Mary Fisher Puts Clients First

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArizona designer Mary Fisher listens to the needs of her clients and designs them the space of their dreams.

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

I graduated with a BA in Art and began my career as a file clerk for a utility company when I found out they were looking for a kitchen designer.  I was selected to design for them and have specialized in kitchen and bath design since 1963.  My father was a building contractor so construction was very familiar to me and I embraced the challenges which often arise on projects.  Today, with open kitchen plans, the integrating color, fabrics, and textures calls upon my interior design skills to successfully design make the necessary spatial transitions.

You live and work in Arizona. What are some Arizona-like themes you carry into your design. Is there a big Mexican influence in the designs you see in the area?

Arizona design is influenced by many factors.  The natural beauty of the desert, colors of desert sunsets and sunrises all play a part in the colors used in interiors.

There is no one AZ style.  The colors, textures and forms of Mexico are often found in many Arizona homes.  Organic architecture is the backdrop of more contemporary homes.  There many different neighborhoods in Arizona that reveal Spanish Colonial, Spanish Revival, Territorial, Traditional, French, Contemporary, and what I call “builder eclectic”.

All spaces are unique, but in Arizona 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?

Easy-care materials are common among features requested by my client.  Sun-bleached woods, dark-rich woods, and painted finishes can be found in abundance.

Their use is dictated by the direction of style.  Functional, multi-use furniture is also popular.

What are you 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 first priority is to listen to the client.  Then we match their needs with design applications to successfully complete their space.

Arizona has grand hallways and with that comes nice hardwood floors, and eventually some area rugs. Tell us how you use rugs in your designs.

Because we specialize in kitchens and baths, we find area rugs one way to help control sound emitted from these spaces filled with hard surfaces.  They are also a solution to adding color and texture to the space while creating a more resilient surface on which to stand.

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

Every area rug is selected case-by-case.  I consider color, size, texture, quality, and it’s ability to be cleaned.  Patterns must also be compatible with the other finishes and patterns in the space.

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

Budget considerations must always be met, but the quality of the rug is key.

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

Learn all you can, observe nature’s color, form, texture and learn to listen.

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

maryfisherdesigns.com

 

Hank Arens: Sophisticated and Comfortable Design

Hank_ArensWith an eye for creating a sophisticated and elegant home for his clients, Hank Arens has earned a reputation as one of the leading designers in northern Arizona.

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

I established Hank Arens designs in 2002 and have  been practicing design since finishing my design education from Scottsdale Community Colleges FIDER accredited Interior Design program in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve been actively involved in Arizona’s chapter of ASID, American Society of Interior Design, and am still an Allied Member.

Hank Arens Designs has worked with a wide range of projects including new home construction and remodels, health care and commercial interiors.  I have proven time and again that I can work within a budget and believe in the team approach to integrate interior design with the architect, builder and clients’ vision.

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

My personal style is sophisticated, urban eclectic.  I prefer a space with clean lines, contemporary elements mixed with an eclectic mix of antiques, original art and often times ethnic, unique pieces.

I would say that I do not have one particular style that I design.  Each client is unique, each home is unique.  Hank Arens Designs is not defined by one particular style.  I have designed a diverse range of styles from Traditional to Transitional, Contemporary to Territorial. My vision is to listen carefully to my clients’ needs and work together to create unique, personal, comfortable and lasting interiors.  Design is very personal and I strive to maintain architectural integrity, functionality and comfort while balancing clients individual style.   A careful melding of these elements provides for a timeless design aesthetic in which to live.

I am certainly influenced by particular classic styles.  If I am working on a Spanish Colonial home, I often research the traditional elements of that particular style and try to incorporate them into the custom case goods I design.  I also seek out antique authentic furnishings that compliment the décor.  I also use fabrics and wall finishes that are typical of that particular style.

I do not emulate any particular designer.  I certainly admire the contemporary work of Kelly Hoppen, and local Arizona designer, David Michael Miller.  I appreciate the works of Kathryn Ireland as well.  Most importantly I would not be where I am today without the mentoring of my past and current colleagues Susan Hersker, Carol Minchew, Rondi Kilen, Lynda Martin, Debbie Samartzis and Tanya Shively.

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

When I enter a room often times I can tell if someone has worked with a designer.  If there are items “placed just so” in the room it often indicates a designer has been there.  Most importantly as I look around a room I notice the furnishings, fabrics and finishes in the space.  If items appear custom made or made by manufacturers that are “to the trade”, usually that indicates a designer was involved.  My personal goal when designing a room for someone is that the end result is a space that feels comfortable, timeless and reflects the personality of the client.  I strive to have my spaces feel cozy and lived in and not like a model home.

Arizona is dry and has a rich history with Native Americans and a strong Mexican influence. Describe how you incorporate these into your designs.

