Feel the Flow: Rachel Greathouse

The best spaces are the ones that feel homey and combine form with function. Rachel Greathouse gives her clients that unique combination in all her work.

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

I have always loved art and have had appreciation for beautiful things. When I got the opportunity to do the interior design for a local air talent in Atlanta who had just purchased a beautiful downtown loft I jumped on it. It was an incredible experience where I could really be creative and get the satisfaction of helping create an amazing home full of personality and character. After that I knew I was hooked. Then after my second child I left my corporate sales job and started my design business and haven’t looked back.

Atlanta definitely has a vibe all its own. What elements of the city’s personality do you try to add into your work? 

Atlanta is such a fun energetic city, I try to incorporate a bit of it’s southern charm and mix some of its artsy edgy side in my projects using art and color.  The local art is fantastic!

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer? Hurt?

I actually love unique layouts as they allow for interest and unexpected ways to create form and function.  Sometimes the most challenging spaces are the ones with more traditional layouts where rooms don’t flow into one another.

The idea of flow is huge in design. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

I am a big fan of clutter free but very cozy, livable spaces.  Every client is different in what they love so I work with each of them individually to create their idea of the perfect space for them to relax and enjoy. Using texture, some pops of color, and great lighting is very important in creating a feel for the space.  I love dimmers they are staple for my designs.

Area rugs are versatile and since Atlanta has plenty of loft space with hardwood floors, I’m sure you see a bunch. Tell us how you tend to incorporate them in your design?  

Area rugs are like art for the floor.. They can set the tone for the space instantly…I tend to like bigger rugs and am a big fan of texture when using them in my designs.

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

For more transitional and contemporary styles I use a lot of really soft neutral shaggy and flokati rugs. For the traditional home I always love classic antique Persian rugs.  I adore beautiful runners, they can elongate a space (like a kitchen sink area) and give it sophisticated look instantly.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

It depends on the space and style. I will say that I don’t do a lot of layering of rugs; I like more of lighter look.

Any final words of design advice?

When working on your home my advice is to have fun with the process. Keep clutter to minimum, surround yourself with what makes you happy, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

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

www.rachelgreathousedesign.com

Quality Design on a Budget

Photo credit: Amy Paulson

Trimming costs can be difficult, but Cristi Holcombe finds that hard work helps her deliver quality designs to her clients on a budget.

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

I’ve been interested in design since I was a child.  I would rearrange the furniture in my childhood bedrooms every 6 months or so.  I was fascinated with space planning an how moving furniture around could create more or less room in a space.  After receiving a degree in design I landed in Atlanta and have been working in the design world ever since.  I started my own company Charm Home in August of 2009.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist?  

I try to take in a client’s style when from the first time I step into the home.  I take note of their personal style as well as the style of their home.  When I’m working with someone I try to envelope their style and add in my own personal touches instead of designing for them with my own personal style.  I don’t have an actual checklist but there are key items that I try to gather from an initial meeting, “what is the general style of the client, what is the budget, what are the client’s dislikes/likes, etc.”

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

My biggest challenge is always the budget.  It is hard for most people to spend money in their home even though they are so happy once they have.  I find myself really having to explain to people that the money is going to be worth it.  I’ve never had a client tell me after the fact that the money wasn’t well-spent.  They are much more comfortable in their homes and their homes finally fit their style.  In the beginning, it’s hard to tell someone that they will feel that once they have a completely designed space.

Describe to us the project you are most proud to have designed. What did it look like before? After?  

The project that I am most proud of is currently in progress!  It is a total renovation of the main living spaces of a family’s home.  Before they had three separate spaces and were not able to spend time together as a family (it is a really large family and they couldn’t all be in one room at a time).  The kitchen was also very outdated but they love to cook.  I designed a totally open and updated floor plan for them.  All the walls have come down and you can see from the front door to the back porch.  There is an island where up to 10 people can sit comfortably.  It’s the perfect house for family time and entertaining.  The difference is night and day and it is going to make them closer as a family because of it.  I love it when a design is functional as well as beautiful.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your business? Which type of designs do you see yourself using more? Less?  

