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December 10, 2016
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Tastemaker: Turning a house into a home

This small space is turned into an inviting multifunctional sanctuary using18th century coconut vessels trimmed with silver to adorn the modern coffee table; original Italian prints from the 19th century grace the walls; and an artist’s floral canvas covers the ceiling with custom bedding for the daybed.
Photo by Sharon Carroll

Q: What are some of the functions you help homeowners with?

Always in the planning phase, we sort out something they would really love to do, how they want to enjoy the fruits of their place. Amazingly, it’s usually something quite simple and really very attainable. Maybe they picture themselves playing board games at the kitchen table with their kids, or sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family, or sipping iced tea under the shade tree with a friend, or working in the herb garden, or sharing locally grown food and laughter with neighbors or friends, or working on that novel they’ve been writing, or just enjoying a glass of wine on the porch, or on a winter weekend enjoying an afternoon activity in the snow and then indulging in a hot toddy [to take off the chill], or even sitting at the computer working on a report that is due on Monday morning.

Q: Once the homeowner has identified this little scenario as you’ve just described, where do you go from there?

A: While moving the project forward, we keep that “little event” in mind and plan it to happen. These moments are the things that keep us going in our busy, hectic lives. I encourage my clients not to take these “little events” for granted. Too often a whole weekend or a whole month goes by, and we find we’ve gone from morning to night forgetting these things that nourish the spirit. Look around and appreciate your home, with all the challenges and time and money you have invested. The dividends are pleasure.

Q: What are the steps involved in a project of designing or redesigning a living space?

A: The most important part at the beginning is to plan the spaces to function easily, efficiently and enjoyably for how the homeowners live, and to set priorities, also to agree on a budget and get a monetary commitment in dollars. Setting a timeline is essential and working toward each milestone. And then there’s the] ordering, and taking deliveries; by the way, there can be surprises. It’s a process. You can’t shortchange or shortcut the process.

Q: What does a designer bring to this project?

A: Each client, each project requires a blending of form and function. [A designer needs a] strong working knowledge and relationships with capable, honest tradespeople in the area to pull together a cohesive working team to accomplishment (for the short term and long term) not simply a house but a home.