How To Work With An Interior Designer- Part 1- The On-Site Consultation

How To Work With An Interior Designer

Part 1: The On-Site Consultation

 

This on-site consultation is the first step in the design process and this is where we start every project. This appointment takes about an hour or so and has a high value to the planning of any design and renovation project. Like most highly experienced interior designers, we have a fee for this first appointment.

You might have seen offers of “free design”, usually this is an offer made by a retail company who has an interest in selling you a product, and that free design is not necessarily being done by an experienced interior designer but perhaps a sales professional, and is not necessarily “free” in the end. Keep in mind, the level of design skill needed for a renovation will come at a cost.

This cost could save you thousands of dollars in the end by avoiding expensive mistakes throughout the renovation process.

How To Work With An Interior Designer- Part 1- The On-Site Consultation

So what happens during this first appointment?

First, I walk through the home with the client, then I will discuss the client’s concerns about space, listen to their thoughts, ideas, and goals, addressing any problem areas that the client wants to discuss. During this appointment, we answer specific design questions, make general suggestions, and offer ideas as to the best way a client can reach their goals. A site visit also allows the client to get a general frame of reference for the cost of the projects that they are thinking about so they can prioritize their needs and determine the best use of their funds and the overall project scope.

Add rich color.

During the Site Visit

CLICK and scroll through some BEFORE and AFTER Photos!

For the client that wants our full-service design and build/implementation, we will discuss design fees and review the next step in the process, which would be creating a conceptual design.

For the homeowner who wants to do the project themselves (DIY), this consultation can be very valuable, providing information that will help steer them in the right direction and help them to avoid common pitfalls.

During our site visit, you will walk away with ideas and insights that took me 20 years of experience to develop. From the moment I enter your home, I look for ways to help my clients avoid many of the common and costly mistakes that homeowners make when undertaking an Interior Design or Renovation project.​

Until Next Time,

Gia

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Preparing Your Kitchen For Holiday Baking

Preparing Your Kitchen For Holiday Baking

As we see the last colorful leaves of fall hit the ground and the temperatures dropping along with them, we know that the holiday baking will soon begin. Whether or not you have recently renovated your kitchen or you have not quite gotten around to committing to a newly designed and renovated kitchen, holiday baking and cooking will be a lot easier with a well-organized kitchen space. Here are a few tips for preparing your current kitchen for the holiday baking season:
Preparing Your Kitchen For Holiday Baking

Start your holiday off right, aware and organized.

Deep clean your kitchen
Your kitchen will soon be covered with flour and filled with the scents that come along with holiday baking. However, if you give your kitchen a thorough deep cleaning before the holiday baking marathon begins, this will make for a quicker cleaning up after baking or cooking and will certainly make entertaining prep time a little shorter.

Make your holiday baking list
Make a list of all of the recipes and goodies that you will be baking. Compile a list of now perishable ingredients list and stock the kitchen now to avoid all those last-minute dashed to the grocery store. This is also a great time to organize your holiday recipes, over the last few years I have been photographing my old recipe cards and organizing them in digital folders for easy access. I use Evernote, but you could also use other cloud storage so you can retrieve them from any device and share them with family members easily.

Sort through your pantry or cabinets
Remove everything and wipe out the pantry, then sort and re-stock everything. Discard any expired items and make a list of any items needed. Those opened boxes of baking soda and baking powder should be replaced before you start baking. Be sure your sugar, flour and brown sugar are fresh by restocking these items if needed.

Dive in.

Organize your bakeware
While you are cleaning things out, organize all your bakeware. Figure out what pieces you will be using and be sure they are easily accessible. You might want to update your cookie sheets or add a few more to your collection to speed up the baking process. Find that special tart pan now before you are in a hurry to start baking.

Organize and refresh your spices
Whether your spices are stored in a cabinet, pantry, or drawer, it’s likely this area needs some attention. Discard any spices that are not fresh and update with what is needed for the season. You don’t want to run short on ginger while baking those gingerbread cookies.

Clean off your kitchen countertops
This is a great time to clean off those kitchen countertops eliminating any unnecessary items (holiday decor is considered a necessary item) and give yourself some space for baking. If you keep your mixer stored, this might be a great time to keep it out on the countertops where it might be getting a lot of use.

Clean out your refrigerator
Give yourself the added storage space that you might need for your holiday baking supplies and for extra food storage, give your refrigerator a quick cleanout. This is also a great time to stock up on food storage containers for those baked goods and any holiday leftovers.

Check your appliances
Be sure that all of your appliances are in working order, arrange for any necessary repairs. Don’t wait until for the last minute to call for appliance service, this is a busy time of year for servicing.

As you are going through the holiday baking season, make some notes of how you can set things up differently making things easier for next year. Knowing the limitations of your current kitchen can be helpful when preparing for next year or for when you decide to redesign and renovate your kitchen space.

Happy Baking!

​Until Next Time,

Gia

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How to Avoid Design Decision Overwhelm

How to Avoid Design Decision Overwhelm

The Pandora’s Box of Design Choices.

