Nancy Barsotti: From Traditional to Chic

nancy_aboutThe Steel City is filled with tradition and passion. Interior decorator and Pittsburgh native Nancy Barsotti knows exactly how to design for her city while getting the most for her clients.

Thanks for joining us, Nancy! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.

I decided in high school that I wanted to be an interior designer.  I studied and received my degree in Interior Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and have worked as an interior designer for my entire professional life.  It has been a very good career!

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?

I try to understand the client’s lifestyle by their home, existing furnishings and I ask a lot of questions.   Of course I listen closely to what they are saying and showing me in their home.  I try to develop a rapport with them at the first meeting.

Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

No matter the problem or challenge, communication is key.  Asking questions, resolving issues with honest answers and just being upfront when something unexpected arises.  I try to “leave no stone unturned” in trying to find a good solution and satisfy my clients. I think the main challenge today is how much quality products cost and conveying that to clients – who usually have no idea what they want or need to spend – is the biggest challenge.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

I do not like the design shows!  I watch very few of them, and usually by accident. They have given the public an unrealistic idea of how projects are handled, accomplished and what the costs would be.   Designers have to explain that this is “not real” in terms of accomplishing their goals.

From the outside it seems like Pittsburgh focuses on incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of history into your designs.

Pittsburgh has had a history of being a very conservative, traditional city.  But as people have relocated to the city, traveled and see new sources, they are becoming more “eclectic” in their style and tastes.  I love historic preservation and we have a lot of wonderful, older homes in Pittsburgh. (I live in a 100+I home and my office building, which I also renovated, was a turn-of-the-century Victorian commercial building.)  So obviously I am a big proponent of using antiques, family heirlooms and furnishings that showcase a home’s history.  Clients tend to  enjoy the ability I have to use things that they have and feature them in their homes in ways they had not considered.

Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed? What did it look like before? After?

My best projects are those that the client has trusted me to do what I think is the right thing – and have been realistic about the budget as well.  Just recently I completed a project for a wonderful couple.  Their home is from the 1920s with some additions to it to enlarge the kitchen area.  They like the original style of the home with its wood and traditional architecture.  We used lots of antiques and period wall coverings and carpets (including a Chinese Art Deco area rug they had hiding in the attic).  The fun part though was their fabulous collection of 1960s era art – even signed Jerry Garcia watercolors!   The combination was a great challenge and it was fun to work with such an unusual combination.  The clients are so nice and we had a great time working on the project.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?

As you might imagine, I like hardwood floors so selecting area rugs is an integral part of most of my projects.  Whenever possible I encourage people to either refinish their hardwood floors or install new ones.  I like area rugs for any room, in any style of home design and use them as often as possible.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

I like Orientals – both new and old – of many different styles.  The selection relating to durability, maintenance and such is based on the use of the room, traffic patterns, etc.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

No matter what I am selecting for a client, my advice is always to buy the best they can afford.  Sometimes the rug is really the centerpiece of the design of the room.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers!

Obviously that would increase the rug budget.   But to cut-down on the price, a client could consider a smaller rug but of good quality and arrange the furnishings accordingly.

 

100 Best Interior Design Twitter Feeds

Designers are particularly good at working with minimal space, so it should come as no surprise that their tweets are usually concise and captivating. Below are 100 of our favorite places to find inspiration, tips, and advice on anything and everything related to interior design. Check them out!

1. Design By IKEA: IKEA’s official Twitter page is chock full of cool tips and quintessential IKEA style.

2. Erganic Living:A home design blog with a happy, upbeat Twitter feed focused on design.

3. Love Home: A UK-based TV show focused on DIY and design projects.

4. Dwell: Modern, bold design is everywhere on this blog, which follows trend and reinvents classics daily.

5. MBrewczynska: Contributor to a UK-based blog called Inventive Interiors, Margaret is an “Interior Design Wizardess.”

6. Interiors Expert: Catherine runs an online boutique based in the UK, and her Twitter feed is full of cute, smart ideas.

7. About Property: About Property is a seemingly never-ending source of expertise on interior design, gardening, property law, and home improvement.

8. Sabrina Soto: Target Style Expert, clean freak, designer, and host of HGTV’s High/Low Project, Sabrina has a lot going on. Check out her Twitter feed to get style tips from the lady herself.

9. Home and Garden Blog: A great source of inspiration for everything home and garden.

10. The Sofa Guy: Paul may be “The Sofa Guy,” but he’s known for his inspirational quotes, tips, and advice as well.

11. New Creations International: A hub of interactive design talk, tips, and inspiration.

12. Homedios - You’ll find everything from teenage bedroom design ideas to eco-friendly home tips on this page.

13. Spa Style Inc: As the name suggests, you’ll find a ton of spa-inspired style tips here, to help bring tranquility and zen to your decorating.

14. Home Design Tips: HomeDesignTips is all over design trends and gossip, making them a source for unique ideas.

15. Home Style Guide: Based in South Africa, HSG covers everything from home to garden, and everything in between.

16. LuvneCom: Here you’ll find interior design inspiration, as well as other places to find interior design on the web.

17. GE Lighting Guy: Brice is an expert in lighting and interior design, and you’ll find a surplus of knowledge on his Twitter feed.

18. KG Style Inc: Budget friendly style lovers need look no further than this awesome feed for everything relating to styling on a dime.

19. Creative Indoors: You can find all kinds of design tips here, for every type of budget and space.

20. Eugene Decorating: Minimalist decorating lovers rejoice, this one’s for you.

21. Adore Your Place: DIYs and passionate decorating abound here, and readers are guaranteed inspiration in every post.

22. Houzz: The ubiquitous home design resource that everyone seems to know has ideas and tips for anyone, anywhere.

23. Home Spire: Simone is a home design maven with an eye for design and fearless style.

24. Indoor Outoor Style: A more modern take on design is featured prominently at indoor outdoor style, and city-dwellers will adore the small space tips.

