Q&A // Rita Chan Interiors

On Simplicity and Beauty 

For our second installment of Parker Clay Q&A, we chatted with Rita Donahoe of Rita Chan Interiors. We’re so inspired by her minimalist approach to interiors and commitment to family. Read on for Rita’s design tips, how to juggle business responsibilities, and more.

Meet Rita: I was born and raised in Northern California and came down to Southern California to go to USC. After graduating from school I met my husband and we eventually had our three little girls, who are now ages 5, 3 and 1. We moved to Santa Barbara two years ago from Manhattan Beach so we could give our girls the childhood we were both lucky enough to have, packed with outdoor adventures in the mountains and ocean! I am an interior designer and run my own business, where I work on residential properties up and down the coast.

On finding her passion at a young age: My love for design started as a child, but I expressed it through my passion for art, primarily in drawing and painting. But even from an early age, I was acutely aware of my surroundings and their ability to affect the way you feel. I remember being 8 or 9 and obsessed with this beautifully designed Ralph Lauren store in our town. It had these amazing European architectural details with huge stone columns and archways and I would spend hours marveling at all the details. I felt transported to another place and time. I think that power of design, to give you a transcendent experience, is what got me hooked, whether I realized it at the time or not.

On cultivating a peaceful home: With the increase of smartphone use and today’s media landscape in general, we are all battling information overload, which feels very noisy, chaotic and over-stimulating. Even though I’ve always gravitated towards a serene aesthetic, I feel like it’s more important than ever to embrace a calm peaceful lifestyle at home. Ironically, my own household could not be more rambunctious with 3 little ones, but having clean, cohesive, and calming surroundings as the backdrop to the chaos helps me breath through the crazy times and makes us all happier and less stressed.

On wearing many hats as a business owner: Since I’m a creative, the actual “running of the business” is always a bit challenging for me. Designing is second nature to me so that’s easy, but when you own a firm, you have to be everyone from the CEO to the CFO to CMO to the janitor even! It’s a lot, but growing and exercising my business brain is also exciting and empowering. As much as some elements may put me to sleep (literally I fell asleep in the middle of a bookkeeping meeting once!), it’s rewarding to master new skills and learn things that I never thought I’d know anything about.

On prioritizing family and friends: I’d be lying if I said the balance was easy. There never seems to be enough time in the day for all the different hats that I wear, and I am always trying to turn off one part of my brain so I can focus on the present role, but at the end of the day I remind myself that my tribe comes first, because my family and friends matter most to me. I have definitely sacrificed the growth of my business to have more time with my family, but I’m okay with that. I’d rather follow the organic growth of my business rather than force things ahead quickly at the expense of my children. I take every Friday to be with my girls, my husband and I try to get as many date nights in as we can, and I try to never miss important events for a loved one. It’s never picture perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. Every element that I am juggling is something that I truly love, so I just try to focus on how lucky I am to get to balance all these amazing roles!

On simple tips for improving a space: First, declutter as much as possible and get rid of or hide things that don’t make you happy when you look at them. Painting all the walls in the shared living spaces the same color (ideally a light neutral color) will help to make your space flow and feel connected. Bringing in greenery such as potted plants, trees and flowers is the easiest, most affordable and tasteful way to decorate (especially if it’s from your garden). Also, it’s nice to layer in vintage pieces with subtle character to make your space feel more unique. If you are going to buy something new, try to find out the story behind who made it, how it was made and what the company or craftsman is all about. Purchasing pieces with positive stories behind them will transform the energy of your home!

On her Parker Clay essentials: For sure the beautiful Gabi Throw Blanket; I have it on my bed and it adds a perfect amount of texture and personality. And the Miramar Leather Backpack is so amazing when I’m out with the kids or if I have to run around showrooms collecting samples. I have it in brown but I have the black one on my wish list too.

Thanks for the inspiration, Rita! Learn more about her work here


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