Design homes that extend the personality of customers

The foyer, after (above) and before (below), was a small part of the full renovation of a 6,000 square foot, six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home in Quail West.

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 to coordinate all architectural elements of a project, harmonizing them with the surrounding nature. and create 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, drawing on on timeless and classic elements but, she says, “always including something unexpected”. .”

Describe your approach to interior design in five words.

Holistic. Timeless. Habitable. Natural. Underestimated.

When/how did you know you wanted to become an interior designer?

I started studying graphic design in college, but then the execution of that started to go digital and soon everything was designed on a computer. I realized that it was drawing and creating with my hands that I loved the most. So changing direction to interior design was an easy decision for me.

Ruta Menaghlazi of Theory Design has transformed the home from its dated Mediterranean original (above) into light, bright and contemporary (top).  More pictures on page A26.  COURTESY PICTURES

Ruta Menaghlazi of Theory Design has transformed the home from its dated Mediterranean original (above) into light, bright and contemporary (top). More pictures on page A26. COURTESY PICTURES

Tell us about your most challenging project.

It was a large 13,000 square foot house in Port Royal that was to be designed and installed in a year.

And tell us about a favorite project.

These are all my favorites. When I’m in the middle of a project, it’s always my favorite. I am always invested in each project; these are all my babies.

What is your favorite room/place in your own home?

The main living space. This is where all the action happens.

What three things do you consider essential for a large room/family room where people gather?



Comfortable seats, great lighting and lots of love.

Walk us through the process when you start a new project with a client.

I dialogue with my new clients to find out about their way of life, what they expect from our project and what they prefer in terms of design. We strive to educate them along the way while helping them achieve their dreams.

For clients who are new to Southwest Florida, what have you found that surprises many of them to have a home here?

They are often surprised by the time and attention we give to outdoor spaces. Our outdoor spaces are truly an extension of our interiors. Outdoor kitchens, furniture, rugs, and even artwork have come such a long way. The aesthetics of today’s best outdoor spaces faithfully replicate the interior of the home.

Describe the perfect client.



The perfect client shares their vision, then steps aside and lets me do my job. And they have the funds to pay.

Do you have a design pet peeve?

In a word, purple.

Remodel or start from scratch? Do you have a preference?

I’ve always liked new construction because you can create something out of nothing. But after the last renovation projects, my perspective on remodeling has changed. The challenges of a major remodel can be enormous, but the transformation can be remarkable and stunning.

Trends that you particularly like today? And everything that you will be or were delighted to see go?

I don’t follow trends so much. But corner pantries and corner showers, no thanks!

Any words of wisdom for a young person who thinks they want to be an interior designer?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s all about choosing paint colors and shopping around. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Honestly, you must be half crazy to do this job. A normal person could not succeed in this profession. It shocks me how much detail you have to learn about construction to be a good designer.

What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t doing this?

I would be a gardener. Landscaping has always intrigued me. ¦

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