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Capturing the Spirit of Design With Melinda Slater

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How important is this collaboration with your client?

First, I think it’s important to define what collaboration is and isn’t, at least to me. It seems that all too often collaboration is viewed negatively in our industry, and I think that’s unfortunate. Maybe there’s a fear among designers that if we collaborate with our clients, our creativity will be stifled by the client’s lack of design knowledge. I don’t agree with that. After all, the main reason a client should hire a designer is for his/her expertise. As I see it, collaboration is not about hiring a designer to ‘OK’ a clients’ ideas, it’s working with a designer to express your ideas visually and beautifully and in a way that makes sense for the space and for the client.

I see my role in the collaborative process as learning about my clients needs/wants and then translating that into a design. Yes, it is a little part pushing and prodding because we are the expert and I think we’re hired in part for our point of view. And it’s a little part listening and respecting, because it is, after all, the place where your clients live and therefore must represent them, not the designer.

And beyond collaboration with the client is collaboration with the contractor and subs/vendors on a project. It truly is a team effort and we all have to work together for the client to give them the final results they want and expect. I learned early on that clear communication is the best path to a positive outcome. There will always be problems that occur on every project and it’s how you tackle those problems that bring the desired results.

Do you find many clients surprised by the process and how you welcome their engagement?

I think that so many clients are new to the idea of hiring a designer that they don’t know what the process is or should be. So what I have noticed is that so many of my clients are surprised by how fun this process is. And while it’s true that the number of decisions that need to be made is astonishingly large, they see how helpful it is to have hired me to help them navigate the process, to keep it from being overwhelming, and also, to provide some design education in the process. Hiring a designer really takes away the burden and stress and allows for a more enjoyable process and outcome.

As you create their story and get to know them along the design process, do you find that the discovery evolves? Or do you find it does not change much?

That’s a great question. I definitely think that the discovery evolves. And it comes about, I think, through collaboration. Behind that stands education…about the why behind my design selections and also, behind my solutions to design situations that arise. Instead of me saying, “No, that won’t work,” what they see and understand is ‘why’ it won’t work. I think that helps ease their fears and concerns about having a designer who’s there to take over their house and a designer who’s there to discover who they are and weave that into their house; the first way has a tendency to lead to a sour project ending, whereas the second –the real discovery and evolution—leads to a project with a happy ending.

You were awarded a “Best Customer Service” by Houzz. How did you find out about your win and what does this mean to you?

I was awarded Houzz Best Customer Service by receiving positive reviews from my clients based on the work that I did for them and the overall outcome of their project. The reviews as I see it are less about a review of me personally, and more about how my creative work helped them solve their pain points that existed in their house and how we arrived at the overall end result.

In addition to my Best Customer Service from Houzz is my 2016 Top 20 Interior Designers in Seattle from Freshome.com. This really delighted me as I know there are a lot of great designers in our area and being a great designer is partially about the end result in the design, but it’s also about your behind the scenes communication and project management that gives you that accolade.

Business is booming and you are expanding your portfolio , what projects are excited to tackle and explore?

I’m currently working on the design of a 6-unit townhome project in downtown Bothell (Opening Spring 2018), which is in an up and coming neighborhood north of Seattle/Bellevue. It’s the largest project I’ve worked on so far and it’s exciting to see construction beginning. I have developed a great relationship with the construction company, Moon Construction, a family-owned company, and they’ve really put their trust into my skills. They’ve allowed me to explore and “play” with different layouts and finishes to create a one-of-a-kind project for them.

Beyond that, I really love the puzzle of interior design and how to come up with unique and better solutions to a design problem. To me it’s about putting the specific pieces together for my clients. It’s space planning and I love the challenge and joy of it… taking an awkwardly laid out home and creating more cohesive, workable, livable and enjoyable layout. Or taking an empty commercial space and creating something out of nothing. I’m looking forward to future collaborations with architects and contractors where I get to stretch and hone this passion of mine.

What is on your target list when visiting High Point this year? Anything specific you are hoping to come across?

While it’s always fun getting the chance to see some up and coming trends, I’m really excited to see more lighting and accessories. Lighting is a really difficult thing because it’s hard to get an idea of scale or light output just by looking on the internet, and local lighting stores are few and far between and can only carry a small fraction of what exists. Additionally, I’m looking forward to seeing area rugs and fabric; you can never appreciate the color, texture, quality or feel of a piece through your computer. Hands on is a must for me!

Creator of Lifestyle-Enriching Spaces: Verena Dalati Salme

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How much time to prefer to have on a space if a client is flexible?

In a perfect world I would love to have between 4 to 6 weeks to really sink my teeth into every client’s design – but time isn’t always on our side. These days a typically project lifecycle takes about 3 weeks which is pretty fast. If there was no limit to a project, the design process could go on for months, years even because a design is never really ‘done’!

Do you have a book of samples that you keep and create of items you want to use or reference for upcoming projects?

Absolutely! We’re always on the lookout for inspiration and pieces that capture us. When we are out and about hunting for finishes for our clients and come across a “we need to have this in our library for the future” we grab it! We also tend to use these pieces as inspiration on our social channels. I love putting together mood boards on Pinterest or sharing the treasures we find on Facebook so that current or future clients can get a bit of YB soul– no sense in keeping that stuff to yourself, right? Then the excitement comes as the pieces fall into place as a match for the perfect project!

Could you please share the latest travels and what finds you discovered?

I have to say that I love this question! Last year, my husband and I traveled to Copenhagen and fell even more in love with Scandinavian Design. We came across antiques, iconic fabrics & the minimal interiors that we went crazy over. My favorite discovery was a department store that was exclusively for furniture & home goods, Illums Bolighus. Their designs were mind blowing – everything from the furniture down to the. I also found a new liking for the color pink or ‘dusty rose’ while I was there. I’m not usually a fan, but Scandinavians use it with such sophistication that I couldn’t help starting to obsess about incorporating it into everything! Earlier this year we were able to explore Havana, Cuba – speaking about color, great-unexpected combinations! On our latest trip to Italy and France, we enjoyed the juxtaposition of the simple casual with the ornate elegance found in the interiors, architecture + lifestyle.

You are an avid traveler, what are your must go to and shops when you are out and about?

I was recently asked how I research a city I am about to visit. For me, it really depends on the city. Sometimes I start researching touristy places or dive into blogs etc. In terms of scouting the design scene of a new city, I would have to say that flea markets or antique market are a great place to start and venture off from there. I love visiting local concept stores and shops that originated in the city we are visiting as they have much to say about the history and character of those living and working in the city. We usually have a list of collected design stores before we even arrive to a city, we start adding more to the list as we meet locals or come across stores that lead to others. Honestly the best part is the chase and getting lost – you never know what you will come across!

