Wednesday, September 1

Profile: Kimberly Schlegel Whitman

There is no question in my mind that Kimberly Schlegel Whitman has a talent for making the ordinary extraordinary! An entrepreneurial spirit from an early age, Kimberly launched her own event planning company, RSVP Soiree Luxury Event Rentals, in 1998. While planning her own debutante ball in Dallas, Texas, she discovered that there was a lack of high quality party rentals. Deciding to take matters into her own hands she sourced all of her own goods, and gave life to a new business.

What I enjoy most about Kimberly is her unassuming nature, her strong work ethic and a passion for entertaining. These traits have paved the way for her many accomplishments, including—four books on entertaining, countless television appearances and a daily radio segment on Dallas’ number one morning show.

Kimberly’s latest project, Tablescapes: Setting the Table with Style (Gibbs-Smith), focuses on time spent with family and friends, while creating a beautiful backdrop. Each page brings Kimberly’s passion for setting the table to life.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University with an Honors degree in Art History, Kimberly has been featured in many national publications such as Vanity Fair, Elle, Vogue, Town & Country, Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Businessweek, Traditional Home, Canadian House and Home, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

How would you describe your personal style?
I love the glamour of old Hollywood as well as the femininity of classic French and English design. In the past, I leaned towards classic designs and soft elegant colors but, since becoming a mother two years ago, I have been feeling stronger and more empowered, and therefore, a little bit edgier! I have really wanted to try new things and new styles. 

What is your most prized possession
That is a tough one! I am very sentimental so I have a lot of things that I really treasure. After my grandmother passed away, I inherited many of her beautiful porcelain pieces that I admired as a little girl. She never put her “good” or breakable things up high when we went to visit and she would explain to us that they were “no-nos.” I could look at them but I couldn’t touch! Now, I have many of them in my home but, of course, I have them placed out of toddler-reach!

I also treasure my collection of tabletop gems. I love love love setting the table and I have an addiction to china. I actually had to convert a small room in my home into a giant china cupboard! I think the connection is strong because of the memories made around those tables. I love setting the stage for a fantastic meal filled with great conversation and time with family and friends. 

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Wow….these are all hard questions! I love being with my family. I am the oldest of four children and all of my family lives in Dallas. We spend a lot of time with my parents, brother, and two sisters. My son is the first grandchild and he is a big attraction so we often have family at our home. It is wonderful. We also spend a lot of family time at my parents home, or, as my son calls it, “Chez GaGa.” JR rides his little moto-car down the hallways and he acts like he owns the place. They have two big lions at their front gate, which were the entrance to the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, and he loves to greet them when he arrives and pet them goodbye when he leaves. Those are the fun little moments that make me so happy.

I also love spending my summers at the beach in Canada. I spent every summer of my childhood in a tiny tiny town on Lake Huron and I now love spending time with my husband and son in the same home! Everyone in my family has had a summerhouse here going all the way back to my Great-Grandfather! 

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
My computer! I was with out it for almost a month and I realized how much I depend on it for professional and personal purposes! I count on it to do everything from finding directions to my son’s activities and communicating with his school to writing my next book and blog entry!

What inspires your creativity and designs
Everything! I know that is a very typical answer but I really think that we can find inspiration in everything. My husband is a fantastic photographer and really taught me to see the beauty in everything. Some of his most beautiful photographs are of graffiti or shantytowns. He taught me to look at things that I once considered and eye sore and to find inspiration in them.

I also find a lot of inspiration in flowers. Often, when I am working on a design for a tabletop or an event, I wait until I can see the available flowers and let them inspire the entire design. My sister, Krystal, and I just returned from a week at Flower School Catherine Mueller in Paris. It was fantastic and I am so full of ideas and inspiration.

Who are your style icons?
Like so many gals I adore Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. How can they not be style icons? But I also love the way Jan Showers lives her glamorous brand from head to toe and Michelle Nussbaumer, like her design style, she is very Auntie Mame!

I always admire when people carry their own style with confidence and know who they are. My sisters both “own” their style and I admire that. We can shop for each other because we know each others styles so well even though we are all so different. Krystal, a university student, is very demure. She is a modern day Audrey with a street-wise twist. Kari, a real estate agent, is like a perfect little doll from head to toe. She is always so well co-coordinated and we call her Real Estate Barbie.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project
There are so many people! I adore Hutton Wilkinson’s bold over-the-top fabulousness, Celerie Kemble’s youthful and modern take on tradition and Charlotte Moss’ feminine and polished look. 

What is your favourite luxury in life?
I have two. One is certainly time with my little one. He is a smiley little guy and full of laughter so my husband and I can’t get enough of him. We just finished a month in Europe and we relished our time with him. He is as fascinated by a ladybug as he is by the Eiffel Tower! He is a great reminder to appreciate every little thing!

The second is great stationery. I love writing to friends and, as a lifestyle and entertaining expert, I try really hard to keep up with my thank you notes! My favourite stationery is from The Printery in Oyster Bay, New York. The family owned business is still operating out of the original building with it’s warped floors and old presses.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life
My parents always encouraged me to do it all. They always told me to just dive in headfirst and enjoy the challenges that come my way. They didn’t ever work in design or events but they did inspire me through their constant entertaining! They always had the most talented designers, florists, caterers and event planners around and they always allowed me to be involved and participate in their events from start to finish, even at a very young age


Splendid Sass said...

Love this. That table is over the top lovely!

Lila said...

Great interview! That table display is absolutely gorgeous! What talent!
Lila Ferraro

Charlotta Ward said...

What a fantastic interview! I loved the questions and so enjoyed the answers. She seems like an amazing person to chat to, let alone work with. Wonderful! Thank you!

x Charlotta

Julie Mautner said...

Kimberley where did you get that gorgeous shirt/blouse?? Thanks!

Peggy and Fritz said...

I love to entertain and Iloved learning about her. What beautiful tables. When she said she converted a small room to host her China, I just about died. I want to have a room like that to collect various colored glasses, dishes, etc. for entertaining. How fun. I agree with Julie love her shirt! I can't wait to read her blog! Thanks for the introduction. said...

Kimberly makes Dallas proud! Lovely inside and out! Thanks for sharing one of Dallas' jewels, Ronda!

Unknown said...

This is so wild. I'm originally from Dallas, went to SMU and have admired Kimberly's work from afar. I just recently ordered her Tablescapes book and read it cover to cover and truly feel she highlighted some ideas that I had not seen before. Big fan of the lucite stands!

Wonderful interview! I'm a fan of both of you!!!!
Elizabeth of Pretty Pink Tulips said...

Hi Ronda, I loved reading this piece on Kimberly. You have such a talent for making your readers feel like they are listening in on a conversation you are having with your featured guest. I always feel like I am there in the room!