We've Been Busy | 3 More Houses

All of last week was spent installing 3 more houses for Park Square Homes.  These were in a different development than the last 2 that we installed the previous week.  Each of the three houses had a separate style--Tribeca was a more modern-glam style, Barcelona was more of a masculine modern rustic style, and Sebring was 100% Farmhouse!  It was crazy busy for us with installs so close together but we are super excited about the way everything turned out.  Check out some of the pictures below!

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Recent Install | Lake Sylvan Oaks Model

This week, we're tooting our own horn a little bit.  We've been busy, busy, busy designing this year and it seems that a lot of our installations are happening all at once...at the end of the year.  But we do have something to show for all of our hard work so far.

This summer, we installed a beautiful model for WJ Homes.  It is a semi-custom home in the Lake Sylvan Oaks development of Sanford.  Close to 3000 square feet of marble, glass stair rail, custom trim molding detail, and lots and lots of natural light.  We went very modern on this design--mostly white with pops of blues in the main living areas, hints of pale pinks white touches of chrome and gold accents in the secondary bedrooms, and warm wood and leather elements scattered throughout.  Instead of the traditional white kitchen, we actually did charcoal cabinets with a white countertop, keeping it clean and modern.  We scattered in some geometric tile and some great wallpaper and kept the walls white with art as the focal point.  It was a long time coming but turned out beautifully!  Check out all of the photos taken by the fabulous Stephen Allen and the full post on our Houzz page here.

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Straight from the Designer | All the Tips!

We've had all sorts of craziness here in the past few weeks.  The main thing is a major hurricane but that caused power outages, roof damage, mass chaos in the stores, food shortages, water damage and just a general upheaval of life as we know it.  We are finally getting back to normal although it's taken weeks.  Since things have been a little backwards, upside-down, crazy lately, we're keeping tonight simple.  Just some good ole' design tips to get your creative juices flowing and maybe motivate you to spruce up your home for Fall.  It IS October 1st, after all.  So we hope you'll enjoy some of these helpful hints!

Some great advice that we've received is that, no matter how you design your home, you should always be sure it has these three important things--function, comfort, and a true reflection of your personal style.  Unless you live in a model home, it can't just look pretty.  It has to work.  So consider how you use your space before you take steps to design it.

Function can be achieved a number of ways but one of the big ways is by using pieces that serve multiple purposes.  This is key for small spaces too.  Benches with storage, small moveable pieces like ottomans and chairs that can be used in one area but easily moved to another, hooks & shelves.  All of these things are elements that will keep your home functional and livable but also tidy.  And if you pick pieces that are pretty, you'll be able to kill two birds with one stone.

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Plants are always a yes.  It doesn't matter what size space you live in, whether it's large or small...if it has a lot of natural light or very little, you've got to incorporate plants in your design.  Even if they're fake!  Greenery adds so much warmth and life to a room that it's vital.  It doesn't have to be a lot, either...just a small little something to give the room that finishing touch.

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Be sure that your home has a space for you!  So many people are concerned about creating a design that others will enjoy--they entertain a lot or have guests visit often...etc, etc.  That's all important to take into consideration, but this home is YOURS.  You should have a place that you love in it too.  So be sure to carve out that little personal space that you enjoy spending time in.

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Finally, mix textures and materials.  Layering of fabrics can add so much depth to  space!  Sometimes it really doesn't matter if the space is designed perfectly...if it's comfortable and interesting, it's inviting and people will love it.  Texture and a variety of materials will be your best friend as you try to accomplish this!

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Big Deal | Tiny Houses

Have you heard of the tiny house?  To be honest, this little gem of an idea crept up on us.  Tiny houses are quickly becoming a big deal and we have to admit, they're very intriguing.  Even though we're out of our recession and it would be a logical time for all things to go back to big, bigger, biggest, they're not.  It seems that Americans have learned to appreciate simplicity and minimalism when they had to and the idea is sticking around.  Thus, the tiny house!