Is every selection made by you?

Every project is definitely a joint team effort! I would love to say that I personally hand pick every selection for each client but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. I definitely lead the upfront vision for every space based on what my client and I have agreed to – but once that is solid I give my team the reigns and some autonomy to pick the individual pieces. Once they collect everything they run it by me and we collaborate on revisions, tweaks, final touches etc. to create the best design possible. That’s the beauty of a team, I couldn’t do what I do without them!

What is it about your style that sets you apart?

Tough question – honestly, I’m just me. There are days that I love one thing and the next day I could change my mind. What sets me apart is my vision for my clients and adapting accordingly. I’m an equal opportunity designer which means that I love culture, I love the fusion of the different pieces – anything goes so long as you feel it. For me, that sets me apart – there isn’t a way things should be, the possibilities are endless and I want to give that freedom and balance to my clients.

Do you see your offices expanding to other parts of the country?

The beauty of design is that it’s not limited to a single place or an office environment. YB offers e-design services which is mostly remote work – through this service we’ve been able to work with homeowners
and business owners on projects throughout the US and overseas as well. We are based in Atlanta but that doesn’t limit our reach! Even if we work on a project for a client remotely and they want us in person for the installation we are definitely flexible to make that happen.

What keeps you on your toes?

My Yellow Stilettos 😉

How do you challenge yourself when staying on the forefront of trends?

I was never a trend follower honestly. I tell my clients that trends are fun, but the goal is to create a space that is timeless and uniquely them. It is much more exciting to do something original and find that a trend is starting with some ideas you introduce.

What part of the process, is most appreciated by you?

I live for the big reveal! Its two-fold. First, when a homeowner walks into their finished space completely in awe and excited that it is more than they expected and second, when their friends and family come in and say “this is so you” – that’s the moment where it all comes together for me.

What is next for you?

There’s a lot in the works but in the immediate future we are in the process of finding a bigger space! It’s been 2 years since we opened Yellow Bungalow and we quickly outgrew our current office, which we didn’t expect. The plan is to expand into a studio space with a storefront. We’re working on creating an inspiriting work-space for our team that also accommodates our expanding clientele. I love the idea of bringing together a work-space with a tiny boutique showcasing a collection of our finds and creations. This is the natural next step for us!

Design as a Healing Art With Kathleen Garito

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Recognizable for her elegance and style; allow me to introduce Kathleen Garito of KG Interior Design based in Southern California. Kathleen’s distinctive designs are a signature blend of sophistication and seamless combination. Enjoy these selected photographs that take you for a soulful experience. What has made Kathleen’s mark on the industry is the trust she has gained from her clients. Clients understand when they work with Kathleen, the work in itself is going to be exceptionally well curated. What they receive from Kathleen is exactly what separates her and places her in a class on her own. Kathleen strives for quality work, setting a realistic deadline, and first rate customer service. Clients love that Kathleen is hands on in every capacity of the design process and is keen on understanding her client’s design needs. KG Interior Design is a powerhouse in the industry with as many as 13 projects at once, all while still consulting on staging jobs. Customer service and quality work have set this referral only firm onto the path for a busy season inspiring and creating superb designs.

Do you recall landing your first client?

Yes, it was a referral on a 6,000 sq ft home I had to stage and do the landscaping.

What is your philosophy on client relationships and customer service?

I am referral based on my customer service and quality of work. I always check in with clients whether it is there birthday, anniversary or just connecting over lunch or a game of golf. I always get more work when I reconnect.

How has it progressed from then, in attracting new clients and retaining your client base?

We are always updating our inventory. My warehouse is like a showroom clients love to come in and shop. I am always looking for that new cool product or selecting palettes for the season.

To make room for new pieces in your warehouse, do you host annual sales?

Yes, we have semi-annual sales.

What is next for you, do you have any special projects on a personal and professional level that you plan on tacking on?

Yes, we have several kitchens and bath that I love. And we have a few surprises up our sleeves we can’t wait to share!

Contemporary Touch in Designing – Emilie Pechadre

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What textiles or fabrics are your selections for either that you most prefer?

As a French designer, I try to work as much as possible with French fabric designers like Pierre Frey who is my favorite. My grandfather used to work with this fabrics firm during years. While doing my design school in Chicago, I discovered US design firms with a great fabric collection. For example, I really like the Serena & Lily and Restoration Hardware
collections. In terms of patterns, I love the stripes. They can be used in so many different ways and applications. They are timeless and can be modern or traditional.

What projects were you fascinated with that you fulfilled working on?
When I came back to France, after my expatriation in Chicago, I had the opportunity to work on a complete renovation in Paris. This design project was fascinating and challenging. I had to maintain the Parisian style of this apartment: molding, French parquet, marble fireplaces and at the same place bring modernity and coziness. The second challenge was to push my client out their comfort zone and bring wallpaper in the dinning room with a gold geometric pattern. They loved it!

What was your first design with Laurel & Wolf?

My first design project with Laurel & Wolf was in Riverwoods, Illinois. My client just moved into a ranch home and they want to decorate their living and dining area. I love designing living area because it is the place where people live and entertain. I started by dividing the space and then designed a comfy and modern living area. We had great interactions with the client. We had a lot of fun. The client was so happy of the design. And it was a success for this first project at Laurel & Wolf.

What are you hoping to create with Laurel & Wolf that would satisfy a genre of design?

I love working with Laurel & Wolf. The platform is just magic and revolutionary. In all of my design projects I try to bring my French touch and style mixing texture and paying attention to the details.

Is there a difference when working with clients in your native home vs the US?

The design approach is a little bit different between the two countries. In France, people are less used to online interactions both from a shopping and personal point of view (i.e. interaction with designers through e-mails). French people like to see and touch things and meet in person their designers.

Fashion Touches in Interior Design With Giselle Ulmo

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What was your first taste of interior design, that made you aspire to get into the Industry?

I was a fashion designer for many years which I loved and it was not until my husband and I bought our first home that my interior design passion kick into action. Our first home became a experiment design studio in which I tried different techniques and design aesthetics. Then my friends stated to request my help which lead to client referrals and the starting of my interior design business

Working in renovations in addition to interior design, how do prepare for a new project that you are getting off the ground?

I go thru a series of meetings with the client in which we discuss their design in detail. To me is a open dialog that evolves. Is all about finding the right formula for my clients. I do not rush the process but I ask a lot of questions, so it opens my clients mind to the design possibilities

What is the design/build process?

My design process varies with each client but I follow some procedures that include meetings, conversation, research, sketches, drawings and inspirations. I always share a folder with my clients in which we can share design ideas and that becomes the starting point.

