The First Day of the Rest of My Life As A Designer

Many of you who know me know that I have been designing most of my life. Designing a room, a house, an office, even boats! My clients, who ranged from movie stars to family, have transformed my educational background and experiences quickly. As I recollect the joy, struggles, challenges, and sometimes the humorous moments, I can say that I will never trade this chaos, stress, and career for anything else. This has become a “quest” for me over the years, and has brought me to write this blog!

The first important point I need to stress: I didn’t chose this career, it choose me.

My educational path involved getting a master in psychology and work in the “therapy” industry. What happened? With the financial challenges of Masters programs, I was forced to broaden my interests, and this lead to the chance to help with several commercial design and decorating projects. As I dove into this creative adventure, I fell in love with the process, and enthralled by the outcome! From that moment on the creative juices began and wouldn’t stop.

I transferred to the design world with enthusiasm and a new luster for life!

I tell this story to entertain you with some of my experiences, but also to help anyone understand what it really is like being in this field. After discussing some of these experiences:

  1. You might want to challenge yourself in this field.
  2. You might want to run as fast as you can away instead of deciding on a career like this.
  3. You might want to have sympathy for your designer!

Let's step into my world. 

MY FIRST CHALLENGE AS A NEW INTERIOR DESIGNER

As I began my new career, I was told by successful design entrepreneurs that you had to look “the part.” That was the key to success! I guess my wardrobe of the Petticoat Junction outfits and jeans didn’t fit this scope of work. I needed to learn the role of “Design Diva.”

My first challenge was to completely change my wardrobe! You would think this was a simple task, but when you find yourself in a dressing room analyzing the color, hue, and texture of the clothes you are trying on, you are in trouble. It gets deeper than this: clothing that I chose was clothing that completely matched the project I was working on! Ugh! Working with blue tones drove me to buy every shade of blue in the store!

You would think this is a bad thing, right? It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. Remember, I am a psychology major. When working with a client’s specific color, I found that I was communicating in a more positive direction with my client when I dressed myself in “that special color.” I am glad that I found my niche in choosing a wardrobe that fit my career move and my instincts.

MY SECOND CHALLENGE

My second challenge was being a Libra. I am a fan of the zodiac signs and have an avid interest in following some of the crazy horoscopes of the sign, but the one thing that Libra’s are known for is keeping their scales balanced. They are very analytical and will try to balance all the information given to them to make sure everything is a perfect fit for anyone or anything. This could be a challenge in this field, but also a blessing in disguise. They will force themselves to try every possible solution before introducing the presentation to their client.

This might mean no sleep for 3-4 nights, 2-3 changes in the presentation, and a few practice rounds, but the outcome is lovely! If you are a Libra and would like to enter the design field, please realize that you might not sleep for many, many years to come.

MY THIRD AND FINAL CHALLENGE BEFORE COMMITTING TO THE DESIGN INDUSTRY

Life can get very complicated in this industry and require one to commit mind, body, and soul when selecting this field. You must realize right away that your life will be demanded not only from your clients, but your family and friends too! And don’t forget the neighbors and people you don’t even know! People in your life have a psychological urge to ask many decorating questions when they find out you are a designer.

Here is an example: I decided to run out to get a few groceries. As I got my cart and was walking in the bakery area, my phone went off. I had a short conversation with the person and signed off by letting her know that “I will be over shortly with the designs for her bedroom and we can then discuss the fabrics, etc." I heard someone in back of me ask if I was a designer. With a hesitant smile I said “why, yes I am.”

SEVEN AISLES LATER we had discussed her whole entire house, room by room. I don’t believe I have ever been so exhausted walking out of the grocery store! As you see, you can’t run from your career choice. I wonder if my Minister goes through the same thing?  Or my Doctor?

Hmm…..I’ll have to ask.

Spring Forward with New Color!

It's that time of year when the world seems to change into a brilliant aura of color! Our energy levels start to rise and our motivation to create a “new look” for our homes encourages us to take the “decorative step.”