First of all I love Arizona and its rich history of Native American and Mexican influence.  I am always attending events all over Arizona be it the Dios de los Muertos Celebration or a native dance and celebration on the Hopi Mesas.  It is such an important part of who Arizona is and how we were established.  That said, many of my clients are enamored with the arts and crafts of these cultures.  And, Arizona is certainly filled with local artists, galleries, furniture manufacturers and textile designers who inspire me to use their hand crafted works to add to a clients home as décor.

What are some projects you most proud of and why?

I feel pride when at the end of a project my client tells me how much they enjoyed the process and love their home.  I am most proud of a recent home that I am completing that was a traditional Spanish colonial remodel.  We transformed the home from blah to Wow with amazing wall finishes that enhanced the architecture, remodeled and expanded the kitchen into a chefs dream and created cozy and beautiful spaces that invite visitors to sit and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding desert and mountains.  The art and accessories added are simple, locally hand crafted and add another layer of depth to the space.  This client was fun to work with as they embraced the true elements of the style we were trying to achieve and encouraged my creativity.

I am especially proud of my most recent project I just completed.  This home is a cutting edge designed contemporary cottage.  When you walk into this home you are surrounded by traditional French elements and ultra contemporary and industrial pieces, creating a space that is organic yet linear at the same time.  Around every corner is something unique that pleases the eye.  But as you travel your eyes around the space it is cohesive and inviting.  This client was a dream to work with. They wanted cutting edge and the project challenged me to up my game and seek out local artisans to work with but also find the latest in furnishings.  This was a truly fun project.

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

With my space it is challenging at times to find the time to design it and to make a final choice.  I love so many styles and we as designers are exposed to so many of the most amazing products it is often difficult to make our own decisions.  I select what I love.  That is the key.  And like I said, I enjoy an eclectic mix of items in a space.  You will find Donghia chairs paired with a 17th century Japanese blanket chest in one space with a contemporary mirror and Asian accessories on the chest.

I think people should consider calling a designer when they want to remodel a space, and or build a new home.  Getting a designer involved early will certainly help save time and money.  We have so many resources available, including subcontractors, local artisans who work in wood, metal, glass etc. and we are great “ring leaders” who orchestrate and manage the project for our clients.  We become an invaluable advocate for our clients.

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

I love rugs.  I think rugs are a key element in the layering of a space.  They add texture, color and warmth to any space.  I certainly like to use them over hard surfaces throughout the house.  An entry rug tells a story of what you are about to experience as you enter a space.  The living room rug draws you in and makes a space come alive with color.  A large area rug in a family room anchors the space and adds coziness to the room.  And even a small jewel of a rug adds some character to a powder room or an office.  Also a bright fun rug makes a kids or teens room pop with color.

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 add that additional layer to a space.  I often times start with a rug and work my fabrics and floor coverings from there.  It is a key element in the design of a space.  The biggest addition they make to a space is color, texture and anchoring a space.  I like rugs that are hand tufted, made of natural materials and are well made.  The rug either makes or breaks a space.  A cheap rug will ruin a space.

Anything else to add?

Thanks for your time!

 

Jim Felter: Designing for Comfort

Jim_FelterScottsdale-based interior designer Jim Felter is working to make his clients’ living space comfortable, functional and stress-free.

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

I have always been decorating from the time I was a little boy. From the very first when I discovered paint and construction paper I have been pursuing my interest in design. I studied art history in college, because at that time their were few design schools. I also had a second major in education so I could support myself. After college I was working and approached a designer at her studio. I asked if she would allow me to work for free so that I could learn the trade. She allowed me to come in after my regular job (teaching art in middle school) every day and also to work weekends with her. I learned so much from that experience. She hired me full time after a year and I was launched into the career that I love and has given me so much satisfaction.

Arizona is an arid landscape. How do you try to incorporate the Arizona lifestyle into your designs? How do you try and limit it?

You are correct Arizona is an arid landscape. The greatest advantage is that we can use outdoor spaces for wonderful extended living areas as well. We are fortunate to have great light and beautiful vistas to incorporate in to our designs. Colors and large spaces lend themselves so well to giving us the best interiors to work with. I believe that color plays one of the most important parts in establishing a beautiful and comfortable home here. Colors that often work on either coast are not always as effective here because of the intense sunlight. So I usually mix my own shades with the painters that I have worked with for years. It is a challenge, but the end result is spectacular.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Would a unique layout always benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? Or could it limit your options?

Challenging spaces are usually ones that come with extreme dictates from clients. Often they cannot see the forest for the trees. In other words they do not see the big picture. One thing that I learned early on is that my job is to educate my clients. Perhaps that is why I pursued education as a secondary major. If they know and understand why design decisions are made and how that affects the overall outcome they are quick to come on board with the process. The client is giving you the blank canvas and asking you to create a masterpiece for them. We become working partners for an end result that gives them the home of their dreams.

