Tips from an Interior Designer – Part 1

I’m excited to have a Guest Blogger start a “Tips from an Interior Designer” series with with me.

I’ve received amazing feedback on my Before and After posts about how paint has transformed my house (read here and here). I’m going to continue doing before and after’s of my home breaking down the advice I’ve been given, so you can implement them, too. I wanted to add on to this by including Tips from an Interior Designer.

Alicia Weaver of Alicia Weaver Design, who designed my home will be a Guest Blogger so you can get insight and tips as to how an Interior Designer saw my house and her take on how we transformed it. My hope is that hearing two sides of the story will help you better understand how you can transform a space on your own. Tips from an Interior Designer are always so helpful because you get inside their brain. My skills is taking these Tips from an Interior Designer and breaking them down for us non-designers to understand!

A little background on Alicia – we met in Elementary school and still remain close friends. She always had an eye for Interiors. I remember my Mom asking her advice on what colors to paint our house (which my Mom ignored!) or going to her home and she was always helping her Mom rearrange furniture.

Tips from an Interior Designer

After graduating from Florida State University with a design in Interior Design she became a partner at Schulte Design in San Marco, Florida. She went out on her own in Fort Lauderdale this past year and has already been sought after for very high end Miami projects. She’s been featured in HGTV Magazine and Houzz.

It was a dream to be able to hire my friend, the now very talented, sought after and featured Interior Designer.

Let’s start the interview and officially begin my Tips from an Interior Designer series…

(Ahem, I’m clearing my throat and speaking into the phone in a very professional manner which is not at all how I talk to her. We usually call each other our nicknames, talk about the craziness of life and then “oh yea. I’m about to throw away everything in my daughter’s room cause it’s a mess. How can I design her room to clean it up before I go insane.”

Tips from an Interior Designer

Me: Hi Leish!

Alicia: Hey Kel.

Me: Let’s start with my first call to you when we wanted to buy our home. I showed you the pictures of how the house was decorated and asked if we could change it. What did you think?

Alicia: I was really excited for you to have the opportunity to buy and renovate a home and make it your own. When you said you could hire me, I was excited to give you my professional advice, but even more excited since we had a close friendship, too. We could transform your house but also hang out. It didn’t feel like a client, it felt more personal.

Me: Once we got to work, what were the first things you needed from me, and wanted to know?

Alicia: We designed before Houzz and Pinterest were around. I remember telling you to pull magazine images of spaces you loved. Whether you loved it for the furniture, or how the image made you feel. I always knew you loved blue’s (you wore a blue sequin blue Prom dress and drove a light blue car in high school.) So I knew right away that the red, gold and green of your new house was going to have to change.

Me: First off – why did you let me wear that terrible dress? Moving on… what was the first step you made as an Interior Designer for my home? What did you need me to decide first?

Alicia: I always start with floor plan. When we started, I got your plans and made a furniture layout of what made sense for functionality. Simultaneously I was looking at fabrics I thought you would love. I would lay out fabric looks and see what you gravitated towards.

Me: OK, but then what?

Alicia: I find a lead fabric. From that lead fabric I work around that pattern, print and color. I always choose paint colors after the lead fabric is chosen. It’s easier to decide paint from a fabric than to work backwards.

Me: How decisive do you need Clients to be?

Alicia: You were good at articulating what you didn’t like. You didn’t have the design vocabulary, but you were good at making decisions. To this day, even though you’re great to say I’m an amazing designer, I 100% believe you’re only as good as your client allows you to be. When the Client allows you to design outside the box and give me trust you can take them outside their comfort zone and deliver what they want but in a professional, polished way.

Me: Does budget matter?

Alicia: Yes and no. You don’t have to have a big budget to achieve a beautiful space. But at the same time, if you have a budget it’s important to work towards a plan and not spread it thin.

Me: True. I remember early on you told me that I needed to finish one room at a time (which I didn’t all the way do). Why?