Today homeowners have access to so many different design elements, from design television shows, design apps, and internet access to design resources all over the world. Homeowners often start out their design and renovation projects very confident that they can design their space themselves since the have so many design and shopping resources.

The Pandora’s Box of Design Choices.

Shopping, Shopping and more Shopping!

Homeowners immediately start their project by shopping, shopping, and more shopping sometimes purchasing items randomly that may or may not work for their home, but in many cases the endless options and even the most resourceful homeowners end up falling into a rabbit hole of design shopping, endlessly scrolling and changing directions based on products and resources they are finding on their random shopping searches. Then upon reaching a state of complete overwhelm homeowners either pause their project before it begins, continue to randomly search products sometimes for years or confidently make random purchases and find a way to make all of these items work in their space never really realizing how great a well designed could really have been.

With endless quick and easy design solutions available it is easy to see how homeowners are lead to believe that this is the best way to design a space and get professional results.

Have a well thought out plan.

Have a well thought out plan.

However, professional design is not that quick and easy, it involves thorough planning, and much more thought than shopping. A professional designer uses their experience to develop a well thought out plan, many hours of planning are done before the shopping phase.

Once a professional design plan is created, a designer knows exactly what items are needed, the look or feel of the space and where to quickly and easily source these items. Sourcing is done from a combination of readily available resources but also ”trade only ” resources knowing which manufacture has the best products for the particular design plan.

Even if you are not working with a designer having a well thought out plan before any searching or shopping is the best way to avoid design decision overwhelm and stay on task looking only at items needed for your project

Until next time,

Gia

 

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Renovating An Older Home? 5 Things To Consider

Renovating An Older Home? 5 Things To Consider.

Out with the old. In with the new?

Living in the Northeast I am privileged to be able to experience living amongst some of the most beautiful older style homes in the United States. From beautiful antique colonial homes, stately Greek Revival beauties with their magnificent woodwork and elaborate winding staircases to the 1920’s era English tutor homes, there is nothing like the architecture of an older home. However, renovating one of these stately homes can present numerous challenges. Whoever is renovating an older home must understand the unique challenges that are involved with this type of renovation.

Renovating An Older Home? 5 Things To Consider

1. Design your renovated space skillfully and carefully.

A newly renovated area should be designed so it seamlessly flows with the architecture of your home. For instance, a kitchen or bathroom renovation can certainly have all of the modern conveniences and features of a newly designed and renovated space but certain architectural elements should tie it into the rest of the house, so it doesn’t look out of place in the home.

Update plumbing and hire for craftsmanship

2. Plan on updating all of your systems: plumbing, electrical, and heating.

Often the systems in an older home have only been partially updated if at all. When renovating to create a new kitchen or bathroom allow the extra time and cost of updating or replacing these systems. This is often required during an extensive renovation by the local building codes. This is always the best to do all of this work since walls will be opened up for easier access to wiring and plumbing. Also, your new design will most likely have some floor plan changes which will require moving electrical and plumbing anyway.

3. Older craftsmanship can be expensive to replicate.

One of the biggest benefits of living in an older home is the incredible old molding and woodwork that is sometimes still intact. Often novice renovators strip out the beautiful craftsmanship contained in these older homes, sometimes regretting it later. The best renovations happen when the original architecture of the home is honored when creating a new design for the space. That beautiful crown molding in your older home might have been made differently than what is easily available today. It certainly can be replicated by skilled craftsman, but it might take a little more time and money to fabricate matching moldings or trim.

4. Hire a pro for any wall work.

Many of the older homes have walls that were done with the old lathe and plaster method. Narrow strips of rough thin wood were stacked up and down the walls and then a plaster mixture (sometimes made with horses hair for reinforcement ) was applied, plaster oozed between the strips to which helped hold the plaster to the wall. So when repairing old plaster walls, it’s never as simple as a quick patch like you would do on a sheetrock wall. Locate someone who knows how to properly repair horsehair plastery. Many times the plaster is in such disrepair or will start crumbling when you do try and make a repair that competitive skimming or removal of the plaster must be done. Wall work in these older homes is best left to professionals as DIY repairs often make the issues worse, so when a professional finally is brought in to correct the issue, it is an even bigger job.

5. Assess the flooring.

The flooring in an older home can either be your biggest asset or your biggest disappointment. Sometimes one of the most exciting moments in renovating an older home might be the discovery of beautiful wood floors conceals and protected by wall to wall carpet. In which case with the proper sanding and finishing, you end up with the most beautiful hardwood floor, sometimes even more beautiful than the newer hardwood floors available today. I was lucky with this in my own home, a 1920 era Tudor, under the old carpet revealed the most beautiful white oak flooring, an older species of white oak flooring with unique coloration. Once several hundred carpet tacks were removed and proper sanding and finishing were completed by my crew, I now have gleaming hardwood flooring that is very unique throughout this home. This was not the case throughout my former home, a colonial home from the 1700s. Each room’s floors had to be accessed carefully. Sometimes old carpet, tile, or vinyl flooring was installed in these homes over existing wood flooring, but floors might have been glued or mortared directly to the wood flooring in some cases making it unsalvageable. As a pro who has designed and renovated numerous older homes, I will say that you have to assess some older floors as to whether or not they are worth salvaging. Of course, we want to save them all, but there are some instances when you have to be able to predict the best possible outcome for that individual floor to see whether the results will be worth the time and cost.