Do you hire your craftsmen/women or do the clients find the team?

I have my own crew which includes trade vendors, furniture makers, upholsters, contractors and license skill men. I have also worked with the clients contractors or workers if they want that but I have plenty of good sources in all the areas of interior design and renovations.

How involved are you in the process?

I can be totally involved or just doing parts of it. As an example if a client wants me to design and project manage their whole house then I manage the whole process from design to installation. I also have instances where I am hire to consult or just decorate one room.

Construction schedule? Negotiations? By working with a design/build team, the client will have one point of contact throughout the entire project, which would you be yourself, is that correct and does that make the process easier to work on?

It is always easier for the client to work with a experience designer that understand the process especially when it comes to renovations in NYC. As a firm that has done a good amount of renovations in NYC you have to understand the procedures that are involved like submittals of work of scope, certificates of insurance, and working with reliable crew. There are many steps that many building in NY require and making the process easier and smooth is a good way to start a renovation project.

Could you please share for home owners, who are looking to have a renovation what key questions to ask there designer?

I would ask the designer if they have experience working in these type of renovation in building like they live. Understanding the building guidelines is important. I always ask my clients not only aesthetics questions but I want to know how they want the space to function for their lifestyle. A good design takes many factors into consideration.

Kitchen and bathrooms are the biggest investment in a home, is this accurate?

By far kitchen and bathrooms are the biggest investments in any home. Renovating these important rooms make a big impact and equity to the worth of your home. They are the workhorse of a home and no matter where you live homeowners want kitchens and bathrooms that function and are updated.

What has been your experience working in kitchens and bathrooms, that make this a special niche for your design firm?

After designing kitchen and bathrooms in NYC for years I have found that maximizing space is always important. No matter where you live in the city or suburban homeowners want this room to look beautiful and to function. So is not what you see on the outside is also about how organize and functional they are inside. Homeowners are looking for pull out for everything from spices and pots in the kitchen to blow dryer and toiletry in the bathroom. I say every inch counts and making these rooms work for you with savvy organizations tricks is everything.

What time saving tips could you guide a homeowner who is thinking of getting into renovations?

I say think about all you design vision, do some homework, talk to the designer honestly so she can best help you and most importantly do not rush the job.

Multicultural Flavors in Design by Sasha Bikoff

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If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I am always on a constant chase for the sun and the beach. The sun makes me happy and the ocean allows me to feel inspired. It unclouds my mind and lets my creativity roam free. Because of this, I would live in Miami in the winter and the Hamptons in the summer. I have been visiting Miami since I was a little girl and have always been influenced by the color palettes of the art deco buildings and mesh of cultures – everything in Miami is so happy and vibrant. On the other hand, I have grown up in the Hamptons and feel very connected to the farms, greenery and all American way of life. The combination of this glamorous Miami party playground and rural countryside by the sea both energizes and inspires me.

What is your favorite item to be shopping for, is it lighting , furniture, hardware etc?

My favorite item to be shopping for is fabric. I love to go through historical fabrics from old world weavers or from brands like Lelievre or Pierre Frey and find fresh ways to re-invent them through upholstery or window treatments. The art of textiles and fabric truly make a room come alive. You can add such personality to your home through texture, pattern, and material – just like paint.

How do you tackle the process when it comes to designing living spaces and workspaces in a home?

When I go into a project I look at the architecture of the building, the design, the finishes in the space, etc. Immediately I am brought back to a time and inspiration. I am inspired by iconic rooms and design in history, from paintings, hotels, villas, castles, my travels, etc. From there I interview the client. When it comes time to tackle the process, it is a combination of the architecture, my inspiration, where the space is, who my client and what my client wants. A space can start with a wallpaper, a carpet or even a color of paint – the same way we treat a canvas and pick the grounding color for your first layer. The walls, floor and ceiling are your first layer. Anything from the curtains, couch, coffee table, etc. are the second layer. Lighting is usually my third layer and then I continue to layer, adding more and more.

Do you consider designing an art or science?

I definitely consider designing an art. I am self taught and come from an art background having studied fine art in Paris and worked at the Gagosian gallery. For my projects, I do everything by hand. I make my own mood boards with giant boards and pin fabric samples and inspiration to them. I like to visualize everything in my head and put all of the color themes together – it all comes from within and therefore design really is an art. Having traveled the world and learning all different histories, you can teach yourself so much about the art of interior design.

Are there elements of the redesign that had specific sources of inspiration?

For my project on the Upper East Side, I looked to Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and french boudoir for inspiration mixed with elements of Studio 54. For my Hudson project, I took a very homey, natural and down to earth home along the Hudson river and infused glamorous elements of bras, chrome, and fur into the space for my fashionable client. For instance, the coffee table had mirror tops in the shape of rocks and the carpet was made of tufted silk called “River” because it brings to mind a flowing river. The plush, white sofa was called “On the Rocks” as it looked just like a rock formation. All of these statement pieces allowed me to tie in the natural element of the home’s location using luxury materials.

What is your favorite cultural design structure?

For instance the Atrium at Lincoln Center. My favorite cultural design structure would be the Guggenheim. I love its spiral shape as it is exactly the type of furniture I look for. It is a real conversation piece – true architecture. I am always looking for interesting shapes in furniture.

What showroom is a piece of designer gold in your opinion?

I have three. Christopher Hyland in the D&D has amazing, unique showstopper fabrics – essentially, a flea market of the craziest artisanal fabrics. My second is Stark for their old world weavers and a lot of fashion designer fabric mixed with classic, iconic fabrics from Iris Apfel and Scalamandre. My third is Pierre Frey for his prints and wallpapers from new artists.

Architectural Photography From the Shutter of Whitney Kamman

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How is that your photography you are able to capture the energy in the shot?

I try to use as much natural light as possible. I really try to capture the room as close to how the architect or interior designer intended so I don’t over light anything.

It is action and soul filled, the photographs are radiant. How do you prepare for a Shoot?

Make sure I have a back up for every piece of equipment, comfortable shoes, and lots of snacks.

For interior and architects who are looking to hire a photographer, what advise do you share?

Take a look at their style in their portfolio and be sure it is the style you are going for. Also, if you can sit down and meet with them I would recommend it as shoot days tend to be long and you will be working closely together.

Do you prefer to stay local and work or do you travel for projects as well?

I love both!

Could you share a little about your background and how it helped with your photography?

My mom is and interior designer and my dad in an architect and growing up they always taught me to appreciate great design. I have always loved photography so it seemed like a natural thing for me to do and I love it!

What is your favorite photo?

