From Each Client’s Vision through the Mind’s-Eye of a Professional Designer
As clients embark on the process of working with a professional designer, I am often asked what my process involves, in order to assure that the resulting design is comprehensive, cohesive and professional, while at the same time genuinely reflecting the preferences, personality and taste of my client.
In a way, the answer is simple and concise – its not my house.
Many clients know what they like when they see it. It isn’t hard to admire a beautifully designed room. But it takes professional training and practice to create an admirable interior design that will truly resonate with the individuals that inhabit it.
My role is one that requires the right amount of distance and an abundance of respect when it comes to individual taste. If I designed to satisfy my own taste and desires, much of my work would start feeling quite similar. While I do love one-of-a-kind items and design elements that always bring something distinctive and unique to a space – I see my job as taking my client’s taste, lifestyle, personality and priorities and making these elements work between the architecture, material selections and interior design elements. This creates a home that my clients love and want to call home, and one I am just as proud to show off as an example of my work.
Actually, when I have client who has very distinct style and taste that is different than my own – it’s exciting for me. This brings a new dynamic to my work, and keeps it professionally challenging, personally interesting, engaging and fun. I always learn a great deal.
A few years ago I worked on a large project that was a total re-build and through the process my client and I became friends. This is pretty typical because we spend so much time together talking about intimate details of lifestyle. As we worked through the architectural process she realized that I was seeing the finished product while designing – envisioning and iterating plans for color, built-ins, flooring materials, lighting and more.
Almost weekly, she would push me into thinking about something that I wasn’t quite ready to think about – and it was great! Her style was “Shabby-Chic” which I had never really done before. My job was to make sure that it didn’t go overboard while still expressing her passion with materials from vintage fabrics to unique patterns and tile. The result was stunning, fun and inspiring and one-of-a-kind. We both loved it.
I have another client who had a passion for “Vintage” style and she knew exactly what she wanted in terms of the feeling and design style her finished product would reflect. She just had no idea of how to going about it. I was able to teach her about proportion, scale and local resources while she taught me about painting cabinetry finishes and reclaiming and reusing antiques in a new modern way that paid homage to their origins and vintage style.
If people profess they don’t have a defined style, I have them start and share with me a Pinterest Board or scrap book collection of things that they like. It doesn’t take me long to take a look at it and quickly see a theme. Typically, people are pretty consistent about what they like… even if they don’t know it.
The path is never straight, and the design process is a cyclical evolution that is always fun albeit somewhat torturous for those with an aversion to decision-making. The goal of my process is always to teach and enable my clients to make their own style work successfully. I don’t impose my own taste or design style on clients – I work to reveal their unique vision, and bring it to life together with them. Again – its not my house. I know, and respect that every step of the way. Yes, it’s a challenge but I never fail to find the fun and inspiration along the way – let me guide you through the process!
There is no doubt a pantry in the kitchen can provide excellent functional storage. But if you have limited square footage to work with in your overall design – is it worth giving up space in the kitchen to create a pantry? This is a question everyone should ask before embarking on a kitchen design from scratch, or even a kitchen update or renovation. In the vast majority of cases, my answer is “yes, please!” to a pantry.
Here are three tremendous reasons I frequently conclude that a pantry is a winning solution to the challenge of creating a gorgeous and functional kitchen. This approach accommodates all the hard work that is done in a kitchen – while keeping lots of possibilities open for entertaining that you might enjoy on occasion.
A pantry is a great way to keep the hardworking appliances and extra large items and accessories out of every-day view but at the ready whenever you need them.
Incorporating a pantry in your kitchen design can save you money!
Saving money holds great appeal to most people embarking on a major design/build or renovation project. There a lot of areas where costs could escalate, depending on your choices along the way. So, I love to look for opportunities where I can make smart recommendations to my clients that save their money and end up helping me create the kitchen of their dreams at the same.
With a pantry, storage is more efficient because open shelves and counter space provide flexibility as your needs change over time. And if you tend do get a little messy with all of your favorite kitchen gadgets and appliances while they’re stowed away, you just close the door to the pantry and you’re not distracted by visual clutter of stray blender or food processor cords that you hadn’t neatly wrapped and tucked away.
There’s no hiding in a pantry
In a well designed pantry there is no hiding for your favorite lemon zester, your juicer or that clever crème brulee torch you use just a couple times every year. What so many people love about a pantry is that you can see everything – and as a result its so much easier to find what you need, whether its an item you use daily or annually.
A pantry makes for wonderful flow & functionality
When clients decide on a pantry as a part of their kitchen design – it transforms many other elements in the process. The flow of the design can be much more fun, and social to the adjoining space. This usually works so well for entertaining and makes for a more enjoyable everyday kitchen space as well.
It allows you to accomplish whatever you envision in that space – whether your enjoying a cookie baking party with the mixers, baking sheets and cookie cutters spread out for a day of hard work and creative productivity – or an elegant brunch with space open and available to present a tray of mimosas, an assortment of quiche and a lovely bouquet of flowers on center stage so your guests can relax and mingle. A pantry makes all things possible! Your kitchen can do double duty for serious cooking or social entertaining depending on your desires.
One of the special things I love about this kitchen is that it is actually the original kitchen space in the home. After much consideration, the contractors did very little with this space (aside from the major work of constructing a new roof and ceiling above it). The homeowners painted the cabinets and installed a newer but less expensive countertop and backsplash, making the project very budget-friendly. There is a fun pocket door to hide the mess and any sounds from the dishwasher as well.