Alicia: You want the best bang for your buck. By focusing on one space at a time, you can better achieve an overall look.

Me: So in other words, if I have $5,000 to spend I shouldn’t paint the kitchen, buy a sofa for the family room and put a new light in the Master Bedroom?

Alicia: Exactly. Because when the money is gone you’ll still look around and your space won’t look like what you want. If you have $5,000 and want to start with your family room, it’s better to paint that room, buy a new light fixture and draperies only for that room. A few new throw pillows on the sofa will keep it together until you can afford to replace it. In the meantime you’ll have a really nice finished family room and a good starting point for when you have more money to spend and do a second room.

Me: When I gave you my budget, and you knew size of the house, what did you think I needed to prioritize?

Alicia: Wall covering and paint colors. Light fixtures. Draperies.

Me: Some of my favorite “Tips from an Interior Designer” advice you gave me, is to decorate for where you are going? Explain this.

Alicia: You pick a vision for what you want. You can’t always transform a space in 30 days, or at least we couldn’t in your home. Once we made major changes like paint, you started to see the direction I was heading in and you could start picking out furniture and accents to fit within that framework.

Me: If someone is itching to spend money, what would you say?

Alicia: Set the tone for the room. If you’re buying something, unless the furniture piece you’re buying is the look you want going forward, don’t buy it. For me it’s color palette. If you gravitate towards darker colors and more handsome looks then that dictates what furniture pieces, or drapery fabrics or accents you would buy. For example, if you’re designing a library and want it to be handsome, your inspiration photos are likely to have dark pieces of furniture and rich color fabrics. That sets the tone for the space. If you love white and the photos you’re pinning on Pinterest show a fresh look, those color schemes make you happy and you should go that route.

Me: So you’re saying, if you like blue’s and gray’s like me and I need a knew dresser I shouldn’t buy a modern, dark black dresser?

Alicia: Exactly. Buy in the direction you’re going in knowing the color palette and tone you want to set in the space.

Me: What other “tips from an interior designer” advice would you give someone working on a limited budget? Give me your official Tips from an Interior Designer.

Alicia: I have a personal love for wall paper. Wall coverings, paint and draperies change a space. If you paint and don’t have a big budget, you can always find a great drapery panel at West Elm where it adds texture and softens the hard lines of a room.

Me: Hold that thought. My next blog is about drapery and then lights. We can dive in further after those.

Alicia: Deal.

Me: You told me to not “stamp paint” my house? By the way, that’s the lingo I use, I don’t think that’s professional-speak!

Alicia: No, that’s just how you and I talk to each other! What that means though is to carry the same color through a majority of the house and only change it in a couple of rooms to make the house more cohesive. Your house is that way with the Benjamin Moore Brushed Aluminum. That’s one of the primary colors of your home and we changed a few rooms here and there but it all had a flow. Which brings me to your daughter’s room. That room is next on the list….

Me: Oh man, I know. But I’ll let you take that up with my hubs on paying for that! OK, last question. What would you say to someone reading this just starting out on wanting to change their home?

Alicia: People now have Instagram and Pinterest and Houzz and that’s a huge advantage for people who don’t have the budget. You can create a vision from someone else design. We’re all creating off someone else’s design idea and that’s what spins off into your own space. You can do a white kitchen and I can do a white kitchen, but it won’t look the same. So it’s not like we’re copying. Use the advantage of the internet to see design ideas or find a cool light fixture or chair at West Elm if that’s what your budget can handle. Just like what you’re doing with this blog – sharing ideas for people to read and implement.

Me: Aw I love you. Can we do this again very soon talking more about a lot of things we didn’t touch on today?

Alicia: Of course. But next time can I come to Atlanta and do this over a glass of wine?

Me: Deal. Or I’ll come to you. I’m due for a trip down there. Thank you, Leish! You’re amazing!

…stay tuned for more blog posts on my experience re-designing our home with Before and After photos and this “Tips from an Interior Designer” series!



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