Room Tour: A Cozy Living Room Makeover

Hello my lovelies. It’s been a while since I posted here on the  blog, and I have to say that I have been missing you guys so much! It has been so busy lately and so I am actively trying to find a great admin/personal assistant STAT! If you know anyone, be sure to send them my way :-)

I have been so blessed to have some amazing projects coming in, but I also made a major move recently – selling my home and moving into a much smaller studio apartment with my son Joshua, and our dog Rufus (Daughter away at college). It has been a difficult move with most of my stuff in 2 storage units, but the reward of being 100% debt free is so worth the small sacrifice. I have some major plans for growing my business and venturing into some new areas of business on the horizon, and you all will be the first to know when I start to roll out those plans. On top of the big move, I have been re-organizing my design studio and making it much more conducive to having my clients come to me more as I present the great ideas I have for their homes. So I have been up to a lot lately, and there is plenty that we need to catch up on :-)

I know you saw the title of today’s post; so I am sure that you are ready to see some pretty…right? Haha

If you have been following me on Facebook and Instagram……..and you should :-), you probably saw tidbits of this living room and breakfast room that I completed a couple of months ago. If not, you are in for a treat, so sit back and relax and enjoy this beautiful makeover.

Katy interior designer, bookshelf styling

My client, Holly stopped in my studio one afternoon and explained to me that she is in need of some design help and doesn’t know where to begin. She really loved the look of my design studio and wanted a similar feel in her home – clean, cozy, comfortable and fresh

Here’s what my studio looked like at the time

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After we talked for a while that day, we set up a consultation to meet at her home to see the space first hand (unfortunately I cannot locate the before pictures. I may have deleted them in error clearing out some old photos from my iPad :-( ), but if you can imagine with me for a second. I was pleasantly surprised by the home’s features. It is a three story town-home in Houston’s museum district. It had beautiful ebony wood floors, and great looking windows. Although the space was small, it had wonderful high ceilings and an open feel. I wish I could take credit for the beautiful built-in her husband John, who is a builder had built, but it was perfect for the space. Holly also did an amazing job picking out the wall colors, so we did not have to repaint. It was definitely a blank slate, so we got rid of all the existing furniture pieces and started from scratch

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Her main requirements for the space were that it would be comfortable seating for when her parents and other family members came to visit (They are very big on family), and the use of stain resistant fabrics and wipe-able surfaces as much as possible. She also didn’t want the bookshelf to feel super cluttered, so I had to exercise a bit of restraint there. And one more thing………no orchids :-)

Katy interior designer

I started with adding 3.5″ louvered shutters to the windows. This took advantage of the views of the greenery outside, and still offers full privacy when needed. We also changed the light fixtures to these beautiful chandeliers.

katy interior designer

I brought in a large wool rug that anchors the seating area, and as much seating as the room could handle.

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I wanted to keep the color palette fairly monochromatic to give a more calming feel, but also add a bit of color through throw pillows and accessories. The coral tones in the pillows add some interest to the room without being too energetic. I wanted to keep that same feel that she admired so much in my design studio

This is one of my favorite vignettes in the room. I enjoyed mixing the warm gold tones in the room to help create that cozy feel. The gray tones help to lighten the room a bit and gives it that airy feel. So if there is such a thing as cozy and airy, I think we accomplished that in this room

katy interior designer

We also tackled the small dining area that is close by

katy interior designer

The beautiful dining room table that is less deep than a standard dining table, was the perfect scale for this small space. I decided to continue the cool gray blue tones with a slightly distressed feel. The salmon color indoor/outdoor area rug ties in both spaces very nicely

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You can also see that I continued the beautiful shutters in the dining area as well

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I added the table setting to bring a bit more pattern into the room. I am just so in love with those beautiful dishes.

And not to be outdone – I decided to do a little something in the foyer (that was not a part of the original scope)

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I enjoyed working with Holly and John so much that I did not mind adding this nice little vignette in the entry for them to complete the look of the main areas. They were so sweet, kind and patient throughout the process. I look forward to working with them again very soon.

Hope you enjoyed this little room tour. My clients love the space, and I have to say that it is one of my favorites

If you are in need of a makeover in your home, please give us a call and we would love to help!

Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!

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Happy Mother’s Day

Katy Interior Designer, Guest Bedroom

Remember when you were just a kid, and you would bring your mom breakfast in bed on the morning of mother’s day? How about you step it up this year and give mom a beautiful bedroom makeover?