25. Carrie Jayne: Carrie wears many hats, among them are visual merchandiser, interior designer, and designer of school play backdrops.

26. Premium Sofas: If you ever had a question about choosing a sofa, look no further than these guys.

27. Interior Your Home: Younger sister to Architect Your Home, this site provides interior design advice from the perspective of analytic minds.

28. Denise Willard: Denise is chock full of design ideas, especially for people in urban or transitional living settings.

29. Plumbs: Plumbs specializes in coverings of all kinds, from reupholstering to curtains to slip covers.

30. Simply Stunning: This site has all kinds of advice related to all kinds of home decoration. From DIY to market trends and real estate advice.

31. The Shadecard: These guys rock at repurposing design materials. and their feed is full of design advice for new and old alike.

32. Design and Refine: High-tech design abounds here in the form of 3D imaging and conceptual ideas.

33. Decor Interiors: A Boston-based interior design firm specializing in window treatments and fabrics.

34. Source 4 Interior: These guys describe themselves as a “virtual design firm,” and they work with clients over phone and email offering design advice.

35. Sarah Vespasian: Sarah is the creative director for prariehive.com, but her personal Twitter account is full of her fun, creative design aesthetic.

36. Gill Horner: Another UK based design firm which offers up tons of advice on interior design and handmade furnishings.

37. Jan Rothwell: Jan runs a company called Girl About The House, which has a ton of ideas for home renovation, DIY, and decorating.

38. Sheila Bird Group: This company specializes in interior design in office spaces, helping companies relocate and invigorate their spaces.

39. Interior Designr: Specializing in “no pretense interior design,” these guys serve up practical advice with a serious dose of humor.

40. Nothin’ But The Rent: If you pay rent, you must check these guys out. They cater to people who rent their abodes, helping make a home out of your space.

41. Kris Ginsberg: Kris specializes in home staging, but her tips are excellent for anyone looking to update their look.

42. Aya Concepts: These guys have a ton of advice on a ton of topics.

43. Concept DCF: Concept offers specialist advice for everyone from owners to builders and developers.

44. Strchd Interiors Kids: The best place to go for kids decorating advice may well be Stretched.

45. FJ Terry Designs: This London-based designer loves all things cool, contemporary, and classic.

46. eHomeBuilder: Budget conscious and seriously stylish, ehomebuilder is full of advice for anyone looking to update their look.

47. Butler Silcock: UK based source for everything interiors, including homebuying and decorating.

48. Stylebeat: Style-obsessed interior design lovers will drool over the awesome advice Marisa comes up with.

49. Floorsave: Everything you needed or wanted to know about flooring in one place? Oh yeah, it’s as good as it sounds.

50. Home Interiors NZ: This New Zealand-based interior design firm is full of design advice for anyone.

51. Lavish_Habitat: Lavish manages interior design projects and offers up free advice and fun updates on their work.

52. Jblovesdesign: Winner of HGTVs Design Star, Jennifer is a wearer of many hats.

53. Designerdiscfab: A Florida based fabric boutique with serious savvy and style.

54. Grace_INSEARCH: Grace is a design grad student in Sydney with a love for “art, arch, and design.”

55. Yasmin Holloway: Yasmin is a lover of all things interiors, and shares her insights on her Twitter.

56. Bloompapers_USA: The creators of a reusable faux-wallpaper line perfect for renters and committmentphobes, Bloompapers allows you to buy only what you need.

57. Pygmalion A1: A married team of designers take on all kinds of design situations at their firm.

58. Village Green 67: Village Green focuses on certain periods of design, translating them to home restoration and interior updates.

59. Kirsti Jones: Kirsti is a budding interior designer who shares all of her insights on her blog and Twitter.

60. MetropolisMag: Metropolis is a magazine at the forefront of architecture and design.

61. Decor Town: This site launches soon, but their Twitter page is already growing as a design obsessed community.

62. Frame Publishers: Frame is a European publication that stays at the forefront of design and architecture.

63. Windsor_Smith: A force in the interior design world, Windsor Smith creates rooms with color, texture, style, and purpose.

64. Color Age Inc: Based in NY, this design firm is focused on fantastic, cost-effective design.

65. LAkasa DESIGN: Ligia is a professional interior designer full of fun ideas for anyone to try in their own home.

66. Interiors Addict: Jen is a journalist turned interior designer who loves all kinds of design.

67. HomeAdore: This magazine covers everything architecture and interior design.

68. ASID: The American Society of Interior Designers is a gigantic community of interior design professionals nearly 30,000 strong. 

69. Designboom: Designboom is a magazine devoted to interior design that has been around since 1999.

70. Style At Home: Style At Home is a leading interior design magazine in Canada, and their web editors on Twitter display their serious style tips for anyone.

71. Remodelaholic: Cassity and Justin have remodeled a few houses in their day, and they’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

72. GHIDinc: Based in Portland, this firm loves all things interiors, from bath to remodeling to design.

73. NY Times Home: This ubiquitous publication that almost needs no introduction has, unsurprisingly, an excellent Twitter with awesome tips and tricks.

74. Colin Justin: Colin and Justin are the hosts of HGTVs “Colin & Justin’s Home Heist,” but you can find their expertise in a ton of different projects, including Twitter!

75. House and Home: House and Home is a Canadian publication with a plethora of advice for anyone looking to update their home.

