February 16th 2009

Use Every Room Every Day

All my clients know this one!  They have heard me say it a hundred times, are often frustrated when I keep bringing it up, and want to kiss me on the lips when it’s all over.  Whenever I am designing a space for clients, I ask one question over and over….

“What will you do in this room?”

Then I prod some more …

“Will you watch TV in your underwear here?  Read in the morning?  Pay bills?  Eat?  Homework?  Crafts?”

There is a rule in our design meetings…..use every room, every day.  If not, rethink the space.  Why give up real estate when you don’t even use the room?  Why not utilize that space to live in?!!?  There are exceptions to that rule, such as dining rooms.  Some people entertain occasionally and want a formal space.  That is absolutely fine, if you understand that is the purpose of the room.  But if you just want to have a room because you think you should, please reconsider.

I was working with a serial client (this is their second new home with us and several remodels) on a 10,000 square foot new house plus a huge finished lower level.  We went through each room that they originally said they wanted.  Their HOMEWORK (yes, I give you homework) was to go through each room and write down what they would do in that room.  At the next meeting, they gave me a handwritten list of what they would do in each room.

They were thrilled to say, “We don’t need a front library.  We would only use it maybe six times a year.”

Instead of cramming her desk in the Laundry Room, we gave her an office right off of the Master Sitting Room, next to her husband’s office.  After I went through each room in the house and worked on trimming each room to fit the purpose exactly, I looked at hallways and wasted space in the home.  The result was that the house went down to 8000 square feet!  (Do you know any builders that actually talk you down?)  This was a tremendous cost savings to them, plus with careful thought, each room was completely thought out and designed to be exactly what they wanted and needed.

Can you image how important that is in a smaller home?  The smaller the space, the more important careful thought is in the process.  Do you use every room, every day?  If not, call me and I promise that together we will find another use for it!

February 2nd 2009

Remodeling is FUN – No Really, It is!

I was having lunch at my favorite restaurant, Cardwell’s, with a friend of mine. We were polishing off the baked brie, when out of nowhere, a large man ran up behind me and gave me a big bear hug. My friend sat in horror as I jumped up and we swung each other around like kindergarteners. His wife ran up and we hugged, air kissed, and hugged again. We were all taking at once.

“How are they kids?” he asked.

“Great!  Is Scout ok?” I questioned.

“He is better. Did you design the room additions at your house yet?” she asked.

On and on it went. We chattered, they pulled up chairs and we caught up. I hadn’t seen them in almost six months and we had a lot to talk about. My friend chimed in as we talked politics and about the crappy economic. They were called that their table was available and we hugged good bye.

“Who was that?” my friend asked.

“Clients,” I said.

She looked at me like I had a third lip. “Clients? Are you kidding? The only time I saw my contractor after my kitchen remodel was in court!”

I get that a lot. People are amazed when I tell them we have “Sinn Groupies”, better known as “serial clients.” We will do three, four, five jobs. I am working on a bathroom which is the sixth project for a client!

In my initial meeting with people I always tell them, “Remodeling is a little like marriage, it can be really, really good or really, really bad. You have to be on the same page and communicate. At the risk of offending you, I’m gonna use the “f “ word. Remodeling is actually supposed to be FUN!”

Again, I get the third lip look. Most people have horror stories of what went wrong on a renovation. I have story after story of what went right on a renovation. It starts with me having a clear understanding of the client’s wants, needs and budget before designing. When people know that you have their best interest at heart, and that they don’t have to have all the answers (that’s my job), they lighten up and have a good time. Ok, I’m going to say it again. We are all going to have FUN!