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Interior Designer vs. General Contractor

Sometimes it is hard to know whether an interior designer or a contractor is the best fit for your project. The advice I am going to give in the following post is specific to Washington State, so please check regulations for licensing, testing, etc. in your own state before following this as a guideline.

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Less is more... Quality is everything

I grew up calling myself a "girly tomboy". I was a fan of thrift shops, used items, and the better the deal, the better I'd done at shopping. I remember meeting my husband and being so proud of the $5 jeans I was wearing and the $20 red leather pants (you're jealous... admit it). But, he looked at all the piles of clothes I had with holes, loose threads and stains and said: "why don't you buy something nice and have it last?" I was appalled and dumbfounded simultaneously. My things weren't nice?!

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Fast forward 20 years... I'm sitting in a meeting with a client and contractor. The client lives in a gorgeous 1920's bungalow and the contractor suggests we put {GASP} vinyl tiles in the bathroom. A few days earlier, another client suggested that they were okay keeping the vinyl flooring in the kitchen and mentions that they hadn't considered aesthetics. Then, it dawned on me. So many people hire me to help with the functionality of their home, to make their spaces work better for them, and it is not realized that the quality of materials absolutely affects the function of the space.

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A Designer's "Style"

Last weekend was a blast! I participated in my community's Home Fair, which gave me the opportunity to meet other business owners in the field and of course, homeowners looking for help in their projects. What was most important to me though was the community aspect of it. I grew up in Seattle and always viewed myself as a "city mouse". I love the conveniences and luxuries of the city, particularly MY city, which is what I always viewed Seattle as. When my family moved to Vashon, I was nervous. My husband is also a "city mouse"- what were we thinking moving to an island where the only way back to the city was by boat, and not a cheap ride either? A town where the entire "downtown" is about 1.5 city blocks. A town where everyone knows everyone.

I love knowing people

I forgot about this very important part of my personality. I love familiarity. I love community and being a part of it, rather than hiding from it. Fortunately, the island is only a 20 minute ride from Seattle, so I can get my weekly douse of culture, but the community I experience here is like nothing I've ever felt before. I love knowing people, and I love knowing that I am giving people a space that speaks to them, a space that reflects who they are and what they love.

One of the questions I was asked at the home fair (and this is a typical question) was, "What is your design style". I have seen so many designers say "My style is your style", "I don't have a style".  And, while we want this to be true and it is our jobs to adapt and be flexible, we absolutely do have a style. A doctor will provide services based on your needs, but they have an approach they take that is their own. Every career, every profession has a "style". We also have personal taste, and every designer's taste is different. What is important is that we do not impose our taste on you. 

I don't care if my favorite color is green and I'm not a fan of pink. If you tell me you want a pink room and hate green- you will get the most amazing pink room I can develop, and as I work on it, I will love it. I have designed French Country Kitchens and started with the thought that I do not like French Country. Turns out, once I got my creative juices flowing, I fell in love with what I was doing. This will happen in your project.

However, I do have a style. I tend to simplify. I tend to try to make spaces light and airy, but remaining warm. Of course, if you come to me and tell me you want a sterile environment, it is what I will provide (though, I will ask with genuine curiosity why you want this). See, the profession of design is one where respect and empathy is key in order to create truly successful designs. The designs should be nurtured and guided by the designer- but the idea, well that came from you!