Today I have honor of introducing you to a friend and peer in the home industry: Les Katt, owner of Katt Design & Carpentry, is an artisan carpenter and designer here in Grand Rapids. Les and I collaborate for various projects, and I am thrilled to be able to share a bit about his unique business with you. Les opened his doors in 1986 as Katt Construction and Design, and 30 years down the road he still completing beautiful, artistic projects with Katt Design & Carpentry.
Les agreed to answer a handful of questions so we could all learn a little about him and his work:
How did you get started in the trade of carpentry?
I started out as a young boy hanging out with my grandfather who was a carpenter. I really enjoyed building and visiting different jobs, and kicking around in his workshop.
When I was in High School, I got an opportunity to work for a local Builder in Spring Lake as the “gopher”. There were just a few guys working for him at that time, and I was able to get some hands on experience at a young age.
Tell us a little about your background and why you decided to start your business?
Like I said, hanging out with my Gramp got me interested in the carpentry trade, but at the same time I loved to draw and started taking private art lessons from a local artist. He taught me to paint with acrylics and was a huge influence on my life in my early teens.
After High school, I went to Kendall College of Art and Design. I graduated with a degree in Design and went on to work for a publishing company in Grand Rapids. After about 5 years, I decided that wasn’t fulfilling enough for me; I called up the builder I had worked for previously in Spring Lake and worked two years with him before going out on my own.
Tell us a little about your team:
My team is simple enough; It’s me and my son Taylor. Taylor and his brother grew up helping me at work and home with building projects. Taylor went to school to be an audio technician and worked in Chicago for 5 years before moving back to Michigan.
At the time, I was doing small jobs on my own and working as a trim carpenter for local builders. I asked Taylor what his plans were when he moved back to Michigan, and he said “ I’m going to work with you dad!” So that kind of took me by surprise! It’s worked out very well; Taylor is very meticulous in his work and it leaves me more time to do design work.
Do you have any favorite materials, colors, styles, etc.?
I’m a big fan of mid-century modern.
What elements do you consider when starting to plan out a new design project?
I like to look at the house or business for clues: How old is it? What style did the original builders have in mind? I think you should stay true to the style of the house, that way, the work will be an asset for years to come and not just a trend.
What are ideal types projects you like to work on?
The most fun projects for me are clients who’ve wanted a kitchen (or whatever!) for a very long time and have finally decided to pull the trigger on the project. We both get caught up in the excitement of thing coming to completion!
Tell us something about your business that makes you unique:
The thing that makes us unique is the fact that we put the work itself above everything else; it’s what drives us! Taylor and I both love the feeling we get by creating things out a pile of wood or coming up with ideas that resonate with the customer.
A huge thanks to Les for sharing about his life and business! You can get in contact with Les or see his previous work at www.KattDesign.com OR by visiting his page on Facebook, Katt Design and Carpentry.