Friday, April 27, 2012

Finished Project: Newport Beach Kitchen

If I have any faithful readers they may remember a few posts about a kitchen in the East Bluff neighborhood of Newport Beach that we completely gutted and redesigned (see first post here). We actually completed construction about a year ago, so sharing the finished product has been a long time coming.

Kitchen remodels are quickly climbing the charts as one of my favorite types of projects. There is something about designing one of the most necessary and used rooms in a home that really interests me. It's somewhat like a puzzle and I enjoy the challenge of fitting all of the pieces together to create the most efficient and functional space possible for my client.

After a kitchen is complete and my client tells me that they have a renewed love of cooking, or that their mornings now aren't ever long enough to sit and enjoy their morning cup of tea at the breakfast table, that is when I know that the design was truly successful.

The Scoop:

counter: CaesarStone
backsplash: beveled edge brick, calacatta gold marble
stools: Ballard Designs
dining table and banquet: custom
pillows and drapery: custom
art: antique egg prints via my trip to London and eBay
framing: hand-painted in a silver metallic with a touch of bronze by yours truly
cabinetry: custom built and installed by Artisan Builders, adobe style doors
hardware: Restoration Hardware
pendant lights: Restoration Hardware
drum shaded chandelier: Visual Comfort

photography: Stacey Sutherland

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Design Process

Even though I've been in the interior design industry for 8 years, I'm still incredibly interested in other designers' processes; how they begin a room design and how to they put a presentation together for a client. Because it interests me so much, I thought maybe it would interest some of you as well.

I am working with a few really great clients right now, one of which is furnishing an entire home in Newport Beach with some minor construction throughout. We had our first presentation this week, so I thought it would be fun to share those images along with a step by step of how my design process works.

Initial Meeting
The process always begins with a phone call or email where we discuss the general parameters of the project and set up our initial meeting that will take place at the job site. The first meeting is where the client and I have a chance to meet in person and essentially decide if we like each other enough to embark on the intimate journey that is designing someone's home. Some clients will hire me solely based off my portfolio, others are looking for a friendship type connection, and every client is different.

At this initial meeting I encourage the potential client to pull photos of things that inspire them or that they are drawn to. This could be anything from interiors, art, fashion, etc. We also walk through the space as they tell me how they live and what their functional needs are as a family. This is really where I begin my assessment of how my potential client uses their home. We talk about everything from their work schedule, to how they like to entertain, to when they anticipate having children, to how many nights a week they eat in or out. Are they casual or formal? Are they introverted or extroverted? Are they big TV people or are they more interested in a cozy reading corner with great lighting?

The Agreement
After our first meeting, I type up a design agreement to be signed by the client and myself. It states the scope of work and my design fee. (A note about my design fee: Small consulting jobs are generally billed at an hourly rate and we work off of a retainer. Complete room or house design is billed at a flat rate based off of the square footage of the project.) If the client decides that they want to work with me, they sign the agreement, submit the deposit, and we're off and running.

Client/Designer Meet up #2
A second meet up with the client is usually required where we set the schedule for the job and I can take photos, collect existing floor plans, or take my own measurements to work from. We decide what areas we will address first and we discuss any additional information that we didn't address at the first meeting.

Achieving a Design Direction
Now it's time to design! After taking what the client has told and shown to me, I look for that one thing that will act as the guide for the design. That one thing can be a photo of a room, a piece of art, or a swatch of fabric. Usually that one thing leads to a whole bunch of other things that begin to make up the design of the room. It's a process that evolves over the course of the next couple of weeks. I carry these pieces of fabric, wood samples, and photos around with  me everywhere, frequently staring at them for long periods of time to make sure I feel good about the design direction.

Furniture Space Plan
During this preliminary design phase, I also start working on the space plan (furniture layout). I usually do this in one sitting and create 2 or 3 options for each space. The space plan is crucial to determine what size of furniture pieces and how many are needed for the room. At this point I have a general idea of the style of furniture I want to incorporate, but I can't select the exact pieces until I know what size I'm looking for. You would be surprised at the difference 2" can make when I protrudes into a walk-way.