I love rugs too!  I think that rugs can totally transform a room.  A room can go from cold and stark to warm and cozy in an instant by adding rugs.  One of the most common mistakes people make is using area rugs that are too small.  People shouldn’t be scared to cover their floors.  Right now my favorite rug designs are natural woven rugs like jute and seagrass and flatwoven wool rugs.

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

I have found natural woven jute and sea grass rugs to be the most durable in my designs.  They look great and really hold up to wear.  They are very low maintenance as well.

These things can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?  

Flat woven rugs are very popular right now and are very affordable.  I suggest shopping around to find the best price.  Also, if the rug you really want is out of your price range.  Opt for a smaller version of the rug to use in a bathroom area.  Then get a less expensive option for the larger area.

Thanks for your time!

Thanks!

The Expert’s Eye: Sy Iverson

From renovating rundown boutique hotels into “Cabin Chic” getaways, to designing for the needs of a family, Sy Iverson is one of Southern California’s most sought after interior designers.

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

In 1984 I was working for a small custom furniture manufacturer owned by a family friend in the sales and design department.  The company had been doing work for designers in the San Diego area since its inception in the 60′s.  New to us was a designer whose work I was completely taken with.  Oddly enough when her assistant showed up on some errand I thought to myself something is wrong here.  What I felt was that I could do a better job with a better presentation.  I wrote a letter, this is the 80′s mind you, to this particular designer stating that very fact.  I was hired in less than a week.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space?

I pay particular attention to how the new client conveys where they would like to go with their project. Does the client feel more comfortable with a facilitator/project manager or rather are they truly looking to create something unique, especially for them that they have not seen before?

Usually if I am lead by the hand to the client’s laptop where they show me items they have pinned on Pinterest and images from Houzz then my feeling is that they are looking for a facilitator.  Generally these types of clients have been collecting information for quite a long time.  Sometimes there is consistency in their choices but often there is not.  This type of client is looking for a sounding board.  They want to run their ideas by a professional.  Oftentimes each image selected is done so with little thought as to the interplay of it to the next.  They want to create an environment that they have seen before and know where they want to go but not how to get there.

If, however, the client’s needs are conveyed in a few words, a couple of pictures torn from magazines that convey more of a feeling rather than the need for a specific item and the request to incorporate important pieces of their own these types of clients are looking for a designer to help them achieve a unique vision unto themselves.

Do you have a checklist?

I do not use a checklist at the initial meeting.  I find that a checklist isn’t conversational enough.  Depending upon the space(s) we are designing ~ I use we as the client and I become a team ~ I start the conversation with how they intend to use the space.  This question will usually open up dialog about storage, seating, entertaining habits, daily rituals and the fulfillment of those and many more requirements all in a timely and cost effective manner; important to the successful completion of the project.

I do use a checklist on varying shopping trips in order to more effectively use time without missing items.

Your job is filled with challenges. Which do you face most often? 

Budget.  Once the client has determined that you are the designer for them it all comes down to money.  Often the client has a budget in mind.  Sometimes they are forthright with the number other times not.

Do you have a method to work through those problems?

For those clients with unrealistic budgets I tell them that a projected budget based on the scope of the work to be completed will help us determine where we want to spend their money.  For those clients with a more realistic budget but with desires that exceed that budget I suggest we work through the design process with all the bells and whistles they want and then cut back as needed.

Describe to us the project you are most proud to have designed. 

Although I have completed projects all over the US each with their own set of unique design challenges the project that I am most proud of oddly enough is not the one with the biggest budget.  I had been contracted by one of my residential clients who had at that time recently began purchasing small hotel concerns to develop a new design concept for a 60 room boutique complex.  Specifically I am most proud of the lobby. As a matter or course the client viewed and approved various concepts and materials.  He never once made a site visit.  It wasn’t until several months after completion that I received a call from him that he was ecstatic over what I had done.  Completely beside himself.  I had been working for this gentleman and his family for over 15 years by that point and this was the first phone call I had received from him to that effect.  This makes me most proud.