76. Carolynlschulz: Carolyn teaches DIY jewelry, but she also has a serious passion for interior design.

78. MCarterCo: Carter & Company interior design has a classic, cool design aesthetic.

79. Latimeshome: LA Times Home is West coast style for anyone, regardless of your zip code.

80. Phaidon: Phaidon is a daily digest of the coolest interior design knowledge that the Internet has to offer.

81. Coreasotropa: Jacqueline is a designer, blogger, and all-around wonder woman of the design world.

82. Kmarthome: Kmart has always been known for budget friendly style, and they are no different on Twitter.

83. CentsationalGrl: Kate is obsessed with DIY projects and generally being fabulous for less.

84. 7th House Blog: Ashley is a designer and blogger whose blog chronicles her house to home projects.

85. GDLive_UK: Grand Designs Live is an biannual show that takes place in London, showcasing the best and brightest in design.

86. RSVP_Design: Specializing in custom, luxury remodeling in the Dallas, TX area.

87. Designerluv1: Teri is a professional designer who loves antiques and art.

88. Wayfair: You can find “a zillion things home” at Wayfair, a home design and improvement store. On their Twitter feed you’ll find “a zillion tweets home.”

89. CreateGirl: Julieann is a design consultant whose expertise and tips can help anyone spruce up their space.

90. CambriaQuartz: Cambria specializes in stone surfaces for the home, with eco-friendly practices and gorgeous patterns and colors.

91. Homedesignlover: A new design blog focused on giving inspiration and advice to anyone.

92. USBDHomeDesign: The US Building Digest keeps up-to-date on home building trends and design.

93. Home Design Blog: An online resource of interior design tips and tricks.

94. SPACEStv: Spaces is an on-the-rise Youtube channel devoted to interior design.

95. Terriart1: Terri is a design expert with tons of knowledge on interiors, gardens, and better living.

96. HomeDesigns: A collection of some awesome tips from top designers on Twitter.

97. Alicia Friedmann: Interior designer Alicia is an expert at balancing design aesthetic with her customers personal tastes.

98. Fresh Design Blog: Contemporary design advice for anyone looking for some inspiration.

99. Viahouse: Online resource for modern design tips and home improvement advice.

100. Living With White: A modern design blog coauthored by two white-loving designers with a fresh perspective.

Gladys Schanstra: Contemporary at Heart

GladysAs Gladys Schanstra knows, you don’t need a lot of clutter to make your interior design a hit.

Thanks for joining us, Gladys! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design.

I actually began as an engineering student (double major in mechanical and aerospace engineering).  After a couple of years, I decided to change to interior design as I am naturally drawn to space planning and enjoy working with different materials to recreate an environment.

What would you describe as your style? Influences? Designers you emulate?

I am probably more contemporary at heart – clean lines with a hint or mixture of the unexpected such as adding a reclaimed post or beam in a minimalist kitchen.  I initially started school at IIT so Mies van der Rohe was everywhere.  It was interesting that I actually hated the “boxes” as we referred to them then, but now get fired up when asked to do a similar modern classic design.  In the kitchen and bath industry, there is a lot of DeGiulio and Christopher Peacock influences as well as Candace Olson.  I admire their creativity.

When you enter a room can you tell if it has been professionally decorated? What are the tell tale signs?

Yes, because there is balance and coordination of shapes and colors and patterns.  When you enter a room that has been designed properly, it feels welcoming and it draws you in.  Most times people don’t even know why they like something and why they don’t.

Illinois is a state that does everything on a massive scale. What are some projects you most proud of and why?

There is one project that I had the privilege to work on – it was a whole house remodel and the client’s taste were modern with a hint of “old world”.  It was actually a cape cod style home that was gutted and with an addition that enlarged the kitchen and living space and created a master suite in the second floor, it was pretty rewarding.  Between dark cabinets with white engineered stone and wavy “ebb & flow” backsplash tiles and drum pendants, the contemporary side was certainly dominant.  However, the family room had old reclaimed wood shelves above the TV console, adding that element of surprise/unexpected.  I also worked on a project in Bermuda on a historical home that is the site of the first tennis court in the Western Hemisphere.

Are there any rules you must follow when decorating your own space? When should you call in a designer?

I always think it is great to know and master the rules so you know when to break them.  I think understanding the five principles of design (alignment, contrast, repetition, proximity, and balance) is important and utilizing them beyond the obvious is how you get unique and creative spaces.  I think it is a good idea to consult a designer whether remodeling/building an entire home or a small room or nook.  The contributions they add to the process and the final result is invaluable.

We like rugs. Tell me a little about the various ways your incorporate them into your designs.

I like to use rugs as accents as well as to define space.  It can frame an area or draw your eye towards a direction.  It can add color, texture, or patterns, and helps with sound absorption.  Rugs can also be hung or framed.

Why do you rely on area rugs? What is the biggest addition they make to a room? Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work? Any that you avoid?

Area rugs give you the flexibility of moving them around, changing the orientation, and using a different material for the permanent flooring.  They add color and warmth.  I have used many sizes, ranging from 8′x 10′ or larger, runners that are 4′ x 10′, or modular units.  There is not one size I avoid in particular, I think they all have a purpose depending on the application.

Thanks for your time! 

Kimberly JOI McDonald: Living, Breathing, and Designing Vegas

Photo-KimberlyJoiMcDonaldSin City is best known for big shows and gaudy interiors, but Kimberly Joi McDonald proves that with hard work and dedication to design Vegas can once again be chic.

Thanks for joining us, Kimberly Joi.  Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in interior design?

