Chicago native Ruta Menaghlazi has been in Southwest Florida for 10 years and became vice president of design at Theory Design in 2018. She leads a team of eight interior designers and design assistants in coordinating all the architectural elements of a project, harmonizing them with surrounding nature and creating an extension of each client’s lifestyle and personality.
Ms. Menaghlazi studied interior design technology at Harrington College of Design in Chicago and over the years has created stunning interiors for clients in Florida, Illinois, Las Vegas and Morocco, relying on timeless and classic elements but, she says, “always including something unexpected.”
Describe you approach to interior design in five words.
Holistic. Timeless. Livable. Natural. Understated.
When/how did you know you wanted to be an interior designer?
I started studying graphic design in college, but then the execution of that started going digital and soon everything was designed on a computer. I realized it was drawing and creating with my hands that I loved the most. So, switching direction to interior design was an easy move for me.
Tell us something about your most challenging project.
It was a 13,000-square-foot grand estate home in Port Royal that had to be designed and installed in a year’s time.
And tell us something about a favorite project.
They’re all my favorite. When I’m in the middle of a project it’s always my favorite. I am always invested in every project; they’re all my babies.
What is your favorite room/place in your own home?
The main living space. It’s where all the action is.
What three things do you consider must-haves for a great room/ family room where people gather?
Comfortable seating, great lighting, and lots and lots of love.
Walk us through the process when you start a new project with a client.
I engage with my new clients to get to know what their lifestyle is like, what they expect from our project and what they favor in terms of design. We strive to educate them along the way as we help make their dreams come true.
For clients who are new to Southwest Florida, what is something you have found that surprises many of them about having a home here?
Often they are surprised by the amount of time and attention we give to outdoor spaces. Our exterior spaces are truly an extension of our interiors. Outdoor kitchens, furnishings, rugs, and even artwork have come such a long way. The esthetics of today’s best outdoor spaces closely mimic the inside of the home.
Describe the perfect client.
The perfect client shares their vision and then gets out the way and lets me do my job. And they have the funds to pay for it.
Do you have a design pet peeve?
In a word, purple.
Remodel or start from scratch? Do you have a preference?
I have always loved new construction because you can create something from nothing. But after the last several renovation projects, my viewpoint on remodeling has changed. The challenges of a major remodel can be huge, but the transformation can be remarkable and amazing.
Any trends you especially love today? And any you will be or were delighted to see go away?
I don’t follow trends so much. But corner pantries and corner showers, no thank you!
Any words of wisdom for a young person who thinks they want to be an interior designer?
Do not be deceived by the notion that it is just about picking paint colors and shopping. It takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication. Honestly, you must be half out of your mind to do this job. A normal person would not be able to make it in this business. It shocks me by the amount of detail you must learn about construction in order to be a good designer.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I would be a gardener. Landscape design has always intrigued me.