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

Open floor plans are becoming more popular with the idea that we can all be connected without wall separations. This works especially well with homes that are situated to take advantage of the views. Making the interiors comfortable, functional, and stress free becomes a greater challenge. It means creating living spaces within the whole. Using scale, placement and multi-functional groupings becomes extremely important to give a warm and inviting feeling to the interior.

Area rugs are versatile. Arizona homes and businesses have open spaces with traditional hardwood floors. Explain how you tend to incorporate the rugs into your design.

Area rugs are truly versatile. They can define or anchor a space. Since the beginning of my career I have used them in many ways. We have used tribal rugs for upholstery, and as focal points hanging on a wall. We are very blessed to live in an area where native American artists weave such beautiful patterns in colors that are truly fitting for the southwest. I also love to use the wonderful oriental styles and some of the more contemporary weaves that are being introduced by suppliers.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

I always tell my clients that buying a rug can either be as a decorative piece or a true investment in their collection of art. Together we decide which way we want to make this statement in our budget. Some clients come to me with collections of old Orientals that have been handed down from the prior generation. I love using them as they have a history and are so very personal.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

I am passionate about interior design and am so blessed to have had such great experiences of working with clients from every walk of life. I believe our homes truly are our castles and a refuge from the many challenges of life. They are places where we can live, love, laugh and languish. A well designed home gives the individual a pride of purpose and space well lived.

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

Prospective clients can see my work on my web site www.jfdesignsinc.com and can contact me by phone 480-948-6294 or email jfdesigns1@msn.com.

 

 

Diana Walker: Journey to the Top

DianaWhether hunting down a rare piece or making a bold career move, Diana Walker’s focus is on being a proactive interior designer at the benefit of her clients.

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

I come from a convoluted path to Interior Design. I was going to be a fashion designer, but majored in French (obviously to a 14 year old this was a means to an end) and then decided that this was not working as planned.

When I married, I went back to school and I changed my major to Psychology and worked in social work but I changed divisions to an area that catapulted me into Design. I was already helping all my friends do their homes after hours. I was going to specialize in design of schools and day care centers, but I was introduced to a company that had a strong art business where my friend worked as an art consultant, and I began immediately surpassing her success. I think it was more because I cared what people had to look at and wanted them to like their surroundings. I was asked to do increasingly more complicated projects, and decided to go back to school to learn how to explain why I knew these things would work and pick up the skill and knowledge base to defend my designs.

I entered a Certificate of Design Program, 192 hours of instruction at University of Houston Continuing Ed program taught by the cream of Houston top Designers and Professors at that time. It was life altering to go back to school and love everything I was doing. I had my own business, but I was also training other designers for the company that handled the art and design divisions and caught the eye of a developer who had me do all his properties in other states and Texas. Having that experience was another opportunity to grow. He was the owner, developer, and the finance man for the projects he built and was mentoring me along the way to understand how to manage the projects and construction process.

When they stopped building aggressively, I had my 2nd child and needed support and a less intense travel schedule.

At the suggestion of my friends in ASID, I applied at a prestigious firm in Houston with 18 designers. This was the second biggest moment for my career, because we worked on multimillion and outstanding projects. I was a key designer on many award-winning projects, and came to love project management as much as the design. I have to admit it was sad to leave this cocoon of amazing designers who worked on each of their own projects but also were a strong network of support for each other. When the owner retired, we all left and started our own firms (1995) and as a testament to the firm’s apprentice like environment, we were able to sustain our clients and the work that was established through the firm. I am celebrating 32 years in May of being a Designer.

I can’t believe I have been working that long! The days go by very quickly, and when you love what you do, you don’t feel like you are working.

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

I have a very clean lined, classic, timeless appeal to the interiors with a more contemporary aesthetic. The larger firm was a mixture of people who specialized in a particular style. The owner, and being part of her team, loved more contemporary and modern, simple, livable spaces and she approached everything like an architect and expected excellence in every decision. The project management was equally important because clients didn’t have a clue how to manage the work and could never do it themselves. We collaborated with clients, but brought the skills and design abilities they didn’t have to create wonderful interiors. That is what I still emulate. I am constantly asking myself, ” What can I do to make my client love their home, and feel they had a hand in the final outcome?”

The influencers are every designers work I ever see. You can’t stay isolated and come up with new ideas. I love the looks of Suzanne Lovell in Chicago, Perkins+Will, Lauren Rottet, Barbara Berry, Mary Douglas Drysdale, Thomas O’Brian, Axel Vervoordt, because they represent interesting details, tailored, classic, and clean aesthetics and create spaces with a stunning architectural backgrounds with seemingly simple but carefully planned designs.