That’s a really hard question. I have lot’s of favorites… some I like because I know the story behind the photo – what it took to get the shot. But one of my favorites are of this contemporary home up in Big Sky, Montana. I love the design, the furnishings and the views.

What other photographers inspire you?

Most photographers inspire me. I love people creating art with a camera!

Decorator, Styler, Stager – Gin Treadwell

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Can you share with us how you started your career in designing?

I’ve always had an interest in home interiors. Throughout my life I have lived in a number of apartments and houses of various styles and sizes and enjoyed creating spaces tailored to my tastes and needs of the time. The catalyst that really put me on the design path was when my husband and I were on the search for a new home. We had outgrown our little house and were looking for something bigger to settle our family into. I must have looked at 30 houses in person and many more online. I was amazed at how many homes weren’t being presented in the best light and started thinking that home staging was a little used resource in my area that maybe I could tap into. I also knew I had a talent for decorating, and not wanting to limit myself, I decided I wanted to offer services both in Staging and Design. It was shortly after that I launched my business “Gin Treadwell HOME”.

Have you seen the industry change from when you began?

I’ve see an increase in stylish furnishings in a wider range of pricing which is great. It allows a client who has a smaller budget to still achieve great design. Home staging is also something that more people are familiar with. Four years ago, very few realtors in my town were interested in pursuing staging for their listing clients. Now, I’m getting calls frequently with requests for consultations and staging quotes.

Are items more accessible and do you prefer how available it is? Online shopping vs having to visit stores and schedule meetings at showrooms?

I do a lot of sourcing and shopping online, which is very convenient and allows me to look at many items and compare pricing without having to drive to multiple locations. However, I still enjoy visiting shops and showrooms- I think it’s important to see the differences between quality pieces. When it comes to upholstered furniture, I always prefer to to see the pieces in person. I like for my clients to sit in and touch the sofas and chairs to make sure the cushions feel soft or firm enough.

Would you please explain what the role of an “Interior Designer” and “Interior Decorator” are?

I think the line that separates the two is becoming a little more blurred… but technically, Interior Decorators tend to focus on decorating within an existing space by bringing in furnishings, decor and accessories. They should have a good eye for detail and assessing spaces overall. Interior Designers have the ability to take the design process further, and can provide suggestions and recommendations for home improvement, remodeling or building. They usually have relationships with various vendors, contractors and pros who can help with home improvement. Many Interior Designer have formal training or a degree in design. But there are a number of very talented Designers who have not had formal training, and formal training doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a Designer will be talented or good at their job.

You also provide Home Staging, have you found Stage homes are easier to Market ?

I do believe staged homes are easier to market. A properly staged home will highlight the positives of any property, showcasing it in the best possible way. The goal with staging is to make the home appealing to as wide a range of buyers as possible, thereby improving the chances of offers and a quicker sale. Empty houses can confuse buyers- they have no perspective on scale and furniture placement. Homes that are too taste specific tend to turn off buyers if the decor style isn’t one they personally find appealing.

Would you describe home staging as an investment for the seller of the house?

Absolutely. Staging is a valuable marketing tool that all sellers should consider. And the higher the listing price of the home, the higher the expectations of the buyer. When I stage homes I always take into account the style of the home, the neighborhood it’s located in and the type of buyer who will be looking at the property.

Have you experienced home prices increase offers and price when a home is staged?

Yes! Many of the homes I have staged have had offers within a couple of weeks at full or above listing price.

Can home sellers reach you directly or is it the real estate agent that hires you?

Yes and Yes. Many times it’s the realtor who reaches out to me first, inquiring about home staging, and then puts me in contact with their clients. But I have had sellers reach out to me directly- they find me online or hear about me through a referral.

Exceptional Design Ideas By Susan Wintersteen

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Tell us please the concept behind digital design?

Digital design is for the cost conscious consumer that needs to kick start a design plan or color schematic. This person has a good eye, doesn’t need much custom design influence, just wants a springboard to bring a space to life.

What is the latest design trend you are starting to see?

I am starting to see the return of wood and textures to kitchens, and not all white! Super exciting to see and implement some different colors and styles to our kitchens that have seen white and gray in the past few years.

In designing kitchens, do you find most people afraid of adding colors that pop? I am seeing more textures in kitchens and popping elements of a space in lieu of color. Wood, lighting etc. What in your opinion creates a serene living space?

Filling your space with a balance of color and texture and integrating personal touches and memories, keepsakes throughout bring a space full circle and allow you to surround yourself with elements you love.

Is having a coffee table a must have in a Living Room?

A central focal point in a living room is a must, an ottoman, a assortment of cubes, I believe is essential for overall balance.

What are your favorite Lighting Fixtures that are classic and worthy of the investment?

Robert Abbey’s light fixtures, an assortment of modern traditionally inspired styles are worth the investment. They can take a traditional or modern space and add that wow factor that sets it apart from your neighbor.

Remarkable Designs of Karen Ellentuck, ASID – Ellentuck Interiors

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When working with Clients , do you appreciate it when they are prepared with images, and layouts of what they want or a client that really trusts your vision and allows you to run with your ideas?

I do like it when clients have some images that give me an idea of what style they are looking for. Layouts not so much as they are usually not adept at space planning. I do work with my clients and like their feedback but sometimes their ideas are not feasible.

Are the Clients deciding which Installers, Contractors and Fabricators to hire or is this a Team of Professionals working with your Team?

Sometimes the client has a general contractor they want to work with and/or a subcontractor such as a painter, but for certain items, I have my team of people and use them exclusively on the project since I trust them.

Working alongside fabricators and installers what have been the best methods for meeting deadlines and everyone making it work?

Often times you are at the mercy of them and their schedules, so if it is really important, they try to accommodate our schedule. However, sometimes things get delayed and that is part of the process.

Having received many accolades and awards for your extraordinary works, do you feel any pressure to keep outdoing your last project?

Not really. I just work on the projects that come to me and make them the best I can. If they are good enough to submit for an award, I do so.

What apps or online sites are great resources and tools for you to spark creative inspiration?

I use Houzz for ideas on different things that I am researching

Passionate Creator Devoted to Design – Carlos Gonzalez Abreu

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Could you tell us about your background ?

I grew up in a magical colonial city in Cuba of a perfect size and scale. One that I could explore as a child; my earliest experiences of a city were so formative, striking, and etched in my memory for life. I was (at the time subliminally) awe -struck by my home town which was so pedestrian friendly, humanistically urban and most importantly grand! Then I lived in Spain for a while fully experienced the urbanity of Europe. Finally settling into the hub of the Caribbean, Miami when I was 12.

How does living in Miami surrounded by flare and culture help dictate inspiration?

