a waste. 

Q: What is your personal design aesthetic?

A: I’d describe it as “vintage flea market meets California casual, with a dash of French country.” I really love vintage pieces that look like they have a story to tell. And I also really like comfortable and relaxing spaces, like a romantic little cottage or bungalow with a fireplace, a farm table picked up from the flea market, and aged copper cookware in the kitchen.

Q: If you could only have one piece of furniture in a room, what would it be?

A: A big plush sectional sofa for maximum seating.

Q: If someone runs into you at a bar, what drink should they buy you?

A: Champagne! I love the bubbles, and the sweeter, the better.

Q: If you could sit down and have lunch with any designer, who would it be and why?

A: Probably Joanna Gaines. She’s known for being the queen of modern farmhouse design, but her current style has evolved so much. I admire how she can elevate a space with really sophisticated style and still keep it feeling relaxed and comfortable. I’d love to pick her brain and ask where she draws her inspiration from and what her favorite part of the design process is.

Q: If you could be an expert in any facet of interior design, what would it be?

A: I’d like to be a color expert. Color can be so impactful, as certain colors can evoke specific emotional responses. It would be nice to feel confident enough with color theory to have fun and understand where and when you can break the rules!

Q: Where do you pull design inspiration from the most?

A: I get inspired almost everywhere I go, whether it’s a hotel lobby, restaurant, or if I’m shopping and there’s a pretty window display. I was at a winery once that was on a converted horse farm. They built a tasting room inside the former stables. They had designed it to be so luxurious using leathers and velvets and plush-looking furniture. They also installed these stunning glass chandeliers that catch your eye as soon as you walk in. I love spaces like this that have design elements that stay with you. 

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A: My dream is to find a little stone cottage in France, with a village nearby where there are little cafés and bakeries and ideally vineyards! And, of course, flea markets. Fields of sunflowers and farmers’ markets would be excellent, too.