What did it look like before? 

Imagine for a moment the most rundown of 60′s ‘log cabin’ spaces where antiquated pine paneling, white cultured stone, oak case pieces and peeler core furnishings had run amok.  Add to that a poorly completed facelift circa 1982, printed carpet and disjointed spatial organization and that is what I had to work with.

After?

A modern take on what I thought a boutique mountain resort should be; a concept we dubbed ‘Cabin Chic’.  Re-orientation of the space by creating a recess for an oversized partners desk where guests could take a seat during the check in process.  We provided a modern coffee bar, 60′s pool table, while we removed much of pine paneling we primed that which we kept, paired George Nelson Bubble Lamps (Cigar) with the white cultured stone and incorporated brightly colored glass mosaic at the runway size fireplace hearth.  With commissioned custom art, accent lamps fashioned from white resin tree stump vases and contemporary accent tables in acid etched reclaimed steel sheeting five years later the lobby is as fresh as the first day it was installed. (see attached picture)

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your business?

I use area rugs to anchor the space.  During space planning when I know I am working with hard flooring surfaces I line the proposed area rug up with furnishings and architectural elements in order to anchor the space.  Sometimes the rug is a backdrop to the decor while other times the rug is the statement piece to the room.  Whether room size or accent size I know when determining what it is, its placement and final purchase it will be important to the completion of the space

Which type of designs do you see yourself using more? 

Funny, the types of rugs I most often gravitate to are distinctly different from one another.  Shag and Persian, oh and Tufenkian (both traditional and contemporary in nature)

Less?

Aubusson, woven, needlepoint

Which area rugs do you find most durable?

Wool

Least durable?

Olefin

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

Hire a designer.  You can always tell the difference.

 

Revamp Your Room, Improve Your Outlook

Atlanta-based Robin Lamonte is revamping rooms around the Peach Tree state.

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

I actually took interior design in college at the University of Wisconsin back in the 70′s but became a flight attendant for a major airline based in Atlanta.

Fast forward (after 4 children) to 2002 where I actually began my second career in interior design in New Jersey. I was volunteering my design skills for three local charities I sat on the Board of Director for. It became a career after many requests to decorate homes and happily get paid for it.

After 10 years as a New Jersey based designer, I have come full circle back to Atlanta, a city I love.

 

Atlanta definitely has a vibe all its own. What elements of the city’s personality do you try to add into your work? 

I have the best of two worlds in Atlanta. I love traditional and transitional design styles and coming from the New York metro area as a designer, I see the same youthful energy in design closer to downtown with the city crowd leaning towards contemporary and transitional style just like Manhattan. In the suburbs a more traditional look, just like New Jersey and Connecticut.

With all my clients who prefer a more “traditional look”, I still incorporate transitional furniture and mix it up. It updates a room very easily when you mix styles.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer? Hurt?

Many of my designs for the challenging spaces had function over style as the top priority. I had homes where someone was disabled or elderly were living in the home . I designed the spaces to accommodate the inhabitants, not the look of a space.

Unique layouts are where my education in design kick in and make me work harder, but the satisfaction from the client is the reward. Unique layouts don’t hurt the designer, it just keeps us up at night.

The idea of flow is huge in design. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

My motto is “Less is More” and I do not over decorate a room.

Minimum clutter from accessories and personal items keeps a room stress free as well as a monochromatic color scheme. If a client has beautiful landscape views and doesn’t need privacy, no window treatments. Let nature calm the soul and be the art in the room.

Area rugs are versatile and since Atlanta has plenty of loft space with hardwood floors, I’m sure you see a bunch. Tell us how you tend to incorporate them in your design?

Area rugs decorate the “6th wall” of my design. Sometimes we start with a rug as the focal point for the room. It is easier to select a rug and work backward than select the rug to complete the design. We select the most minute color from the rug to be the wall color. If the fabric patterns are busy, we calm the design down with contemporary style or monochromatic colored rugs.

