Interview with an Interior Designer

IN THIS ISSUE

  • FEATURE ARTICLE: Interview with an Interior Designer
  • COMING SOON: Fused Applique Class at Thimble Pleasures
One of Patti's designs
One of Patti’s designs

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Feature Article:  Interview with an Interior Designer

Recently, I have been chatting with very nice interior designer in the Bay Area, in California on Linked In.  I’ve been trying to get some insight into their business to see if my custom commission art business can contribute in some way to their clients’ satisfaction.  As a result, I interviewed her and I want to share her viewpoints with you now, in case you’ve ever considered hiring a designer for your home or business.  I thought her philosophy and mine were quite simpatico!  Here she is:

Patty Cowger
Patty Cowger

Patti Cowger, 

PLC Interiors

www.plcinteriordesign.com

P.O. Box 10785

Napa, CA 94581

And here’s what she has to say:

Q  What made you want to be an interior designer? 

A  This is actually my third career. I had been a math teacher and a computer programmer for 12 years. In 1988, my dad became terminally ill and I spent several months by his side in the hospital. My grief was overwhelming. At some point, I started to notice my surroundings – a depressing, sterile, colorless hospital room. I remember saying to myself, “I wish I could make things pretty”. It would at least cheer my dad, me, and the rest of my family. Soon after my dad’s passing, I did just that. I took a trip to Tuscany to visit family and later studied the formal gardens of France. The beauty around me was inspiring and life-altering. It reconfirmed my wish to “make things pretty”. When I returned to the States, I pursued a degree in Architectural Interior Design. 

 It wasn’t until years later that I remembered that, as a kid, I had made doll houses out of empty grocery boxes. I was Barbie’s interior designer and didn’t even know it!

Q  Describe your ideal client?

A  Those who recognize that interior design is not about fluffing pillows but can have a real benefit to their daily lives – and endearingly helpless bachelors.  

 Q  How would you describe your preferred style, i.e. traditional, modern, etc.

A  Not too traditional or “period” (Victorian, Queen Anne, any of the Louis) although I’m becoming a fan of Regency in terms of its similarity to old-Hollywood glamour. I like natural fibers and texture and a spot of drama. I’m dying to do a tropical design, preferably on a tropical island! But I also like a southern Mediterranean, Moroccan, or Turkish style with white plastered walls, dark wood, and intricately colorful tile.   

Q  Do you have a favorite room you like to do most? 

A  Bathrooms and bedrooms because I love tile and fabrics. There’s also an element of math, which I love, involved in doing this custom work. I also like to tear down walls and rearrange them for better flow and/or views.                                                        

Q  What advice would you give to someone thinking of hiring a designer like yourself? Or why hire a designer in the first place? 

A  To think about how they want to feel with the end results. That feeling represents the value of my services. Do those results save time each day because spaces are organized and functional? Do colors make them happy and set the right moods? Do the clients have more family dinners after a kitchen remodeled? Do they have more friends over now that their homes are more inviting? People should ask themselves why they want to do the project at hand. They may say they want to add color but they’ll appreciate the end results more if they understand what color does for them. Does the palate energize or calm them? Digging a little deeper into the reasons why someone wants to undertake a project helps them with their design choices and appreciate the results more. 

Q  How can you help your clients save time and money? 

A  My 23 years experience in the industry goes a long way. I know what works, what doesn’t. I have great support – contractors, tradesmen, workrooms, showrooms. I know how to set and manage fees and time frames and how to get the most bang for a buck. So many times, new clients come to me after making costly mistakes and wasting time doing so. 

Q  What aspects of your design aesthetic set you apart from other designers? 

A  Hmmmm… I admire the work of many other designers so I guess I would set myself apart from those that do not have an appreciation (or knowledge) of the 3000-year history of architecture and furniture design. Having studied the way it all began and evolved – and why it evolved – brings greater layers of depth to a modern day designer’s work no matter what his/her preferred aesthetic is. That education is crucial in my opinion.  

Q  What are your main challenges in your design business? 

A  The obvious answer is the economy and the tightening of discretionary spending. But even in good times, the challenge has always been to unveil the mystery behind the role and worth of an interior designer. The public usually doesn’t see the extent of what we do – the behind-the-scenes organization and efforts made on their behalf. This is our fault by the way. People comment that our jobs must be “so fun” but the industry has not set the stage to give a full account of what we do. So, we should be doing that ourselves. Yes, it can be fun, but it’s still a business and we have a great responsibility to deliver an outcome that improves lives and lifestyles.   

 Furniture catalogues and internet sales are also a challenge. They’re fine for those who just want to generically furnish a house (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but not fine for those who want to create a home that reflects who they are. The challenge really rests with the public to know into which category they fall. 

 HGTV has also become problematic to the degree that people may believe a makeover can be done in two days for $1000 when, in reality, it can take six months to produce one episode and the network has  flipped the entire bill. One of my rooms was featured on “Sensible Chic” which allowed me to see some of the makings of the show.     

Q  Anything else you want people to know about you?

A  No, but thank you for your interest in my point of view. It was a pleasure to answer your questions. 

Isn’t she great?  I love her straight forward approach.  She’s very clear about the results she provides and what it can do for you.  Good to remember anytime you embark on a remodel or any work on your house.  Hire a good professional- they will save you time, money, and if they are any good, interpret your needs and desires better than you could yourself!

 

 COMING SOON

 May 25: Fused Applique and Paint Class, Thimble Pleasures, Chapel Hill

 TESTIMONIALS from participants:

I feel a big boost in personal confidence re: making choices and quilting.  Thank you! 

The small class allowed for more individual help and encouragement.

Thank you so much- I  learned a great deal and have much more confidence in my skills!!

 About Roxane

Roxane is a full time studio textile artist and teacher with two girls and 1 fat cat.  She is a 2012 Niche Award Winner and exhibits her work all over the world.  Roxane enjoys traveling, knitting and most of all working with students who want to create their own fiber art, and not simply make other people’s patterns.  Her work is in several private collections and loves doing custom commissions.

If you and a small group of folks want a more private instruction experience, call me.  We can work out a studio workshop in my studio. Just drop me an email:  roxane@roxanelessa.com

  Permission to duplicate: You certainly can use this blog, just be sure to credit me and include this link, Roxane Lessa.  Hey, if you like this blog, please hit the FB or Twitter icon in the top right sidebar and share with others!  That’s why they are there…..:)

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Interview with an Interior Designer

  1. Very intriguing interview-I’d hire her if I could! I do agree with her view of how important it is to focus on how you want a room to feel after redecorating.

    1. You could hire her. She is in the Bay Area, not too far from you. Anyway, thanks for your comment!

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