Renovating an older home involves a deeper level of commitment and skill because of all of the unique challenges that come along with it. When an older home is designed and renovated properly with professionals that regularly renovate older homes, the results can be magnificent.

Until Next Time,

Gia

Have floor access and hire a pro!

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After A Successful Kitchen Renovation

After A Successful Kitchen Renovation

The dust has finally settled.

After months of working with your designer and construction team, construction is finally complete on your beautiful newly renovated kitchen. You can hardly believe it. Even after watching the process of construction go on every day anticipating the end, you weren’t really sure that it would end, but you persevered. Then one day toward the end of construction, it seemed as though a magic wand was raised, and then suddenly it was transformed. Your gleaming new appliances awaiting your first real meal in your new space. Your beautiful new cabinets stand tall waiting to house your treasured dinnerware and collection of wine glasses, in fact, your kitchen is so beautiful, you now feel the need to run out and buy new dinnerware and wine glasses, to match the new kitchen, of course.

After A Successful Kitchen Renovation

Trusting pays off.

Your kitchen turned out even better than you imagined, even after viewing and studying all the detailed design drawings and design plans from your designer, touching the beautiful samples, and gently being walked thorough the designer’s well-planned step-by-step process, you still could not really imagine your dated dark kitchen turning into your dream kitchen.

But it did. You trusted in the process, invested in a design professional and now you are standing in your new designed and renovated space soaking up every detail and savoring that feeling of finally having your dream kitchen.

You recall the conversations about countertops, lighting, and some of the design details in your space. You are so glad that you approved and trusted some of your designer suggestions, now you can finally see the results all put together like a piece of fine art. One detail dancing nicely with another and then leading your eyes throughout the space in anticipation of the next sight.

It all falls into place.

It all falls into place.

Everything coordinates perfectly, yet nothing really “matches” or looks the same, you aren’t sure how that happened but you now see the difference in a professionally designed space. You can’t wait to start planning your first gathering with family and friends in your new kitchen.

This is how you should feel after a successful kitchen renovation. Unfortunately, many people who try this process on their own express regret, frustration, and disappointment. Over the years I have been very honored to create beautiful kitchen spaces for many clients. I wanted to share some of the feedback that we get at the end of a major project.

My team and I take this trust very seriously and it is always so exciting and gratifying to see our client’s reaction to their new space. Thorough planning and expertise really do make a difference in a successful kitchen renovation.

Until Next Time,

Gia

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What To Do If You Make A Big Design Mistake

What To Do If You Make A Big Design Mistake

Mistakes happen, especially when you are trying something new in an area that you are not particularly experienced in. I remember when my son was about 10, I thought that I could give him a buzzed haircut, it looked easy enough, I gathered my supplies, turned on the buzz clippers which I had never used before and didn’t put on the small plastic guard which determined how short the hair would be buzzed. So right down the side of his head was a bare stripe with no hair at all. No easy fix to this error, but luckily my son, having a creative gene, just went with it.

This is sometimes what it is like when homeowners tackle their design projects.

What To Do If You Make A Big Design Mistake

It happens.

Many years ago I had a client call me with a design emergency. She was convinced that she made a huge error in selecting the brand new wall to wall carpeting which was just installed in her home.

I arranged a site meeting with her to see just how bad the situation was, prepared with some initial thoughts and ideas.

Low and behold this was, in fact, a very severe design error, room after room of the bright green wall to wall carpeting overpowering everything else in the home. The homeowner turned to me and said, “the samples were very small and I just chose the prettiest one”. It was heartbreaking. Just for the record, this was, in fact, the worst way to choose carpeting. So many other factors must be considered when considering the selection of carpeting which will cover such a large area of the home. Everything must work well together. What else is going in the room? What is the color scheme, does the room have a focal point?

The plan

The plan.

So I came up with numerous ideas for her to camouflage this carpeting and re-direct the eye elsewhere. She also asked me about other selections that might have worked better. I showed her some options. In the end, this homeowner decided to replace all of the brand new carpeting for one of the options that I recommended to her. A very expensive option but this was the right choice. This client was thrilled with the results and hired me to complete the rest of the home.

But what do you do when you can’t backtrack and redo a very expensive design error?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Assess whether or not the selection will work with everything else in the space. Don’t judge the element by itself.
  • Camouflage the design mistake, draw the eye away from the design element.
  • Make design selections that complement the design error so that it doesn’t stand out.
  • Or of course, correct the design error. In the case of carpeting, that would involve new carpeting. But if the design error is carpentry related, perhaps something can be added to the design element to make it look right.
  • Don’t panic, call an interior designer to advise you on the best way to proceed based on what you have to work with.

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