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

I have favorite go to rug styles that work in many of the rooms I design (oushak and serapi) but it really is a case by case.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

As with all aspects of design, spend as much as you can on good quality. It lasts longer, less money spent on the long run.

If you are going to hire a designer, you have already invested in the quality of the room you are designing. The quality and the style of the rug should last 20 years minimum.

Any final words of design advice?

Best investment you can do is hire a professional when you have no idea where to begin on a project. You seek professional help when you can’t do it yourself. It will save you time and money if you have a designer who listens to your needs and addresses the budget at the beginning of every project. If you hire a designer, but have no idea what it costs to do the room you have envisioned, you haven’t done your homework.

Many wonderful people have contacted me throughout the years with high expectations, but their budgets didn’t allow them to go to their “vision of the room”.

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

Contact us at roomsrevamped@aol.com and our portfolio appears on www.designshuffle.com, www.houzz.com and www.hgtv.com

 

Choose Your Materials with Care: Gary Finley

When Gary Finley opened his own design company he decided to focus on quality materials that exceeded the expectations of even his exceeded the expectations of even the pickiest clients.

Thanks for joining us, Gary. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design and how you ended up in design?

As a creative child I took art classes and receive attention for my work, which lead me to understand I had a talent that direction.  I visited an art museum where interior designers had displayed their work in small vignettes this was my first introduction to interior design, and finding a way art and a profession came together.  Following my BS degree in interior design I began working in retail for high-end furniture stores. Following a project in the Bahamas, where I refurnished a home on a small island, I decided it was time to move ahead on my own.  Trusting, I had the tools needed I formed Gary Finley Interiors.

You live and work in Southern California. What are some themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the city?

Refined comfort is a key element in my designing.  Working with great textiles and well-built furnishings that are suited for client needs is very important to me. I believe in investing in one’s interiors.  In the long run, a well designed/executed space can serve for many years and can be transformed as one moves from home to home.  Items need not be expensive to be refined, just well thought-out.  Using natural materials supported by synthetics can be a great combination for fabric selections.  Linen is a favorite fabric of mine. It has so many uses.

All spaces are unique, but with a green concentration you must find that there are items you tend to repeat. What would they be? Which are most dependable?

Once again it’s the natural fibers that lead the way here.  However, they must be used to their best advantage.  If one wants ‘soft and cozy’ use a soft fiber.  Bamboo is great for flooring but as for using bamboo as a textile, it requires far more processing than does cotton, wool or linen, thus defeating the purpose to the environment.  Wood and natural stone are other materials I’m fond of using.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your education and inspiration?

Meeting new clients is an interviewing process.  Both parties are attempting to understand the other.  My number one priority with meeting a new client is to gain information about them, their project, their expectations, and the way in which they make decisions.  Good communications lead to satisfied clients.  It’s not so important that we each “catch the dream” on the initial meeting but that we both are willing and able to commit to work together to bring that dream to reality.   I’ve often stated that my challenge is producing in tangible form that which the clients has created in their minds.

Southern California has some nice hardwood floors and that usually means area rugs. Tell us how you use some of these in your designs.

I love rugs.  I own rugs.  Rugs can either develop a theme for a space, define a space, support a space or at times just lay there.  The use of a rug can offer a space many things beyond a visual change.  By using a textile on a floor, a space is changed.  The reflections and sounds are immediately impacted; even a bold rug adds a softening effect.

A rug is able to define a space and hold the furnishings together, as in the case of a dining area.  Sometimes, I have chosen to not use rug in a space this decision is as important as choosing to use one.