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

Scale is everything, color and balance of details shows when a true professional has been given the ability to use elements that enhance the room. I believe a room needs to be stunning BEFORE anything is put into the space. The home speaks to me and tells me what it needs. With clients who love more color in the background, this needs to be carefully worked out. Bad furnishings can ruin a space. Furnishings that are bought, even if they are very expensive pieces have to speak to the owner and have to be right. I have made some mistakes, but then had to work hard to remake or rectify the scale with other elements.

I hate to see the cords and poor lighting in an expensive home. That tells me that they didn’t really care to get this right. A piece of furniture missing for another year, would be worth spending more time and money on lighting and controls. Most Interior Designers know the concepts behind lighting, but don’t know how to update the home or use current lighting techniques to enhance everything to the best.

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

Actually that is not true, but property values and affordability of land and houses seems to make for larger houses on smaller lots. We aren’t as restricted for land as some cities and finally there are many urban styles coming to the city of Houston to rebuild downtown with young hip owners with a refined style.

I had the opportunity to work on several large homes in my early years from the ground up that were so expressive of the client and manage the project for the team. It was a chance to bring my years of expertise to help clients enjoy the process. Then when I went out on my own, I carried that same skill and attention to other projects 1/2 that size. It thrills me to do any size space. I am currently one of 20 designers selected for a show house that is a country estate built in 1920. I took a small room, 10×13 that was the lounging room. It was actually a back entry for the owners, and has the most wonderful walnut paneling with round concave corners, plaster moldings and ceiling, and I saw the charm, but also four openings and one closet! The placement of the furnishings and details I chose for this room, were the reason the room feels spacious and welcoming

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

My space or someone else’s own space? Like my clients, sometimes I will go for several years before making changes, primarily because of some changes in health or in family dynamics and finances just don’t allow that change. I am currently organizing and eliminating things that don’t work for me anymore because I have my first grandchild that is going to visit. Suddenly I needed a rocking chair and more space for baby stuff that will come with the parents when they sleep over. When my Mother moved in with us, it took some really careful editing for us. I am upgrading quality of windows, now contemplating a move to work from home in a few years. Kitchen upgrades and bath upgrades are normal things I work on for clients. The old layouts in homes don’t work for today’s clients.

My advice is don’t be in a hurry. Think how you want to use the space now and how this will be used to support your life. Call in a designer for planning and helping you sort the possibilities and determine the plan. You need a guide and someone to keep the vision and help you evaluate decisions. Find someone that works with you and not someone who dictates to you.

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

I choose a rug at the start of a room whenever possible. I love all kinds of rugs. I appreciate great creativity and modern and post modern designs, and all the abilities as a designer to customize, but people are very hesitant to have customized rugs.

Why do you rely on area rugs?

Warmth, color and texture to add something that is missing in the space without it.

What is the biggest addition they make to a room?

Unifies the overall space and adds some texture to the room other than the textiles used. Is critical for hard floors and wood floors for making the biggest difference in open spaces.

Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work?

No, just what I feel will work for that specific client taste, color, design, and size. Sometimes a rug adds the artistic quality for the room, at other times it provides the cohesion to multiple conversation areas in lofts and other size rooms with many wide-open spaces. I get a range of pricing and style likes from the client before I design and propose options.

Any that you avoid?

Anything that is too difficult to maintain and won’t be durable for long term. Too many wonderful choices are available today. I go to appointments were clients pay money for some very poor quality rugs, and they are the wrong style or don’t add to the character of the room. They may match the furniture too much. I know that they could have avoided all of this by educating themselves more about rugs and taking the time to check out rugs to try at the house so that we could both view them together.

I also hate rugs that are put onto carpet.

Anything else to add?

Be yourself and slow down a little to learn about your tastes. Plan your space more efficiency, and get your plan right before building, no matter how long it takes. If you are a designer, you know you can help your clients with better planning and organization of their space utilization. Be up for a challenge, but know your limitations and express this. Also, allow a designer to use their gift to achieve a better environment. I bet they will be your best clients. If you are a client, find a designer who can give you the chance to have the home you want to live in. Allow them to take the design a step farther than you would normally envision.

Appreciate every day for the opportunity to express beauty!

Thanks for your time!

You are welcome.

 

Suzanne Lasky: Finding the Right Balance

SuzanneNorthern Arizona gives Suzanne Lasky the perfect opportunity to use indoor and outdoor area rugs to make her clients space unique and comfortable.

Thanks for joining us, Suzanne! Tell us a little bit about your training in interior design and how you came to live and work in Arizona.

 

I moved to Arizona from Indiana with my husband, dog and cat to work at Dial, Inc. as a product manager in their household products division. After 14 years in a successful corporate marketing career, I resigned and went back to school to add an A.A.S. Degree in Interior Design to formal education that includes a Masters of Business degree. I am fortunate to have a great balance of right brain and left-brain strengths which allow me to run a successful Design business.

 

Arizona is a dry place, does that make it a challenging marketplace for robust interior decorating? Describe some of the major influences for the area?

