I came to design with an anthropologist's training- I think about houses and home much of the time- and I think about how we live and what it all means. I have been called a ‘therapist of material culture’ and I think that best describes what I do: I help people to find the material reality of living the way that feels best to them.
I have been working with clients on their houses for more than 20 years. Sometimes clients come to me knowing exactly what they want to change in their homes, and sometimes it is a process of exploration and discovery. Always my work with clients is about collaboration- a process of us working together to create their ideal vision of HOME.
HOME is an illusive idea— home can be about the people we live with, home can be about living with things that connect us to others, and home can be about light and color and a sense of space that just simply feels right. I believe that HOME is created through good design-- style and comfort and connecting ourselves with our material worlds— not about money or status or image or current trends. We all want to walk into our homes and feel joy at being there. Color, architecture, the form and function of the furnishings— all are the keys to experiencing that joy.
To this end— I am a space planner, an efficiency expert— and an idiot savant when it comes to furniture arrangement and color. My background is in anthropology— and much of our time together will be about me learning about your life and your story. I will not put my own aesthetic on your space— rather I will help you to find yours. I am fairly irreverent about the design world— I know the ‘rules’ but am happy to break them whenever the project requires it.
I believe in slow design, slow shopkeeping, and slow living. The funny part of all of this is that ‘slow’ actually means ‘real’ and rarely has anything to do with speed. I don’t watch a lot of television, I don’t spend any more time online than I can help, and I appreciate authenticity in everything from Belgian linen duvet covers to people.
I am new to this whole Interior Design thing, how does it work?
All interior designers work differently-- though we all do essentially the same thing. I work with clients on making their houses work better for them-- so my process is very collaborative. When you contact me I will email you a design questionnaire-- a form that will allow you and your significant others to think through the many questions I am going to be asking you. The questionnaire has questions about how you live-- is it more formal, more relaxed? How many people live in your home? Do you have pets? Do you entertain often? What kind of entertaining do you do (overnight guests, dinner parties, etc)? It also asks questions about what is currently working and not working in your home. All of these questions are to help me to understand what the issues are and to know how to help.
Step 1: an initial meeting
The next step is for us to have an initial meeting-- I will come to your house, get a tour of your house, and we will discuss your thoughts brought up by the design questionnaire and any other ideas you have about your home. During this initial meeting I will be taking notes, asking questions, and getting a picture of you, your home, and what kinds of things will make it better. I ask clients not to clean up before this first visit-- it is ideal if I can see how you really live and what is really working and not working in your home. Remember-- our work together is a judgement-free zone-- none of us live like they do on TV!
Step 2: the Directive
After our initial meeting I will put together a 'Directive'-- a proposal | road map with all the notes I took in our meeting, and all my recommendations for your space. The Directive will be from 4- 20 pages long, and will include images and links to ideas, products, and service providers who I recommend for your project. The Directive will be emailed to you, often along with a link to a PINTEREST page that I have created for your project-- within two weeks of our initial meeting. I have posted a sample Directive here.
Step 3: you move forward on your own with MM as 'design coach'
Many clients take the Directive and run with it-- my Directives are detailed and well thought out proposals for how to move forward with your home and many clients just need to start moving furniture around and ordering particular items. I am also available for consulting along the way as needed on upholstery fabrics, tile options for the kitchen backsplash, paint colors, etc. This direction assumes that you will do the legwork and use my expertise and time as your 'design coach' as you implement the design in the Directive.
Step 3.5: full service design
Other clients want more detailed help with moving forward-- full-service interior design. Further services that I can provide include a furniture plan (a floor plan drawn with the size and placement of all furniture I am recommending included); my meeting with contractors | upholsterers, etc at your home; my working for you as a building consultant during your building process; and our making trips to look at furniture and furnishings locally, or in a metropolitan area nearest your home (for those in Western MA this might include Boston or NYC). For these further services you will be given a written estimate for my time-- so that you can plan your budget accordingly.
