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 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.
When I announced to my clients that I was heading to the furniture and accessory market in Las Vegas last month I was quite surprised to learn that a few of my clients did not know furniture and space planning were part of my services! Well they are and they are my favorite part of the job. So if you are interested in hearing and seeing what is new and what I find to be the best value, read on!
For starters everyone was showing metals. Polished, brushed, chrome, brass you name it they had it. And it wasn’t only used on table legs and lamp stands, entire pieces of furniture are metal and mirror. A sampling is shown in this photo from the Sagebrook Home showroom.
I must agree the metals and mirrors work quite nicely with the new upholstery colors which were mostly pale blues and pinks. I know that look is not for everyone but paired with heavier accents such as an antique armoire or colorful area rug you could really make a change in your room without looking too “glam”.
Late last year Pantone announced that its 2020 color of the year is Classic Blue. It’s a beautiful color and a few of the showrooms had pieces that were expertly chosen to carry off the color. I can certainly see how a piece like this buffet or the small cabinet with Asian accents from the Crestview Colleciton could work with our tropical hues.
Like tiny houses, I discovered a few brands showing “tiny furniture”, in other words furniture scaled to condo living, and Honolulu is full of condos. Sizing furniture to your room instead of buying off a showroom floor and making it fit is how we should shop for furniture. But being isolated with few options many people opt for the latter method. That is where working with an interior designer can add value to your investment. Paying a little extra to have furniture that fits comfortably in your room and has storage can be done. Here are a few pieces from various showrooms that are sized for condo living but are also lend a lighter feel to them so the furniture does not overpower the room and the view.
And lastly for those of you who do have space, how about this fun outdoor piece from Zuo.
Going to these shows is a creative boost for me and I hope to share these ideas with you, so give us a call!
Welcome to the new Universal Interiors website and our first blog. This new beginning made me think of my beginnings and how I landed in the world of design.
From the time I was 8 years old until I left home my “space” was in the upper left room of this house. But what I never realized was that it was also my first decorating job!
When my older sister moved out, my younger sister and I were able to have our own rooms and I was able to pick out new wallpaper and paint. That was huge! Lavender was all the rage back then, so my room was converted from little girls’ pink to a middle schooler’s lavender and green floral garden. And since you could buy fabric to match the wallpaper new curtains were in order. I can still recall standing at my father’s workbench while he explained to me what they meant by 1-1/2 fabric widths per window. By then I was sewing most of my clothes, but curtains? It sounded scary. But I did it, and of course it was so easy that my mother wanted me to make them for other rooms too. I would eventually start my first side business in my parent’s basement sewing curtains, shades and pillow covers for other designers.
Eventually grade school gave way to high school and little flowers didn’t cut it anymore. Any changes had to be superficial since I couldn’t remove the wallpaper or paint. The wallpaper was only on one wall, my first tip on an accent wall, so I covered the entire wall with strategically placed posters. Very 60’s. No black light though, that was in my brother’s room. Bold plaid curtains replaced the faded flowers and luckily me for it was time to lay new carpeting, so I picked a bright, not quite lime, green. Yikes! I couldn’t believe my mother went for it! Add one recycled wooden cable spool padded and covered in green fabric and I had myself a pad.
I didn’t realize at the time how naturally all of these little ideas came to me, only that when I redecorated or rearranged my room I felt refreshed. It was my expression, my ideas. I’m sure I inherited some of my talent from my mother even though she doesn’t agree, but she knew enough to select beds that could be configured three ways, two different sized dressers and mix and match smaller pieces to be split between bedrooms as needed. Adaptability! Never decorate without it.
And so my journey in design began, in that room on the corner, decorating or rearranging every place I lived and worked. Adaptability, flexibility and expression continue to be a strong component in all my designs….but I don’t do posters anymore.