Designer Q&A: Ryan Donnelly

We recently had the chance to revisit a few custom pieces we built for some wonderful local clients of interior designer, Ryan Donnelly, in Kennebunkport. Ryan, who just so happens to live around the corner from his clients off of Dock Square, guided them through an extensive renovation of their historic home’s primary bedroom, bathroom, and study, with the help of Spang Builders. The transformation of the space was nothing short of incredible and perfectly suits the clients’ needs and aesthetic.

Huston & Company was pleased to collaborate with Ryan on the custom design for a white oak linen cabinet that anchors the spacious bathroom and a pair of matching mirrors.

Read on for lots more about Ryan, his extensive interiors background, and the design business he operates in Boston and in Kennebunkport, as part of our Designer Q&A series.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
After 13 years as a competitive figure skater, and a few twists and turns, my design career started when I began working for a leading furniture manufacturer in Boston. This opportunity led me to Webster & Company at the Boston Design Center, where I worked as General Manager for six years, collaborating with the industry’s top designers, architects, and artisans. I joined Daher Interior Design in 2014 as Design Director, helping the firm grow and prosper while creating award-winning private residences across New England and beyond. In 2019, I launched my own firm – Ryan Donnelly Design – with projects in Maine, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. My husband and I split our time between Boston and Kennebunkport. 

How would you describe your style? What is your design philosophy?
My personal design style is classic and timeless with modern touches verging on eclectic. Our work is always a reflection of our clients’ own personal style and way of living. Our designs begin with interior architecture and space planning, inspiring the décor and furnishings along with treasured art, antiques, or that perfect find. 

Describe your experience working with Huston & Company.
I came to Huston & Company with a simple pencil sketch and a design idea for a very special project. Bill and Saer impressed me from our first meeting! They gave me a tour of their expansive workroom and we worked through the design details together. Not only did the pieces come out beautifully, Bill, Saer, and their team made the process seamless and enjoyable. Huston & Company has become a trusted resource of mine for custom furniture.

When do you advise your clients to consider custom pieces for their home?
Every home is individual and special, and our work incorporates custom furnishings and details into every project. I enjoy working with clients to identify the piece or pieces that mean the most to them. With our custom designs, we are able to create heirloom quality furnishings that set the stage for the overall design through the collaborative design process with our clients and local artisans like Huston & Company.

What are some of your favorite sources for unique, quality items for the home?
Where to begin? I have many favorite sources for different things. For this project in Kennebunkport, the bedroom palette was launched when our client fell in love with the Cowtan & Tout fabric for the window treatments.  We designed custom lampshades with Blanche Fields at the Boston Design Center to compliment the fabric, layered in colorful bed linens from Matouk, and a beautiful textured wool area rug from Steven King Carpets. We also incorporated many local finds including art from Mast Cove Gallery, Deborah Randall, and Brad Maushart as well as accessories from Bulfinch Antiques, Anthony Catalfano Home, and Americana Workshop.

What is one design project you keep coming back to for inspiration?
Travel has always been a huge source of inspiration for me.  Last year I celebrated a special anniversary at the beautifully restored and renovated Adare Manor in Ireland. The design celebrates the history of this famous neo-gothic chateau while embracing a cool modernity bringing the property into a new era. The guest suites were beautifully appointed with traditional decor celebrating the eccentricity of the original 19th century splendor. The new Carriage House, designed by David Collins Studio, brings the outdoors in with natural materials including varied limestones, marble, oak, and leather, creating a strikingly contemporary tone while celebrating Irish culture. 

Our deepest gratitude to Ryan and his wonderful clients for helping facilitate this Q&A and the photos from such a beautiful space – be sure to keep up with Ryan’s latest work by following him on Instagram!

If you are an interior designer and would like more information about working with Huston & Company for your clients’ furniture needs, please inquire to be a part of our trade program for designers.

Photos and content by Willard Creative for Huston & Company.