Part II - Designer's Best Kept Secrets to a Successful Project

Renaissance at Manchester NJ new Lobby's Installation Day
The minute you see the photo above, you may have wondered why I used this image today. Yes, it's a lobby and not a home. But the design process to arrive to this special installation day is the same, whether for residential or commercial design.

The process starts with gathering information as I discussed in the last blog post. We discuss how a room is used or will be used. What do you like or dislike when you think of the room as it is now. And, what changes in the room would make you happy.

(The former Lobby before updating)
For instance, our design committee at Renaissance discussed the dissatisfaction with the old layout of the room. We discussed how much seating should be included (as well as a change in color scheme). Once I had the basic information on the flow (or access from one area to the next) and the need for ample seating, I measured and then created the floorplan you see below.

We expanded the carpeted area to the rear of the room and shortened the carpeted area in the front of the Lobby. This created a more open feel and direct access from one hallway to the other.

The intent of the space is to add seating arranged for conversation.

However, the space is not meant for lengthy meetings, so we left out the use of side tables next to the sofa and armchairs.

The result is a more updated, open and airy lobby that is a great departure from the former layout.

Yes, floorplans are helpful. But sometimes a 3D drawing gives our clients an image they can understand.

This drawing shows the highback wing chairs that work beautifully in a room with a high ceiling. Also, it's more interesting to vary the heights of sofas or chairs.

We stayed on course with the committees' request to keep the traffic flow around the seating area and within the seating area easy for residents to use.

So now you know this designer's secret to successful projects - start with information gathering and design spaces that are comfortable to use for all.

From new construction, renovations and room refreshing, we work a plan and plan your design around your life, your family and your budget. 

Part I - Designer's Best Kept Secret to a Successful Project

Photo courtesy of Urban Electric Company 

Did you look at the photo above and immediately start to think about your own living room or family room? Maybe the paneled wall attracted you or the amazing wall sconce. Perhaps the throw pillows are something you've been meaning to add to your sofa. 
All those thoughts are so important. You see, you need to have a vision first, if you want to achieve anything in life or in designing your home. 

As I mentioned in the last blog post : I always ask my clients - "How do you want to use the room or space (indoors or outside)? Do you need more seating, less seating, more space for entertaining perhaps?"

Simply put - it's function first. Yes, I know you have numerous Pinterest Boards (as I do). 
But, before we get excited about that sofa or dining room table, let me hear from you how you use the room now and/or how you'd really like to use the room. 

The view from my office to the Dining Room (formerly the  Living Room)

In our home over the last ten years, I've asked myself that same question - How do we want to use the room now? 

We had a Living Room and a Family Room. But since the family is all grown up, did we really need two rooms for seating? 

Perhaps the former Dining Room would serve better as my home office and perhaps the former Living Room would allow more seating for our Dining Room table. 

Let's start the design journey with questions. Let's be open to ideas that you would never imagine before. 

What area of your home could be reimagined into the most wonderful space you never imagined before?

The 5 Most Important Questions I ask my Clients

The 5 Most Important Questions I ask my Clients 

Photo courtesy of Copeland Furniture - made in Vermont
Now that summer is behind us, we look to the next few months as a new start. If you're like me, you feel like hitting "refresh" as soon as September rolls around. 

I definitely need a new look and a new perspective in autumn. And, just like my clients who hire me to give their homes a new look, I also need to change up things inside and outside our home. 

But in order to change, you first need to know what needs changing. It's hard to prioritize and decide what should stay, what should go or what look in your home needs a re-boot. 

So I have to pretend I'm my own client in a way. I have to ask myself the same things I ask my clients. For instance:

  1. How do you want to use the room or space (indoors or outside)? Do you need more seating, less seating, more space for entertaining perhaps?
  2. What are the things you love about this room? Is it the light, the fireplace, the colors used on walls and furnishings?
  3. What are you most dissatisfied with the room? Is it too small, too large, too plain? 
  4. What rooms in Pinterest, House Beautiful or Architectural Digest have you consistently loved? Are you a fan of Ralph Lauren, Miles Redd, Restoration Hardware?
  5. What is your budget? Are you ready to renovate to the extent of changing floors, opening up a room, or is it more cosmetic with new furniture and new paint colors on the walls? 
To help you make a change, I'll share with you my journey in my own 'Autumn Refresh'. I'll start with the first question on the next post. See you then!

Valentine's Day - A few different ideas for Gifts

With only days away, do you have to come up with a great Valentine, Birthday or Anniversary gift idea?

 If you're 5 years old, you can get away with a handmade card from school, but not now. So now what to do, what is a different kind of gift, what would they love to receive?

Here are a few ideas to get you going in the right direction fast. (You only have a week or so!) The first ones are for men, and the last are for the love or loves of your life.

For the men in your life:
  • A monthly gym membership - for a "core strength and conditioning program."
  • Dinner at Charlie's in Bay Head, NJ  - fabulous atmosphere and great food. 
For wife, mother, grandmother, sister or girlfriend:
  • A two hour interior designer consultation at $150.
  • A four hour interior designer consultation at $295.
Now is the perfect time to help her get her home ready for spring, for renovation or for staging a house for sale. A two hour Gift Card towards a consult on a room of your choice includes:
  1. Paint color ideas to make a room come to life (finally the right color!)
  2. A better floorplan concept - great for Living Room and Family Rooms
  3. Arranging accessory ideas for tabletop, bookcases or a mantel 
  4. Window treatment or lighting suggestions to bring a room to life
  5. Lighting suggestions to give a room the atmosphere to feel and look great in

Mary Alice Smith of M. A. Smith Interior Design - an interior designer serving New Jersey, Ocean and Monmouth County, the Jersey Shore and metropolitan New York, CT 
To schedule an appointment call: 732 690-2030

The Secret to Successful Decorating

Contrast make this room interesting
A Designer's To Do List to Decorate Your Home 

You might be well on your way to finishing a room. Furniture is delivered and the walls have a new coat of paint. But something is missing.

You've done your homework but somehow your room doesn't look like the one in Pinterest or Coastal Home. It's frustrating and I know how you feel. But there's an answer to be sure.

When I visit homes for the first time, I see the rooms with fresh eyes. If you live day to day in a home, you might not be able to see the things I see. 

For instance, if the lighting is uneven, even the best dressed rooms will look flat. Perhaps you could use some table lamps, uplights or a spot on art work. 

Or, is there enough contrast in the room? Contrast is important to bring a room to life. You can add contrast with a nubby throw on a soft fabric sofa. A vase in a bright color can add pizzazz to the space just as a mirror adds a touch of sparkle to a room. 

Simply put, layer your rooms with objects that give it personality. Use books, flowers, plants, art and accessories to give it the sense that it is a well lived and well loved home.