Thank you for having me as part of AreaRugs.com .  I have always had an interest in interior design.  However, as a very young girl, my interest in design and creativity actually began with fashion design.  In fact, during high school, there was a very brief stint of which I designed a few hand-sewn garments.  Subsequently, during my college years, I branched out and created elaborate and hand-sewn Halloween costumes such as Super Girl, Cleopatra and Daffy Duck.  I have always been creative, and I played the flute and piccolo in my formative years, high school and college. 

As a “go-getter,” and after a successful first career as a 12-year local government lobbyist and executive, I forged an exciting second career in the interior design world.  From 1997-2008, I was the State Legislative Affairs Officer/Lead Lobbyist for the City of North Las Vegas at the Nevada State Legislature. In October 2005, I began going to school full-time at night to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design.  In June 2008, I left to recover from a very serious health scare, formed Designing JOI, LLC  in 2008, and finally graduated from the Art Institute of Las Vegas with Honors in March 2009.  I then served as a professional interior designer in the Design Salon of the Las Vegas Design Center at World Market Center Las Vegas (under the auspice of the American Society of Interior Designers [ASID]).  Regarding my academic credentials, I possess a Masters in Public Administration (Magna Cum Laude), a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design (Honors).  

My design mantra is to execute successful, beautiful and custom sustainable designs, for high-end residential and hospitality projects, with efficient, functional spaces tailored to meet the client’s needs.  I am the Founder and Past President of the Interior Design Society Las  Vegas Chapter (2011-12), a first for Nevada, and I served a brief stint as Finance Director of the ASID California Central/Nevada Chapter (Oct. 2011 – Feb. 2012).  I was asked to serve on the National Interior Design Society Board of Directors (2013-14).  In September 2012, I was awarded to be one of the Winners of the ASID Design Excellence Awards (3rd Place Remodel) of the ASID California Central/ Nevada Chapter.   And there you have it, as my budding design career continues to grow.   

You live and work in Las Vegas.  What are some Sin City themes you carry into your design.  Is there a prevalent nautical influence in area designs? Which elements do you use?

“What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas,” is a notorious and brilliant slogan that comprehensively captures the spirit of our neon city.   Las Vegas is an internationally renowned and world class resort destination…. known for its gambling, fine dining, shopping, club scene, legendary entertainment, recreation, travel experience, party lifestyle, and yes, even art.  If one wanted to perceive that “sin city” themes are integrated in my design process, I would say that I abstractly translate and execute the philosophy of designing boldly….just as Las Vegas is a bold city.   In Las Vegas, we are very fortunate to have world-renowned brilliant design icons, visionaries and pioneers of exquisite and innovative design and architecture, especially regarding hospitality design.  Las Vegas has some of the most glamorous, modern, fantasy-like, unique and cutting edge hospitality design structures and businesses in the world.  The mere comforts of luxurious hospitality design and the hotel experience, coupled with smart home technology, continue to drive and greatly influence residential design and what residential clients desire.   Other sin city themes of Las Vegas that can be abstractly extrapolated are by providing clients with spaces that create ambience evoking fun, relaxation, serenity or excitement, as well as “playground spaces” that are bold, daring, and inspire creativity or contemplative thought. 

As a professional interior designer for both residential and hospitality design, I design according to the aesthetic or style of my client.  Moreover, I appreciate the beauty of all design styles.  The nautical or coastal design style is just one of many we use, in addition to traditional, contemporary, transitional, mid-century modern, minimalist, eclectic, English, French, Spanish, Tuscan,  tropical, country, other specific theme styles, or hybrids of these.  Design elements of line, color, form/shape, texture, pattern and space are employed, as well as, the design principles of proportion, scale, balance, rhythm, emphasis (focal point), unity and variety,  all of which designers use as our cornerstone to achieve great design.  These design elements and principles are “no gamble,” if you will,  for they are the  cornerstones of design.   

All spaces are unique, but in Vegas you must find that there are design features every client wants. Which are most popular? Any type of furniture or finishing you find dependable in pleasing your client? 

Consistent design features my clients want  are architectural details, crown molding, hardwood floors, decorative tiles, stainless steel appliances, unique lighting, granite, quartz or Caesar stone countertops, spa baths, smart home systems, and fun outdoor spaces.  The furnishings and finishes are diverse depending upon the project.  And no matter what the design style or aesthetic, casual or formal, my clients want a feeling and sense of luxury. 

What are your first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your design experiences and current forms of inspiration?

My priority in working with both new and existing clients is to listen very intently to identify their design needs, identify their design style or help them define their aesthetic, and introduce them to  unique design ideas….all the while enjoying a collaborative design experience.  It is very important that my clients are happy and enjoy their space, despite the ups and downs that may occur during the design process.  Designing is fun! The beautiful reality about inspiration is that it is both the origin and outcome of everything we see, interpret, articulate, touch and dare to dream.  As a  professional interior designer and former government executive, I maximize my creative and analytical experience, and corporate and professional sensibilities to ensure that my clients have an overall joyous design experience.      

Vegas is a unique city.  Tell us how you use area rugs in your designs.

I use area rugs as either decorative or functional components.  Area rugs can be used as a focal point, to define a space and unify seating arrangements or areas.  Area rugs can add texture, color and/or pattern to a room, add texture, and even reduce noise.  In short, area rugs pull a  space together and make it cohesive.  Sizes vary and can be room size rugs, dining room rugs, seating area rugs, hallway rugs, foyer rugs and runners. 

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Area rugs chosen for my designs are selected on a case-by-case basis.  As a professional interior designer, I truly appreciate the beauty of all styles and how area rugs enhance, unify and function in a space.  I hunt for the best accent rug for the space or project.  As a green and sustainable design advocate, I prefer natural fiber rugs such as wool with silk patterns or blends.  Other criteria I assess are durability and performance, design aesthetic, and cost.  