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

Rugs are like art to me.  One is drawn to a type of rug for a reason.  Selecting a rug can be very personal, and my job is to lead my clients to rugs that offer them the best solutions for their particular needs.  I once over hear a conversation in a showroom where sisal was being considered for a staircase.  I interrupted that conversation to point out that sisal has a hard finish making it a slick surface for stairs and could be a dangerous choice.  So, once again products need to be carefully chosen based on the needs they are to satisfy.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

The most costly rug is one that is wrong rug for its intended use.  As with so many items prices range from low to high to even higher!  Too much is spent on a rug when it does not serve well in its intended space.  I have specified large inexpensive rugs and small costly ones, as well as quite the contrary.

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

Please visit www.garyfinleyinteriors.com  or my section at www.HOUZZ.com to view my work and read my profiles, and or contact me by phone me at 949 939 0088 to speak with me personally

Thank you for considering my work.  I encourage you to contact me to schedule your complimentary consultation, no job is too small that it doesn’t benefit from good design.

Remember these two important suggestions  ‘GOOD DESIGN IS KNOWING WHEN TO STOP”  and  “WHEN IN DOUBT DONT”

Best Regards,

Gary Finley

 

Keep it Green, Make it Beautiful: Matthew Coates

Matthew Coates is an award-winning architect and President of Coates Design Architects in the Seattle area. His firm has been focused on green building and sustainable design from its inception.

 

Thanks for joining us, Matthew. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design and how you ended up in a green concentration?

I worked at a few large architecture firms in Seattle before winning the Cradle to Cradle International Sustainable Housing Design Competition in 2005.  This propelled me to start my own firm, and we’ve been focused on green building and sustainable design since our inception.

You live and work in Seattle. What are some themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the city?

Because of our climate, there’s a strong desire for access to daylight.  We like to introduce a lot of natural light into our spaces, and we do that by increasing the volume of the space which helps light to bounce and disperse, and allows for more glazing to be used with an exterior wall.

With regard to materials, there tends to be an appreciation for natural materials, materials that are honest about what they are.  Cedar and douglas fir trees grow everywhere around here, so we use a lot of these two woods for both interior and exterior finishes.

All spaces are unique, but with a green concentration you must find that there are items you tend to repeat. What would they be? Which are most dependable? 

When designing interior spaces, it’s important to create more than one use within a given space.  So it’s common to combine an office with a library with a guest sleeping area.  We often include an open living plan in our designs, so the living, kitchen, and dining areas are combined in one functioning space.  By doing so you get a lot of “borrowed landscape,” so to speak.  This is a term usually designated to exterior gardens, but it’s true for the interior too.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your education and inspiration? 

My first priority is to understand their needs and expectations.  So it’s really more about listening – critical listening – to be able to understand and interpret what it is they’re trying to accomplish, and what their expectations are in regard to scope, schedule, and budget.  I don’t come to the table as a designer with a predisposition to a particular outcome.  I look at each client and each design opportunity as its own, and I design to suit the client’s needs and context, rather than my own sensibility.

Seattle is known to have a few hardwood floors, which of course means more area rugs. Tell us how you use some of these in your designs.

Area rugs are important because they can really help to define a space, whether it’s a sitting area or a circulation path.  They send a visual or textural cue as to how a space should be used, or they can be used as a spatial organizer.  They add color, along with visual and physical texture to spaces.   They also help with acoustics, so that’s something to be mindful of if you’re creating a conversation area.

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

Every situation and design opportunity has its own criteria, and so we pick something that fits that criteria. So we make decisions on a case-by-case basis, and it’s always different.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Accents are best used in moderation.  I would rather see larger area rugs than a bunch of little ones.  It’s definitely important for them to be visually independent from one another.

Any final words of design advice?

When choosing an area rug, be conscious of not only the color and the way it looks, but also the rug’s durability and longevity. Knowing what textures and fabrics you’re dealing with is very important.  Ask yourself: “Is this rug going to shed all over my house?”  Also, think about how easy or difficult it will be to clean.  Choose a rug that’s appropriate for the location you’re using it.

With regard to design, area rugs are not necessarily intended to be a focal point.  They’re an important part of the composition of creating a space, but they’re more like the glue that holds it all together.  I use them to support and enhance a good design that’s already there.

