1. Besides a love of good design we have another thing in common. I lived in Rome for almost two years and really loved my time there, too. How do you feel like your experiences in Rome affected your design sensibilities?
Being in Rome was a magical experience for me. I spent almost 6 weeks there with my University ( Louisiana Tech) and was able to travel around Europe during that time too. Most of my classes focused on design and being in the heart of such great history was indescribable. We also had the opportunity to meet with the interior designer for the US Embassy in Rome. Seeing her describe her day to day tasks and actually working with her on local design projects was it for me. I knew that I was right where I need to be and becoming a designer was it for me.
2. You have both an interior design practice and a store where you sell home accessories. How do you juggle all that (and a husband and two dogs, too)? Which came first and how similar is your approach to running them?
Juggle is right. I’m fortunate to have a husband that cheers me on every step of the way. I go to him for advice and his honest, sometimes brutal opinion always keeps me focused on the goal and end result. The design business came first in 2007 . After one of my clients pushed me to give them access to an “online catalogue” Shop Ten 25 was born. The design business and the shop go hand & hand, clients can get access to the shop at a discount and the Shop clients have access to my local or online design services. It’s my three-legged table, they all work together to create the complete design experience and the table wouldn’t work without all three.
As for the dogs, having the girls around the Studio make the days entertaining. I watch them chase squirrels, bark at birds and then they come take a nap by my desk. The nose bump is their sign that it’s time to hit the dog park or at least play a little fetch. They keep me moving and remind me to step away and not lose sight of how important “family” time is.
If I were a fly on the wall in the room when you sit down to develop a design concept what would I see? How does your typical design process run its course? (do you start with sketches, textiles, etc. – please include a graphic or two here).
I always start the design process with the inspirational images my client provides me with. I then pull notes from our conversations and begin to develop a direction. The floor plan is my next priority and an important part to developing scale and flow in the room. I may develop a few options and crate an elevation to make sure what I imagine will work in the room. From there, I begin to pull fabrics, paint swatches, furniture ideas and look at the prices points. Keeping the budget in check is the biggest challenge. Most clients give me the budget and are not really sure how to use it. Showing the pieces that work in their space with a few price point options is a good way to help them decide what’s really important.
Here is an example of a finish board that I created for a client’s home office. Since he was traveling quite a bit, sending the images over email worked out well. He could get a feel for the pieces I though would work in the room and see them on a floor plan. Of course there were many decision to be made as we moved through the process but the room ended up perfect.
4. Is there anything that just drives you crazy when it comes to interior design?
Ok, hopefully I’m not offending anyone here…but rooms that are “matchy matchy” drive me crazy. My bachelor clients are the most challenging when it comes to this. They just want a “room in a box” that’s ready to go because they don’t want to wait. I have to back them off of the ledge and show them that grabbing pieces from multiple sources can be a good thing and create the vibe they are ultimately after. Here is a downtown loft I designed for a bachelor, he gave me a direction for the color palette and style he wanted then asked me to just make it happen.
5. I know you love blingy bling – me, too! But, if you had to design a living-room that you would still want to enjoy in twenty years what kinds of things would you include and what would you leave out?
I would include furniture that has a timeless shape and a good structure, classics. My mother still has her sofa and accent chairs from the 80’s and we recently recovered them. The new fabric we selected updated the look of a classic piece and now she can enjoy them for another 15 years. Unfortunately, not all furniture today is made with such high quality. You do get what you pay for. Image Via: Melanie Johnson Photography for Studio Ten 25
I would leave out expensive trendy pieces. You can always change out pillows, drapes and rugs over time to fit your style and change in color choices. Spending money on trends is easy to do these days, most vendors create replicas or “inspired by” pieces at a fraction of the cost. This allows you to have high style with out the high cost and it doesn’t hurt so much when the pieces leaves the house. Image Via: Melanie Johnson Photography for Studio Ten 25
6. What is the most valuable piece of advice that anyone ever gave you? And, what advice would you give to an interior design student just starting out?
