Scottsdale-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?