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hiring a designer

How to Style Your Home’s Interior Design for Long-term Use

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When you want to update your home decor, you may be tempted to jump in and redesign for the current trends and your most recent preferences. However, if you’re looking to stay in your living space for a while, and get the most return on your efforts, you’ll want to upgrade your interior design to get the best long-term investment. Follow these time-tested tips to create a space that will become a long-term haven:

  • Vary dimensions. Create a room with flow, one that keeps the eye moving naturally through the space. To do this, you must be aware of the size and shape of your furnishings; they can’t all be the same. Be sure to have a variety of heights and shapes to your lamps, photos, and more, while sticking to a complementary color/design theme to tie the look together. The varying heights and shapes will create negative space (the area where there’s no embellishment), which is just as important as the areas where you add decor: it will keep from cluttering your room and keep focus on the important design aspects. Being aware of your decor dimensions and heights will create a cohesive, but visually intriguing, look that you’ll never grow tired of.
  • Display embellishments and unique decor in arrangements. Your brightly colored accessories and small decor items shouldn’t be scattered throughout your room; what you may not realize is that similar small items and colors will look best grouped together. For a timeless layout, group similar pieces together to create one dynamic display area. If you haven’t heard the “rule of thirds,” consider this: items will appear balanced and appealing in odd numbers. Group your light-hued candles in one spot on a side table, or place three small photo frames together on a shelf.
  • Create focal points. Each room should be anchored by a focal point to draw the eye immediately in right away; use your statement furniture as the center of the room to design around, or, if in an open-concept floor plan, define your spaces by creating a layout originating from your chosen focal point (or decor item). Typically, in a segmented room, your focal point will be across from the entry, so consider hanging a stunning piece of artwork on the wall, or placing your statement furniture at that end of the room.
  • Design for light. Lighting can make or break a room. Choose the level of lighting and ambiance that you want for each room in advance, and move forward with your lighting choices from there. Natural light is a widely appealing feature, so in rooms with plenty, create a layout for maximum exposure, seating, and views of the light. In other rooms, experiment with layering lamps to vary your decor heights, and to provide multiple options for actual room usage. In living rooms, for example, you’ll want to have various heights of lamps (floors, tables, side-tables), to light the majority of the room while allowing for reading or enjoyment in a variety of ways. Use chandeliers or hanging lights to point to your focal pieces, and watch as your space becomes a classically enjoyable interior.
  • Decorate for your personality. No matter what, you’ll want to love your space. Do you have a photograph you love? A statement piece that speaks to you? Include it! You’ll need an inspiration and mood for each room, so design for your own style and life preferences (for example–inspiration: an exotic elephant statue; mood: worldly, whimsical).

For more expert tips on home interior design and renovations, contact us today.

How to Hire an Interior Designer for Your Retail Space

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While it might seem like an added expense, making an investment in an interior designer can pay off big time for your retail space. The right design can boosts sales by increasing your amount of overall traffic. Further, a professional will know the best ways to maximize your space along with your budget. Here are some tips on how to find and hire the best interior designer for your retail space:

  1. Ask around: Nobody knows better than your fellow retail store owners who to hire and who to avoid! Go for a walk to the stores nearest to you to inquire. Pay attention to which local stores catch your eye and which ones turn you away. Be sure to ask for references from the places that make you want to shop. It can also be useful to find out who designed store spaces that you don’t like to narrow down your choices. If you are taking over an old retail space, you’ll want to find someone who is experienced working with older buildings. Also, if you’re converting another commercial space such as a restaurant or warehouse to a retail space, you will need someone with experience with conversion.
  2. Know your vision: Have a solid idea of what you want out of your design before you begin interviewing designers. Start with the basics: Are you going for a vintage look or something more modern? Do you want bright colors or a darker look? In addition, you will need to consider how people are going to shop at your store. A clothing store will need fitting rooms while a beauty boutique will need makeup counters and chairs/stools. Any retail space will need enough walkways for people to comfortably fit down the aisles, so you will need to consider how you are going to display your products. Knowing the specific style you want will not only help you narrow down the designers you interview, it will also be useful to determine which designer is most capable of helping you achieve your vision.
  3. Set a realistic budget: You want all the bells and whistles, sure, but  you probably can’t afford them just yet. Make a realistic budget along with a list of things you absolutely need. For instance, a clothing store will absolutely need good quality shelves, racks, and fitting rooms along with other essentials such as good lighting and attractive (and safe, lead-free) paint. You can create a separate list of things you want but will be ok with not having right away such as accent lamps, fancy overhead light fixtures, and an upgraded sound system. You can always add in design elements later as your store gets going and just get the essentials at this stage.
  4. Get specific during the interview: After each candidate leaves the interview, you should have a clear idea of what your retail space will look like, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. Ask specific questions regarding budget and timeline during the interview, and don’t be afraid to turn someone away who can’t meet your needs.
  5. Get references: Each candidate should be able to provide you with three references that you can contact to find out about their work style. Be sure to follow up with references, even for candidates who seem like a dream to work with. This is your money and your store after all. You want to make sure the designer you pick is going to follow through.