Hire a good accountant and stay organized! Keeping up with invoices, receipts and taxes are a very important part of this business. I have to watch every penny I spend and have to constantly ask myself “do I really need to spend this and will it add to the growth of my business?”. At the end of the day, having your own business is wonderful. But you must plan your costs, time and marketing dollars wisely to make sure your profit meets or exceeds your goals.
On a personal note, you have to be true to you and what motivates you to get up and go to work everyday. Sometimes turning down a client can be a good thing. Yes, doing something for the money and paying the bills may be looming over you but putting yourself in an crummy situation can be worse.
Learn to ask the right questions
Learn from past experiences with bad & good clients.
It’s okay to say no sometimes, we can not be everything to everyone.
Be professional ALWAYS, even when your standing your ground
7. Are there any tools (apps, programs or even just a favorite brand of glue) that you can’t live without? Tell me what you love about it/them.
Wow, I’m feeling a bit excessive now as I think about this one. So, here we go! My tape measure, fine point sharpie pens and a small notebook are my can’t live withouts. You never know when you need to measure something and write down the details. Of course I need a fabulous bag that holds everything too, I love my anthracite pompon because it’s classic and has giant gold hardware! As for programs… Icovia is my go to for floor plans while Adobe Photoshop Elements helps me put it all together. And of course my Macbook and iPhone are crucial to staying productive.
8. Everybody has their own design voice. If I were to walk into a room you designed what would jump out at me and scream Abbe? In other words, do you have a favorite design “trick” that you rely on? (if possible – a picture) Images Via: Melanie Johnson Photography for Studio Ten 25
I tend to gravitate towards glamorous pieces, especially mirrored furniture and accessories. I’m not sure when this obsession started but I think it has something to do with marrying a man from Fort Worth, TX who has a love for all things outdoor and rustic. Things that say “Abbe” are pretty simple, here are my must haves for every room I work on:
* I love to start with clean lines and bring in pieces that have good shape and quality.
* Your room can look amazing but if it’s not comfortable, what’s the point?
* Texture, texture and more texture. Mixing textures with accent fabrics, draperies & furniture pieces keep a room from feeling flat and blah.
* Color & pattern! Most of my clients are confused and overwhelmed when it comes to color and how to mix patterns. If you basics are simple, bringing in a great wall color and accent color through art and pillows can pull it all together with out being color crazy.
9. In addition to your regular interior design services, you also offer eDesign. How does that work? Why would someone choose eDesign instead of “regular” design? How do you virtually walk your clients through the design process? And, how do you make sure they follow your design scheme and not take detours into the land of yuck?
Virtual design is perfect for the “do-it-yourself-ers” who want the look of a professionally designed room without having the designer come out to their home. Every bit of the virtual design service is conducted online through emails and maybe even a few phone calls. No matter where you live or what your time frame, you now have access to the design services needed to complete your home. The package you receive from the designer will allow you to create the room on your time frame and on your budget. Most online design packages offer simple and affordable options where prices vary by room. It’s perfect really.
We will give our client everything they need to know for creating a stunning space, including a furniture plan, fabric and paint samples, a shopping list and thorough instructions for making their home exactly what they dream it to be.
10. If you weren’t an interior designer you would be…?
I would be involved in the design industry some way or another. I have had a desire to be a designer since I was a little girl rearranging samples in my mother’s tile showroom. I have a Bachelor of Interior Design but working on the sales/marketing side of the design business has taught me invaluable lessons. Promoting my business as well as products & people I believe in is something that gives me the warm fuzzies.
11. If you were a room, what kind of room would you be and what would you look like?
Hmm…I don’t think I can narrow myself down to just one room…
If I were a living room I would be glamorous enough for entertaining & cozy enough to cuddle up on the couch with my laptop. A graphic rug, classic Hollywood Regency touches and a fabulous chandelier would pull it all together.
If I were a bedroom…I would have a stately headboard, crisp linens and great lighting! And of course, I would have lots of mirrors for on overall glamorous fell. Image Via: Jeneration Interiors