Jeanette Cataldo: Let’s Design It!

JeanetteFrom the moment she took her first internship in college Jeanette Cataldo knew she wanted to be a designer. The Boston-based interior designer now has more than 40 years of business know-how and a satisfied client base.

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

In 1975 I took a summer course at New England School of Art & Design and knew at that time this was the profession I wanted to pursue. Some stories are long and complicated but mine was straightforward. I wanted to be a designer.

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?

Boston has wonderful history filled with so many different features. It really depends on the project, I can work with Classic New England or Cosmopolitan….

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?

Yes, I believe you always need a challenge. It keeps your creative energies alive. In my opinion, design has no limits. It’s all up to you to find the most creative and functional solution.

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

I personally love to design an open floor plan. I try to create invisible boundaries. I think my clients always get a great sense from those types of designs.

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

I like to design an area rug that is shaped to the space. Very few of my rug designs are your typical  shapes which might be expensive, or not, but it’s a necessary part of the perfect design.

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

I would say that finding the right rug is most certainly a case-by-case basis.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

In design I there are price limits on everything. However, my clients will go a little over their price limit for a unique rug. It’s a great addition to most rooms!

Do you have any final words of design advice?

Specialize! I feel in this economy along with all the do-it-yourself shows people are looking for expertise. Find an area in design that you love and specialize in it.

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

www.cataldointeriors.com  781-231-0238

 

Jennifer Griffin: A Balanced Look

Jennifer_GriffinWhen the design calls for balance and attention to details, clients rely on the expertise of Jennifer Griffin to give them all they want at an affordable price.

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

Like many designers, I truly got started as a child.  I would decorate my bedroom by buying stuff with babysitting money or bringing home a broken chair or dresser, fix it up, paint it and use it or sell it at yard sales. It kind of drove my mother crazy but I knew as a child that I was born to be an Interior Designer.

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?

I like to use classic furniture styles originating from England and Europe.  Many clients these days, have a contemporary, casual style but it is possible to combine both styles.  I believe that they soften each other and make a nice balance of casual elegance, so perfect for our Colonial houses. A great wing back chair near a roaring fire is a New England favorite and always a perfect fit, whether the chair is classic or contemporary in style.  I love our 4 seasons – fall, winter, spring and summer and always incorporate them into my designs.  Whether it is framing a view from a window with simple window treatments or not limiting sunlight during our long winters or using colors that help warm up a dark space.

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?

Honestly, I think that every space I have ever worked on has its’ challenges and I learn and grow from every one of them.  The project might cause lost sleep at the beginning as I figure out how to handle the space but usually ends up being the best, most unique projects.  The more the challenge, the more I am pushed to think and be creative.  I think the most difficult space I have worked on was a master bedroom that had many eaves and small windows – how to place furniture, how to lift the walls, how to lighten up the room?  It was fun and had a terrific outcome.  The homeowners were very happy with the results.

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?

By providing proper storage and places for organization from cabinetry or furniture.  Planning an open floor plan can be tricky so get help from a good designer.

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

I always use rugs over hardwood floors because they add warmth, decoration from pattern and color and soften the hardness of wood.   I always use natural fibers like wool and silk because they wear well and are easily cleaned.

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

My rugs and interiors are always a case-by-case basis.  Some of my designs have been complicated custom unique rugs costing $50,000 and up, with  9-12 months wait time for weaving and others are off the shelf cut carpets that have been bound for a more cost effective approach.  One thing though,  I always use natural fibers – this is key to a long lasting rug and healthy environment.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

Of course.  It always depends on the client and the budget.  I try to learn the expectations up front so that I can work within my clients budget.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

Buy the best that you can.  Quality always saves money in the end, this is especially important when you renovate a kitchen or bath.  Most cabinets are meant to last 10 years – not the cabinets I sell.  They are built to last a lifetime and then some.  I have this quote on my email from Benjamin Franklin “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”  To me, it says it all.

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

They can check out my website, now under construction…..  Or call my office 978-317-7801 to make an appointment.   Thank you so much for listening!

 

Eric Haydel: Embracing Tradition

Eric HaydelModern design can often mean the intrusion of unnecessary add-ons, but as Eric Haydel has figured out the best designs incorporate the traditional and beautiful woodworking of centuries past to create comfortable and functional spaces.

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

My career in interior design began by chance when I was offered an opportunity to work under a designer in South Louisiana, where I grew up. She was an amazing inspiration, but I never thought that I could make a career out of something that was so fun. After completing an undergraduate degree in public relations, I went on to work for a U.S. Senator doing fundraising and event planning. This early start at a challenging career forced me to discover both passion and profession.  After a failed attempt at a new fundraising career in New England, I started in a continuing education course for interior decoration. The overwhelming support I received from my instructors propelled me to work on my master’s degree and soon open an interior design business.