Is there a price limit on what you’ll spend on the area rug? 

Yes, there is a price limit, as with everything.  However, selecting the right area rug is contingent upon the design concept, function, performance, sustainability and, the client’s budget. 

Any words of design advice for the wannabe’s out there?!

First, my advice would be to live, eat and breathe design, which was good advice given to me.  Second, obtain a few key successful business and design mentors to learn from as you build your business or cultivate your design career.  Third, have the courage to treasure the moment by executing your goals while learning constructively from triumphs and missteps.  Fourth, be an organized and effective business owner or design professional.  Fifth, outsource or delegate as many functions that you can afford to do so to reliable and accountable sources in order to free your mind for creativity and business development.   Sixth, stay current on design sources, trends and technology.  And finally, most importantly, hone your oral and written communication skills, in addition to presentation skills in order to successfully relay your design and vision to clients throughout the design trajectory.  

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

I would love for readers to access my website at www.designingjoi.com.  My motto is to make your life joyous through design!

Thanks for your time!

Thank you very much for having me at AreaRugs.com.  It was my pleasure and a joy!

 

Adrienne Hart: Exceeding Expectations

AdrienneDesign clients often complain about not being heard, but not with Adrienne Hart. The Arizona-based designer puts her clients ideas and expectations as top priority.

Thanks for joining us, Adrienne! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.

I grew up in a house full of do-it-yourselfers. My dad was always adding on to the house or changing things and my mom was all about changing wallpaper, paint and furniture around. I remember shingling the roof of our storage shed when I was 10- my dad was terrified of heights, so he would stand and direct from below. My design career didn’t start until eleven years ago when I broke from my operations background to go to design school. Best decision I’ve ever made!!!

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet for the feel of their personality?

It depends on if I’m charging for the initial consultation or if it’s just to get a sense of the client and scope of work. If I’m charging, I gather all of the information as to why I’m there and then give as much design advice as I can in two hours. More often, it’s a meet and greet and in that case what I’m really looking for… bottom line… is how well they can communicate what they really want. Not specifically if they know the right terms or can articulate what they actually want down to details (that’s my job), but their willingness to share their needs and desires. The more I understand what the expectations are, the happier everyone involved will be. If I see a sense of willingness, then I can do all the heavy lifting and get the information I need to do an excellent job for them. PS. I’ve never used a checklist as most discussions are fluid and trying to keep to a format usually restricts the amount of information. I do take copious amounts of notes.

Your job is filled with challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Do you have a method to work through those problems? 

One of the biggest challenges in design, in my opinion, is making sure that the picture in my head matches the picture in their head and it can all be translated to a trades person to execute to match. We all use words in different ways and background and upbringing could change the connotation of an adjective and before you know it, we’re speaking two different languages. To combat that, after much discussion and preparation, I provide very detailed specifications and drawings that are reviewed in person until everyone is on the same page. It should never be a surprise what something is going to look like or what it’s going to cost…. Unless, of course, that’s what the client wanted and that can be a lot of fun too!

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

There is a disproportionate expectation on how long things should take and how much they cost, because of these design shows. On occasion, I have to have conversations about the production crew and the months of preparation before the days of the show and how the network picks up the cost of all of that. Many times, a show will be brought up in context to explain what their goal is- will they “love it or leave it”. Or it may provide a glimmer into their aesthetic- “I love everything Candice Olsen does.” Or perhaps an admiration for repurposing. One of the best things about design shows is that it gets people thinking about things they would have never considered and to me, that’s the fun part- exploring the new and unknown.

From the outside it seems like Arizona is about incorporating Southwest designs with strong Native American and Mexican-inspired themes! Describe how you incorporate those into your designs. 

Many of my clients are part-time residents and want to appreciate our desert climate. I like to do that in a less literal way by capitalizing on our earthy color palette and adding touches of accessories and art that nod to our history. It’s so much easier to appreciate something special when it’s done sparingly, rather than bathing in a sea of howling coyotes and chili peppers!

Do you have a project you are most proud to have designed. What did it look like before? After?

I am always proud when my client is happy, so that’s a tough one. And I have many strong before and after photos. I can think of two very challenging and complicated specific elements in two different houses that I was elated at the result.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less? 

All hard surface floors need rugs! For acoustics, for lushness, to unite furniture settings, to bring all the colors in a space together, to add pattern, to tone down pattern, to set the whole tone of a room… I could go on. Most homes that I work in have tile floors, so there are rugs everywhere. Other than a carpeted floor, I can’t think of any place I would be less likely to use a rug.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable? 

Wool. Anything that starts with “poly”.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price? 

I find that there are clients who have an appreciation for how a rug is made and how long it take and the rest who just want to add some color or warmth under their toes. Knowing this before you go out shopping saves everyone time and money. Almost all rug prices are negotiable… the tag is rarely the actual price you can take it home for.

 

Linda Rubin: Functional, Intelligent Design

Linda_RubinThe design world can be filled with expensive pieces that add little to a design than to bloat the budget, New England-based interior decorator Linda Rubin finds pieces and layouts that are as beautiful as they are budget conscience.

Thanks for joining us, Linda. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.

I always had an eye for design and was encouraged to do it professionally but I had a career in human resources and didn’t feel I was qualified to design professionally without a formal education in design.  Eventually I returned to school and earned a degree in interior design.  I interned in the design department of a well-known furniture retailer, which allowed me to learn a lot about furniture quality, but I felt the design opportunity was limiting because of the narrow choices offered by a retail store.  I struck out on my own in 2001 and my business has been both successful and rewarding every year since.

New England is a wonderful place to work with design.  Which classic New England features do you try and incorporate into your designs? How do you try and limit it?