During this time of year, we have many requests and questions from our clients and customers to help them with “new changes.” One of the most basic changes that plays a large part in a “new look” is paint color. 

Let’s look at how to choose the right color for your rooms.

Changing the color in your room is a fairly simple way to make it look really different. Color can create a specific feeling or atmosphere, and make a unique statement that reflects your individuality. You can use color to showcase the things about your room that you really love, and make the most of your room’s particular features and proportions.

GET A FEELING FOR THE SPACE AS A WHOLE

  • High contrast, either in color or intensity, creates a visual focal point of some feature in your room that you really love.
  • Avoid sharp contrasts between color or intensity if you want to downplay areas.
  • Light or neutral colors can open up a small space
  • Deep, rich colors in warm tones will create a cozy, inviting space.

CHOOSE A COLOR BASED ON ROOM SIZE

  • Avoid sharp contrasts between colors in small rooms. Try cooler tones in neutral shades to help the room feel larger.
  • Large rooms can feel cozy with medium to deep color in warm tones.

COMPARE CEILING HEIGHT TO THE ROOM’S SIZE

  • Ceilings can affect how your room appears to feel. For instance, a large room can feel smaller if the ceiling is low, and a smaller room can feel bigger if the ceiling is very high.
  • With a large room and a high ceiling, or a small room with a low ceiling, a contrast in color tone or intensity can visually separate the walls and ceiling. This will make a larger space feel more intimate and a small space feel more expansive.
  • If your room is small and has a high ceiling, or is large with a low ceiling, keep the color tones the same. Make sure that the contrast between the walls and ceilings is moderate or low.

LIGHT PLAYS A LARGE PART IN YOUR COLOR CHOICE

  • Natural light will change during the day. Try out your color options first. Paint sections of the walls and check to see how it looks throughout the day.
  • Light fixtures also impact how color will look. Paint a few sections, turn on the lights you use the most to see how they affect the color.

Let’s get started! Spring forward and create a beautiful new look for your lovely home.

Always feel free to contact us. We love playing in the paint!

Project Perfection!

We all love to start projects, but how do they turn out? The enthusiasm and energy are there, we plug into HGTV and Flip or Flop series of home projects.  We pick our rooms and jump in with glee!!  This is it, we are on our way…uhm...how do I start?  Who do I call first? How much is this going to cost?  I want it done, “now”!!

Two options: (1) you do it yourself, (2) you get a professional to help

Depending on the complexity of the project, I can guarantee that you will need someone that is experienced to make this project be completed with as little snags as possible.

Kirstin DiMarco had an opportunity to sit down and talk to a couple that retained Carol Guest for their Master Bedroom and Master Bath project.  Let’s see what they had to say:  

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Interview questions & answer

Q1: Tell me how you decided to work with CGI?

Laura: Every time I came into the studio I loved all the pieces. I love everything she does- Her look, her style, ability to pull things together- everything always looks perfect!

 Q2:    Which rooms were you working on?

Laura & Ed: Master bedroom and bath.

Q3:   Tell me about how you started the design process with Carol? How you shared your ideas or how you envisioned the room?

Laura: I came to one of the workshops and saw a beautiful bedroom picture with soft colors, which is what stirred this project. However, I had been meaning to have the master bedroom/bath redone for a while but this really brought it to light.

Q4:   Tell me about your first meeting or meetings.

Laura & Ed: First we asked about the fee /cost for this project. Carol explained hourly vs. retainer fee and we decided the retainer fee made the most sense.

 Laura & Ed: Carol came to our house and made an organized list of things to do. We discussed cool, calm colors, bedding, drapery, framing of picture in bath, etc.  

Q5:    Did you have any concerns working with Carol? 

 Laura & Ed: No not at all, because everything she does we love!

Q6:  Did the project move smoothly for you and allow you to keep your normal activities without many interruptions?