Do you do Paint Color Consultations?
In the 20 years that I have been practicing as an Interior Designer I have done a little bit of everything! And yes-- paint color is one of the most important elements of any home-- inside and out-- and I LOVE color!! I have hundreds of sample pints of paint at my studio that I paint onto big sheets of paper so that you can see the real color(s) in your room(s) and know how it will look at different times of day, etc. We all see color differently-- and I love helping clients to achieve their color vision.
I live in California (or Texas, or Maine, or Georgia...)-- will you work with me?
Of course! In the business we call it e-Design. I have worked with many clients remotely-- with the internet we can do wonders! I will need any architectural plans you have of your house, or that you be very good with a tape measure-- and as many photos of your house as you are able to send me. And don't worry-- I can guide you through the process even if we never meet!
I am also happy to travel to work with clients. Contact me with your location and some basic information about your project and we will discuss the details of working together long distance.
I am building a new house (adding an addition | building a new kitchen | bathroom) at what point in the building process should I call you?
Right away! The more that I am involved from the beginning, the more detailed the construction estimates can be, etc.-- and the less likely that there will be costly mistakes in the building process.
Can you help me to find a builder (carpenter, cabinet maker, painter, electrician, plumber, roofer, landscaper, etc.)?
Absolutely. I work with a great array of wonderful contractors and service providers! Once we have our initial meeting I will include recommendations for the right contractors for your particular project in your Directive.
I already have an architect and a builder. Do I need a designer as well?
Yes!! In the design | build world we each have our specialty areas-- and though there are enormous overlaps between architects, designers, and builders-- we each have our areas of expertise and should all be part of any building process. Architects design the structure itself-- and may design the furniture and built-ins, lighting plan, kitchen } bathrooms, etc-- but it is my job to look at those plans and make sure they are livable. The builder may have ideas on how to best construct a difficult doorway, roofing system, etc-- but may not be thinking about what it will be like to live in this building once it is finished. It is my job to fully hear and understand what you are wanting in your new home | addition | kitchen | bathroom-- and to act as liaison between you, the architect, and the builder to ensure that your needs are fully implemented.
That said-- I am happy to be called in along the way as a consultant, and to take a back seat to the architect as needed through the project. I want to help to make any building process go more smoothly for my client!
How much will it cost?
My fee for an initial consultation and the follow up Directive is $400. For any work after the Directive is delivered I will provide a written estimate, and we will discuss terms.
Paint Color Consultations are priced individually, but are generally no more than $200 per room. The larger the project the less money 'per room' my time will cost because I will be putting together a 'palette' of colors that will play off each other-- rather than choosing truly individual colors for each room.
Concerned about the money? Contact me and let's discuss your project.
I have heard about "Designer Discounts". Do you have Trade Accounts and how do you handle the discounts?
I have Trade Accounts with all the major (and many minor) catalog | internet home furnishings companies and I pass on all my discounts to my clients. Discounts range from 10%- 40% off a given item. I want our work together to be transparent so that you know exactly what you are paying for along the way. In your initial directive I will include Trade Discounts in the pricing section of each item I recommend-- so that you know the actual price you will pay for that item when you purchase it through me.
How long does it take?
That is really up to you! Ideally you will call me before a project starts-- and we will have time to fine-tune whatever plans we make before any construction-- but the home-decision making process can be an organic one and I am happy to work at whatever pace you need. Some clients need time to make each decision, order an item, and then live with that item for a bit before making the next decision. Other clients get my Directive and are ready to put me in the driver's seat to implement the plan-- at which point we may set up a series of regular meetings to make all subsequent decisions-- including meetings at your home, my studio-- and trips to the tile store, kitchen design center, and | or furniture stores.
Unlike design shows on TV-- we have to adjust for lead times in ordering furniture (often 4-12 weeks or more), getting on the schedule for a contractor, etc. After our initial meeting and Directive I will be able to be much more specific with you about the timing for your particular project.