Like most areas of the country New England has a unique style, although it seems to be far more pervasive in exterior architecture.  New Englanders have largely moved past a singular interior style.  I’m sensitive to keeping my design consistent with the geography, but as I say to my clients “good design is good design regardless of the style”.

Describe some of your more challenging spaces? Does a unique layout benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? Or does it limit options?

A unique space can certainly add visual interest, but you have to be careful to ensure that the space will ultimately work in a way that the client plans on using it.  One problem that I run into is the placement of large screen televisions.  For instance, sometimes an architect will envision a family room with expansive windows, fireplace, and other design elements, without considering one of the room’s main functions: watching television.  Particularly when designing from the ground up, it’s important to consider how a room will really be used.

One challenge which can really be turned into a positive is staircase design.  Sometimes a staircase dominates a space.  There are some wonderful options that combine wood, metal, and other materials, and can turn that dominant design feature into something really interesting.

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow.  How do you ensure against clutter, and that the occupant always feels stress-free in that space?

Again, the single most important thing is to determine how a client really intends to use the space.  How many people share the space?  Will it be used for television and other multimedia?  Is the space for entertaining?  Is there any need for privacy?  You really need to get an idea of how the space will be used.

As a general rule, creating soft separations in the space for conversation areas, eating, watching television or entertaining tends to add harmony to the space.  This can be done using area rugs, furniture and other design elements.

Area rugs are versatile. New England homes and businesses use lots of hardwood floors. Explain how you incorporate area rugs into your designs.

Area rugs can be used to help separated large spaces into functionally smaller areas.  They also soften hard floors, and can visually work with the other colors and textures in a room to complete the look and feel of the space

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

It is strictly a case by case basis.  The material and pattern will be dictated by the rugs intended use and surrounding design.  Additionally, budget will dictate what types of rugs can be considered.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

Absolutely.  Like everything else, an area rug has to fit in a project’s budget.  I’ve had success finding rugs at the right price, but it requires careful shopping.  The right rug at the wrong price isn’t worth anything to my client.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

Pick a designer who’s predominate style largely agrees with your own.  If you are designing a brand new space, involve an interior designer early in the process; architects and builders often don’t fully consider interior function.  Pull pictures from magazines and the internet which really reflect your style so you can give the designer a solid idea of what you like and dislike.  Last, don’t be afraid to consider solutions which are “out of your box”.  You didn’t hire a designer so you could come up with a space like everything else you’ve done.  Some of my happiest clients are those that left their comfort zone and ended up “wowed” in way they wouldn’t have achieved on their own.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

Visit my website at www.QuintessentialInteriors and call or email for a consultation.

 

Liz Stiving-Nichols: Until You LOVE It

LizWhen it comes to adding the right area rug for her client, Liz Stiving-Nichols won’t stop until they can’t imagine not having it in their room.

Thanks for joining us, Liz. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.

I have always gravitated to more artistic or visual courses in college but didn’t make the leap to Interior Design until my early 20’s. I had a summer job on the Vineyard and realized I had a knack for spatial design while working on window displays. This was in the mid to late 90’s when design shows were just popping up on TV. I decided to go back to school and study Interior Design and chose a school in Chicago that (at the time) was the only private school focused solely on Interior Design and Interior Architecture.

New England is a wonderful place to work with design. Which classic New England features do you try and incorporate into your designs? How do you try and limit it?

When beginning a project, my team and I have a process we go through to familiarize ourselves not only with our clients and their lifestyle, but we also get the lay of the land, literally. One of our primary goals is to find inspiration in the perennial elements of each site, creating a direct connection to the natural surroundings of the home. While we work towards creating a connection to these elements, we don’t necessarily aim to duplicate them – rather we find materials, lines, and finishes that will produce a complimentary environment inside.

Describe some of your more challenging spaces? Does a unique layout benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? Or does it limit options?

Sometimes it is the opposite way around, and the challenge comes from making a traditional space feel unique. We recently had a client with great taste who purchased a very traditional home on the island. We focused on transforming the undeniable traditional elements of the house to create a stronger synergy with the views beyond.

In the living room, we replaced the classic white columns and walls with a rustic, reclaimed barnboard, making the fireplace the centerpiece of the room. For the fireplace surround we replaced the oversized white mantle with a noncombustable material that visually blended with the barnboard. Neolith is a relatively new product that is incredibly versatile with this veneer like construction.

The furnishings and décor supported the monochromatic pallet and focus on texture. Natural finishes, like wood and raw metals, mixed with neutral colors complimented the rustic aspect, while creating a refined and sophisticated living area.

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow. How do you ensure against clutter, and that the occupant always feels stress-free in that space?

I would suggest finding beautiful furniture with purpose. Elegant furniture can also be useful. Console and coffee tables with discreet drawers, elegant baskets, and when applicable, built-in bookcases and storage drawers under window seats are also subtle but useful. Area rugs are versatile. New England homes and businesses use lots of hardwood floors. Explain how you incorporate area rugs into your designs.

As you noted before, open floor plans are very popular. Rugs help define areas within large spaces. For example, with area rugs laid correctly, a Great Room could potentially have three or more living spaces- a seating area by the fire, a large dining table for family dinners, or a reading nook for relaxing. Families can enjoy each other’s company while still feeling they are in their own space.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

As with any design element, there are too many factors that come into play when choosing a rug. As mentioned my team and I strive to create a direct connection to the perennial elements of each site but also the architecture influences our design direction greatly. A colorful cotton rug could be perfect in a beach cottage, a Tibetan cut pile wool and silk in a more modern home or loft, or perhaps a Gabbeh or Dhurri in a farm house.