Miami is truly a magical and constantly transforming place. Looking back one is struck by all the regional events that, over generations, led to migration and its hybrid culture steeped in a rich mix of the Caribbean tradition; by its unique flora/fauna; by the tropics and its history of colonization; the collision of Old and New Worlds.
Looking forward, Miami has become an international destination making the melting pot even larger; it keeps on tacking on world class food, book and art fairs; museums…inspiration mugs you when you step out the door!


What have been your Stand out Projects that you are proud of?

There are many projects, each one has their own unique circumstances that makes them memorable. One in particular marks a new plateau for the firm. After many years of practice (and after a lot of sweat; all nighters; and great conceptual projects that for some reason or other got undermined somehow so they didn’t materialize fully as envisioned) the firm was presented with a pivotal opportunity . The studio had matured a bit, expanding its scope of services from architecture only; then adding on full interior design services and the some some construction administration. However we had never fully built a project from the ground up and certainly not of the size of this project.

It’s a long story but essentially our portfolio of work kept rising in quality and scope building up to this climatic moment; it was the fruit of a tree that had been planted, fed and nurtured for more than a decade. A family enclave on a private island in the Bahamas. It started with a master plan for the site that was to incorporate several structures for a family compound on an idyllic island setting. The project was to last close to 10 years (built in phases) from early conception to full completion. We had no budget; our studio was engaged for the architecture, interior design, landscape design and (most significantly) to build the project. We had full control and at the same time no excuses to get anything wrong! This was in a remote island where there were literally no construction supplies or services I.e. couldn’t order concrete to be delivered or pumped). Everything, I mean everything from a a roll of tape up had to be imported, including most of the construction crew and equipment. It was the most challenging job, most exhausting and the most exhilarating project.

Is taking on a cultural landmark, to a commercial space involve the same design process for you?

Essentially yes. There are always the technical and functional parameters like building codes, budgets, program and accessibility of the site, etc. that vary with every project. But when it comes to injecting the spirit of the design into a project (that is the part you concentrate on after you solve the practical issues mentioned above); it’s essence, that process of exploration, inspiration, soul reaching for new connections and references …that process is the same.

What types of designs are you drawn to? Do you find yourself at times using more sculptural, or post modern designs?

We are drawn to the fundamentals; beautiful proportions; great attention to the details; buildings that have a dialogue with their site; coordinated use of finishes and honorable materials and ones that have a certain amount of inventiveness and surprise.

How would you describe your work?

Our work is about a continuous design quest, a journey which is stabilized by the accumulation of your knowledge and experiences to date; but also one of new exploration and discovery. Michelangelo said at 87, ‘I’m still learning’. That is what keeps it exciting for us.

We have the arc of our design orbit but what is totally new and challenging every time is the site and the client. We place a lot of attention to the client’s aesthetic preferences , their cultural background , and anything else that is unique to them as well as the particular characteristics of their site. Basically we are mining for anything that is distinct, anything that will help us construct a mew mosaic. One that takes us on an adventurous new path and leads to a fresh new solution; sometimes unexpected. That is when we know we are on the right path, charting new territories.


Clearly your works hold practicality and beauty, you exhibit an eye for unique detail. How do you stay ahead of the trends or challenge yourself with research and innovation new concepts?

We never think in terms of trends, those blow in with the winds and right out again. We are so inspired by the rich tapestry of cultures that have preceded us; a bottomless treasure chest . We are also intrigued by the constant surfacing of new designs. We are naturally curious about the evolution of culture and have a voracious visual appetite so we are constantly trolling for inspiration; wetter they be design magazines, blogs, social media, movies, travel, a walk down your street…anywhere really… the scanner is always on!

Erik J. Koss: Architect Maven – Creating Visual and Stunning Designs

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How do you determine which designers you will do a book on projects and how do you select your projects?

Fortunately for us, the clients that that have gravitated to us out over the years have been a truly wonderful and inspiring bunch. One of our main challenges is pulling out of them what matters most to them from a lifestyle standpoint while balancing those goals and desires with the project budget. Everyone wants a cool house and to help the environment. The trick is to zero in on the pressure points that really make each client excited and motivated.

When it comes to working with other designers and architects our goals are simple. We try to work on unique projects with a modern sensibility that have realistic budget expectations. If someone wants to re-create a French chateau in the desert, we are not the right team for you. Anyone that bends toward a more contemporary aesthetic we will work well with.

In regards to budget, with the information available to us, we try to be as clear as possible about what kind of scope the budget can support as early on in the process as possible. Our pricing proposals play a big part in that. We have found that all of our clients, from architects and designers, to the homeowner have been blown away by our bidding process and the detail of our estimates. That detail and command of the project really creates a level of trust and confidence with all the people we work with

There is succinct craftsmanship in your work that extends from concept to execution and can be observed at all levels of the design, how hands on are you in this process?

Craftsmanship truly can make the project. At first glance our projects tend to be very clean and simple aesthetically. What many people don’t realize is that it takes a lot of time and energy to make something look so simple and when something looks clean and simple it better be done with great craftsmanship or it will be easy to spot.

Each room is versatile enough to stand on its own yet crafted cohesively to work and connect the exterior and interior, how much time is devoted to each space?

In general we don’t focus on individual spaces too much. Our goal is to focus on the overall design of the project. When the overall design is in sync such as the building form, layout, structure, glazing, etc many of the smaller pieces start to work themselves out on their own. Of course when you have a kitchen or bathroom those types of spaces will require more time and energy, but even these spaces start to design themselves when the spaces around them are done well.

Most of what we do is very customized to the specific client so while we are working in big picture mode we are constantly delving back into specific details we know the client is looking for.

Could you explain why being sustainable is important to home builds nowadays?

The argument for building sustainably is easy to make, whether it is about diminishing resources such as fossil fuels and landfill space to the idea of making sure the air in our buildings is clean to breath. The list goes on and on. For us, the challenge is twofold. First we need to make sure we stay current with new products, systems and trends while also matching these new opportunities with the right project and client.

Would you describe your work as innovative and timeless?

The goal on all our projects is to create timeless designs with natural materials from sustainable sources. It really is that simple.

What is your Signature Blend?

Our signature blend is about the process. Our goal is always to work closely with clients to create a project that is timeless while striking all the notes that resonate with them. Sure we lean towards more contemporary design but that is really where the similarities end and the desires of our clients take over.

How do you select the finest grade environmentally-friendly materials?

Material selection in today’s climate is always tough. Most projects demand high performing materials that always have pro’s and con’s. Over the last several years, manmade, composite materials have had a huge impact on the building material’s market. Although some composite materials are incredible, we try to steer clear of them until they have proven themselves over time. In the end we have found that using natural materials that are responsibly sourced almost always are a good decision. Typically these types of materials will stand the test of time from an aesthetic and performance standpoint while also scoring well on sustainability.

