One of the best compliments you can ever get as a designer, is for a previous client to get in touch and ask to work with you a second time. That’s the goal in almost all design initiatives. You want “After Work…” Sometimes it’s a new phase to an existing project but often it is an entirely different project. In the case of our new #Rye #MountHolly project (so fabulous it gets TWO hashtags) we are working with clients who were our #Kingswood clients. Shortly after we finished their massive renovation, they were transferred from Toronto to NY. We were all heartbroken and after living in their new home for about 6 months they had to move. I had just had Luke. Luke started toddling around in their home as we got it ready to go on the market. The new owners hired us to continue decorating which then become #Kingswood2.0
So now to #Rye #MountHolly. While it is tempting to repackage #Kingswood, that was 6 years ago and someone else calls that house home. So my solution to this is to be inspired by #Kingswood but to do things a bit differently in some areas, pay homage to it in others and take it up a notch. The #Kingswood house is still one of our most asked after projects so it for sure has a timeless and classic feel and we are still more than enamoured with the Master Bathroom but the layout in the new house is completely different. Here’s what the original bathroom for their first home with MHD looked like.
The bathroom was long and narrow and so we had to treat it like a Galley Bathroom with a runway down the middle. Our new bathroom though is a box. So the double vanity is a no go - in fact, the vanities each now flank a free-standing tub… the builder whom they bought the house from had a vanities already built but they really weren’t #Kingswood so we passed on them and decided to do this…
Instead of having the big black frame around the vanity mirror, we’re putting it around the tub and mirroring the whole wall really. This is going to make the already spacious bathroom feel HUGE. We’re using the same cabinetry and millwork design for two vanities instead of the one. We’re changing the floor up to something large - similar to our #Madison master floor. The carpet we did in the original bathroom down the runway, we’re adding into the shower…
Inspired but different maybe even more fabulous than the first time around!
Opening Photo: Lars Toplemann available through designers.
Since my return from vacation, I’ve seen both on social media and through situations in my own office a few tidbits that I’d love to address.
First Off: Why do you work with a designer?
I think a lot of people are very Designer Aware these days. Friends hear you are contemplating doing something to your home - they advise - “Hire a Designer!” Savvier friends will ask “Who are you hiring as a designer?” But it’s pretty common for people to think that they need to or should consider hiring a designer when embarking on a design project.
Now you know me - I’ll be the first person to tell you to invest in Hiring a Designer however, not everybody can or should.
STOP THE PRESSES RIGHT?
I’m a liar, a hypocrite, I have early onset dementia? No. Simply put, not every project can afford to hire a designer. At least, hire a designer to create, oversee, implement and execute it down to the very last detail. If you have under $100,000 for anything more than decorating, it’s going to be tight. At $100,000 you’re looking at $20,000 of that being set aside off the top for design fees. Yup, you read that right. 20% of your budget goes to design fees.
Sure some will do it for less, but they aren’t going to be in business for very long or worse yet, will have to take on that many more jobs to make money at this and won’t have the time to devote to executing your project that you would hope for. We’ve taken on smaller decorating jobs but our limit is $35,000. Anything under that, is just not the right fit for us. I was recently asked if I would do a Storyboard Design. This is a service that some offer and call design, whereby you put a room concept together a la a mood board and then tell the person where they can go and buy it all…
Let’s let that hang there a second. 1… 2…2.5…..
Um… the last I checked, that’s not a design, that’s a Shopping service. Now I was flattered that the person likes my work and my style but a service like this overlooks a glaring glaring glaring white elephant in the room. Is my creativity, experience, livelihood available for sale for one fixed, low, low, low price? I was tempted to respond to her ABSOLUTELY! We’ll do it all. It’s $100,000.00 and due immediately before we put any of it together for you. But I didn’t. I wanted to educate the prospective client and then share this in a blog post. You can’t get a discount version of my work. Period. Joss and Main recently used my living room as the inspiration for one of their sales. That’s lovely. I saw their best attempts at matching my room and they were seriously not even close except for one stool. That was pretty darn close but the rest was a swing and a miss.
We won’t even discuss the person who knocked my office off poorly. The point is, my simply picking a few things for your room is not going to achieve the same as hiring me to design it and sweat all the details for you. It’s impossible. There is a relationship that has to take place and an interaction. It’s why I prefer our out of town clients to make a trek and come and visit me. This way I can gauge their reactions in person. I can see what makes them hesitate. I can see what they are immediately drawn to. I can feel my way through the situation and have a great time getting to know them. This relationship, can also be honed through phone calls and emails but it is much faster if it happens in person. All of our presentations for our #MadisonDecoration project took place via snail mail and Skype. Skype is a great stand in when we can’t meet in person. I can see your face!!!