Personally I like simplicity and texture. I love an abrash technique on a wool and silk blend. Although one may view these inconsistencies in color as ‘flaws’, I love the visual texture of an abrash stria and the beautiful hand of a wool and silk blend.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs?

There is no one size fits all budget. This truly depends on the client and how the rug will be used in their home. Some may see a rug as an investment piece while another may focus on durable and if the rug will stand against the test of time. A rug could be a piece of art, an artifact found during travels, or simply be what anchors the space. The price point should really be dictated by the use of the rug and the value the client sees in it.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

Be cognizant of your space planning. If you rug will be heavily concealed by furniture, keep that in mind when looking at rugs with patterns. If you are in search of a rug for an area with heavy foot traffic, pay attention to the weave and materials. For a space where one may often be barefoot, pay attention to the hand.

And with most design decisions, I tell my clients “You have to LOVE it.” If not, we’ll keep looking.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

You can view our portfolio on our website www.mvidesign.com or call our office at 508-687-9555 to speak to a designer. If you are on MV, check out our store Bespoke Abode or on line at www.bespokeabode.com

Vera Bahou: Free-Flowing Comfort

Vera BahouWith hard work and determination Vera Bahou has learned the design business from the ground up and designs functional and stress-free spaces for all her clients.

Thanks for joining us, Vera! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.

As a child I always was interested in decorating and re-designing room layouts. I always used to redesign my mother’s living room and didn’t know at that time 

Business major, got married, had two children and helped my husband in his medical career and in establishing his solo medical practice and became an office manger.  Well this went on for ten years till I realized it’s time to hang my good will hat and go back searching for my creativity.

My path took me back to Art school at Bucks County Community college as a part time student for one year.  As I discovered my passion in designing, I transferred to Drexel University where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design.  After I graduated, I gained some design experience and worked in Doylestown for home interiors then moved to Florida and worked for Robb & Stucky specializing in high-end residential interior design for one year. Moved back to Bucks County and got some experience in kitchen & bath renovation and opened my business “Designhaus Interiors” in 2004.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?

Prior to meeting with the client, I always ask them few questions regarding their project then schedule an appointment to meet each other and  to learn about their personality,   the style of their home, talk about their likes and dislikes and most importantly go over their budget . By this time I will be able to tell whether the client knows what they are looking for or require my design expertise in helping them achieve the look that they want to go for.  Design is a process and getting to know a client has its share of process in uncovering their style, attitude and the style they like.

After years of experience I do not rely on a checklist.  I am very observant and like to concentrate and listen to my client.  As I am listening I am also observing and getting a feel of the clients lifestyle. Choice of colors their taste in clothing, and the type of their existing furniture & accessories. However, I do rely on my camera and the more pictures I take the more information I am gathering of the client existing spaces.  Which is an important tool in our profession and provides instant access anytime towards the clients existing home.

Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult
challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space?
Do you have a method to work through those problems?

Clients or spaces! I believe this fluctuates with every project.  I’ve had projects where the client just went along with what I designed and specified and had no problem with budget. And that’s exactly why we as designers are hired and enjoy!

I’ve had other design project where the client and the design had no problems but they have the challenge of a tight budget.  This is where I try to work with the client and provide alternatives to suite their budget and create a solution to satisfy their needs.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they
influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact
with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

I believe design shows have advanced the design profession forward and have made people aware of such a luxurious service.  Television shows tries to sell the design concept for everyone and project deceptive information towards quality & budget.  Our professional business has become more competitive and some consumers have become savvier as a result that they want design guidance and hands on their personal projects.  

From the outside it seems like the Philadelphia area focuses on
incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something
many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of
history into your designs.

Some of my design projects require research of older traditional Philadelphia home incorporated with more modern style of design.  The focus of an antique piece of furniture and reclaimed random planked wood floors brings in character and charm as well as antique area rugs that have been re-conditioned and used for their high detail and rich colors incorporated in an eclectic  or modern design setting.  

Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed?
What did it look like before? After?

One of my design projects that I am really proud of was published in a magazine.  It was in a basement of this older home built in the late 1800’s.  A crawl space never finished nor used with a ceiling height of 6’5” and became converted it into a functional space and created a massage space, exercise, laundry facility, powder room, steam & spa space.  The functional feng shui designed space was a challenge and became one of my top creative projects that were created with a high level of energy.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your
designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug?
Less?

Area rugs are being used more today than ever before for hardwood floor and tile floors. I love to see an area rug as you are entering a grand foyer.  It makes a stunning statement or a custom stair runner with a particular design intended for that particular client.  I use them everywhere on top of hardwood & tile floors except kitchens & bath.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

Nylon is the most popular fiber and the most durable in quality and against color fading while Jute is a renewable bio-based product but is not as durable as nylon and other natural fibers such as wool.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance
on how to cut down on the initial price?

One needs to be objective here regarding quality, colors & design!

They all matter in selecting an area rug.  Choose a wool rug versus a blend of wool and silk, fewer knots per square inch, choose a rug size smaller than larger, be selective from the country of origin and machine made rugs are less expensive than hand made rugs.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers

Always consult a design professional whether you are re-decorating, re-modeling or moving into a new house. We have up to date talent and we’d love to share it with you!

 

Kathy Coady Gets Cozy on Cape Cod

Kathy_CoadyWhen it comes to design, former furniture specialist Kathy Coady understands how to make a room aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and comfortable on the body.

Thanks for joining us, Kathy! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.

I always had a fondness for beautiful things.  When I was in my thirties as an at home mother with one daughter I decided it was time for me to attend school to study my passion Interior Design.  When I received my degree I worked for large retail furniture showrooms.   I did this for 15 years.  Then in 2011, I decided I didn’t want to sell furniture any longer I wanted to provide design solutions to clients therefore began my own design business, New Angle Designs.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?