Purchase a Casa Vilora Interiors Gift Certificate for your mom for mother’s day, and be her gift giving hero. I think she will be just as impressed as getting breakfast in bed :-)

Click here to wow your mom for mother’s day!

Katy interior designer, mother's day, gift certificate

 

Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!

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Working With Casa Vilora Interiors – Part V – Installation & Project Closure

Hello my Lovelies!

Today we conclude the series that we have been blogging about “Working With Casa Vilora Interiors”, which gives you some behind-the-scenes information about the process to hiring us and what to expect.

I know it has been a lot of information, but if you have ever considered hiring us, or any designer for that matter, I urge you to go back and read the first four parts to this series. You can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Recently Completed Living Room

Recently Completed Living Room

The installation and project closure has to be the best part for the client. This is when everything comes together in their home. They are finally able to enjoy the beauty, function and comfort of the design first hand.

But getting to the installation is no easy feat from the designer perspective. There is a lot of planning, scheduling, organizing and orchestrating that goes on behind the scenes – especially on larger projects.

As we order products for our clients during the project management and administration stage, they are all shipped to a commercial warehouse facility with a loading dock. Most of our vendors require that, as items usually arrive on large trailers that are difficult to maneuver in a residential neighborhood. Shipping to residences can be accommodated, but it usually comes at a higher freight cost. In any case, we want to be able to track all items as they arrive, and our warehouse does a very good job of receiving and inspecting and sending us a report of items received, and a report of any damages so that we can file a claim immediately. We also do not want to inconvenience our clients by having several different items shipped to them on different days. These items will often need to be unboxed, inspected and sometimes assembled. Not what I want my clients to be responsible for during the design process. They hired me for easy and fun – that’s definitely not easy and fun :-)

Our policy is to have everything sent to the warehouse and then they are all delivered on the final installation day, which we like to call the “BIG DAY”.

There are a few exceptions to this. Fabrics for custom window treatments, bedding and pillows are delivered to our studio where they are inspected, tagged and delivered to our workroom for production. Window treatments are actually installed days or weeks before the big install day. This is because custom window treatments take time to install and it lessens the stress a bit on install day. We also install wallcoverings before the installation day.

A few days before the scheduled installation day, a list is sent to the warehouse of all the items which need to be delivered. This is cross checked and sent back to us to make sure they have all the items ready to go. A checklist is also sent out to the client to let them know what to expect on the big day, and to prepare the home for installation. We ask that items that will not stay in the rooms be removed, pets be put away, and the home is carefully cleaned. We also ask that our clients maybe leave for the day, so that there will be some element of surprise at the big reveal and walk through. The home will sometimes look like a bit chaotic (but controlled :-) ) as we are in the process of putting it all together beautifully. We work with a great group of people who are very skilled at loading the truck, unloading and placing items in the client’s home. A lot of care is taken to not scratch the floor and walls as they move items in and out of the home.

When all the larger pieces have been placed and all the art has been hung, this is when I work the final magic of styling the space. Adding the final accessories layer, is what gives the space personality, and this part is the most fun for me :-)

Adding a few books, a floral, some ceramic pieces, or some things that the client has collected, makes the space complete. I often try to incorporate things that my clients already own to make it more personal to them – so that each piece has a story tied to it. But I also fill in gaps on bookcases and table tops with items found from local retailers

Casa Vilora Interiors

After the styling is done, it is time to clean up the areas and call the client to give them a tour of their brand new space!

This is where they can see the items they have approved in person. It is also when they get to see the smaller items which they had not seen before during the presentation. This is truly the most exciting and rewarding moment – ranging from screams, to hugs, to tears, to not being able to find the words to speak for a few seconds :-)

In most cases when we go shopping for the styling items needed for the room, we will purchase a few more items above and beyond the budget that we feel would make the space even better. It is good to have extra items because it is not always easy to determine how much of the smaller items you will need until you start to put things in place. The extra items are left in for professional photography, which usually happens a few days after the big installation. Our client can also choose to purchase the extra styling items. Otherwise, they are packed up and taken away. We definitely leave the spaces complete, cohesive and beautiful, but the extra pieces just adds a bit more pizzazz

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The main purpose of the walk through is to get clients acquainted with all the new pieces in their home, how they function, go over the benefits and features, and discuss any  manufacturer’s warranties for each product. We also look for any deficiencies or any oversight on our part. We ask clients to make a note of anything that needs to be addressed and we will go back to correct it in a few days to a few weeks. This could be anything from a ding in the wall, to a scratch on one of the pieces to something major like a broken window. Things can happen, but I am happy to say that we do not have instances where we have to go back for any major fixes, usually not even minor ones.