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

Readers can view our work on our website, and we can be reached at 206-780-0876 or hello@coatesdesign.com.

 

Staging Success: Shirin Sarikhani

When staging homes for sale, almost no one is better than Seattle’s Shrin Sarikhani., an interior decorator with her client’s best interest in mind.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist? 

My most important agenda during my first apt is to figure out what are their expectations and if they have any specific requirements.

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

Yes we do face challenges. Some are people challenges, but we have learned to ask right questions and let them feel that we hear them and understand where they come from. Other challenges are difficult spaces. Some homes are just difficult to design. I’ve learned that my first impressions are usually correct and I have been trying hard to listen more to myself. But I always create a back up plan.

Describe to us the project you are most proud to have designed. What did it look like before? After? 

This is a hard question. One of the first homes that I staged is still my favorite project. The homeowners didn’t want to spend any money to landscape, paint, change carpets. But, we turned a blah house that was blue inside and out with navy shag rugs, into a hip an inviting home. We took a unused space into a beautiful work space. Since we had to work with lots of blues, we brought rust orange and browns and carried the colors throughout. The color combination and the flow made the whole thing work together. The house was sold for $40,000 more than asking price in one hour.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your business? Which type of designs do you see yourself using more? Less? 

When it comes to rugs and staging, I have two different approaches. If there is beautiful wood floor, we like to show it off. So we use rugs to anchor the living rooms and define these spaces, but we leave the dining room floors blank to show the wood floors. Our favorite carpets are shag in neutral colors and sisals. I don’t like to use colorful carpets or the ones with patterns, since they become a distraction. We do use Persian rugs for our traditional homes and they work well for these homes.

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

Oriental rugs are the most durable and, I think that sisal are some of the the least durable.

Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price? 

Carpets are expensive, the good ones at least. We try to buy them for our wholesaler vendors. The Persian rugs we buy directly from importers.

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

Sure thing. It was a pleasure!

No Detail is too Minor: Scott Neste

The Pacific Northwest is filled with rain, but Scott Neste knows that you can warm up any room with a nice area rug and by paying attention to the details!

Tell us a little bit about your training in interior design and how you came to choose both the profession and your location.

My training in interior design has primarily been comprised of hands-on activities.  My first “room reveal” was on a winter night when I was about 7 years old and I announced to my family after dinner that they all needed me to come to my bedroom to see how what I had done!  Some things never change.  Design is in my DNA.

I was raised by creative and entrepreneurial parents, my Dad was a high-end menswear retailer for 43 years and Mom is a Home Economist. There was always a plethora of creative opportunities to be involved in from creating retail store window displays to helping renovate the family room or cook an extravagant holiday dinner for 25.

And what about professionally?

My degree is in Organization Communications and Psychology.  After college I had a 12 year career as a District Manager for American home furnishings retailer, Pier 1 Imports followed by a two year career as a Human Resources Director in a pharmaceutical research company, America’s Doctor.  In December of 2000 my position relocated but I didn’t as I choose to pursue a life dream of having my own design studio.  That brings us to 2012!

Does Seattle (and all that rain) making for a challenging market as an interior decorating? What are some of the major influences for the area?

Good question!  Having been a Pacific Northwest resident for 26 + years I’d have to say the region is on the whole laid back, not concerned with progressive design, focused on the outdoors and living a comfortable non-flashy life.  Our very temperate climate makes it a really easy place to live and fall in love with.  You may think since we average 226 cloudy days per year that homeowners would be drawn to bright colors and bold statements that combat the gray.  I’ve never found this to be the case.  People seem drawn to relish tonal, subdued palettes with organic color references.  On the whole, my paint palettes tend to be very tonal and subtle with an occasional feature wall for a special “pop of color.”

While our days are cloudy, they are also bright so these tonal color palettes actually have a rather chameleon effect.  Greens turn blue, yellows can turn green and whites stay refreshing.