Ed: Yes. Very well organized, planned and executed.  

Q7:  Do you feel that the experience of this project was helpful for you both to see the complexity of coordinating a remodeling project?

Laura: I knew I wouldn’t have the time, expertise and contacts to get it all accomplished on my own. The coordination of everything would not have been as smooth and would have been a lot longer process.

Laura & Ed: One thing we really appreciated was that Carol got at least two estimates for all painters, flooring, electricians, plumbers, etc. so we could have options and make the best decision for our needs. 

Q8: If you do, can you tell me what are some of the points in which made you feel very happy that Carol was helping?   

Laura & Ed: The Sheer beauty of the room.

 Q9:   Have you ever taken on remodeling projects without a designer? If so, how did they go? The process, coordinating, time etc?

Laura & Ed: Yes. They were not as professional looking, took longer to get done, and the process was stressful and not as easy as working with Carol.

Q10:              Knowing that the project is starting to wind down with a smaller list that still has to be done, how would you rate this projects time line and the overall appearance of all that had been accomplished? 1 to10 (10 meaning loving it!)

Laura & Ed: 10! Of course.

Q11:   Describe how you both felt about the rooms before and after??   

Ed:

     Before: I really didn’t think much about the room, I was just used to the colors and everything about it.  

     After: I was blown away by how different it looked, the room had so much more light, it was an overall great experience! I love the room so much now, I won’t even go into the room with shoes on!

Laura:

     Before: I knew it was dated and needed a face lift and I was ready to go with new colors.

     After: I feel like a princess, very regal and feminine!

 Q12:    Describe how you feel now when walking into the room.

Laura & Ed: Love it, we don’t want to leave the room ever!

Q13:   If you should have any other remodeling done to your home, would you ask CGI once again to help you?  

Laura & Ed: Of course! Love her taste!

Q14: Would you share with others your experience?

Laura & Ed: Yes!

Q15: Would you recommend CGI to others?

Laura & Ed: Yes!

Q16:   What did you love most about working with Carol?

Ed: Her communication was excellent. She said something would happen and it would get done within a day. Her follow through was excellent. All the experts she brought in for painting, faux painting, flooring, etc were all excellent too.

Laura: Love that she acknowledges our lifestyle in the design process. We have dogs and before the remodel we had an ottoman infront of the bed that they would climb on to get to the bed.  One cannot jump on bed without something to step up on, so we wanted to keep this in the remodel. Carol suggested reupholstering the bench with durable fabric so that the dogs will not ruin it but still have something that looks lovely. It works perfectly!

Q17:   Did you find paying a retainer fee instead of an hourly fee was helpful? Which would you prefer if to do the project again?

Laura & Ed: Yes, absolutely.

Q18:   Anything else you would like to add?

 Laura & Ed: Great experience! Made something that could have been trying and difficult to do, very easy and stress free for us.

Ed: We like the room so much, we kicked the tv out of room!

   

It was a delight to have Laura & Ed sit down and share their experience.  I truly enjoyed the experience in working with them and hope to help them in any future projects

- Carol Guest 

Summer Breeze

It’s official!  Summer is here! Let the new begin!

 

It is so exciting for us at CGI, this is where we help with Graduation Parties, Weddings, Private Pool Decorating, and remodeling/building new homes. Or just freshening up old looks to new inspired ideas!! 

As a Designer, summer brings a new level of transformations using natural beauty. We are impressed by the abundance of color in the summer that can be brought to our homes, inside and out.  Arrangements of red, yellow, orange and pink can change the room with one spot of vivid color and texture. 

I’ve been asked, “My room is all grey, cream and white year round, but I feel like I am missing something.  What can I do?” Don’t miss out on natural beauty!  Bring a small vase of a colorful arrangement on a table and see how the room will stay with it’s personality, but pop to announce the season!

Summer time gives us a chance to feel “the breeze” of a harmonious finish to the room.  Feel the softness that it reflects.  Look at how you can change the feel of a room with this one small gesture.