Memorable Conversation With Carol Moore Mink; ASID Co-Founder of Moore & Mink, Inc.

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Your attention to architectural detail is on point, could you walk us through your design process with your team?

I always start off with the floor plan to make sure the space works for our client’s needs; it is much easier to edit this on paper than after it is built. Next we plug in the appropriate size & scale of furnishings before we look for the individual pieces. Once we have the furnishings identified, we coordinate the fabrics to compliment the scale of the pieces. Furniture and fabric selections are chosen based on our client’s special requirements, aesthetics and budget.

What are your most memorable stories from the early start of your career?

I was working with a Japanese client who spoke little English, but enough for us to communicate as I spoke no Japanese. She arrived in town the week before Thanksgiving and her husband gave me a tight budget and Christmas deadline to furnish their new two bedroom home. Since my client was petite, she wanted to sit on all of the pieces to make sure her feet would be on the floor, not in the air. In order to meet their deadline and budget, I took this client shopping in Denver to purchase pieces off the showroom floors. We used a Polaroid camera to take photos of the pieces we were considering then used these photos to plan her purchases. After playing our Polaroid card game of checking the prices and pieces we put together our proposal and pulled the trigger to place these orders. We had a few hours left before her flight back to Japan, so we stopped at Pier One Imports to purchase dinnerware, silverware, table linens and accessories. With our last $100.00, I took her to Apple Jacks to stock her wine rack.

When she arrived back in Vail three weeks later for Christmas she opened the door to see her new furnishings in place, including custom window treatments. She gasped and said ”it looks like a dream!”. That was my most memorable compliment ever.

New York Residence

What sort of time line do you request from a client that result in high-style glamour and simple sophistication in your projects?

That is a good question and really depends on my client’s ability to visualize and make decisions based on the choices we offer them. Some people want to plan a room at a time and others want to see how all of the furnishings and fabrics work together throughout a home before they approve our proposal. Time is a luxury for most people so we do our best to work with our client’s schedules to meet their deadlines.

New York Residence

Architectural and Interior Design Photographer, David Robinson

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How did you get into photography?

When I was in the 3rd grade, my mom came home with a Canon AE-1 camera she had just purchased for a photography class she was taking.  I could not put it down, and I must have read that manual a hundred times.  I started reading every book I could find on photography, and was intrigued by Architectural Digest that I found at the dentist office.  I thought those magazines were amazing; I was struck by the photos.

I experimented with photography through high school and continued reading every book on the subject I could find.  In college I became the staff photographer for our college newspaper.  After graduating, I assisted in two successful commercial photography studios where I learned about lighting and the process of photography – as opposed to “just taking pictures.”  Around that same time, I traveled to Europe and was really inspired by the architecture that I saw there, and that experience really opened my eyes to architectural photography. On that trip, I was thrilled to capture the Duomo in the evening from my balcony while the sky was almost a cobalt blue.

And what was it with interior photography that captured your interest?

I remember seeing the magazine Architectural Digest as a kid; I’d look at in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, and was amazed by the photos.

Which is your favorite room to photograph and why?

Luxury kitchens have the latest materials and gadgets all in one room, and to me is the most interesting room in most homes.  A great deal of creativity goes into making a space that is meant to be experienced by the homeowner.

Do you have a preference in photographing Industrial, Commercial or Hospitality if given the choice?

Hospitality by far, because I know going into the project that I can expect to see an architect or designer’s best work.  The hospitality industry is known for using the best designers and materials since the building’s aesthetic has a big impact on their business.

Are there any difficulties in photographing interior spaces? Your photographs look so crisp and effortless put together that it makes wondering if there are any fun behind-the-scenes experiences? 

I know what I envision the shot to be, but getting the camera into position can be a challenge because of space constraints.  Sometimes there isn’t even room for me behind the camera and I have to control it remotely.  I find it humorous some of the crazy things I’ve done to get a shot.  I’ve had to (unexpectedly) hang out the window of a third story dormer, just to get that perfect angle of a terra cotta rooftop.  On another occasion, there was a cat that kept climbing on top of the kitchen island to be in his favorite sleeping place.  Finally I just left him there in the shot, and the client loved it.  Some of the hardest shots to do are bathrooms with lots of mirrors – it can be tough to find a position where my reflection doesn’t show up in the picture.  Even though situations can be challenging, I really enjoy the creative process, and it is always a lot of fun.

You travel for work? Can you share what that experience and process is like?

Yes, I do.  It requires a lot of planning to make sure I have the right gear for the shoot, and it also requires a lot of thinking on my feet.  I carry back-ups for everything I use – cameras, lenses, lights – just to be safe.  It’s also really important that I’m efficient with my time and that I’m 100% sure that I get all the photos I need while I’m there, since the client is counting on me to deliver high quality images without having to make a return trip.

How long is your average Photo Shoot?

They vary, from around 6 hours up to a few days.  The weather can be an important factor – even for interior photography – when rooms have lots of windows and the view is an important focal point of the shot.  Sometimes an evening exterior shot can take 3 hours to shoot and up to 5 hours in post-production.

What should Interior Designers and Architects review and be well informed on when hiring an Interior Design Photographer? 

They need to be familiar with the American Society of Media Photographers – American Institute of Architects (ASMP-AIA) guidelines on photography licensing and usage.  Also, make sure you share your goals and expectations with the photographer beforehand and be prepared to pay for the quality you are expecting.

Why does your work make you a staple in the Industry?

I think the goal of architectural photography is to showcase the hard work, talent, and skill of architects and designers.  Oftentimes, an architect lives and works in city rather far away from a project, so the photographs are the best documentation of a firm’s hard work.  In my work, I’m very intentional to make sure that the key elements of the space are highlighted so the viewer can fully appreciate the space.

David Robinson Photography
912-509-2435

Journey to Inspiration With Samantha Ionescu

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What is your favorite co-work space or cafe that really helps motivate your design inspiration?

I love working in the vintage/eclectic inspired outdoor space at Aroma Cafe in Toluca Lake during the day when the weather is nice. If you can swing it Little Beach House in Malibu is an oasis, the first time I saw the space I think my heart skipped a beat. As far as Co-Work spaces go WeWork is amazing, they have tons of locations and amenities and the spaces are styled with a great energy.

Describe your work style & methodology?

I believe in customized practical design, I will never recommend something just because it looks good, it also needs to function well. It’s extremely important that I really get to know my clients when working in their homes. I get to know them on a level deeper than their taste in furniture and accessories, often times I am learning about their families, going through old photos and hearing stories, picking out pieces to showcase and asking questions about where and how they were procured. I take all of that information and I consider it very carefully when planning out a client’s space.

