2015 Interior Design grad working at Beyond Kitchens in Rochester
Kailee Klevan, 26, graduated from the Interior Design program at Dakota County Technical College in 2015, earning her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.). Kailee is a certified Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD) through the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). While at DCTC, she was active in Design Connexion, a student club that provides professional networking opportunities for students seeking careers in the interior design profession.
“My education at DCTC set me up with the technical skills and knowledge I need to succeed in the interior design industry,” Kailee said. “I truly believe my education is what has brought me my successes thus far. My knowledge and understanding of a variety of drafting programs has allowed me to jump right into kitchen and bath design.”
Kailee added that her A.A.S. degree gives her a career advantage. “Sure, there are people in the interior design industry without a degree, but the knowledge and skills that I have because of my education is part of what sets me apart from the rest,” she said. “Technology isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important to have that skill set!”
Today, Kailee Klevan (formerly Helget) works as a kitchen and bath designer at Beyond Kitchens in Rochester, Minnesota. Beyond Kitchens specializes in creating kitchens and baths that exceed client expectations. Kailee began her career as a professional interior designer in Mankato, Minnesota, working as an intern at The Design Element (TDE), a full-service interior design studio focused on residential and commercial projects.
More about Interior Design at DCTC…
The award-winning Interior Design program is a challenging course of study preparing you to launch a career in an exciting and dynamic profession. Emphasis is placed on acquiring the hands-on knowledge and skills you need to design functional and aesthetically engaging environments.
The curriculum is architecturally based and explores spatial design and its embellishment. All aspects of space—scale, proportion, configuration, and lighting, as well as textures, materials, and color—are studied in relation to their effect on human well-being.
You will gain technical skills in the latest computer-aided design (CAD), building information management (BIM) software, and 3D visualization and graphics. Current software includes: AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp, 2020 Design, Photoshop and InDesign. These skills allow you to produce professional presentations and construction documents.
You will work closely in small groups with your instructors/ industry practitioners on projects that develop in size and complexity. Service-learning and interdisciplinary projects provide a real world experience.
As a graduate of the program, you will have a solid technical foundation along with the skills to collaborate with fellow professionals and deliver sustainable interior environments matched to the needs of your clients. You will also have options to transfer your Interior Design credits to a four-year institution.
The Interior Design program at DCTC is accredited by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).
Kailee went on to serve for more than three years as a drafting and design specialist at R. Henry Construction and Design, a full-service contractor also based in Mankato. In 2017, while working at R. Henry Construction, she won a 2020 Design Inspiration Award for her kitchen rendering in the Traditional category.
Kailee’s design was featured at the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Orlando, Florida, where she was interviewed by 2020, a design industry computer software company headquartered in Laval, Quebec, with locations in nine countries around the world (see below).
Kailee started at Beyond Kitchens in January 2018. She was honored to be included in NKBA Thirty Under 30 Class of 2018, a program that spotlights next-generation kitchen and bath design professionals. That same year, she was interviewed by 2020 (see below).
Kailee’s favorite interior design project so far is her bathroom remodel that took home third place in the Large Bathroom category in the 2019 NKBA Minnesota State Design Competition. Her bathroom design went on to be featured in the article, “A Black-and-White Bathroom Beauty in Rochester,” in the January/February 2020 issue of Midwest Home Magazine (see below).
“It was such a fun, classic space to design,” Kailee reported, “and the client was an absolute joy to work with.”
Plan, design, and furnish the inside of buildings.
This career pays above the statewide median wage of $20.95/hour
Seven-county Twin Cities metro
There will be a need for about 952 new Interior Designers to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.
Kailee Klevan, AKBD, project gallery
More about Kailee…
Originally from Wind Lake, Wisconsin, Kailee graduated from Waterford Union High School, Class of 2012. She’s married and her husband, Spencer, works as a clinical exercise physiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. In her free time, Kailee enjoys home projects and spending time outdoors hiking, water skiing and “well, pretty much anything to get some fresh air!”
Kailee and Spencer reside with Murphie, a 1-year old golden retriever, in Stewartville, Minnesota, a town of 6,100 residents just south of Rochester.
One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:
Kailee Klevan • Q & A
What is one thing every interior designer should know?
Every interior designer should know that no matter how young or old you are, you will always be learning. Design and technology are everchanging, and I think that’s one of the joys of the job! I love that every day is different, and every project is different.
You can always expect to come across a new challenge, and that’s where your problem-solving skills come into play. You must be open to learning new things and working together with your subcontractors to solve any issues that arise to achieve a design solution that involves teamwork to complete. I am fortunate to work with subs I trust and enjoy working with.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job at Beyond Kitchens?
The most challenging aspect of my job is time management. I’m often juggling many tasks at once. There must be weekly client meetings to keep projects moving forward, but it’s also important to find time to work in the office on design documents and floor plans. Finding that balance is hard sometimes!
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job at Beyond Kitchens?
I love building that trusting relationship with a client and transforming their space to be one they’ve always dreamt of. The “Oh, I would have never thought of that!” saying always brings a smile to my face. It’s reassurance that yes, this is what I’m here for and I’m helping to improve their everyday life.
Three words that describe you as a professional interior designer:
DETAIL-ORIENTED. KNOWLEDGEABLE. CREATIVE.
What advice would you give students thinking about making interior design their career path?
I would tell them to absorb everything and be open to new opportunities. One opportunity may be a stepping-stone to another great one. Also, I would recommend job shadowing different types of designers to get a feel for the different areas of design and help you decide what direction you’d like to go once you graduate.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
That’s a great question. My view of what the future looks like changes often. One day I think I have a clear vision of where I want to be career-wise, but it’s hard to know. I try and focus on what’s directly in front of me and my short-term goals, and hope that sets me up for a successful future.
What is your greatest strength as an interior designer?
I think my greatest strength is my organization and detail-oriented mindset. Kitchen and dath design is very detailed, and you must have an eye for that when creating technical drawings. My organization helps me to stay on top of things—and clients appreciate that.
Kailee Klevan • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Hiking
- Place you would most like to visit: National Parks across the U.S.
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Went on a honeymoon to Switzerland and France
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Build a house 2) Travel 3) Share with those in need
- Favorite music genre: 90s country
- Favorite thing to read: Interior design and business books and articles
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Raise a healthy and happy family
- Your national bird if you were your own country: American robin because the robin is a symbol of spring
- Dream occupation: Kitchen and bath designer
- Person you would most like to meet: Shea McGee
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: I would say continuing to learn and master kitchen and bath design (there’s always room for improvement!)
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: COVID-19
Learn more about Interior Design at DCTC by contacting:
Interior Design, Architectural Technology, Construction Management