If nature in the spectacular “Evergreen State” is a primary influence, I’d say that Glasswork is a second major influence.  The influence of Dale Chihuly and other well-noted glass artists is ever-present.  There is an appreciation for art and the process of making beautiful things.  Additionally, being a very environmentally conscious state creates at least the desire to work sustainably, to consider reclaimed woods and materials and to do the right thing in terms of the environment.

What’s you design philosophy? How do you try and implement it in your work?

Simple.  The client is inspiration for and benefactor of everything I do!  I work primarily to gain an accurate understanding of whom my client is, how they live currently and how they’d like to live in the future.  I consider is a great honor to design with clients.  I see my job as to interpret and anticipate their needs and to design with those needs in minds.  Secondarily, to be a robust source of inspiration, ideas, options and solutions for every need.  I’m thrilled when I show a client exactly what they think they need then I push the boundaries by showing then another option they had no ideas existed and they are wild about it!

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

It’s a mixed bag.  I work exclusively on the billable hour so I take on projects of all sizes and budgets.  During the early 2000’s I was perhaps doing more long-range or complex projects and certainly more new construction.  Since about 2010, the trend seems to be to take on what fits in the budget at this time, complete that phase then immediately start planning the next one.  Commercial projects are of course more about getting the job done and moving on so businesses can minimize their downtime.

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

A great rug can really anchor a room!  It is often the inspiration for the other materials selections like hardwoods, tile, paint, wall covering, fabrics and even art.  When I’m working in a traditional setting, there may be existing rug which necessitates that need to find the perfect companion rugs.  If we’re starting from scratch, I usually present an edited selection of rugs to see what my client responds to.  Often I will include fabrics for major furniture pieces so the client is better able to visualize a design direction.

Area rugs add some warmth to space. What are some other ways they can be used? Do you have any types of rugs you use more often than others in Seattle?

I find Northwest clients are rather traditional and, without a doubt, practical in their use of rugs.  Rarely, have I persuaded a client to use a rug as a wall hanging, for example.  Again, my clients seem to typically respond to subtle designs, tonal color palettes, lush textures and simple patterns.  They always want to know the content and what the cleaning protocol is.  They tend to be more concerned with how the rug will wear and how much work it will be to care for than if the rug is a particular style, designer name or of museum quality.  They pay attention to things like how will with work with my animals or how will this feel underfoot when I slide out of bed.

Any other tips or tricks for using area rugs?

If a client is relative new to are rugs, I will work to show them some simple options for say, an entryway, atrium, dining room or other smaller space. I find if I can get them interested in a smaller financial commitment in rugs, they are often open to larger purchases when it comes time to buy a “grown-up rug” for the living room!  I have a couple tips for designers.  First, be sure you understand the client’s lifestyle and how / where the rug will be used so you can show them options with an appropriate fiber content. I’m not sure I’d recommend a silk rug to a young family who has 3 small children and 4 large dogs.  Second, use samples or yarn boxes to show actual color ways when possible to ensure all your design elements complement each other.

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

The best way to learn more about my work is to visit my website.  All my design and consultation time is billable by the hour so it makes it easy to bring me in for a consult and test the waters.  Most clients simply feel compelled by the work and wish to dive right in.  I’m fine either way!  Clients and learn more about my work and view project photos on numerous sites.

 

Make it POP: Michelle Yorke

From earth tones to “pop” Michelle Yorke knows how to design rooms that her Seattle clientele will enjoy.

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

My first year of college I had a hobby of decorating my bedroom and dorm room. Soon I was helping others with theirs and realized I had an interest for space and design, so I decided to pursue a degree in interior design. My interest soon become a passion and I haven’t looked back since.

Seattle definitely has a vibe all its own. What elements of the city’s personality do you try to add into your work? 

A big piece of the city’s personality is in the landscape. With the Puget Sound, mountain ranges and Greenery we are surrounded by amazing views and a rich palette of earth tones ranging from blues to greens, to beautiful grays. Yes, I even said gray. It is hot color right now so it’s fun to incorporate into a space because it really brings the outside in the Pacific Northwest. You just need to balance how much is the right amount without feeling drab.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer? Hurt?

