As a child growing up in the Philippines, Charles Almonte kept his Lego and crayon collections close at hand. “I always knew I was going into the creative field,” he explains.
He studied architecture in Manila and earned a master’s degree in historic preservation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Almonte then landed in DC at an architectural firm, where he specialized in preservation as well as interiors.
“I guess my boss saw something in me,” he recalls. “I kept getting interiors work from her, so I figured I should take exams for architecture and interior design.”
After a stint at Thomas Pheasant, in 2008 Almonte decided to venture out on his own. He says that in his practice today, most projects involve both interior design and construction.
Almonte sees his role as design arbiter. “People know what they like,” he says. “It’s a matter of us helping them execute it. I tell clients, ‘We’re here to guide you and apply principles of design—color, symmetry and balance—but you have to tell us what you like. Because in the end, you’re going to be living here, not me.’”
Interior Design: Charles Almonte, AIA, ASID, Silver Spring, Maryland.