This project represents a wonderful collaboration between, designer, client & contractor. Having all of us in communication from the start amounted to a fast and stunning update to a dated master bathroom. Current design trends, aging-in-place features and a spa corner all contribute to a beautiful and effective use of space.
For more before and after photos be sure to view the Before & After section of my Gallery page.
Interior design, like many professions, requires training, education and customer service. We spend years building relationships with vendors and weeding out the excellent from the sub par. We research product reliability, sourcing, environmental imprints and more. These are just some of the tools we use when we are hired for a remodel.
When we interview our clients we begin the process of learning about the job, not just regarding design, but lifestyle, family, future goals and, depending on the job, even health. We understand the magnitude of the decision to remodel and the subsequent funding needed to make a dream living space a reality. We take none of that for granted but instead, we use it to build a program for the project. Building a program is the first phase of your remodel and, possibly, the most important. Having an open and honest discussion with your designer allows us to create the best program for you that has both emotional and financial value.
When a designer creates the program, it includes all of the details, not just some of the details. So when a client attempts to piecemeal the project by shopping independently and finding something less expensive, this interrupts the program we have designed specifically for you and negates our years of research and relationship building with vendors.
To understand the value of using our resources rather than being a bargain hunter, you need to understand the reasons we are NOT bargain hunters.
Know your product: Discount stores and online stores often do not have clear specifications on the items. Some examples would be, what is the slip resistance of the tile, what is the component of the wood on a bookshelf and what is the durability of a fabric that may be used for furniture? Without these answers, you are lowering the quality of your remodel and potentially causing the need for replacement or potential problems down the road.
Environmental Impact: Purchasing a lower price product manufactured in some foreign countries has a huge environmental impact. Many countries do not regulate water, ground contamination or air pollution. We live in a global economy so we need to think global, and what happens across the sea will, eventually, impact all of us. Studies have shown that people say they want to support the environment but many don’t realize some of their actions are actually contributing to the larger environmental footprint. Purchasing fast clothes that don’t last, interior decor that cannot withstand daily use of what it was intended for and is replaced in a few years are a few examples of these actions.
Knowledge: This is a huge reason why we are not bargain hunters. We have developed relationships with plumbers, lighting companies, builders, contractors, cabinet makers, flooring companies, window treatment companies and paint, to name a few. These relationships add to your value as we know you are receiving a quality, durable product that will last the lifetime it was intended for. When a client bargain hunts and tracks down something from an unknown source, it puts the onus of tracking and researching these details on the designer and this is NOT time or money well spent.
I have a client who loves swans. Well, I guess I should say I inherited a client who loves swans. She was originally the client of a seasoned local designer who was my friend and colleague and when her health no longer permitted her to finish the client’s bathroom, I was asked to step in.
The entire bathroom is beautiful but the crowning touch is the etched glass shower panel of a swan in a pond. Difficult to photograph but worth the wait the swan stands proudly in this small room.
The next project on the docket was to install a hand rail at the step down leading to the living room. The original idea was a wood railing but the more we discussed our options I kept coming back to the swan. In the end we installed a brass railing, typical in other parts of the building, and in place of stiles we installed glass panels with, you guessed it, swans!
The panels are clamped in so at any time they can be removed if needed for cleaning or to change them out in the future. But the solid brass railing remains there to safely assist homeowner and guests in and out of the living room.
A few years later, when I thought we had done all we could with swans, my client came to me to assist her in replacing her dining room rug. Keeping in mind that the room was also designed by my collegue which meant furniture, wallpaper, layers of draperies, lighting and an oriental rug in colors you don’t normally see in that type of rug. But perfect for the colors of the room. So changing it out meant finding a rug that complemented the rose, teal, ivory color scheme already in place.
I approached Masland Rugs as I have in the past to inquire about having a rug manufactured because we could select the design and the yarn color. Somewhere in the design process I may have mentioned how great it would be to look through the glass top dining table and see a swan in the rug. Suffice to say there was no turning back; I made the suggestion and now I had to make the rug. I don’t think Masland Rugs took us seriously at first, but as the details unfolded they were on board and produced a stunning rug with a ribbon like border and a swan in the middle. My only regret was that I couldn’t be there when it was delivered and by the time I did arrive they had put all the furniture back so I have no photo of the entire rug.
Design will continue to enhance this home when needed but never without a swan detail involved.
I recently received a call from a client because her glass coffee table had broken and she wanted my assistance in acquiring a new one. She prefaced the request by telling me that her neighbor offered to help her look “to save her money” by not hiring her designer of many years. After all, it was only a coffee table. Wrong.
Fortunately, after looking at a few of the options she and her neighbor found she concluded she did need my help. Why? Because she realized that after having entire home meticulously designed over the years then skimp on one final piece that is sitting in the middle of the room was not a good idea.
So much of what interior designers do is small stuff. A lot of small stuff. Individually they don’t look like much but putting all those small moving parts together is the challenge we face every day. And we love it. Think jigsaw puzzle. If one piece gets lost it leaves a hole in the picture and that is exactly what the wrong coffee table would do since it the centerpiece of the living room.
There are three design tricks you should never overlook; 1. Sweat some small stuff because the personality of your space is in the small stuff. 2. Don’t be afraid to go custom, which is exactly what we ended up doing for the coffee table. Her options were narrowed down to ordering a less expensive ottoman on line, not knowing the quality or if the color shown on the website would be exactly the same in person, OR spend three hundred dollars more and get a good quality ottoman in the perfect size with a fabric of her choosing. 3. Knowing who is making your products can make a difference in how you perceive that item. There is something about spending your hard-earned money on an item that was crafted by a company or individual who cared about their work and are proud to know you wanted in your home. This certainly doesn’t apply to everything we own, but it can make a good design great when items have a story.
As the Coronavirus slowly began to cripple the Hawaiian islands and we were all sheltered-in-place, I was reminded of the parallels of our sheltering in place to the daily challenges of the elderly and disabled.
Most of us go in and out of our homes several times a day without much thought that it is a privilege not available to everyone. And then one day, quickly and without much warning, we are told we cannot leave our houses except for essentials. We have a car and no place to go, beaches we cannot enjoy, a job that, unless we can perform virtually, may no longer exist. Now imagine a person who has this same experience every day because they are elderly or have suddenly become disabled.
As we struggle to conform to the new normal, we may become frustrated because many of our homes are not equipped with amenities that would make our shelter in place an easier transition. Maybe you have a small space and cannot store extra necessities or you have no office space but still have to perform work duties. These challenges, for many of us, are temporary and will end when we resume whatever will be the new normal. But until then, we are frustrated with our situation.
For extroverts, this new normal can be a struggle, both mentally and physically. They often thrive on human connection, interaction, movement and group activities. They enjoy having others over to visit. Their loneliness can lead to depression or a feeling almost worse than actually contracting the flu virus!
All of the above scenarios are very common amongst the aging and disabled demographics. Imagine some of the same situations only there is no end. Your car keys have been taken away permanently, you may have to move to a place that does not offer you the same comforts you currently have in home or, worse, you are at home and cannot work well within your confines. Now is the time to begin a conversation with yourself or significant others about aging in place. As a designer, my job is to take all these scenarios into consideration and design a space that has flexibility for hobbies or recreation, outdoor living spaces and bathrooms and kitchens with accessibility. Don’t wait until it’s too late and your shelter in place frustration is permanent.