I can’t imagine why anyone would want something as impersonal as a room of pieces picked out by someone else without any of that design love. The other problem with these storyboard services is - well you’re stuck with generic choices. Umm… what part of wanting my name on a project like that do I want? That’s not my heart and soul poured into a project. I rarely take jobs that have me focus on the creative only and then leave the execution to others. If I can’t see it through from start to finish - very little love I have. We know our process and are true to it. We are stalkers, extortionists at times if it requires it (twitter y’all) and will resort to begging when needed. We know how to avoid certain problems, which suppliers need to be babysat on the hour and even more so, we know who/what/where/when/how to use suppliers, trades, materials, fixtures and so forth.
THIS IS NOT OUR FIRST RODEO.
And you get what you pay for.
Issue #2 That is born out of that…
Please note that nowhere, in any of this is a mention of hiring us to get discounts. You do not hire a designer to get their discount. You pay what it costs and they determine it. Sometimes you will be getting a good deal. Other times less so. Other times, you will pay a huge sum of money and thank everyone for it because it is something truly worthy. This includes your design fee. Being able to afford a designer and their fee is a luxury and you work hard to achieve that. They in turn provide you with a fabulous service with the goal being to enrich your life and help you create a home that you yourself could not create on your own. That is its own reward. There are no additional entitlements.
We are fortunate to work with many wonderful people who get this but I’ve been there and occasionally I will meet with prospects or with other designers where this is an issue so I’m putting this out there because I think that understanding the process by which most designers work, is a worthwhile investment. It’s often the first question I am asked when someone finds out I’m a designer. That and YES a small bathroom WILL cost you $20,000 to renovate if you are planning on moving the plumbing!!!
If you love that mantel and have the $43,000 it costs please contact me ASAP because I would REALLY REALLY REALLY love to work with this mantel. And you. For sure. And the mantel. The opening photo is a work by Paul Lange. Wouldn’t it be divine over that mantel??????
Again - this is meant as more of a “I love what I do so much it often hurts to drop these Truth Bombs” as Danielle Laporte calls them. But I really do care. I want everyone who is working on a design project as either the client or as the designer to have the best possible experience they can and I think that begins with a few reality checks, some honest communication and when necessary - A Come To Jesus Moment.
I am so glad we are into March already - January and February really flew by and I’m looking forward to staying put for a bit. We’ve got a lot of projects in the Infatuation Stage of our relationship and we’re all hot and heavy in design faboosh-ness. Technical Term. Of course, when we get to quoting things, we often find that our mad romance for the item is slightly dimmed by the price tag associated with and sometimes our clients just plain ol’ fall out of love from the yes to the quote to get the real yes. It happens. We roll with it. A better option always awaits in those instances OR your initial choice is reaffirmed and back you go.
This was one of my favourite rooms at Kips Bay Show House last year. It was designed by Alexa Hampton and I love the tufted velvet banquette more than words can say. I love the Peacock blue she used too - it’s just so DELISH. The other thing that sticks out for me is the marble fireplace mantel. I am BEYOND obsessed with these I want them in every project we are working on if I can swing it.
This fireplace is the perfect example of why I think that marble should be used in a kitchen, a bathroom, anywhere really. The older it gets, the dirtier and stained it gets, the better it looks. That black veining is EVERYTHING.
I found this mantel for our #Rye project. I’m rather smitten.
This is my back up - it’s more grey. It’s in case we go with a more greyed living room scheme. That’s still to be decided.
I’d kinda kill for this one for my own home - but in the black-veined marble… I would so die of happiness. Even more if the darned thing could throw some heat - my house is not the warmest of homes built in 1856. Marble is my happy place.
WE ARE BACK!!!
While we’ve been away I’ve been getting regular updates and sneak peeks on different projects we are working on - specifically #MadisonDecoration. I can’t thank the Design Gods enough for bringing them into our lives. Seriously. THE. BEST. When you start working with your ideal clients, you don’t want to work with anyone else - truly. Talk about being spoiled but I know we deserve to work with these good people and then some.
I mean that ceiling. RIGHT??
The powder room is just beyond. It’s better than what we had originally planned but we did get the ceiling paper that we’d built the entire room’s colour scheme around so this is a big win. Yes the ceiling fan cover is getting a make over sheesh!!! Patience people.
The Runways have been lit up with Red Red and More Red for over a year now - two in fact I was in Barcelona when Dolce and Gabbana started the whole Red Tour De Force thing and that was two years ago now. I’ve been saying I am totally not into red one walls but I am about to make a major exception. These luscious lacquered in a high gloss delight built ins wrap around the room and as such we are going to wrap the walls in red too. This will mean the slanted ceiling. It’s going to be a bit of an undertaking but I think it’s totally worth it. I mean HELLO. And to top it all off, we have legit - no knock offs here - oxblood leather Barcelona chairs in here.
The laser cut #ModernArabic door panels have arrived and are being sprayed and made into doors as we speak. I can’t wait to see how we kit this out. The bed has arrived too I am told and I am literally jonesing to see it. Having clients who are equally as excited and thrilled and appreciative of all the hard work and effort that has gone in to realizing their dream home seriously is a drug that I am hooked on. Why on earth would I ever want anything less than this?