Yes it is dry not to mention HOT. The weather influences the choice of fabrics in terms of their ability to withstand the strong sun and protection measures against fading. Of course the Southwest influences design particular when designing for client’s second homes, and for those who are newly relocated to the area. In these instances we often will incorporate tasteful ethnic and regional aspects in colors chosen, artwork or accessories.

Do you have a design philosophy? How do you try and implement it in your work?

Our design philosophy as evidenced by our portfolio is understanding each client’s unique desires, needs and lifestyles and translating it all into their home environments. I always strive to introduce my client’s to new options in materials or styles and spend time educating them about the pros and cons of the design choices being made.

 

Are your clients typically looking for big jobs, or a room-by-room type thing?

 

No such thing as ‘typical’. We do everything from full house remodels to room-by-room aesthetic only transformations.

When it comes to floor coverings, tell us how you incorporate area rugs into your designs.

We love area rugs–they ground a space visually and often inspire the color palette for a room’s design. I use area rugs extensively in my designs including placing them on top of wall-to-wall carpeting.

Area rugs add some warmth to space, but Arizona seems plenty hot enough. What are some other ways they can be incorporated into your work?

It gets cold here for several months of the year and everyone still loves to have something soft underfoot regardless of the temperature. I have used unique area rugs as wall hangings too!

Do you have any types of rugs you use more often than others? Less?

I use pure wool area rugs most often. The wool fibers are hard wearing and take the dye colors best. I also use indoor/outdoor rugs in families with young children so Mom can simply hose off the mess!

Where can readers find your work, or make a booking for an estimate?

Readers can find our work on our web site at on the Gallery page, and on Houzz.com. S Interior Design was just honored to be names the Best of Houzz 2013!

Andrea Bazilus: A Natural Fit

AndreaWhether on the beaches of Southern California or the arid landscape of Arizona desert, Andrea Bazilus utilizes existing architecture and natural surroundings to create the perfect design for her clients.

Thanks for joining us, Andrea! Tell us a little bit about your training in interior design and how you came to choose living and working in Arizona.

Growing up in California, I always had a strong interest in Interior Design and Decorating. From a very young age my family used to frequent model homes and home design shows. I always knew that a career in Interior Design is what I wanted to pursue. I attended a private Interior Design College in Long Beach, CA where I took instantly took to all of my classes and training. I began my career working in Southern California where beachfront residential projects were an every day occurrence.

I decided to move to Arizona in 2008 mostly because of the sunny weather and the vast Interior Design opportunities that Phoenix has to offer.  Modern and Contemporary Design Elements are seen in every aspect of desert living and that is a perfect fit for me esthetically. After over a decade of working in all areas of the Design Industry, I decided to venture out on my own. My company, Red Egg Design Group, is now a full service Interior Design firm specializing in modern and contemporary desert designs.

Arizona is a dry place, does that make it a challenging marketplace for robust interior decorating? Describe some of the major influences for the area?

Architecturally, the majority of homes in Arizona lean towards contemporary, modern and overall clean lines in design. We are huge proponents of letting the outdoors in and many natural and organic features are used in almost all of my projects. Desert scenery is so beautiful and vast that many interior features are large picture windows and sliding walls of glass. Since we live outdoors year round, seamless transitions from interior to exterior are a feature of all of the projects that I am involved in.

Frank Lloyd Wright is also a huge influence in the Phoenix area. He built his vacation home, Taliesin West, here in 1937. His works as well as his apprentice’s designs are displayed magnificently throughout Arizona in many public buildings, hotels and private residences.

Do you have a design philosophy? How do you try and implement it in your work?

My biggest design philosophy is that a home’s interior needs to be reflective of the existing architecture and the family that lives there. Designing an all white delicate space would obviously not be conducive to a family of five with young children. I try very hard with every project to make the interior work esthetically with the architecture and natural surroundings of the home. I also always keep in mind who my clients are and what will ultimately function for them the best now and in the future.

Are your clients typically looking for big jobs, or a room-by-room type thing?

Every project is different and that is why I love my job! Right now I involved in everything from new construction, kitchen and bath remodels, exterior planning and even selecting just paint colors. I enjoy every project and the opportunity to help my clients love their home.

When it comes to floor coverings, tell us how you incorporate area rugs into your designs.

I use area rugs and rug accents in almost every project that I am designing. With keeping the theme of using natural elements in mind, almost all of my projects consist of wood flooring, natural stone, stained concrete and/or organic materials. I use area rugs to bring color, texture and sound absorption in most furniture arrangements. While most architectural features are natural tones, area rugs are a great way to bring in the desired colors and patterns into the space that do not exist naturally.

Area rugs add some warmth to space, but Arizona seems plenty hot enough. Do you find that area rugs don’t work for this reason?

In Arizona we do not use area rugs for warmth- you are right about that! Area rugs are use as a decorative element and to help to ground furniture arrangements.