What type of work environment do you prefer?

Organized and relaxing, I don’t work well in an untidy space, it’s too distracting for me. It’s also really important that the space be ergonomic and the lighting is key. I love working in natural daylight if I have the choice or under the warm glow of an Edison bulb.

Do you spend more time on Pinterest or Instagram?

I spend a good amount of time on both, I follow a lot my favorite furniture manufacturers and designers on Instagram, it’s where I go to get my design “news” and save images for inspiration. Part of my design process actually involves creating a joint Pinterest board with my clients, I encourage them to pin images they love in the beginning of the process to use as inspiration and then as the design starts to unfold I make room specific boards to use as quick glance presentations, it’s an immensely useful tool for me.

What was your biggest Splurge for a Client?

I specialize in working on a budget so the splurges are usually few and far between. There are a few key elements that I will encourage my clients to spend a little more on and that’s usually sofas, bed frames, mattresses and rugs, I feel that the quality for those items is key.

Can you make my old furniture work in a new-build property?

Definitely, if you’re flexible! Working with a clean palette is a dream in terms of creativity but I personally love working with existing pieces and finding a way to bring everything together cohesively. I try to find a way to incorporate anything that holds sentimental value, whether it’s painting, re-purposing, reupholstering or re-imagining the piece all together.

Do you get involved in the exterior of the home design for instance, garden landscaping?

I deal a lot with outdoor furniture and outdoor living spaces. I’ll offer my opinion on exterior elements including the paint colors and will map out a general space plan for the landscape however I don’t have much of a green thumb. I’m very grateful to the experts at my local nurseries for answering all of my gardening questions.

Can you make home family friendly and still have it look chic?

Absolutely! It’s all about durability and organization. If you chose the right fabrics and finishes any family space can look chic and still be comfortable and maintainable.

How do you stay on top of the latest trends or do you have to?

Instagram and Pinterest are daily go-to’s for me as well as major design publications, blogs I follow and even some Interior Decor groups on Facebook, one of which I run. I’ve also been lucky enough to have worked for some amazing showrooms in the last ten years and I’ve learned so much about a number of brands. Currently I work for A+R in Los Angeles, an independent retailer of beautiful designer furniture from all over the world.

Is it more about being informed on different Era’s and Design styles to help education Clients on what work in their Space?

Sometimes that is the case but I find that most of my clients have a pretty eclectic taste so those rules end up broken more often than not. I’d say it’s actually more about teaching my clients about coordinating lines, scale, color and texture. The most interesting and inspired spaces don’t stick to one era or design style.

 

An Oracle in Design World – Ariana Lovato

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How did you get into the Industry?

I could remember as a kid I loved old buildings. Something about them was so majestic to me. My best friend friend’s mom was an Interior Designer and I always thought her job looked so fun. I took Interior Architecture classes in high school and worked as an intern for an architecture firm before I graduated. I traded out my small town for the concrete jungle of downtown LA to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising for Interior Design. Once I graduated, I moved home and worked for my friend’s mom for three years before earning my Bachelor’s in Business. Since then, I’ve worked in product design and worked for a Design/Build firm before venturing out on my own in 2016.

Do you look back at your earlier work and celebrate your early accomplishments or are they projects that make you blush?

Of course in hindsight there is always something to change… But I have to say that I gave it my all at the time!

There’s a great range of fabrics and materials around that will protect your home from children’s sticky fingers and other little accidents what are your favorite items that you tend to lean towards and work wonders for your Clients?

For clients with pets or children, I always recommend some sort of ultrasuede or man made material since they are so much easier to clean. For flooring, there is a great product by US Floors called “Cortec” that is a luxury vinyl tile. They have a great collection of “tiles” that look like wood and are essentially scratch and waterproof when installed correctly!

Do you prefer to shop online or go out and explore in person? What are your go to references that you can absolutely count on?

I do a combo of both. The area that I live in doesn’t have a lot of great options in person. There are so many amazing vendors and sources out there. It really depends on what you are looking for!

Is there a Project that still lingers on your mind? If so why?

There is a marble bathroom that I completed a few years ago that I think about a lot. My client was my ideal client and I had such an amazing team to make it come to life. It turned out so beautiful that I wish I could do it again!!!!

What inspired your own personal Home living Space?

I have pets (two pugs) so my space is super functional. I have an ultrasuede sofa and hardwood flooring so they are super easy to clean!

What stands out in your home that is a true fit to your personality?

I have several antique pieces that are close to my heart. I love adding something antique into every single space that I design. Not only are those pieces well built, they have so much character!

Do you find your friends or neighbors asking for Design advice?

All the time. This is super common. I usually don’t mind though 🙂

What do you hope to accomplish as a Designer in the next 5 years?

My dream is to work on a boutique hotel, so I would love to make that a reality! In the meantime, I will continue to work on new builds and remodels as those are also so much fun for me. Continuing education is also very important, and plan to be a certified Kitchen and Bath Designer within the next year. Another goal of mine is to give back to the community by working on a non profit project!

We Had the Pleasure of Talking Recently to Dani Widell

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Do you oversee the entire project from ground up?

There’s no part of the process that I don’t oversee personally. And, because I’m the general contractor on my project s, it’s my job to confirm that work is performed as designed and specified.

Renovation to completion then designing the interior of the home?

Other than stabilizing the structure and making the home weather proof, the design has to be complete before renovation can begin.

Could you share 3 tips that are MUST do’s for renovating? 

a. Structural inspections are a must. If you’re not a seasoned house renovator, you won’t be able to identify or understand the cost of various structural repairs (e.g. replacing a bulging basement wall, piers, French drains, adding supports or wood rot repair.) Structural repairs should always be executed first. Structural repairs can shift the house which could cause damage to tile, drywall, and trim.
b. Make a budget, stick to the budget.
c. The entire space needs to be designed cohesively. Don’t begin work until your design is complete and you know all the materials are available. The house should feel warm and well thought out, not pieced together.

How do you stay under Budget?

The best way to stay on budget is to understand that something will come up. I tend to have approximately 10% contingency in my budget. If I don’t use it, great. But I start off with realistic expectations.

How do you select the Home? Projects?

The most important factor is a desirable area. I enjoy a challenge, so I try to buy the worst house on the best street. Poor flow, and bad floor plans are easy to fix. Also, the best value is often the house in the worst shape. Fewer people are interested in taking on major project.

With most trends, are there some that you love and some you prefer they make their way out quickly?