Clients are usually super excited and emotional on install day, so we do give them a few days to report things back to us. We also follow up to make sure that they are enjoying the space and are happy with the way it feels and “lives”. If everything is satisfactory, we ask that they sign off on the project closure form and complete an optional survey or review, and that signals that the project is a wrap. The final invoice for freight charges are sent (if charges were above the estimated charge) or a credit is issued (if actual freight charges were below the estimated). This happens within a week of the big day! When the professional photos are up on our website, we send our client a link to seeing their project in photos.

After doing this for close to ten years, install day never gets old. We as designers live for that moment. When the client walks in to their brand new space, and the words out of their mouths is “this is just what I wanted” or “I love it”. It is truly so much more than just a beautiful space to look at. It is enhancing their lives and promoting well being and practicality.

If you would like to be walking into a brand new space sometime soon, then it is time to reach out to us to schedule your in-home consultation. Click here to book now!

Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!

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Working With Casa Vilora Interiors – Part IV – the Presentation & Purchasing Phase

Well hello there! I know, I know, it has been a couple of weeks since my last post. With Easter last week and Spring break the week before, things got a bit crazy around here with work thrown in the mix.

Today I will continue the series I started a few weeks ago about working with us. We follow a 15 step process, because our goal is to always delight our clients. Following this process keeps things on track – there is a lot that goes into a design project. A lot happens behind the scenes to keep each project moving in the right direction. Communication and setting expectations is key to a successful designer/client relationship

Recently Completed Living Room Project

Recently Completed Living Room Project

In case you missed the first three parts in this blog series, you can catch up on them here, here and here.

We will talk about the presentation and procurement part of the process in today’s post. This is the part to get really excited about! This is where I show the client all my awesome ideas for improving their space and make their dreams come true.

Let’s start with the presentation

The presentation happens about 3 weeks following Trades Day (sometimes longer depending on the scope of the project). We meet the client in their home or our studio to go over every single detail of the project. During the weeks following Trades Day, we are working diligently on all the pieces that will come together for a beautiful result. Preparing for the presentation involves:

  • Supplying drawings, sketches and other details to all the trades people involved in order to get their estimates/quotes in
  • Calculating costs on the estimates and quotes
  • Preparing all drawings and renderings – floor plans, elevations, furniture layout, lighting and electrical plan, cabinet details, 3D renderings and window treatment elevations
  • Selecting all finishes – flooring, cabinetry, countertops and backsplash materials, appliances, lighting, hardware, plumbing
  • Developing color palette – paint colors, wallcoverings
  • Sourcing furniture – case goods and upholstery
  • Sourcing drapery hardware
  • Sourcing fabrics and developing a palette with several patterns and textures
  • Sourcing accessories, art and accent pieces
  • Preparing the furnishings proposal work sheet – this is a document that includes all the furniture and upholstery being presented with detailed information such as the manufacturer, dimensions, description, MSRP, discounted price to client, fabric option (if applicable), and lead time
  • Preparing the budget breakdown spreadsheet – each item is listed with the price to client in one spreadsheet for easy reference
  • Physical samples of all materials – this means we need time to request and receive samples from our vendors and manufacturers
  • Digital mood board with images of all the pieces for each room – a separate board for each room
  • Inspiration images to illustrate our concept if needed

During the presentation, we first go over the design concept and how the overall design solves whatever challenge that exists in the space. We then go over the floor plans, 3D renderings and elevations and then the furnishings. With each step, we ask the client for feedback to see if we are on the right track. We finally go over the overall budget for what we are proposing. We welcome both positive and negative feedback from our clients during the presentation. After all, we are still getting to know their likes an dislikes. We nail the design almost every time, but there are times when the client will request that we make some minor or even a major change to the design. A major change may sometime change the overall concept, but we will happily do it because we want the result to be what our client loves and will be happy with for a long time. There are up to 2 revisions that are included in the design fee. Anything beyond that is charged our standard hourly fee.

