Linda Rubin: Functional, Intelligent Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

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

Do you have any final words of design advice?

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

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

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


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