When Chaitali Amin is decorating a home, she rarely focuses on the property or the residence itself. Instead, she focuses on lifestyle.

“The design of a home has to be functional, and you actually have to enjoy living in it,” Amin said, detailing her décor philosophy. “Each time I start a project, I meet with a client and determine how they will use their space. Where do they spend most of their time? Is this a family with children? Will they be entertaining a lot? These are all factors to consider before the process can begin.”

Born in India, Amin showed an interest in design at a young age, reinventing her wardrobe and changing the décor in her room. When she married and moved to America, she decorated a new home, making use of bold colors and affordable accents.

“I knew this was a temporary residence, so I decorated it on a budget,” she said, describing the use of simple techniques that help make a space look bigger. “My friend visited and went crazy for these changes. She started telling everyone we knew about my house and what I had done.”

With zero intention of launching a career in interior design, Amin started consulting on friends’ homes for free, helping them shop for pillows and furniture and aiding in decisions on where to place furniture and art.

H&S Spread

When she moved to New Jersey and bought a fixer upper, Amin took pride in redesigning it from the ground up.

“It was the worst house on the block, but we made it a beauty,” she said. “We designed in a few phases and because it was my own house, I did things that were outside of the box.”

Using her own home as a model, Amin launched an interior design business, calling it Homes by Chai. There, over the past 15 years, she has built a solid portfolio that includes both residential and commercial work.
“I’ve done countless homes, several doctor’s offices, and a couple of restaurants,” she detailed. “A couple of years ago, I earned my real estate license because I thought it would be a nice complement to the design aspect.”

Also an agent with RE/Max in Holmdel, Amin makes use of her own home buying and selling experience to help clients.

“My husband and I have moved around a lot; we’ve lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Chicago, and Florida; his job has taken us all over the country. I know how difficult it can be to make a house feel like home, and that’s exactly what my goal is on each job I complete.”

Amin specializes in staging residences, and prides herself on working with existing furniture and unforeseen obstacles.

“I don’t always have a blank canvas,” she said. “Most homeowners have already invested in furniture or own several pieces that they want me to work around. I have also worked with clients who have hired and then red a designer who might not have respected their budget or their needs. It’s my job to deliver whatever is needed and make each space suitable for particular needs,” adding that she doesn’t follow trends, but simply pays attention to the function of each residence and the tastes of each owner.

“Right now, everything is white…neutral, but not everyone loves that,” she said. “That’s why I involve each client to determine what look is right. I take into consideration all opinions, then offer direction on how to get the perfect look.”

Defining her style as practical and classic, Amin said that she aims at designing a home that lasts for at least 10 to 20 years.

“You might want to repaint as time goes on,” she said. “But overall, the foundation of each room tile, cabinets, and major accents should last for a decade or more.”

“I love getting texts telling me how much people love their home,” Amin concluded. “It could be as simple as moving furniture, repainting walls, or hanging curtains…when they say their house finally feels like home, that’s what keeps me going.”

Homes by Chai
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