With hard work and determination Vera Bahou has learned the design business from the ground up and designs functional and stress-free spaces for all her clients.
Thanks for joining us, Vera! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.
As a child I always was interested in decorating and re-designing room layouts. I always used to redesign my mother’s living room and didn’t know at that time
Business major, got married, had two children and helped my husband in his medical career and in establishing his solo medical practice and became an office manger. Well this went on for ten years till I realized it’s time to hang my good will hat and go back searching for my creativity.
My path took me back to Art school at Bucks County Community college as a part time student for one year. As I discovered my passion in designing, I transferred to Drexel University where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design. After I graduated, I gained some design experience and worked in Doylestown for home interiors then moved to Florida and worked for Robb & Stucky specializing in high-end residential interior design for one year. Moved back to Bucks County and got some experience in kitchen & bath renovation and opened my business “Designhaus Interiors” in 2004.
What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?
Prior to meeting with the client, I always ask them few questions regarding their project then schedule an appointment to meet each other and to learn about their personality, the style of their home, talk about their likes and dislikes and most importantly go over their budget . By this time I will be able to tell whether the client knows what they are looking for or require my design expertise in helping them achieve the look that they want to go for. Design is a process and getting to know a client has its share of process in uncovering their style, attitude and the style they like.
After years of experience I do not rely on a checklist. I am very observant and like to concentrate and listen to my client. As I am listening I am also observing and getting a feel of the clients lifestyle. Choice of colors their taste in clothing, and the type of their existing furniture & accessories. However, I do rely on my camera and the more pictures I take the more information I am gathering of the client existing spaces. Which is an important tool in our profession and provides instant access anytime towards the clients existing home.
Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult
challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space?
Do you have a method to work through those problems?
Clients or spaces! I believe this fluctuates with every project. I’ve had projects where the client just went along with what I designed and specified and had no problem with budget. And that’s exactly why we as designers are hired and enjoy!
I’ve had other design project where the client and the design had no problems but they have the challenge of a tight budget. This is where I try to work with the client and provide alternatives to suite their budget and create a solution to satisfy their needs.
Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they
influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact
with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?
I believe design shows have advanced the design profession forward and have made people aware of such a luxurious service. Television shows tries to sell the design concept for everyone and project deceptive information towards quality & budget. Our professional business has become more competitive and some consumers have become savvier as a result that they want design guidance and hands on their personal projects.
From the outside it seems like the Philadelphia area focuses on
incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something
many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of
history into your designs.
Some of my design projects require research of older traditional Philadelphia home incorporated with more modern style of design. The focus of an antique piece of furniture and reclaimed random planked wood floors brings in character and charm as well as antique area rugs that have been re-conditioned and used for their high detail and rich colors incorporated in an eclectic or modern design setting.
Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed?
What did it look like before? After?
One of my design projects that I am really proud of was published in a magazine. It was in a basement of this older home built in the late 1800’s. A crawl space never finished nor used with a ceiling height of 6’5” and became converted it into a functional space and created a massage space, exercise, laundry facility, powder room, steam & spa space. The functional feng shui designed space was a challenge and became one of my top creative projects that were created with a high level of energy.
We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your
designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug?
Area rugs are being used more today than ever before for hardwood floor and tile floors. I love to see an area rug as you are entering a grand foyer. It makes a stunning statement or a custom stair runner with a particular design intended for that particular client. I use them everywhere on top of hardwood & tile floors except kitchens & bath.
Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?
Nylon is the most popular fiber and the most durable in quality and against color fading while Jute is a renewable bio-based product but is not as durable as nylon and other natural fibers such as wool.
We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance
on how to cut down on the initial price?
One needs to be objective here regarding quality, colors & design!
They all matter in selecting an area rug. Choose a wool rug versus a blend of wool and silk, fewer knots per square inch, choose a rug size smaller than larger, be selective from the country of origin and machine made rugs are less expensive than hand made rugs.
Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers
Always consult a design professional whether you are re-decorating, re-modeling or moving into a new house. We have up to date talent and we’d love to share it with you!