Enjoy the fresh scent of nature.  Not only does this make the room more “real”, but it also opens you up to how you can introduce specific colors to your already established palette. This can also guide you for future seasonal ideas.

 

Feel free to experiment with nature.  Nature has it’s own beauty that can empower the unexpected.

 

Enjoy the breeze!

Homes with Heart

No matter if you are a Northern Bird or a Southern Belle, it’s all about “detail” in decorating your space!  I enjoyed teaching our latest seminar, “Homes with Heart” and absolutely loved the wonderful people that were there with their Northern and Southern perspectives of “detail”.  We all sometimes get so wrapped up in what social media and television shows tell us on “how to decorate and what is the latest look”, that sometimes we forget who we are!!!

Breathe…..my advice to you all out there, “be YOU, be HAPPY, create YOUR space (bedroom, kitchen, etc.) as you see yourself.  When you wake up in the morning, focus on an item or furniture piece that makes you smile. Enjoy the feeling that it brings to you. Ask yourself, what is attracting me to this piece? The color, the texture, the architecture, period of time when it was built? Maybe all of the above?

If you can answer that one question, you can now detail your space accordingly. Emphasize your answer and build your space around your “You” and your “Happy”.

Sometimes we all congregate to certain stimulus when working on our homes, such as magazines (for you Southerners: Southern Living, Veranda, etc., for you Northerners: Better Homes and Gardens and Traditional Home, etc.) or we stare aimlessly at HGTV, and other home remodeling shows. Hold on tight if you want to ride that merry-go-round!! You will realize there are so many ideas out there that you lose track of what you, YOURSELF, are trying to create.

Slow down and enjoy yourself when creating your “heart” in your home. Find that serenity and peace that builds each area and smile when you are done. It’s YOU that lives there…..

Always feel free to send me any questions that you might have.  We all love to hear from you!

 

The North Meets the South

Many of us grow up wishing we would become a Doctor, an Actress, an Astronaut, or even Superman or Superwoman that could leap off tall buildings and save the world!

Well…….then there’s my dream.  Ever since I was a small girl, I couldn’t get enough of rearranging my bedroom furniture, or making sure the table looked presentable for dinner hour with fancy napkins (ok, paper) and flowers.  From the McCall’s magazine (now you know my age!) I would cut out Betsy McCall and her little wardrobe.  But I wouldn’t stop there, I had to create a more complete wardrobe for her of my own creations. My energy and enthusiasm of colors and design became a passion for delightful pleasures of making anything from paper doll clothes to decorating the most beautiful volcano that erupts, for my school project! 

As I grew up, my parents would set us down and talk to my sister and I about how they met.  My Father, who was from the North and my Mother, who was from the South met while my father was in the Army. Once married, they moved to the North to be by my Father’s family.  As my sister and I grew, I sensed I was somehow “not in my element”.  I adored reading about the South and longed to see those known “Southern Plantations”. I guess I have some of my Mother’s “southern” in me!  Every time I turned around, I was constantly envisioning a new creation, blending my Northern influences with some Southern charm.

My studies in design, beginning in the North, gave way to an opportunity to work with a wonderful Design Team from Europe, which brought out the more eclectic side of me.  With these experiences and my career, I landed in the Southern States.  Watch out Scarlet, here I come!!

Blessed with a wonderful husband and family, I endeavored to take on the South with a Northern accent!!  Opening up to design and creative projects throughout the Southern States, I was able to exercise my talents and experiences many times over, and to share them with family, friends and clients.

As these experiences grew, so did my reflection on how style, décor and theme come into play with location, age group and influence.  It’s fascinating to watch how social stimulus (HGTV, magazines, your neighbor?) affects your choices in paint colors, themed furniture, fabrics and accessories. It also is fascinating to watch how blending these “influences” somehow becomes your “home or office personality”. I love it!

This is Why I do what I do!

Feel free to join me in my journey from past to present!