All this allows for a kitchen that is small, efficient and open to the great room for a really enjoyable overall flow. The only items in the main area of the kitchen are a massive island with sink, refrigerator and stove/ cooktop/ microwave. And to top it off – the kitchen was cost-saving due to there being fewer cabinets to buy overall. All thanks to incorporating a pantry!
Our typical 3rd Wednesday of the month Women’s Networking Event will be PAUSED for the remainder of the Summer. We will be reconvening + reconfiguring in the fall.
Soak up the Sun. Read a book. Go to the Beach. And enjoy time with Friends & Family.
See you in September!
It’s true! My daughter, Elle, is headed off to college! Not only did the last 18 years go quickly but most especially the last year! She started with at amy dutton Home last fall out of the sheer necessity to make money for college (and as a dependent, I don’t have to take taxes out of her check = more money in her pocket!). It all sounded great, but I don’t think either one of us expected it to work out as well as it has.
Elle is an incredibly organized person and quickly taught us how to leave notes for her, would follow up on emails and complete projects. Elle’s communication skills are always appreciated because we are a busy office that moves fast but we want our customers & clients alike to know that they are important and valued. She is great with customers and will gladly answer questions, enjoys a friendly chat with the customers – then rings up the order and wraps purchases beautifully. She dresses fashionable but professional and is always on time as well as keeps to the schedule that she is given. Lastly, many of you have liked and followed her social media posts – they are fun and keep you updated about what is happening at amy dutton Home.
Do you have the same qualities and capabilities as Elle? Are you available on Saturdays from 10-6pm? If you are interested in replacing Elle, let us know! Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to schedule an interview. Interviews will start the week of August 15, so schedule yours sooner than later!
Yes, August 25 brings the departure from our home as well as amy dutton Home. She will be attending George Washington University in D.C. but will study her Freshman year in Paris, France. While I will miss her, I am so proud of her and know that it is time for the journey to begin!
If you have a neighbor that you can see from your house, chances are that you need to create privacy, perhaps by using landscaping. True, living urban means that you are pretty much guaranteed a privacy issue. However, I have also been to many houses that even though they own more than an acre, the houses are situated such that privacy is still a concern.
So, what to do about the situation? You actually have many options and opportunities to consider. The path that you will take should work for your specific needs. You can talk to your neighbor about the situation but ultimately, if you are on your side of the property line, you are free to do whatever you want.
I have a new neighbor who moved in and removed a key privacy tree then built a long landing and stairs that encroaches on the privacy of our backyard and driveway. We are faced with a new challenge – how to we create privacy in such a tight space (our houses are only 15’ apart and our driveway runs between the houses).
1) Because we live urban, often off-street parking is essential but difficult, so we didn’t want to loose parking spaces in our driveway. This meant that we couldn’t plant anything too wide to avoid loosing part of our driveway.
2) Our kitchen windows line up creating many awkward situations standing at the kitchen sink. This is our opportunity to deal with the privacy issue.
3) The height of the neighbor’s house is such that a fence could not be tall enough vertically to accomplish privacy. Additionally, our city has a 8’ height limit to fences.
4) The realtor told me that they can see right into my backyard from the master bedroom. Their house is very tall and I live in a bungalow so I needed to figure out a way to get our backyard privacy!
5) Our front porches align perfectly. This means that we can be on our front porch and the neighbor can hear our conversation and see what we are doing with little to no effort. I have bamboo planted there but it doesn’t fill in enough to be a visual buffer.
1-3) Vertical Privacy: We planted a row of Emerald Green Arborvitae that are between 8-10’ high. Hale’s Landscaping did a wonderful job and it is perfectly straight. In about 2-3 years it will fill in to create a wall of green that is 12-14’ and keep going vertical to about 20’. These plants are narrow so we won’t loose parking despite the fact that it is tight.
I also have large pots with tall plants and a bench of herbs at the end of our driveway. These create a visual buffer from those walking down the sidewalk. We use the end of the driveway as additional backyard space in the summer. In the winter, these pots get stored and we are able to park closer to the door since because we don’t need the backyard space in the winter. It also means that we create a buffer between our relaxing patio and our vehicles.
4) Backyard Privacy: Because their house is so tall, as I sat on my patio I realized that what I needed was an awning or sun sail. We saw them in Australia over pools and such. It didn’t take long to find one the perfect size on Amazon for $60.
5) Front Porch Privacy: The solution seemed pretty straightforward. I hung up a rod and curtains. These are simple curtains from Target because they do get wet in the rain and I didn’t want to invest a lot of money for this test. I keep the curtains open for the most part. But when we are out on the porch, we close them. This creates a very nice room feel and we appreciate the privacy.
I tell you this story because I personally know how upsetting it is to have your private space invaded and how essential it is to find a solution that will work for you. As you can see, we needed to use a combination of landscaping as well as fabric to accomplish what we needed to create for privacy. As the landscaping grows in, we will gain more privacy so it becomes positive long-term investment in your property.
Landscaping can be a very powerful tool to create visual, auditory and even olfactory buffers between neighbors. Hale’s Landscaping worked with me to find just the perfect tree to accomplish this. I’m happy to be part of the conversation with your landscaper to create a beautiful and organic privacy buffer for your home that compliments and solves any privacy issues that you might have.