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

New England is indeed a wonderful place to design. For all practical purposes, it is the home of all things American. History is alive in almost every building you enter here and parts of our past are uncovered in the most unsuspecting places.  Some periods are revered in what we’re doing today, while others are important because they inform our design past. There is a real sensibility and practicality here in New England that should be embraced. When looking at historic homes in the region, many were built with beautiful craftsmanship and great attention to detail, both of which are a value to the design industry. Later we see the homes being ripped apart to add modern amenities. As a designer, I try to limit the intrusive characteristics of today’s modern world. I try to look at how we can incorporate things into a space rather than just place them there because we need them.

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?

The most challenging spaces are often the really small ones. In today’s marketplace, and in publications, we see these large spaces with beautiful pieces of furniture and lots of accessories. The challenge is to take that same ideas and put them into a smaller apartment or townhouse in the city. I say challenge because that’s what I love as an interior designer, a good challenge.  Americans are downsizing but that does not mean giving up the characteristics of great design. No matter the size of space, a conversational layout is key and all the other components will fall into place. Never focus a space layout around a TV or some other form of entertainment. Instead focus that space on individuals and the people that you want to welcome into that space.

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?

It is important to remember that open spaces do not mean big space, as in “over-sizes” or “over- stuffed.” Spaces must be divided into groupings that make sense for the user. Several smaller seating areas to read comfortably or visit with guest are a better way to keep spaces stress-free and manage the space. If nothing else, smaller spaces are easier to clean than larger ones.

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 have the ability to transform any old space into a new one and a new space into an older-feeling one; here in New England we embrace this idea to the fullest. With four seasons, it’s key to select the rug that can accomplish this transformation all year round. When working with clients, I look for a rug that offers texture and depth over color and pattern. These two traits work closely to ensure we give our space a complete feel of luxury and comfort.

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

As a designer, it is important to remember that each space is different and each should be approached as such. However, I must admit that I do have a love for a wool and silk rug. In the market today, these two textures are the most beautiful combinations offered to the consumer. No matter the season, you can find a reason to take off your shoes and walk, or even lay down on the floor, and experience the beauty in these organic fabrics.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

Many rugs are made to last a lifetime and be passed from generation to generation. When it comes to a rug, it is extremely important to consider the price, but never let that price be a deterring factor in the purchase. Rugs are simply artwork for your floor, truly one of best investment you can make for your home.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

Many clients make the mistake so often by buying things they like, or just think they like. It is important to select a rug or any piece for your home that you love. Often I walk into client’s homes and I see many items that they have collected they just like, and they are only clutter and dust collectors. Purchase what you love and leave what you like.

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

Readers can visit our website, www.emhdesigninc.com or contact us directly at 617-562-6027 for a one on one consultation.

 

Cheryl McCracken: Renovation Design Specialist

Cheryl McCracken business photoFrom hiding oversized televisions to finding the right area rug, Cheryl McCracken works hard to design functional spaces for clients in the middle of renovations. 

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

I was a design assistant after graduating from Endicott College for a few years, then went to work for a whole sale kitchen company where I learned how to design kitchens and bathrooms. Then went off to work in a plumbing show room that helped me to start my own company 28years ago. Clients were sent in by their builders to choose the plumbing and before they left the appointment I usually was hired for the interior design. Since then my specialty has been many building and renovation projects.

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

Many New England clients are traditional with a little eclecticism thrown in. However if it’s a beach house on the cape it could be shabby chic and colorful with some nautical or it could be a condominium in the North end that is very contemporary. It’s all what the client’s needs and wants are. They hire me to make their house a home.

All spaces are unique, but in New England 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? 

As far as a design feature, comfortable pieces of upholstery are always important. Finding a fabulous accent piece in case good furniture or a special rug always makes the space unique.

My challenge in many rooms today is hiding the over sized flat screen television.

If a carpenter is involved it might be adding wainscoting or crown molding.

Custom window treatments always complete a room along with the right accessories and art.

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.

To understand what their wants and needs are in the space. Look at anything they currently own and ask if anything they have will be incorporated. If it is a yes on certain items I start my design plan with those pieces in mind.

I create a master plan for the room or rooms, ask for some sort of budget.

Then begin with a furniture floor plan and research fabrics and furniture and present.

New England has plenty of homes from the 19th and 18th century and with that comes nice hardwood floors, and eventually area rugs. Tell us how you use area rugs in your designs.

With area rugs I prefer to design the room first with fabrics and furniture, unless the client already owns the rug. Once the room is complete and waiting for the right rug, I can usually bring in half a dozen rugs and end up keep the perfect rug for the room.

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

Rugs are always a case-by case decision. Every room is different, every job is different, it is always the clients preference in pattern, color and price with my guidance.

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

Price is not up to me so the answer is I don’t have a limit. It depends on the client and their budget. I have sold rugs from $500.00 to $30,000.00.