Some of the most challenging spaces can be those that lack good natural light. I really have to focus on getting a great paint color and lighting, then bring in the right fabrics and accent colors to give the room just the right “pop” of color.

I love the challenge of a unique layout. It really stretches my creativity and abilities as a designer. So I say yes, it benefits the designer, maybe not always. But I gladly accept the challenge.

The idea of flow is huge in design. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

I start by getting to know my clients needs and desires for the space first, then design with those things in mind. If I’ve done my job right, the space will be stress-free because my client loves the end result and the space works for them.

Area rugs are versatile and since Seattle has plenty of hardwood floors. Tell us how you tend to incorporate them in your design?

I love to bring in area rugs to ground a seating arrangement and also warm up the space. It’s also a great way to bring in texture, pattern and color. Whether it is subtle or bold, the rug can really pull everything in the room together.

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

Always case by case. Every client and space is different, so I design with a blank slate each time.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Good question. If the rug overwhelms the design of the room then it’s too much. Or too many different patterns in one space or within eyesight can get to busy.

Any final words of design advice?

Love your space and make it a reflection of who you are by incorporating personal things. Add bold color and pattern with throw pillows. You can change them out seasonally or switch them around and use them in different rooms.

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

I’m featured on Houzz and can be contacted personally for a consultation at 206-349-1239.

www.michelleyorkedesign.com

 

An Interview with Kim Gorsline

Thanks for joining us, Kim! Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design and how you ended up in design? 

I have loved design since I was a little girl. When my mom gave me the dollhouse she played with when she was a girl I was very interested in trying to change the wallpaper and carpet in it. It was in early high school that I realized I could make a career out of my love for design and began looking for colleges that offered a design program. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design and decided to start my own interior design business about two years after graduating.

You live and work in Seattle. What are some themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the city? 

Something a lot of my clients love in Seattle is the use of clean lines, contemporary furnishings and simple clutter-free designs. While I’m not sure that any of those things originated in Seattle, they are all very characteristic of what I would say is the prominent design style in Seattle. How that plays out in each project is different of course, since every client is different.

All spaces are unique, but do you find that more clients want a green concentration? What items do you repeat? Which are most dependable? 

While green design is very popular in the Northwest and Seattle, I have only found it to be a real priority to incorporate it into designs for clients who have particular chemical or allergy related sensitivities. In that case some of the best products I have worked with have been wool carpets and concrete flooring.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your education and inspiration? 

My first priority is typically getting a good sense of my clients design style, taste, preferences, like and dislikes. Some of my clients already have a strong sense of what they like and what they hope for in the end design and for my clients that are less sure I have a number of tools I use to help them identify their design style and preferences. I always try and bring my education and inspiration to every job I work on, but not in a way that is forcing my own design preferences on my clients. For me it is very important that my clients taste and personality be displayed in the end design.

Seattle is known to have a few hardwood floors, which of course means more area rugs. Tell us how you use some of these in your designs.

Area rugs are a wonderful addition to a lot of Northwest rooms. They can add visual and tactile warmth as well as help anchor a room and define a space. They are also a great place to add color and visual interest to a room.

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

I would say it is on a case-by-case basis. Every client is different and every project has different needs as well as different budgets.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Again, this all depends on what the client’s budget is. If a client can afford it and is willing to spend thousands of dollars on a rug there are some very beautiful rugs that are really works of art that can make an entire room. However, if a client has a smaller budget and the rug needs to serve more of a functional purpose rather than be a work of art there are plenty of great looking rugs in that category to.

Any final words of design advice?

My design advice would be to go with your gut. A lot of times when I work with clients they already have a good sense of what they like and don’t like. Typically they need my help to figure out how to put what they like together into a cohesive design, but it is rare that I meet someone who is completely opinion less when it comes to design, especially in regards to their own home.

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

Readers can see my work and make an appointment for a consultation on my website at www.kimberleemarie.com.

Thanks for your time!