**Things that make a successful space plan**
-creates great conversation areas
-there is a focal point
-there is ease of access from one side of the room to the other
-the size of furniture is appropriate for the purpose of the room (deeper sofa in the TV      
        viewing room, daintier furniture frames in more formal spaces)
-the amount of furniture and its spacing fits the personality of the client and their lifestyle
        (minimalists = more open space with less accent furniture; collectors = cozier
        furniture layouts and more accent chairs, tables, and shelving)

Paring Down
To select furniture I do a combination of online shopping and showroom visits, while fabric shopping is done solely at the fabric showrooms. I have to see and feel the fabric in person to know if it will work. When all is said and done, I generally have way too many furniture, lighting, and fabric options. All of it goes well together, there is just too much of it. Clients are looking to me to give them the best design selections, not overwhelm them with 100 different options. The week before our first presentation is the time to pare down the options and start putting together the presentation board.

Presentation Board
I always put my presentations together on a cork board with push pins. If a client hates a red print that I have selected, the last thing I want is for it to be glued permanently in place. I need the ability to pin new options up, take existing options down, and swap the sofa and ottoman fabric. The items that I start with on the board are my top choices; the design that I 100% endorse and love. We start with that and then review additional options from my bag of tricks depending on how the client responds. For every selection; furniture,  fabric, and lighting, I will have at least 2 additional options to show my client.

A colored rendering of the space plan is an absolute must when presenting a room design for the first time. Clients need to see how everything is laid out, how it flows, and get an idea of where color and pattern will be in the room. I will also include quick sketches with color (above) of certain areas of the room or wall elevations if I feel like it will help the client visualize the space better.

Feel free to check out my Pinterest board that I discussed in a previous post here, where you can see my design  journey and all of the additional selections that didn't quite make the final cut for the presentation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Henri Matisse

I think art from the masters is an amazing way to identify a color palette. The texture of brush strokes and canvas can also inspire the textures of a room. Henri Matisse's masterpieces, specifically those from the Fauvism movement, are some of my favorite. The colors are so alive and remind me of spring. Time to make our way over to Paris to visit this Matisse show.

Matisse poster available here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pinning Away

I'm really excited about a new client in Newport Beach. We are working on furnishings their entire home and I have found myself using Pinterest more at the start of this project than with any others that I have worked on in the past. I like that my pinned photos have links back to where I found them, which will be helpful to pull exact dimensions and obtain pricing once I have things narrowed down. I also like that I'm not taking up space on my computer with a bunch of photos that are now accessible anytime I'm online. I can't say that I am yet in need of a 12 step program for obsessive pinning, but I can't deny it's convenience for organizing images and ideas.

These are a few of the pins that I've added to my clients' board. For those of you interested in following me on Pinterest, you can find me here. I also recently added the "pin it" button to the bottom of my posts in case you see something around these parts that you want to add to your own boards!

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Easter at Home

At the last minute on Saturday night I decided to spend Easter up in my home town of Modesto, California. I hopped in my car early Sunday morning and arrived just in time for Easter dinner #1 with best friend Kelli's family, followed by Easter dinner #2 at best friend Erin's. Both were delicious and so much fun, and sometimes, even though you would never ever want to move back to your hometown, it sure is good to visit every now and again.

To call Modesto a charming little town would be more than a stretch, that's more like a bold faced lie. I didn't hate growing up here, I actually kind of liked it, but I always knew there was something more interesting out there for me. It turns out that I was right, but now that I've lived in Idaho, Utah, Orange County, and Los Angeles, I find that I still have that same feeling inside; that there is still something more interesting out there for me. Until I live or visit every place in the world, I might always feel that way, but I'm okay with that because those restless feelings encourage me to experience new people and new places that in turn give me a new perspective and make me a more well rounded person and designer.

I think if I keep my eyes open, literally and figuratively, I can find beauty everywhere. Although Modesto may not look like much from the outside, it is packed with amazing memories as well as a few really beautiful backyards. After spending some time in my friends' backyards (see photo) these past two days - eating, laughing, and picking flowers - I've been really inspired to get going on my own garden. My new apartment has a community vegetable and flower garden and I can't wait to dig in when I get back.