At the end of the presentation, client is required to sign off on the Letter of Agreement (LOA) (which is an addendum to the original proposal contract) and pay the deposit of 75% of the total budget for us to move to the procurement phase. Even if there are minor revisions needed, the signed LOA and deposit are required. If there is a major rework needed, we will ask for another draw on the design fee and not the 75% deposit.

There are some design firms who will prepare three versions of their presentation that they call the “good, better, best” option, where they show the client three different options at three different price points. But I find that if you really listen to your clients needs you only need one perfect plan for them. Showing three options is overwhelming to the client, and shows that you are not quite sure what they want, so hopefully one will work. It’s like playing eeny meeny miny mo. It is a lot of wasted time that someone is paying for – most likely the client

The presentation is a very effective way to help our clients visualize our vision for their home. We use the best technology and software to communicate these ideas to our clients, and having the actual samples present allows them to touch and feel the textures that they will be living with in the finished space.

Once everything has been finally approved (and check clears :-) ), the procurement phase begins

The Procurement Phase (And Project Management Phase)

This is where we put on the project management hat and get to ordering all the tiny pieces that make up the whole design. Just imagine for a second all that is involved with creating one custom pillow for a client – there are literally about 14 steps that go into just that one tiny part of the room (You can read an article I wrote about it here). Imagine multiplying that by thousands.

For each item we order, there has to be a purchase order (PO’s) created (sometimes more than one). For example we may order a custom sofa from one vendor with a C.O.M. fabric (customers own material). This means we need a purchase order for the sofa vendor, the fabric vendor, the trim vendor (if there is trim). All these PO’s must be either faxed, emailed, or called in to each vendor. We then have to receive acknowledgements from each vendor that they received the order and hopefully get a status on the items at that point. In some cases, we hear the three words that designers hate to hear “back ordered” and “discontinued”. Arrrgghhhh! :-). When an item is discontinued, there is still hope. There may be some stock left. If there isn’t, then you are out of luck and must reselect another item with the client (I really do not like making these calls to clients, but it happens). When an item is on backorder, you are typically given an estimate of when it will be back in stock. we do not ever trust this date, because it is always subject to change……and it often does. Sometimes the item is that special that we are willing to wait (with client’s approval). Other times, we will move on and reselect.

Once all acknowledgements and CFA’s (cuttings for approval) are in and payments sent out to vendors, we then have to check on the orders maybe once every coupe of weeks. This is a very necessary step that I have learned the hard way that you must do. Sometimes something happened that the order cancelled and you were not informed, and you are thinking it is in production when it is not. Most of the time, things are moving along swimmingly, but I have learned to not take that for granted. Once we get the shipment notification, we also track that to make sure things are on track. We have all our items shipped to our commercial warehouse with a loading dock. There they receive all items, unbox, inspect for damages, assemble if needed and store until installation day. All installations happen on one day versus several shipments to clients. We never ship items directly to clients because we need to be able to track items as we receive them and inspect them for damages. Even on the rare occasions where we use online retail sources for a few items, we still have them go to our warehouse.

Items do come in damaged from time to time. Our warehouse notifies us right away of incoming freight and send us pictures of any damaged pieces so that we can file a claim with the vendor. The items are typically replaced very quickly and do not affect our timeline too much. There are times when it does. If the damage is minor, we can sometimes have it taken care of locally and file the claim for the vendor to pay for the repairs.

These are some of the things that happen behind the scenes that our clients don’t have to worry about dealing with themselves. This is what they pay us to do, manage all aspects of the project.

Fabrics, lining and hardware for window treatments, pillows, bedding and local upholstery are always shipped directly to our studio. We have to prepare the drawings and paperwork that go to the work room along with a clipping of the fabric for identification purposes. The rolls of fabric are then hand delivered to the workroom and we check in on the progress every 2 weeks or so, to make things are on track. I have heard horror stories from other designers that the expensive $300/yd silk fabric was applied inside out on a chair or whatever……Yikes! We follow a very detailed and strict protocol to make sure that never happens.

For remodeling projects or anything that involves carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting etc where we engage trades people who will be working on-site at the clients home, we make frequent site visits to the jobsite to make sure that things are being done to our specifications. This requires a lot of meetings with the general contractor, reviewing drawings and instructions to make sure we are all on the same page. It is always better to be available to solve any discrepancies before something is installed and has to be ripped back out. Knock on wood – I have never had to do that :-)

A final note on the Procurement Phase

We often get asked if designers make money on the products that they purchase for clients. I cannot speak for any other designers out there; I can only speak for us – and the answer is of course we make money on the items we purchase on your behalf. But the client also saves a lot of money by using us as their purchasing agent. Some designers actually feel the need to apologize for actually making a profit on their design projects – we are a business and not hobbyists so we are in business to make a profit. We certainly want to stay in business for a long time to help more clients enjoy a beautiful, functional and comfortable home. We are very fair, and operate our business with honesty and integrity, so no apologies here for wanting to make a profit and a good living doing what we love.