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

Educate yourself! There are a lot of furniture and rugs that the prices are too good to be true and usually the quality is lacking. Always have a master plan before you start to purchase. It’s worth it to hire a Design professional because if you hire the right one you won’t make mistakes. Decorating is an investment the last thing you want to do is make a mistake.

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

Please visit my website at www.cherylmcrackeninteriors.com, also on Facebook ,Houzz and Pintrest.

Thanks for your time! 

Thank you!

 

Bruce Benning: In Search of Perfection

Bruce_BenningDesign veteran Bruce Benning knows that to create a smart and livable space, you need a well-organized and creative design team willing to work with your vision. 

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

You are asking me to travel way into the past. Actually, my parents were in the furniture business when I was a kid and I caught the bug early.

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

With California being so broad and diverse, we have a large aesthetic range to work within. San Francisco is much different than say, Palm Desert or Lake Tahoe. If there is a common thread present in our work and that is consistent with our sense of style, I would like to think it represents a relaxed and comfortable attitude and lifestyle, punctuated with a bit of drama.

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?

The former most definitely. We approach every design with the question,  what can we bring to the table that another firm cannot. Otherwise why engage us. I suspect every designer is in the business to be creative. Challenging projects and spaces allow us to do just that. Parameters are welcomed because definition enables us to be specific. As far as challenging spaces go, we are working on a challenging project right now in Hawaii. Challenging because of the scope and size but mostly because we not only want it right, we want perfection.

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?

Well, we are back to parameters again. In office design (or any for that matter), organizations is key. We typically allow for personalization within a given amount of space. We dedicate that space to a uniform and specific size to ensure consistency.

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

Hardwood yes, but every other hard surface flooring as well. Stone, tile, etc. Area rugs allow for the creation of a focalized area. Often to create a sense of intimacy, and congeniality. In addition it usually helps us to interject the relaxed attitude we subscribe to.

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

Case by case. We are across the board. Leather, hand knotted, shag, and when we get the opportunity, a custom designed and colored, piece de resistance.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

Not when you view them as an art investment. On a unit price basis they are most often, exceedingly inexpensive.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

For the client, the process can and should be, introspective. That is not always easy but the design should simply be a reflection of the occupants. Done well, it will not only be an aesthetic success but contribute and enhance one’s enjoyment of life.

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

We are located in Sacramento CA. and can be reached at info@benningdesign.com. On the web, our work can be seen on our website, Houzz.com and asidcanv.org.

 

Barbara Bradlee: Expression and Expertise

BarbaraTo design the perfect space Barbara Bradlee listens to her clients, scouts their space, and focuses on creating a comfortable and colorful space.

Thanks for joining us, Barbara. Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in interior design and about your time as President of the New England ASID.

I tell my clients that I have two degrees, one in psychology from Harvard University and the other in interior design from Endicott College, and both degrees are very useful in my current profession.  After graduating from Harvard, I went to work for big business, IBM and AT&T. I soon realized that although I loved the world of business and project management, I needed a job where I could express my creativity.  I wanted something tangible to show for my work, I wanted results that would make life better for people, not just numbers on an annual report.  I was always fascinated by art and architecture and I decided to go in that direction.  I went back to school and earned a degree in interior design.  I love the world of interior design; to me it is functional art.  I know that when the built environment is both attractive and well suited to its purpose, it has a profound, positive impact on the people who live and work in it, and that is very rewarding to me.

I took my new profession seriously.  I passed the national accreditation examination for interior designers as soon as I was qualified to take it and I joined ASID (the American Society of Interior Designers).  I had the honor of serving as the New England Chapter President from 2010-2011.  I have met so many wonderful colleagues, trade and industry partners, magazine editors, and of course clients through my involvement in ASID.

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

Design in New England is wrought with history, and for many years, interior design style was primarily traditional.  I see a trend in the last few years of New England’s design aesthetic expanding.  Transitional, contemporary, and modern urban design are much more popular now.   I believe that attention to architectural details and interior finishes are what my clients are looking for in whatever style we are working.

I never assert my personal design style on my client, it is my job to listen and determine the style that most fits my client’s taste.  Whether the client’s home is a beach house on the Cape or a stately colonial in Chestnut Hill, it is my goal to make the end result personal and feel like home.  As a client once said to me when we completed her project, “my house looks like a designer has been here, but my family can live here.”

All spaces are unique, but in New England 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? 

I always start first with the bones of the space.  How is the flow, does the space function?  I then develop a design concept which includes the furnishings, carpet, color palette, art and accessories.  If architectural details such as moldings or hard wood floors are needed, we add them first.  Then the soft elements follow.  Color is a trademark of my work.  I love color and all my spaces reflect a deep appreciation for the use of color.

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?

