Karen Cole

Get to know the founder of ColeDesign Studio & her pup Tillie

By the Get Leashed Doggy Style Team

Karen Cole - Get Leashed Magazine

If you’re a dog person, you know the greatest gift you could have is the ability to work from home. Of course, if you work from home you’re probably pretty busy, as you’re likely self-employed; but those daily morning, midday and afternoon walks are a perk you’d never give up in exchange for a stable office job. At least that’s what we keep hearing from dog parents who work from home.

Karen Cole is a top interior designer in Toronto and needless to say, her days are very busy. But between meetings, phone calls, emails and client visits, she’s able to spend lots of time with Tillie, her Havanese companion of thirteen years. Don’t think for a second that Karen isn’t working while they’re walking around the neighborhood or sitting quietly in one of Karen’s fabulously decorated rooms – Karen finds design inspiration in everything. Dog walks in nature are the perfect time to discover new patterns and envision new layouts.

Karen fills us in on the life of a designer and her relationship with Tillie below…


Please tell us about yourself:

I am the founding designer of ColeDesign Studio. I work as an interior designer. My days are filled with decision-making and planning, coordinating, drawing, telephone calls and emails. The pace is fast and I am super busy all day.

My home office allows my dog to be a silent partner. I do come and go from my office often throughout the day, but working from home allows me to pop in and out of Tillie’s day. She is nearly 13 years old now and we have been able to enjoy several walks a day together for all of that time.

A bit about your pet:

Tillie is a Havanese, which is a breed of the Bijon family. She is happy-go-lucky and very social. She loves to have fun. Her trusting and playful nature has endeared her to everyone with whom she has contact. As she enters her ‘golden years’ she has slowed down just a little – preferring now to be physically close by me throughout the day. Where I am, she is. We met 13 years ago in March. She was only 2 weeks old. Tillie was my birthday present to myself. She was a tiny white fluffball with big black eyes who stole my heart.


What does your ideal weekend look like?

Our weekends involve the cottage.  Tillie is always ready and waiting by the door when it’s time to leave.  She is part of the packing-up routine and has her own spot in the car.

In the city she is a ‘leash’ dog. In the country she roams a little, never going too far…and she always comes when she is called. We go for long walks. With her own life jacket she joins me on the paddleboard and she is always up for a yoga practice. Downward dog is, of course, her specialty. After a weekend at the cottage, she will sleep for days.

Describe your personal style:

Crazed and frenetic. Busy busy. My days are very, very full.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by colors: of Nature, the sky, different countries, seasons…


How would you describe the look and feel of your home?

My home is relaxed and casual, but filled with all of the things I love. I like to be comfortable and easy. I want everyone who comes to visit to feel welcome, interested and inspired.

A story about Tillie:

She senses my feelings. If I’m excited, she also seems excited. If I’m outside feeling inspired by the wind and the sky, she seems to also be out there jumping around. If I’m in need of comfort, she senses that too. She rarely, if ever, jumps onto my lap, but she did it once when I was feeling particularly glum. She just jumped up onto my lap and stayed. It was incredible!

Tillie is a name I landed on very quickly and without a lot of thought.  I can’t say that I named her after my wonderful grandmother (though that was her name). It upsets my mother to hear that. Let’s just say that Tillie the dog has grown into her name and I have many moments throughout the day when I remember my grandmother.  Tillie the dog and Tillie my grandmother are in no way similar except for the name and their loving nature.
We have had a steady date for the last thirteen years of three daily strolls around my neighborhood.  When we head out to the cottage in Prince Edward County, she freely roams and for some reason – she actually comes when called.
She is such a good friend and companion… loving, loyal and always there.