Here are a few keys reasons why this is a win/win for both client and designer

  • Let’s start with retail purchases. When you as a consumer goes into a local furniture store to buy a piece of furniture – let’s say a sofa, the store knows that this piece will be the only piece you will purchase from them. If they are lucky, they may get you to come back for those chairs you were checking out in the window. But stores know that the likelihood of you returning for multiple purchases is slim, so there are no real incentives except an occasional holiday sale. On the other hand, these stores know that as designers, we have several clients to buy for, and we will return time and time again and purchase from them, so they offer us a “designer discount” up to 20% off retail as incentive for us to return to them. This discount that we receive is ours and not the client’s. It is based on our loyalty and relationship with the store and it does cover the time it takes for us to meet with the store rep, and choosing the right piece, the right fabric and finish and arranging delivery and tracking etc. All the work that is involved in getting that piece of furniture safely into your home. So we have earned that small amount of money, so it is not appropriate for a client to ask for our discount on retail purchases. if the discount is more than 20% (usually not) then I don’t mind sharing it with the client.
  • Most of the purchases I make for clients are from wholesale, to-the-trade-only sources. The vendors that we have accounts set up with do not come as easily as some clients may think. We often have to buy-in to their program. That is, meet sometimes expensive minimum opening orders and subsequent orders, purchase their sampling and maintain orders throughout the year. It sometimes takes a long time to get to the level where you can have certain vendors, and therefore we nurture those long standing relationships. We do receive designer prices from these vendors and so we are able to sell these pieces to our clients below MSRP. Our vendors give us a pricelist of the suggested retail prices and in some cases an IMAP which is the lowest price we are allowed to sell that product. We could certainly sell at the full retail as the vendor suggests, but we do offer all our clients a percentage off the discount that we receive (typically 30% off our discount)
  • When we provide the convenience of a one-stop shop, where we source and purchase furniture on your behalf, we are acting as a retailer. This is a separate service from our design services. This means that we assume the same risks and liabilities that a regular retailer assumes….sometimes even more. Not to mention all the additional time it takes to get that piece of furniture safely to your home. Being able to make a small profit offsets the risks and liabilities involved. Just like a consumer would not think to walk into Walmart or Target and ask how they arrived at the price they did for a certain item, it should be the same for designers.Trust me, we are sometimes giving away the kitchen sink just to get that special piece that will be perfect in your space. We have an emotional connection to your project – our reputation rides on its success, so we have your best interest in mind, and that includes your budget. Too often however, some clients think that it is ok to ask for our discounts and expect us to give it all up to them. While we are willing to share, we also must make a profit to cover the expenses we have as business owners – overhead, utilities, insurance, employees, car expenses………and so much more.
  • What designers bring to the table when it comes to the purchasing phase is a turn-key experience for our clients. We make it convenient by sourcing and presenting to clients only the pieces that will work for the space – keeping their budget and other needs in mind. We also ensure that we source quality items so that they will last a very long time. We manage all the potential problems and issues that are inevitable with purchasing furniture, so that our clients don’t have to. We provide clients with prices that are always below retail. We are there on installation day to place the items beautifully in your home and style it to perfection, which is really what makes a project look beautiful and cohesive. We know the right vendors to purchase from – vendors who will stand behind their products.

Trust and transparency is such an important aspect of our business, and so we do include our pricing policy in our LOA and explain this information upfront to our clients. We completely understand that design can be expensive, but we thoroughly respect your budget and stretch it as far as we can to give you everything you dream of. We have had some amazing clients that understand that what we do as design professionals here at casa Vilora Interiors takes experience and knowledge and time. It is an art-form and we are great at what we do. They want us to succeed, and as long as they know that they are being treated fairly, they trust us to deliver what we promise.

Join us next time as we cover the final part in the series on Working With Casa Vilora Interiors Part V – The Installation and Project Closure Phase. We look forward to seeing you back.

Please feel free to chime in by leaving a comment below

Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!

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