When I first meet a new client, I ask them to tour me through the space and tell me what they like or don’t like about it.  How they use the room will dictate how we will arrange the space and what the pieces and fabrics we will select to furnish it.  I must marry the two elements of a client’s personal taste and current design trends.  I pull from many sources of inspiration when I develop a design plan: nature, art, travel, and trade media.  I use a number of sources to illustrate my concepts to my clients, the world of social media and design websites has actually made my job easier to communicate and present ideas and specific products to my clients.  In the end, I tell my clients that it is my job to propose and explain what I believe to be the best design solution, but it is their house and ultimately they get to decide whether to take my advice or not.

New England has plenty of homes from the 19th and 18th century and with that comes nice hardwood floors, and eventually area rugs. Tell us how you use area rugs in your designs.

I use area rugs in almost all of my projects.  In New England, we find great value in beautiful hardwood floors.  Many of my projects start by refinishing existing floors or adding new wood floors where they don’t exist.  Area rugs define the use of space.   The size and placement can determine intimate groupings or can unite a large space.  The color, pattern, or texture of the carpet is part of every design concept; the carpet may be quiet and serene or may be that pop with colors that unite all the other elements.

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

I like to use many types of area rugs in my work.  Traditional oriental carpets are often found in New England homes because of our history of the East India trade dating back to colonial times.  These carpets withstand the test of time and use and many are handed down from generation to generation.  A more modern variation of these carpets are Tibetan rugs.  Wool area rugs in textured or subtle colors or graphic patterns are lovely and I use them often, especially in bedrooms.  I have also had custom carpets designed for my clients to truly personalize their space and complement the design elements used throughout the room.

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

In my experience, a good quality wool area rug will run from $2000 to $10,000.  I work within my client’s budget to determine what will work best for them and the space.

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

I have been a mentor to design students and emerging professionals for many years.  I encourage new designers to realize it is a profession, not a hobby.  Get a design degree and learn where your interest lies; commercial, residential, or hospitality design.  Go work for someone for a while, there is so much to know you will be more successful and more confident if you learn while working for a professional.  But go for it, express yourself and make the world beautiful.

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

I invite readers to visit my website BradleeDesign.com to see examples of my work.  I post my design ideas and works in progress on my blog at   http://barbarabradleedesign.blogspot.com/ and on my Facebook page called Bradlee Design.  Please call with inquiries or for a consultation at 781.942.0844.

Thanks for your time

My pleasure!

Jamie Herzlinger: From Fashion to Design

head shotFormer fashion designer Jamie Herzelinger has taken her fashion sense and created a successful interior design business in Arizona.

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

Thank you for asking me.  I had an unusual start in my Interior Design career.  I grew up in Manhattan, and really was raised in the garment center.  My great grandfather had tanneries in Vienna and supplied the clothing industry in those years.  When my family came to America in 1905 my grandfather began a women’s coat company called Herzlinger coats.  He specialized in a beautiful woolen fabric with fur trim collars and cuffs.  He had a nickname of “King of the Foxes” as he was always doing business with the Canadian trappers.  He then went into licensing couture brands such as Pierre Cardin, Nina Ricci and his company grew to be one of the top coat manufacturers in the country.  My father naturally joined him.  My mother and Ann Klein were the top fashion designers in the 60’s and 70’s so truly the guests of my family were the people who made fashion.  I too had my own label, Jamie Herzlinger, and specialized in a high fashion sportswear that sold all over the country.  Twenty years ago I made the leap into Interior Design.  And from there it’s all history.

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?

I love living in Arizona, and Arizona has influenced my approach to interiors as far as a more elegant casual lifestyle approach.  As for interiors in Scottsdale, people tend to think because we are a border state that Mexico influences our design and it does not, as far as Scottsdale and Phoenix.  Scottsdale and Phoenix are more cosmopolitan and the trends really follow more California.

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? 

I would say that the question you are asking really pertains to lifestyle, and that for Arizona is greatly influenced by our weather.  So the design element that is always requested is a lot of attention to outdoor living.  Where in the East Coast- your out door lives are mostly the true summer months, in Arizona we consider our outdoor living all year round.

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 when meeting a client for the first time is to understand what their expectations of the design of their new home is.  I am always matching their needs to my experience, as that is why they have hired me.

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 Arizona has the land to spread out, our larger homes do have grand hallways-that is definitely a request we get when designing a new home or remodel-to have large hallways.  Rugs are a very important aspect as I use them as I would use art on a wall.

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

I don’t have a set type of rug that I use in my design work, I usually design my rugs to fit the design theme.

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

My budgets are dictated by my client  and the price for rugs is always predicated on whether they are hand knotted or machine made.

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

My pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to go into this fold would be to work for a while in a design company whose aesthetic they like

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

Reader can see my work at Jamieherzlinger.com and they can call 1-800-983-0031

 

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.