Kari Whitman is one of LA’s top interior designers, recognized for creating a distinctive style that uses salvaged artifacts from her travels. Kari Whitman Interiors is a full service design firm specializing in residential and commercial projects, ranging from condos to estate homes, boutique hotels to large-scale residential developments. Selected as a member of the celebrated American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Kari has showcased many outstanding projects in California, New York, Aspen and San Francisco, featuring a large celebrity client base, including Don Johnson, Emilio Estevez and Don Henley. This Colorado native’s lucrative design business helps her focus on her other passion- animal rescue. Whitman admits, “I have a successful design business- thank God! It enables me to help save lives!”
Kari chats with Animal Fair about her true loves: “I have two dogs, Lucille and Madison- both rescues. Lucille was very abused and Madison was very neglected. Lucille was at a shelter adoption that Best Friends was holding in Hollywood. They had 200 dogs there and at the end of the day all were adopted but 4, one of which was Lucille. She was very timid and scared and had blood all down her back. It took me close to two years to get her confidence back. Now, she is the queen of the house! I got Madison from the Downey Shelter after I started my rescue, Ace of Hearts. She was the cutest 3-week-old puppy you have ever seen! I adopted her from the shelter with the intention of placing her. When I got her home, I discovered she was very sick and had Parvo! I spent every night at the vet holding her until 2 am. One night she was really sick and I told her if she made it through the night, I’d keep her. The next morning, the vet called and said Madison was barking at her! That was my sign. I decided to keep her.”
Kari giggles at some of their quirky personality traits, “Every time Madison sees a squirrel or a baby bird she humps! She actually HUMPS AIR! She gets SO excited! Sometimes I make her do it at my dinner parties. I now have a fake baby bird! Lucille is disgusted by the whole thing! Lucille will NOT go to sleep unless she is tucked in under her chenille green blanket!”
Whitman’s four legged friends have definitely been a source of inspiration in her career as well. “I incorporate pets in my design work by making the client’s home very pet friendly. I make custom dog beds to match the drapes. I also did a great Spanish outdoor dog bath with hot and cold running water. It was beautiful. I think the owners actually take romantic baths out there together…but they’d never tell me that! I also use fabrics that are dog friendly and durable in the “hang out” rooms. Nothing looks cuter than a dog on a beautiful piece of furniture. I love it when dogs can hang out with their owners in a relaxed atmosphere. Dogs are the greatest energy you can put in any house! I also like creating really plush and fluffy doggie beds.”
Kari is also the founder of a non-profit rescue organization, Ace Of Hearts, named in memory of her dog, Ace. “He was so amazing! He really changed my life. I rescued him the day he was to be euthanized from a local shelter. He couldn’t walk the last 2 years of his life, so I pulled him around on an oversized round disc. He loved it! I actually took him all around town on this disc, even through the Bellagio in Vegas! People thought I was nuts. But why should he be put down because he can’t walk? After he died, I was devastated. I decided to put this energy into saving lives in honor of my love for Ace- to give back. My policy is to take only dogs the day they are to be euthanized from various LA shelters. They kill 500 a day in LA alone! I usually pull 15-20 a month. I have saved over 700 dogs and placed them with many celebrities and high profile people. I don’t discriminate against any breed.” Kari even organized a Hollywood Dog Bowl in October 2004, a star studded fundraiser to benefit the work of Ace of Hearts, featuring celebrity hosts such as Alicia Silverstone, Don Johnson, Daisy Fuentes and more. Kari Whitman is a true diamond in the ruff… devoting her time, energy and love to saving dogs and touching lives everywhere.