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If you're wondering what a tiny house is (like we were when we first heard of it), it's literally a small house.  There isn't an exact square footage limit placed on something deemed a "tiny house" but it's usually around the 400 square foot ballpark.  It's a place where IKEA functionality rules and everything has a dual purpose.  People have decided to invest in tiny houses for a number of reasons.  For some, it's the cost.  They need a way to cut back financially so they've down-sized.  Smaller house = less electricity, less AC, less stuff!  It just costs less to maintain and since most are fairly new, they are absolutely more energy efficient!  For others, it's about leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the world.  A smaller house is not only a smaller cost but it doesn't impact the environment as much.

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While tiny houses are cute and fun, they do require sacrifices.  Especially for someone who may be used to living in triple or even quadruple the amount of space.  A tiny house means scaling back on all the stuff.  This statement is very simple but a lot of people like their stuff.  However, less space means less storage so it really makes sense to have less to store if you're going to live in a tiny house.  Otherwise, there's just clutter.  Aside from that, if you live in a tiny house, you may have to give up any large family or friendly gatherings you've hosted in the past.  Most tiny houses comfortably fit 2 people so having 10-15 people hanging out just isn't going to work.  And finally, get used to being outdoors.  As humans, we typically like to be able to roam a little and a tiny house could feel cramped at times.  However, the great outdoors can offer you a little more space to enjoy.  So, if you're thinking that the move to a tiny house is an idea you might entertain, consider the environment you live in.  I'm telling you right now, Florida would be a hard place to live in a tiny house simply because of the summer heat.

These spaces really are cool but they would be an adjustment for most.  It's important to consider your lifestyle or your lifestyle goals before investing.  Tiny houses are great for empty nesters however they may prove difficult for handicap accessibility.  They're also great for people who like to travel but don't gather too much on your travels--you won't have anywhere to store it!

What do you think about the tiny house trend?  We think the evolution of it all will be cool to watch, for sure!

Featuring | What To Expect When Working With A Designer

This week we're featuring another article that was written for My Domaine.  It's a great source for all sorts of interesting home decor and interior design trends and this week they published an article entitled "Interior Designers Reveal Their Biggest Pet Peeves".  The article may sound off-putting, like it's just a bunch of designers talking about what annoys them, but it's actually one of the most accurate, informative, and insightful articles that I've ever read about what it's like to work with an interior designer.  So many tv shows create a false expectation for interior design, interior designers, and the entire process that revolves around re-designing/ renovating a home.  It's all inexpensive and fast and everything runs smoothly.  But let's face it, hardly any big project, regardless of what it is, is inexpensive, fast, and problem-free.  This article explains what designers expect from their clients, what is reasonable for a client to expect from their designer, and how you can get the most out of working with a designer should you choose that route.  Trust us, it's worth the read!  Even if you're considering becoming an interior designer!  In my opinion, the job of interior design is one of the most undervalued, misunderstood jobs out there.  So check out this article (also posted below) and educate yourself!  Every professional deserves to be respected in their craft.

 

We spend so much time in our homes, our relationship with these brick and steel constructions run deep. A comforting home can lead to happiness, a more organized one can calm the mind. It's no wonder that taking the leap into the world of interiors can be a scary thing, especially the first time around. Just like a budding relationship, the start of a decorating project can bring a symphony of emotions: the heart-swelling when imagining the end result, the butterflies when spotting your dream sofa, the nerves when swiping the credit card, the doubts when awaiting delivery… Is it a good fit? Will it last? Will I love it?

In many ways, interior designers serve as the marriage counselors for your home: They have the expertise to navigate the tumultuous seas of the decorating process, with impressive success rates. But entering into a partnership with your interior designer is almost like a second marriage; beyond the initial compatibility and attraction, there are contracts to sign, finances to negotiate, and the impending knowledge that, despite best intentions, unforeseen events will always occur. Which is why choosing a decorator is an important decision. To help you take the plunge, we tapped our favorite designers to share everything you should know before hiring them. Take notes, and get ready to enter the partnership that will make your house a home.

 

Most experts agree, having a clear vision is best when hiring a designer. "The client with a blank slate is a myth 99% of the time," says designer Max Humphrey. "I actually enjoy working under existing parameters because I like a challenge."