The first thing I like to do when I meet a new client is to put them at ease by letting them know that I am working for them to assist them in providing good solid design solutions for their home based on their lifestyle and needs.  So we sit and talk about their vision and their priority’s.  From our conversation I then make a list of what we talked about and review it with the client.

Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

The biggest challenge I have is with clients believing my time is valuable.  I charge an hourly fee for my services and over time have established creditability in the design industry and have valuable knowledge that can be used in their home.  To overcome this mindset I use a lot of design rational when talking with my clients about design in their home.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

I think the design shows are helpful as they allow the clients to see there are many options in design available to them.  I like it when my client is knowledgeable about the many products available.  I can then advise them on how best to use these products to create a successful design for their home.

From the outside it seems like New England focuses on incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of history into your designs.

I live and work in a seasonal/resort area outside of Boston called Cape Cod.  This area provides me with inspiration from the sea and all the wonderful natural elements offered by the beach’s and ponds and the shoreline.  So when I’m working with my clients I encourage them to bring the outdoors into their home design and to embrace the natural beauty of this area that has brought them to live on Cape Cod.

Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed? What did it look like before? After?

One project I am most proud of is when I turned a room that was once a garage, which had been finished into a simple room with a sectional sofa, a TV, a few tables. This room was referred to as the “Dogs Room”.  While the couple was at work all day the dogs stayed in this room.  When the family came home from work in the evening they would sit with the dogs in this room to watch TV.  It had no closets for storage, it had no proper lighting and they were using only half of the room.  So I was able to redesign the room so they had a proper entrance, with wall sconces providing proper lighting.  I designed a custom cabinet as a closet space for their coats and boots and storage for their dog toys. On the opposite side of the custom closet I designed an entertainment cabinet providing them with a proper home for their TV, additional storage and display shelving.  Per their request I used the original sectional that they loved hanging out on with their dogs in their newly designed family room, no longer “the Dogs Room”.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?

Rugs a are very important item to include in all room designs.  Foremost rugs help to define the space while also provides an anchor for the furniture in the space.   A rug in my designs can most times be that one item that can add texture or pattern to a room.  Rugs also provide protection for your floors.   I try to use rugs when and wherever possible.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

I try to use all wool rugs if possible.  They offer the ease of cleaning and are the most durable especially for high traffic areas.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

Many times I will suggest to my clients an option to purchase a broadloom and have it cut and bound to the exact size they need.  Often this can be the most cost effective way to have a durable rug at an affordable price.

Thanks for your time today!

 

 

Joanne Jordan: Food and Shelter

JoanneWith a focus on the connection between food and the shelter, Joanne Jordan has become one of the leading designers in the Northeast, especially when it comes to designing everyone’s favorite room.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?

Sometimes the space isn’t even built yet, so while it’s exciting, there’s little to notice. However, the most important items that really stand out to me when meeting someone new isn’t design or industry–specific, it’s how compatible, personable and comfortable we will be as a collaborative team working together towards something spectacular.

Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

Each project comes with its own unique set of challenges.  Some associated with logistics or space, some associated with, at times, the client.  My method, which has always served me well, has remained constant for the 25 plus years I have owned my own firm – and that is to be patient, professional and handle things as openly and with as much diplomacy as possible.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

A lot of my clients will get ideas from another kitchen they saw, not necessarily on a show or on television, but maybe a magazine or while at a party at another house.  I think these shows enable do-it-yourself types with ideas that can fall within a variety of budgets, which is certainly raising awareness for the overall industry.  Yet, we offer a lot more than just designing a kitchen. We offer our expertise, our industry knowledge and an overall experience from the very first conversation and sketch to the last cabinet being placed in the finished product. I don’t think that translates into a popular show, but its what makes us as successful as we are.

From the outside it seems like the Philadelphia area focuses on incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of history into your designs.

Some clients love the look of a grandiose, traditional space but I’ve also worked on many landmarked townhouses in Center City that end up contemporary and urban.  I try to be as flexible as I can with understanding the client’s needs and incorporate a variety of styles as a result of those needs. If it happens to marry both historical and modern or contemporary and traditional, we certainly strive to achieve just that by, for instance, using different woods or marbles with stainless steel or taking advantage of an exposed beam in a unique and interesting way.

Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed? What did it look like before? After?

Honestly, I would say we’re proud of all of our projects so it’s difficult for me to decide.  However, one project that was very personal to me included an entire ground-up redesign of my husband’s family home in Canada.  We built the new house on the original footprint, visually played upon on the former layout in a modern way and interior design-wise, incorporated a number of family antiques and local and environmental elements in the décor.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?

I’ve used runners in kitchens. I’m less inclined to use rugs in bathrooms. I’ve never understood it. I’m particularly fond of sisal despite it not being the most comfortable to walk on In fact, a running joke in our family is my firstborn son skipped the crawling process and went directly to walking because we don’t think he liked the sisal rubbing on his knees!

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

Persian area rugs although expensive, are beautiful and sturdy.  Like a well fitting piece of clothing, they always look timeless and terrific. Bamboo rugs also hold up nicely and look sharp and there are many indoor/outdoor brands that look indoor, but hold up amazingly because they are meant for outdoor use.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

Pretty much like anything.  The bigger the room, house, etc. the more expensive it gets.  Rugs are no exception to that rule.  To cut down on price, find a smaller rug that is still a quality product as opposed to trying to find a bigger one made more cheaply. It shows and won’t last as long anyway.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers

Don’t be afraid to be opinionated and communicate with the designer and architect you choose to work with and enjoy the process!