Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Confessions of a Designer: Abbe Fenimore

I am sure you have seen the amazing designs of Abbe Fenimore all over the internet. Her rooms are stunning. Her design firm Studio ten 25 and her online store ShopTen 25  are just proof of her great taste and design style. 

Here are her confessions of a designer. 

I think the "ideal" client is the couple or person that you instantly click with on a design level. I have been fortunate to have many "ideal" clients over the past few years. Working together needs to be like a great friendship, there should be trust, honesty and laughter. Things are going to go wrong and if you can't work through that together and trust each other to make it right then the relationship will be a struggle as the project progresses.

When I have completed a project, I always like to ask my clients, "why did you pick me?" Most of them say it's because they had an immediate comfort level with me and knew that they could trust me to be in their home and to make it a place they would love.

I would tell you to always trust your gut. Ask questions, check references and be honest. Being upfront with your budget, expectations and desired end result during the interview process will create the type of conversations that tell you a lot about that designer.

I notice that most people think of designers on two levels.  
#1 The HGTV type designer that will show up, have a plan ready within moments and turn their room around by the end of the weekend. Pulling together a plan based on a client's budget & lifestyle is the most important part of the design plan. Once that stage of the project is on track, the waiting game begins. Some furniture pieces can take 6-8 weeks for them to be delivered and if changes are made to the plan, it can set a project back even more.

#2 The designer with the astechetic they love but can not afford those steep fees. Someone once told me that hiring a designer was a luxury, not a necessity. I agree with that on some level, because not all of us can afford to spend our mortgage payment x2 or more on design fees. But, this is when you work within the price point that you can afford.  Hiring a designer can save you money, time and lots of frustration. These days there are full service designers that provide great design on many levels so finding someone you click with that fits your budget is attainable.

My most successful client relationships have come from focusing on
communication. I don't want to tell a client that the rug they love is going to be on back order for 10 weeks. I try to prepare other options if they are not willing to wait, that way they don't feel like everything is going to fall apart. As a designer it is my job to work through backorders, broken parts and delays while finding a resolution and keeping things positive. As a client, it is your job to be patient and open to new options and changes when things don't go the way we planned.

It is important for me to understand the function of the room and who will be using it. Once I have that in mind I can build a complete design plan that works for the client and the family members that will be using the room. From there the budget becomes the focus, selecting fabrics, furniture, accessories and lighting that create the look desired are no good if they are not with in the client's budget. I also like to provide them with a few other options for each piece. They may want to spend more on a piece they really love and compromise on something else so that the
budget works. Now, it's up to the client to implement the design.
Are you kidding me...I have a list a mile long right now. I think Jamie Rummerfield would be at the top of my wish list. I see Jamie as the kind of girl that is always willing to roll up her sleeves, jump in and get things done all wearing a fabulous outfit. I would for sure pay her to show me more on how to work with my timelines, organize each detail of a project and pull it all together for the final look. Running my own business is always a challenge but always a blessing, it would be amazing to learn from Jamie's experiences in owning a successful company and rocking it out day to day.

Thanks Abbe! Make sure you check out her blog


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