Do you have any types of rugs you use more often than others? Less?

I primarily use area rugs that are of a natural quality. Hair on Hide rugs are a favorite because they work so well in Desert Contemporary décor. I also use a lot of tone on tone area rugs that are made of natural and recycled materials.

I usually do not use antique traditional area rugs. While they are very beautiful, my projects are just too contemporary and modern to work with those types of designs.

Where can readers find your work, or make a booking for an estimate?

Red Egg Design Group is on every Social Media Outlet. A good starting place is my website www.redeggdesigngroup.com

 

Pamela O’Brien: The Right Stuff

Pamela_ObrienVision gives her designs life, but Pamela O’Brien knows that the secret to a successful space is to find and use the perfect accessories and rugs.

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

I grew up in an antique-loving family.  A nicely decorated home, no matter what your means, was an important family value.  When my parents first married, my father was a new Navy officer stationed in Honolulu, HI.  They lived in a hotel for the first six months to save money and even then, my mother would save up for a tablecloth or pretty napkins.  I guess I just got that gene and began appreciating it from day one.  I chose design as a second career when I decided I had to know if I really wanted more than a hobby.  I left my job in 2000 and have never looked back.

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

My style is an eclectic mix of things I cherish, collect, find and occasionally stumble upon.  The fun and the challenge is making sense of the mix.  I think my best and highest use is when I create a beautiful environment that makes my client happy, fits his or her lifestyle, works within the budget and was completed on schedule.  We hit the mark nearly all of the time and I am very proud of that.  I am a die-hard Martha Stewart fan.  I love how she makes simplicity absolutely fantastic.  She also has a strong retro vibe which I really cherish.  I am continuously impressed by Candice Olson’s viability in the market.  I have also met Joe Ruggiero and appreciate his vim, vigor and signature style.  I envy Alexa Hampton’s dream projects, Barclay Butera’s combinations of clean lines and great fabrics and find Charlotte Moss’ representation of nature to be pure fantasy.

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

I think I can generally tell although people are getting very design-savvy these days and often they pleasantly surprise me with their skill.  However, when a design professional is involved I think the paint colors tend to be much better, the furniture layout is comfortable — not too sparse and not overly full — and the accessories feel interesting yet cohesive.

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

I worked on Tradition Bank Plaza, an award-winning, historic remodel in the Houston Museum District.  What was particularly great about this project was it was a splendid building that had been vacant for many, many years so it was a treat to be involved in its renaissance.  The museum district location allowed me to recruit some wonderful local, emerging artists.  We were able to preserve the historic provenance of the building as well as giving a nod to its hotel roots, all while designing a wonderful bank and community space. I also really enjoyed refurbishing two, prominent high-rise building lobbies and turning a very nice but rather vanilla Woodlands, Texas suburban home into a French-style Burgundian manor house for one of my favorite families.

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

Have a plan of action, measure, take photos, pull paint chips and fabric samples.  Spend more time planning and less time shopping and you should have excellent results.  When you can’t make yourself do the planning or you hit a roadblock, then you should consider calling in a pro.  Remember, nearly always, two heads are better than one and if one of those heads has a really good eye for design, you should benefit from the liaison. And of course, buy what you love but also be sure to buy what you need as well.

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

I LOVE rugs.  I think you need them in most rooms.  Houston is having a love affair with hard surface floors.  The challenge is that many clients were used to carpeting and they have a hard time envisioning covering up their beautiful new floors.  However, I educate them on the many benefits of rugs and how much beauty, texture, interest and style they will impart.  Often it takes a few weeks of working together but invariably, their rugs are some of their favorite purchases.

Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work? Any that you avoid?

I like to make sure rugs are the correct size, many people order rugs in too small of size.  I prefer using 100% wool whenever appropriate.  I love runners on stairs and I insist on them for safety.  I try to convince my clients to save up for the right rug and not buy cheap throw-away rugs for just a year or two’s use.  A good rug can hold its value so I think it is a place to splurge rather than scrimp.

Anything else to add? 

I think we covered quite a bit!

Thanks for your time!  

Thank you!  It was a pleasure.

 

Donna Vining: Think Different

Don’t believe the rumors, when it comes to Texas-themed designs big isn’t always better. Interior designer Donna Vininig knows that often time client don’t need BIG, just the most bang for their buck.

Thanks for joining us, Donna! Tell us a little bit about how you two got your start in interior design

When I was 8 years old my parents remodeled our home and my mother worked very closely with the architect and landscape architect and I was fascinated.  When I was 13 years old my mother opened an antiques shop and that was the final hook.

Texas is consumed with the idea of being the biggest. How do you try to incorporate the Texas lifestyle into your designs? How do you try and limit it? 