I'll be working remotely from my hometown for the next day or two, but in my spare time I'll be documenting moments of beauty that I stumble upon. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram to see what I find.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting There

After finally getting over my sofa fabric debacle, my living room is starting to take shape, although we have a long way to go yet. When redoing vintage pieces, I always end up making my own modifications to make them more modern. I think with classic or designer vintage pieces, it's better just to leave as is, but if it's just a middle of the road sofa from 1970, why not do a few extra nips and tucks while it's already under the knife for re-upholstery?

My modifications to the sofa were: 

*New wood finish. The previous color was very orangy (not shown), typical of 70's furnishings.
*No more tufting. It could have stayed, but I just didn't like it for my vision of the room.
*You can't really see from the photo above, but there were wood pieces lining the top edges of the sides. It was about as weird as it sounds, so I had them shaved down and covered with fabric. 
*The sofa originally had 3 seat cushions and I made the decision to make a brand new bench cushion that was feather wrapped for extra comfort. It was a little extra money to scrap the foam in the old cushions and have a new cushion made, but it was worth it. Now the seat cushion is more uniform with the solid back, and it has that rumpled cozy look that you only get from a down-fill bench seat. I love that. 

We're getting there! At least we have seating and a couple pieces of art on the wall, and it's amazing what a bundle of blossoms will do for an unfinished room.

So far...

1. Jute rugs are more comfortable than sisal and work in just about any room. I randomly found this one for $89. Finding super deals like that frees up some of my budget to spend on more expensive upholstery fabric.

2. Santa Monica has the best farmer's market. Room changing blossoms for $6.

3. Covering my existing pillow fills with some fun patterns will really help bring the room to life. That is on my "to do" list right after drapery.

4. That mirror might be my best and most favorite thrift store find to date - it's big, made out of the perfect cream color rattan, and only cost me $8.

5. My coffee table is the first real piece furniture (that wasn't from Ikea) that I ever bought as an adult. I've had it for years, waiting for the appropriate time to put it to good use.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My First WestWeek

As a Southern Californian interior design, I shouldn't admit this, but this March was my first WestWeek at the Pacific Design Center. My design and business mind was expanded a hundredfold and I will be sure not miss any more future WestWeeks.

I went to hear a talk by Windsor Smith at Kravet about branding (above photo). I know that my brand and branding myself has a way to go, but with her helpful tips, I feel like we're on the right track. This is the second time I have heard Windsor Speak, the first was last July at her showhouse, The House of Windsor. I can't say enough good things about her. She's great; incredibly charismatic, fun to listen to, so friendly and approachable. It is no coincidence that a main characteristic of her brand that she spoke about, is to be approachable, not only personally, but for her designs and products to be and feel approachable for all types of clients.

I was also able to hear from the new(ish) editor of Architectural Digest, Margaret Russell on interior photography for publications. Extremely helpful. And another highlight was listening to a panel of 4 designers talk about inspiration. I often look to current designers for inspiration, as can be seen in my "Influential Designer" posts. After listening to the panel (which consisted of 2 of my other favorites, Charlotte Moss and Suzanne Kasler) I realized that I need to deepen my pool for inspiration and expand my knowledge of art and design. It makes sense that when I look to current designers, furniture makers, blogs, and trends, that I am just regurgitating what has already been done while putting my own spin on it. That is no longer good enough for me, and I don't think it's good enough for my brand.

My eyes were opened as the panel spoke about their sources for inspiration and constantly referenced the past. It makes perfect sense. When I look to the past and when I look to historic and classic figures, places, and styles, that is when I can  meet the challenge of taking something old and great, and making it new again in my very own and unique way, regardless of what everyone else is doing. It will provide me with the opportunity to be more original in my designs, while still seeking inspiration from truly inspiring sources.

The conclusion is that I need to brush up on my art history and history of architecture and design. Taking those classes in college seems like forever ago and I don't remember nearly as much as I should or wish I did. A refresher trip to Italy and Paris may be in order as well...

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