"When working with clients, it’s extremely helpful to get an idea of their aesthetic and what they naturally gravitate toward," says Katie Hodges. "That being said, I think the best types of clients are those who have their own style but hire an interior designer to bring something new and refreshing to the table." Homepolish co-founder Noa Santos agrees: "The more inspiration the better. It's part of the fun."

Interior designer David John Dick of DISC Interiors has a slightly different approach: "We certainly love when clients come inspired and ready to collaborate, but we understand that some clients have not had this time in their life to do this, and we are excited to work with them too. Our goal is to take their initial inspirations or thoughts on how a room should function, and then run with their ideas, and eventually execute [them] into their dream interior."

The bond between designer and client is a sacred one. In order to have a successful working relationship with your designer, you need to be able to trust them implicitly. "I would advise clients stay true to who they are, yet keep an open mind and allow their designer to… well, design," shares Hodges. "An interior designer will usually be able to find the right balance between your comfort zone and their vision." Dick agrees: "We love when clients trust us, and we understand trust does not happen instantly," he says. "But when trust happens, beautiful things can happen."

Beyond trust, Santos believes that camaraderie is a fundamental pillar to a great partnership: "Find someone you really love," says Santos. "You're going to be spending a fair amount of time together, and the process should be fun for both of you. My favorite clients are the ones I can have a cocktail with." 

Finding the right designer upon which to build this productive relationship isn't always easy, but doing your due diligence is of utmost importance. "All the online research in the world doesn’t make up for a one-on-one meeting or at least a few phone calls," says Humphrey. "It’s an intimate connection between a client and a designer since we’re in their homes and lives, so just plucking someone off of the internet because they have cool taste can lead to disaster if you don’t click personally."

What should you actually look for in a designer? "It's just as important to understand what you, as the client, want from your designer," says Santos. "Do you want someone who is going to be more assertive, or do you want a designer who is there simply for guidance? Do you want someone that likes to email or do you prefer texting? Personality and working style are too often overlooked, yet it's where we focus the majority of our attention at Homepolish. Great designers can typically work within a range of styles, but you need to love and trust the person you decide to work with."

Where should you look for a designer? "Most of our clients are by referral, but we love when clients find our work via the web, Houzz, Instagram, or a press article," says Dick. "It really is so much about a personal connection when looking for a residential interior designer, so we recommend asking friends or co-workers who your trust and whose style you admire." Hodges also believes in the power of Instagram: "Instagram accounts usually have more content than designers’ websites, and you can see what designers are drawn to and inspired by."

 

"Communicate your likes and dislikes in any way you know how, whether visual or verbal," says Dick, who often tells clients to give as much information as possible in the beginning. "Discuss your plans with your significant other, and what your combined vision looks like. Don't expect the designer to always be able to decipher if you disagree with your partner and have different visions for the space," he adds.

Few designers will nail a design on the first try, but how many revisions it's acceptable to ask for can be a touchy subject. "Every designer will have their own policy on how many changes they accept, so it’s important for a client to understand how their potential designer’s policies prior to working together," says Hodges.

Most of the designers we spoke to agreed that multiple revisions were entirely fine during the design phase, but not so much during execution: "If the design presented is not what you had in mind, it is perfectly okay to communicate the changes that need to occur," says Dick. "But once the client enters into the purchasing phase, changes and exchanges may not be allowed by vendors, so it's important to understand your designer's vision before proceeding, and to read all invoices and contracts."

"There’s definitely such a thing as too much inspiration," adds Humphrey. "I like a client who can pick out a few tear sheets or Pinterest pins but, once we decide on a direction, can stick with it and stay off the internet for the rest of the process."

"I use a “touch and go” model while designing," adds Hodges, "which involves giving the client benchmarks in the design process to gauge their feelings toward a particular design direction. This allows the client to weigh in during the design development phase, which minimizes, or completely diminishes, revisions and makes clients feel more comfortable along the way."

