The Plain Dealer, Dec. 7, 2008, Sunday Arts Section
The heart of a home: Interior designers Chris Kascsak and Bret Manning strive to make the best of a space.

In the church of interior design, Chris Kascsak and Bret Manning preach the gospel of art and color.

Manning and Kascsak are the partners behind In Design Inc., a Cleveland Heights company that has helped remake houses across Northeast Ohio. Manning and Kascsak have created high-profile spaces for fund-raisers such as the 2007 Orchid Mania show at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. They redesigned residences and warmed up public gathering areas at the Gardens of McGregor, a senior-care facility in Cleveland Heights.

And the designers' finest moments come when clients say their home has become their favorite place to be. "It's about the fit, about creating a context that people can live in, and that puts them at their best," Kascsak says.

Both were raised (Kascsak in Lyndhurst, Manning in Bay Village) by parents who encouraged their sons' interests in aesthetics. Manning says his mom was "always redoing the house, and I wanted to be part of that."

Days after high school graduation in 1979, Manning moved to California to work as a model and actor. One of his best memories is getting to know Rock Hudson and the then-little-known actress Melanie Griffith on the set of a made-for-TV movie called "Star Maker," where Manning played a photographer with a few speaking lines.

He also apprenticed with an interior designer there, and joined Holzheimer Interiors after moving back to Northeast Ohio in 1989. He opened In Design two years later.

Kascsak's resume includes jobs in furniture and design at Higbee's and J. Walter Interiors in Pepper Pike.

"I'm definitely a traditionalist, but I appreciate antiquity and exoticism," says Kascsak, 43. Asian design motifs are scattered around his Moreland Courts apartment in Shaker Square.

Manning, 48, embraces tradition, too. He likes to juxtapose the old with the new, and says, "I've grown to like Asian [style]." He has a Tudor cottage in Cleveland Heights.
Both believe color can make or break a room. Experience helps them guide clients toward hues that will give a room the feeling the homeowners describe.

"If people say, 'I love taupe, I love loden green, I love charcoal,' and then add, 'and I really want the room to feel warm,' well, that's not going to happen," Kascsak says.

Scott Shaw/The Plain Dealer
Bret Manning, left, and Chris Kascsak of In Design Inc. helped clients Ann and Joe Juster design their Shaker Heights home.

The two also are passionate about helping their clients find great art that speaks to them.

"We always start with original pieces," Kascsak says. "There's just something energetically charged about a real piece versus a printed piece."

Kascsak says they love Bonfoey Gallery in Cleveland, La Cachette Gallery in Chagrin Falls, Metropolitan Galleries at Shaker Square and Lee Heinen's on Murray Hill in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood.

It's never about finding a piece that matches the couch. Buying art just to fill space "can be a really hollow gesture," Kascsak says. "I'd rather leave a wall blank indefinitely until you meet the piece that's going to make you happy."

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SCOTT SHAW THE PLAIN DEALER Bret Manning, left, and Chris Kascsak of In Design Inc. helped clients Ann and Joe Juster design their Shaker Heights home.

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