Big Sky celebrates 25 years of design and retail


Big Sky Design is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in Wilmington, N.C. It’s a commercial, hospitality and residential interior design company with retail.

WILMINGTON, N.C.— In 25 years, Big Sky Design has grown into a go-to in this North Carolina port city for commercial, hospitality and residential interior design and retail.

Founded by Jennifer Kraner in 1997, the brand has grown over the years and has become a fixture in its Wilmington hometown.

“I can’t believe it’s been 25 years. It’s been so much fun for me to do this over the years,” Kraner told Home Accents Today. “It’s hard work but we love what we do. One of the things I’m particularly proud of is the breadth of work we’ve been able to do for the Wilmington community.”

Big Sky’s work can be seen throughout the region, including the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in nearby Kure Beach as well as a number of civic projects in town.

Big Sky Design_Fort Fisher aquarium

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of Big Sky Design’s notable projects.

“That was a great introduction to what interior design means to public spaces. In recent years, we’ve been doing fun projects like hospitality. It’s been interesting to see the evolution of how amenity spaces have evolved,” Kraner said. “Our team has had a fun time providing an interesting and modern and layered solution to some of these amenity spaces in different clubhouses in communities. Those projects are lots of fun. Thinking about how we started, we worked on a lot more creative commercial spaces these days. Educational spaces as well. We’ve done a lot of schools and community colleges as well.”

Five years after gaining a foothold in commercial spaces, Kraner added residential interior design to its array of services. She said that decision was made due to the opportunity in the area and it’s paid off in spades.

“We’re a destination community. We’ve been through a few recessions but thankfully as people have relocated here, Wilmington has continued to grow. I have to credit some of our growth to the community,” she said. “We get into a lot more customized solutions for our client to establish that deeper, longer-term relationship. Residential has been really rewarding.”

In addition to the business created by design projects, residential design also served as a gateway to retail. Kraner said retail has exploded and has allowed the 2021 Home Accents Today Retail Star to showcase its design chops to an expanded base.

Jennifer Kraner

Jennifer Kraner

“We’ve always been a concept-driven design firm, so our ideas have been drivers for projects. That has allowed us to create unique solutions. We’ve taken the same methodology in the shop in how we showcase the furniture in the store,” she said. “We’re giving them packaged inspiration to see what the spaces feel like. You go from one time and space in one vignette to another based on the furnishings; the beautiful materials, accessories, lighting, all the things that are brought into play. I couldn’t be happier with the retail. It shows how we present design and it’s been a hands-on experiences for everybody who walks into the shop.”

And with so much going on, Kraner said she’s excited to see what the future holds for Big Sky and the team.

“I was so much fun starting Big Sky and there was a place for it in the community. It’s my career and here I am. It’s been 25 years into it,” Kraner said. “I’m so excited to see where we are with Big Sky. It makes me proud of the hard work I’ve put into Big Sky as well as the team. Having such a dynamic and creative team for all of these years has been instrumental to the growth of Big Sky.”


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