Hiring a designer for your retail space will save you headaches and money in the long run. Use these tips to find the best designer in your area for your store. For more information on how to find the perfect designer for your store, contact us today!

Your Home’s Renovation Fee: How do you figure it out?

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Your home is your biggest investment, and naturally, if you want it to maintain its value, you’re going to have to renovate it periodically.

So, you meet with an interior designer — or a construction company — and they give you a quote for their services. There’s just one problem: you don’t know if the quote is too high, not high enough, or just right. So, how do you determine the right renovation fee for your home? Here’s our list of things to keep in mind before determining if you’ve been quoted a fair price:

  1. Make a list of all of the materials you need. For example, if you’re renovating your kitchen, list the amount of tile you’ll need, any appliances, the amount of drywall, etc. Be sure to take accurate measurements of the room (or of the entire home, if you’re doing a complete home remodel).
  2. After you get a complete list of the materials, get a few price quotes — don’t just settle for the first quote that was given to you. You may even want to get some of the prices yourself — many “big box” home improvement stores periodically have clearance sales that can save you hundreds of dollars!
  3. Next, calculate the amount of labor hours that will be needed to renovate the room in question. Again, be realistic, and be aware that when drywall is removed, especially in high-moisture places like kitchens and bathrooms, other problems with plumbing, mold, and faulty wiring may be uncovered, which will cause an increase in labor and materials costs.
  4. When factoring in the cost of materials, be sure to bear in mind that materials will vary in price, as well, and this variance is dependent on the quality of the materials procured. While a typical porcelain or ceramic tile in a “big box” store can be relatively inexpensive (sometimes as low at 99 cents per square foot!), a tile made from travertine or imported Italian marble can be significantly more expensive. Travertine tiles start at approximately $10 per square foot; Italian marble tiles start at double that price!
  5. When getting a quote from a contractor or designer, be sure to ask about the quality and type of materials they’ll be providing for their price as well.
  6. Once you get all the costs of the renovation together (materials and labor) that you then compare it to the price that a designer, or contractor, gives you. Again — don’t go with the first price that’s given to you. Compare a few quotes, and go with the one that provides the most reasonable price for the proper amount of work.
  7. In comparing prices, be careful of the designer or contractor giving you the lowest prices. Sometimes the cheapest is not always the best, as their experience, quality, and speed of construction may be lacking, which can cost more in the long run.
  8. To that end, too, you’ll need to set aside a contingency budget (better known as an “emergency funds” reserve) that’s equal to about 15% of your total renovation budget to account for problems that may be uncovered during the renovation process.

Contact us today to discuss your home’s renovation project.

Preparing for Your First Interior Design Meeting: 3 Tips to Make the Most of Your Time

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You are beginning to worry that staring at those drab beige walls in your office day after day might actually be sucking the life right out of you. How can you be expected to be inventive and clever when your “creative space” looks about as exciting as the inside of an elevator? You’ve seen pages upon pages of awesome office designs in magazines, and you think, wow-now that is a space that could really get the creative juices flowing… You know what you like, but you’re not quite sure how to make it happen-so you decide to bring in the big guns. You’ve hired an interior designer to help you achieve the master work place you’ve been dreaming of. You look forward to your first meeting with anticipation, but you really need to get your ducks in a row to ensure that your designer truly understands your vision.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for that first meeting:

1. Create a profile. Your interior designer will need to understand how you use your space in order to create the most functional design possible. Create a profile of your office space – what tasks are performed on a daily basis, do you see clients in your office, is your business style formal or informal, etc.

2. Outline the scope of your project. Once your designer understands how the space is used, they will need to understand what you want to have done. Clearly outline exactly what you expect from the design changes-are you looking to create space, liven up the place, or completely change the entire layout? If you have a vague idea of what you want, but are unsure of the details, explain which details you need help nailing down. Maybe you know you’d like to bring some color and life into your office, but don’t know what colors best suit your business. Make a list of these specific questions in your outline and be sure to present them to your designer.

Your outline is also the place to include your expectations as far as time and cost are concerned-have a budget in mind and let your designer know how much time you are willing to invest in the project. The more information you have ready for your designer, the quicker they can get to work.

3. Create an inspiration portfolio. Since you made up your mind to redesign your office, you’ve probably been noticing potential design elements everywhere-carpet swatches at the home improvement store, a unique armchair and vintage desk in the antique store window, that really awesome eye-popping new paint color at your favorite coffee shop. These little bits of inspiration are important parts of your vision, and keeping track of these can be of enormous help to your designer. Snap a picture on your phone if you are out and see something inspiring, grab paint samples, and clip some magazine images to create your own portfolio. Having a visual reference, such as a pinterest board, will make it much simpler to explain your desired outcome.

For example, here is openUU’s Cafe Design board for some inspiration.

Follow openUU ltd.’s board Cafe Design on Pinterest.

Redesigning your office seems like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Creating an inviting new space that fosters creativity is an exciting event. Remember to prepare a list of any questions you might have for your interior designer before your meeting, and organize your information to ensure that you are both on the same page. Please feel free to contact us for more information about interior design.