Be prepared to start with a clean slate and part with items that you may have initially wanted to keep. "I like being challenged by clients," says Humphrey. "With that said, I don’t like when clients are too sentimental about furniture or objects that they’ve owned for years and can't part with. One client of mine was really attached to some bedside tables that she found on the street when she was in college, and I had to physically throw them back out onto the street."

 

While a simple styling gig can be finished in a week, other large-scale projects can take years to complete, but no matter what your timeline is, designers agree that patience is key. "Timelines depend on two variables," says Hodges: "the scale of the project, and how quickly a client makes decisions (with the latter being most important). Some clients take longer to pull triggers than others, which definitely impacts the pace of the project."

"Furnishing a whole house can take six to nine months typically," says Humphrey. "I can come up with the design pretty quickly, so a lot of it has to do with how long clients take to make decisions and then we’re at the disposal of the dreaded lead-time." Larger furniture and custom-made pieces can have long lead times, which clients need to be aware of.

"Managing expectations is one of the most important aspects of my job, so I make sure my clients are well informed about lead times and process before I start any project," says Hodges. "However, there are still times that clients think that things can be done overnight. Concepts take time to develop and furniture is not made by robots with superpowers—patience will always pay off in the end."

Each designer has his or her own pet-peeve. For Hodges, it's texting late at night. "As an interior designer, I form close relationships with clients because the nature of the job is very intimate," she says. "But I wish clients understood that there are times (such as at 10 p.m. on a Sunday) when I am off-duty."

Every interior designers’ business model differs, so it's important to be aware of your own. "Every designer seems to have a different pricing structure, which can be confusing when choosing a designer," says Santos. "Homepolish clients pay a flat rate for design time as their project progresses so they can move as slowly or quickly as they like."

Some designers like Katie Hodges work on a 50-50 model, which means a 50% retainer is due upfront, and a 50% balance due at the end. Others clients are charged either monthly or bi-weekly, with furniture purchases due upfront, like at DISC Interiors. 

As for discounts, it depends entirely on the designer. "There’s a common misconception that clients will always receive discounts when working with an interior designer," says Hodges. "Retail stores offer very small discounts (if any) to interior designers, because their primary client target is the home owner. However, when custom furnishings are involved, interior designers are usually able to re-create an out-of-budget piece by using local vendors and artisans, so clients do get the best value out of those pieces."

"Some designers who don’t mark up the retail pieces will charge a higher design fee," says Humphrey. "In general, the client isn’t getting the retail discount passed on to them at all because most designers make their money on commission."

"We try to extend enough of a discount on product to pay for our service fee," says Santos. "Hiring Homepolish is the same price as if you did the work yourself. We want working with us to be a no-brainer."

All interior design firms work differently," says Dick, "so it's important to ask these questions upfront, and to be specific about your project. Whether it's a kitchen remodel or decorating a living room, the discounts and rates can vary."

"For clients, figuring out an interior design budget is often a challenge because they don’t know what furniture costs at their particular price level," says Hodges. That being said, it's important to have a realistic overview of your finances, and what you're prepared to spend. "An interior designer can usually help a client figure out a baseline budget," she adds.

"Clients often ask ballpark numbers, and every time we politely decline, until we understand fully what they are looking for," says Dick. "Most of our clients have spent a considerable amount on purchasing their home, and our goal is to make sure the interior we design for them will last for many years, and work for their lifestyle."

Interior design budgets vary wildly. Ask 20 designers for a ballpark budget, and you'll get 20 answers. "I could point to a one-bedroom apartment that costs $10,000 and another where the client spent $1M," says Santos. "Design should be an ongoing conversation. It should change as you do, so the design of your space should start with who you are and what you care about, not how much money you have. There are good solutions at almost every price point."

The most important quality designers look for in clients: an appreciation for their craft. "My favorite types of clients are those that truly appreciate and understand design yet don’t know how to implement it," says Hodges. 

"I love clients who believe design and art matter," adds Dick. "Clients who appreciate quality and craftsmanship and seek beauty are more willing to take a risk and collaborate."

Santos also loves clients that have a unique set of challenges. "The best solutions come from solving interesting problems."