As a native Texan, I always think people’s ideas are so interesting such as “TEXAS is consumed with the idea of being the biggest” so since I don’t believe that is true this is hard a question to answer. The largest private home is Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina. In fact of the largest 26 homes in the United States only one is in Texas, ranking in at number 17, and it was built in 2002. I listen to my clients and strive to give them everything they want while paying great attention to universal design principles, cost and the environment.

Fair enough! Describe some of your most challenging spaces?  

Let’s begin with what makes a space challenging and that is usually when the owners want something that is not feasible within their budget parameters.  It is then my job to tell them what we can do within their budget.

Would a unique layout always benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? 

Not necessarily, for example if people have a long skinny room and they want a round dining table that seats 10 people, the unique layout of the long skinny room does not work.  However, if they are open to unique layouts and using the space in the best way, the design solution is usually less predictable.

So it could it limit your options?

Of course.  The creativity of a professional is not limited by square spaces or unique layouts.  I have changed many ordinary spaces into extraordinary spaces, the result is always what counts the most.

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free? 

Wow, I have never thought of open floor plans as stressful. Everyone usually prefers open spaces and once again for a professional, flow is never an issue. I would never design a space that is stressful.  Making people comfortable, spaces warm and inviting are key components of all the spaces I design.  I have been told many times by attendees of show houses, that my spaces feel warm and inviting and like something they could live in — I think that is the ultimate compliment and goal.  Many people can do outlandish eye catching rooms but if no one really wants to occupy them, what is their purpose?

Area rugs, our specialty, are versatile. Texas homes and businesses have open spaces with traditional hardwood floors. Explain how you tend to incorporate the rugs into your design. 

I love all types of area rugs.  They can be the most impactful of the design elements or the least.  They can create instant harmony and bring the room together very quickly.  I have clients with summer and winter rugs so that they can have different feelings.  Rugs are very versatile.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most?  

No, really depends on the client and the space.

Or is it a case-by-case basis?  

Definitely

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs?  

Not that I know of.  They can be inexpensive too extremely expensive.

Do you have any final words of design advice?  

I always tell my clients to dare a little, put themselves into the hands of a professional and reap the rewards.  It is our duty to stretch the client and expose them to ides and items they may not know about and LISTEN to what makes them happy.  My design is not about pleasing me, but pleasing my client.

Thanks for your time!

Thanks!

 

Debbie Gersh: Windows to the Soul

From a business started “just for fun,” Debbie Gersh is now busy designing creative and stress-free rooms for her clients.

Thanks for joining us, Debbie! Tell us a little bit about how you two got your start in interior design.

I began my business in 1989 as a part time business making window treatments. My son had begun preschool and I decided to go into business. Three weeks later I had my first client. As I went along I began helping with other aspects of decorating a room. I have a fine arts degree from UT and went back to school for an interior design degree. My business has grown tremendously over the years and now I do everything from decorating and design projects to major renovations.

Texas is consumed with the idea of being the biggest. How do you try to incorporate the Texas lifestyle into your designs? How do you try and limit it?

I was born in Houston and have lived most of my life here. Much of this is a myth! My clients are normal, everyday people. No one I know lives on a huge ranch! Should a client want to incorporate a Texas themed design into his or her home I would do that. I work in whatever style the client likes. More important here in Texas is considering environmental concerns, such as saving water as much as possible, making sure homes are properly insulated to save on the air conditioning bill (we run our AC’s probably nine months out of the year, if not more), good quality windows, etc. Water is a huge problem in Texas. Using water saving appliances and fixtures is a must. I will say that I would be happy to design a huge ranch, should anyone want one!!

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Would a unique layout always benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? Or could it limit your options?

I feel that unique layouts or any layout, for that matter, presents its own set of circumstances. I have worked in large rooms that were difficult to arrange because of door placement or lack of usable wall space. When I am redoing the space plan of a room or a home, I always ask the client what works in the space, what does not work in the space. What are the client’s dreams and goals for the space. In a kitchen redo, for example, imagine moving through the space. If you open the oven door do you have room to set a hot tray down? Things of that nature.  One challenging space was a kitchen I redid a few years ago. It was a large space and the client wanted to incorporate an island. The space for the island was next to bookcases, a side door, and the walkway into the family room. So working with all of those limitations I designed a very unique island for the clients. After laying it out on paper I laid out the outline with paper towels on the floor so they could see it and be sure it was the perfect design. Another was a small master bath and small closet. The homeowner wanted to incorporate a larger shower and longer counter (to enable installation of two sinks). There were two main solutions that made the space more user friendly. We moved the door opening down and installed a pocket door, which gave us more room for the shower. We also borrowed two feet from the adjacent closet, adding another pocket door. This gave us the space we needed for the counter. And at the end of the day, by reconfiguring the closet they had more storage space in spite of the fact that we borrowed the two feet. I love the challenge of reworking a small space to use it to its best advantage. Did I mention pocket doors? They are my best friend!