I mostly renovate historic homes. While I like to utilize period appropriate tile, like subway and hexagon, I tend to follow kitchen trends. Granite has been popular for ages. However, quartz is really popular these days.

What information can you share with clients that are mostly overlooked but essential to the process?

A lot of people are interested in homes in the area surrounding down-town Tulsa. The appraisal on a home in these unique areas is too often over looked during the design and renovation process. The client should be aware of both the cost to add a feature as well as the value that feature adds to the project. For example in Oklahoma, the standard value a 2 car garage on an appraisal is 5k. However if you build one it would cost 25k+. It’s an unpleasant realization to view your appraisal and learn that the extra bathroom you spent ten thousand dollars on only increased the value of the house by twenty-five hundred.

Passionate Designers at Scouted Home: Ashley & Brittany

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How did you get into the Industry?

I’ve had a passion for interior design and decorating since childhood. Friends and family have forever encouraged me to turn that into something- whether to start a blog or create media content…anything! Brittany’s had experience in the field for several years- working as a set designer during her time in LA. That led her to work in event planning and later to merchandiser for a major retail and home brand. We teamed up in 2016 to form our company Scouted Home!

And at what point did you decide to expand your offices?

We actually started out as both a Los Angeles and Nashville based company. We knew that I’d lead our LA projects and Brittany leads Nashville. We’re able to reach two markets as well as handling E-Designs for clients outside our areas. There’s a lot of collaborating and a lot of Facetime going on just to run our day to day!

Do you find that in each city being LA and Nashville that there is particular style difference?

Yes and no. The most distinct difference would be that LA leans more coastal while Nashville leans more rustic. But there’s a lot of style similarities in between! Our clients generally include artists and creative types, young professionals and small families. These kinds of folks typically share a desire for unique, bold and comfortable living spaces, no matter their city!

When selecting items for the Home, what ranks top on your list? Is it pieces being functional and multipurpose?

Design definitely ranks at the top of our list! We are constantly looking for (or “scouting”) unique, artisanal or vintage pieces to add to our projects! No matter how well designed something may be though, it has to work within the space. So we definitely take into consideration the needs of each individual client. I’m a mom so safety and durability are biggies for me!

The E Design concept, how does your Client react knowing that hiring a Designer is available and accessible not just for particular Client ?

Our E-Designs are a great option for a few different types of clients! But particularly for those who want to achieve the “designer look” but don’t have the time or budget to invest in our Full Service Design. Our E-Design clients are always excited and eager to get their process started! We love getting their pictures and seeing the whole process unfold via our inbox. They like knowing that they can have a carefully thought out design but can get to it on their own timeline! So far, we’re loving what we are seeing from our E-Design clients and it’s awesome that we’re essentially “meeting” people all over the US!

How was this changed your Business Model?

Our business model started with E-Design and it helped our business grow in its first year! We’re pretty tech savvy and with this being a common and almost expected practice in our industry at this point, we’ve done it all along!

How much time is spent researching new products? Vendors, and Stores?

Countless hours… but it’s a legit hobby of ours and the reason behind our name!

Or do you find you have your go to already established?

We have established some really great relationships with vendors, artists, and makers but we’re always adding!

What has been an acquired aesthetic that has grown on you that you were not necessarily a fan of?

I’m wrapping up a very modern glam client and Britt just wrapped a musician who loves steampunk and rare oddities- both outside of our usual wheelhouse but I must say they’ve been our most fun projects to date! It’s definitely nice to work outside of your comfort zone a bit!

What is the most exciting part of the Process for you?

The most exciting part is without a doubt completing the project and knowing we’ve got a happy client! There are definitely some exciting milestones along the way though! Specifically, we love collaborating with each other. It comes very natural and we really trust each other’s eye. The “after” photos are always extra fun too!

Reflecting Words by Amber Thomas & Julie Brown

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What is the Providence Interiors backstory?

Amber Thomas and Julie Brown have both worked in the interior design industry since the mid 1990′s and joined forces in the Spring of 2010. Both spent many years helping friends with their homes. Julie started off sewing custom draperies, bedding and pillows. While Amber had gone to school for accounting, she too helped friends and like Julie, she became known for her design skills among friends and family. Over time, they each built up interior design businesses on their own. The bond between their children ultimately leads the two becoming friends and the decided to join forces which led to the formation of Providence Interiors.

When was it time to open a shop, and add to your team? Did you bring new employees right away? For designers who have thought of opening a shop, what feedback do you have to share?

Amber and Julie were offered excellent advice very early in the game to open up a showroom in addition to their design services. At first the showroom was managed and operated by both Julie and Amber. As soon as the store opened, they realized they needed someone to manage the showroom and eventually they hired a few part time employees to help out. It wasn’t until year two that they hired additional designers and multiple full time employees. For designers who have thought of opening a shop, their advice is to be ready to work hard and put in the hours to establish relationships with your clients AND customers! Initially it was very time consuming to manage both, but now that they have a talented team in place, they can focus on what they love the most.

How does your Process work in selecting which furniture and lighting to carry in your shop and other “Home Decor” items?

Our store motto is Unique Finds and Design. When selecting furniture, lighting and accessories, we always keep that motto in mind. We also try to make our showroom a reflection of who we are so that customers get an idea of our design aesthetic as soon as they walk in!

Do you find there are times of the year that focus your buying, traveling to shops to stay ahead of the trends?

We travel to various furniture and antique markets throughout the year, but fall is our busiest time. We always get inspired by what we see and what’s trending, but we tend to get inspiration from nature the most. We look at the colors in nature and see the different ways the light plays against objects. That never changes, so we incorporate natural objects and colors into our designs to keep a space grounded and not too trendy. We want a space to be comfortable for a long time.

Providence Interior Design Photography of Brentwood Residence

What questions should a new client whom has never worked with a designer before ask? What is your design process?

It’s good to know how designers work and how they bill their clients. What is the time-frame of this project? It helps the designer to know if there is a time-frame as well!

What types of projects do you see changing the Nashville vibe?

Nashville is growing fast with over a hundred people a day moving here. As a result, builders are building more homes on smaller lots. Also, there are many high rise condos going up all over the downtown area. People desire smaller, unique spaces that fit their lifestyle.

Providence Interior Design Photography of Brentwood Residence

What inspiration do you draw with developers to keep the old Southern Charm? If you do, or do you prefer this route?

We love the white painted brick homes with big front porches that is trending with many builders and developers.

What are your favorite blogs?

La Dolce Vita
Living with Landyn
Velvet and Linen

How do you balance it all?

Our families will always be our top priority. We have structured our business so that we have time for our families and ourselves. We are thankful to have a team of amazing women who each contribute and allow us to stay balanced!

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