What Inspires a Design Aesthetic with TKS Design Group’s Susan Klimala

If you are new to TKS Design Group, welcome. Since we opened nearly two decades ago, a lot has changed. You can read more about our beginning and evolution here.

But right now it’s time for a Q&A with our owner and principal designer Susan Klimala. From the very beginning to the fun and personal, this is a look at her passion for design, the growth of TKS Design Group, and insight into what she is currently loving. 

Why did you decide to get into interior design?

I have always been an interior designer at heart. All those stories of designers spending their early years redecorating their bedrooms and moving furniture around, that was me!

When it came time for college, I thought maybe interior design wasn’t a “serious” enough career (I was wrong!). Instead, I pursued architecture but ended up in marketing and sales, before a stint as a stay-at-home mom when I found a part time job for a custom home builder. This reignited my passion for interiors.

What are your favorite projects or parts of a project?

My favorite part of any project is the artistic or creative part of what we do. Basically, the part where we take all the information – the client’s needs, the home’s architecture, the little scrap of wallpaper the client hands us, the budget, how the space needs to function – then we marry all that and put it through our aesthetic filter. That is the magic of what we do.

How would you define the TKS’s design aesthetic? 

The three words I would use to define our design aesthetic are eclectic, layered, and cozy. All our projects are worked on collaboratively in house, and we excel at pulling pieces together from different vendors and combining different styles within a space.

Secondly, layers are what make a room feel finished and unique. For example, using wallpaper on a ceiling or combining different types of seating at a table are examples of layering.

Lastly, since our spaces are meant to be lived in, we pay special attention to the feel of the fabrics and rugs, and the sit of each piece of upholstery so the space becomes a welcoming respite from the outside world and a beautiful backdrop for all the special moments of your life at home. Because every home is designed to be lived in.

Where do you see TKS in 5 years?

The furnishings side of our business has really taken off in recent years, and I would like to see that area of our business continue to expand. Focusing on the artistry of what we do as well as educating our clientele on quality and helping them make the best decisions for remodeling and furnishing their homes will continue to be a focus.

What surprises you most about where TKS is today and its overall evolution?

I have a weird combination of confidence and insecurity about my skill set. I tend to jump into things enthusiastically and then after a moment of panic, map a good plan. Jeff (Susan’s husband and TKS CFO) and I are a good combination of idea generation and practicality. So, nothing surprises me too much about where TKS is today.

At the same time, I am extremely proud of the company Jeff and I have built together, the team of employees, contractors, and vendors we have the pleasure of working with, the hurdles we have managed to overcome along the way, and last but not least, all the clients who have trusted us to do work in their homes. It is and has been extremely rewarding. 

When and where do you most love to go bold in a design or space?

I love great lighting and think this is an area to “go big or go home.” I also love quirky or edgy artwork that adds an unexpected element to a design and keeps things looking fresh. 

What inspires you and your designs?

For me, design is all about self-expression, so I love finding out what inspires my clients and then riffing off of that – do they entertain, do they love art, are they homebodies at heart? I believe a designer’s job in part is to push clients a little out of their comfort zones and show them you can have fun with design too!


  • Reading: The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
  • Listening to: I am a podcast junkie…mostly health and fitness, design, and true crime. 
  • Watching: The Bear, Season 2, Episode 7
  • Drinking (at the appropriate time of day, of course): Margarita, on the rocks with salt
  • Snacking on: Chips and guac, to pair with the margarita
  • Reminiscing about: My first trip to Paris, which exceeded my expectations
  • Planning for: An upcoming trip to Iceland and Norway in June
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4501 Tamiami Trail N, Ste 424
Naples, FL 34103
(239) 378-6599
522 Crescent Blvd
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
(630) 858-4848
Chicago, IL
1040 Roscoe St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(630) 488-7481