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

When designing for this type of floor plan, it is important to provide the open feeling the clients want, while at the same time creating the different “rooms” they also want. Area rugs are a great way to visually define different spaces. Additionally, I am always careful in the placement of heavy sofas and armchairs. Placing a sofa with its back greeting a person upon entering a room is like putting up a wall. If one must have seating in the middle of a room, I always recommend side chairs that have raised wood legs. That way when entering a room, one can see around the chairs, under the chairs, etc. They don’t feel as massive and intimidating.  Another major challenge in large open plans with massive family rooms – most have a wall of windows, a fireplace and built ins, and a place for a TV. This can be quite challenging in laying out furniture. It goes back to my comments about imagining living in the space. If you want to face the TV where is the back of the sofa? Do you end up having to put the back to the windows? These things should be considered at the design stage of the project.

Area rugs, our specialty, are versatile. Texas homes and businesses have open spaces with traditional hardwood floors. Explain how you tend to incorporate the rugs into your design.

I love area rugs because I am not a fan of wall-to-wall carpet. Hard flooring is much more healthy. Rugs can be picked up, cleaned, cleaned under, etc. And as I mentioned, they help to zone areas in a large space and anchor furniture in general.  I do quite a lot of area rugs.

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

I do not have any one type of rug that I use or vendor that I use. I am always happy to meet new vendors. It depends on the budget and the type of rug the client wants.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

For my clients there are price limits as no one has an unlimited budget.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

That is a question!

When doing a home design or renovation it is always best to work with a design professional. A professional can help a client avoid mistakes, give options not considered, both in plan/design of the space, and of materials used, and manage a project. Projects are stressful and it is helpful to have someone to lean on. Some people become overwhelmed when making design choices and some are not comfortable making choices. Working with a designer that you like and trust is so helpful.

I always suggest to clients that they get the best they can afford on the pieces that get the most abuse (sofas, dining room chairs) or are more difficult to come back to later on to change (flooring, tile installations, countertops, etc.). I would not compromise on quality by trying to do everything at once. Complete one project and if you have to wait 6 months to do the next, so be it. Retail stores that we all know and love (Target, Pier One, Marshalls, etc.) are fabulous for items that don’t get a lot of abuse. If you are short on cash after doing good quality sofa and chairs, and find inexpensive end tables, great! You can always replace them a year down the road and will have gotten the value from them. Trends are fun but I would not recommend major investments in them. Do what you love and makes you happy.

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

My website is www.creativitiesdesign.com.

Thanks for your time!

Thanks!

 

Derrick DeCristofaro: Success is in the Details

He’s booked with some of the today’s biggest names, but when it comes down to what works, interior designer Derrick Decristofaro admits it’s nothing fancy, just the details and knowing what’s right for your client.

You work all over the country, how do you try to incorporate the local vibe into your designs? Do you sometimes try and limit it? 

It’s important to research the area and take note of the local flavor. Classic design and a well-appointed space transcend geography.

Well put. Please describe some of your most challenging spaces? 

The most challenging? Hmm, I’d say that it was designing a living room for a big game hunter. With all those dead animals a strong editorial eye was a must to make sure the space turned out fabulous! Another difficult space was the beachside retreat I was asked to design for a color-blind artist. For the space we had to focus almost primarily on textures and patterns. I mean there could be absolutely no definitive color. Some other tricky areas to design were the thirty thousand square foot restaurant and nightclub, which was a two-year project from the architectural design phase until completion.

Would a unique layout always benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? Or could it limit your options?

I adore a unique or challenging space, and I definitely think that some of the most challenging spaces can inspire my creativity. Whether it’s a beautiful staircase, or a narrow hallway, I think that with hard work and the right eye you can turn any space into something that your client will love.

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

A stress free environment almost always begins with function. That is always the most important, followed by comfort. Though at the end you also have to consider the ease of maintaining all the pieces in your design.

Area rugs, our specialty, are versatile. Many upscale homes and businesses have open spaces with traditional hardwood floors. Explain how you tend to incorporate the rugs into your design.

The rug is one of the most integral parts of the design. It’s all about layering of detail and elements. Flooring, lighting and architectural detail are the most important layers in creating the environment.

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

I have a passion for natural fibers. A silk blend always provides that upscale feel. I’ve been placing flat weaves with strong graphic patterns.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs?

Rugs are an important element in the overall design of the space. As a rule twenty percent of the budget for the space should be spent on a rug. The rug, after all is a key element to any room where it’s used!

Do you have any final words of design advice? 

Always choose quality pieces first. A great rug is like your best “LBD” or Dark Suite. It will always be a core element in your wardrobe and can be accessorized for any occasion.

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

I have a presence on most social media and of course my web site or check me out at www.facebook.com/designderrick.

Thanks for your time today.

I enjoyed it. Thanks guys!