How do you work with clients?
I use a highly collaborative approach to solve your home’s functional and style problems. Plans and designs are based on carefully considering your wants, needs, and preferences; once a plan is in place, we meet to review it and incorporate your feedback into a revised plan. We tweak it until you love it! I suggest items and products from my many trusted sources and provide samples or take you to showrooms to make your selections. Weekly review and decision-making meetings during the initial design phase keep everyone focused and moving forward.
How long will this take?
Each project comes with its own timeline and schedule, which I provide. Most projects take a minimum of one month and sometimes as long as one year (or more), depending on scope and complexity. Product, contractor, and workroom availability also affect the time frame. Timely communication between designer and client is a critical component of keeping a project on schedule: I respond to your questions and concerns within 24 hours, and clients agree to respond to design proposals within 3 days. We will mutually inform each other of any changes or occurrences that could affect the work in progress. The typical kitchen or bath renovation project takes about one month for space planning and material selection, four weeks to receive an approved permit, followed by six weeks of construction for a bath and nine weeks for a kitchen. Once we get started, I do everything in my power to keep your project moving.
How much is this going to cost?
The cost of a project depends on many variables including the size of the project, the quality of products selected, and the timeframe in which the project needs to be completed.
Large renovations require financial preparedness. Homes in the Montclair area tend to be older, with dark, closed-off living spaces. Updating them to include a more open floor plan can be a major renovation that involves moving walls, installing structural support beams, and making plumbing and electrical changes. Older homes also often come with surprises that may be revealed during demolition, for which you should be financially ready. My team and I can guide you through the process.
How do you charge for your work?
We charge an hourly rate for any work on your project. Hourly fees are billed at the beginning of the month for the previous month's work. We prepare an estimate of expected time on your project (based on past experience) as part of our Letter of Agreement.
Do you get a commission when I purchase items through your firm?
I pass my full designer discount along to you for most items you buy through my firm. My focus is on what is best for your project and I have no financial incentive to persuade you to buy a particular product or brand.
I can save a lot of money by shopping online. Why should I hire you?
In the past, interior designers had exclusive access to closed trade-only showrooms. The secretive pricing made many people fear they were being gouged with huge mark-ups. But the world of design has changed drastically. I welcome the new era of open showrooms and accessible product information, and I strive to create a relationship of trust based on transparent pricing. With so much information in magazines, blogs, and on TV, today’s consumers and homeowners are educated and design-savvy. However, there is a downside to the vast cyberspace of online shopping: there is the illusion that if you just keep searching, maybe the next website will have an even better or cheaper option. But what do you do with all those choices? How do you bring it all together in a functional, pleasing whole? That’s where an interior designer can help.
I notice that you use a lot of color. Will I have to?
Every project and client is unique. If you love color, we will be creative in its use. If you like the idea of using color, but need some encouragement to be bolder, I can help. And if strong color is not your style, that’s great too. There are no color requirements and many ways to make a project spectacular!
How can you make my space feel like me?
Each and every one of my projects is the result of close collaboration with my clients to fulfill their personal likes, wants, and needs. Likewise, your space will be totally unique to you! With my years of experience and extensive resources, I help you focus your ideas, prioritize your wish list, guide you through the many choices available, and coordinate all the elements so your space expresses your personal vision.
What makes a design green?
Green design involves paying close attention to materials and processes in order to choose sustainable, healthy options. The main areas of focus are: using non-toxic, sustainable building products and furnishings; reducing waste; improving air quality; improving water conservation; improving energy efficiency; and sourcing locally. For a design to truly be green, one must consider the health implications of the selected materials, the energy costs of transporting goods, the impact of how debris is handled, and more. While there is no 100% green solution, I strive to balance alternatives and do the best with what is available today. I am committed to continuous learning so I can offer my guidance about the latest and most efficient ways to create a green home. For more on this topic, check out my Green Design page
My spouse/partner and I can’t agree on what we want. How can you help us?
In my former life I was a social worker, and that training comes in handy for listening and negotiating competing desires. For projects with differing visions, I have always been able to incorporate a little of what each person wants and a lot of what both people love. It always works out and we have fun in the process!
I have a general contractor. Do I need you also?
The contractors I work with are extremely talented and very competent at what they do. While they have a good sense of space and code requirements, they generally don’t want to make decisions about layout or material selection. They don’t have the big picture of what the finished space will look like or know all the details that bring it to life. When I am the designer and project manager, I follow the project from vision to completion, tracking every aspect, problem solving to keep the job on track, and ensuring that all specifications are being followed. I am the liaison between the client, contractor, and suppliers; when one person is in charge, nothing falls through the cracks.
I have an architect. Why do I need you?
Architects are very good at planning the "envelope" of the space – dealing with roof lines, structural issues, etc. – and I call on architects to consult on my construction projects when necessary. But architects don’t always consider things like how you will actually live in the space or may not be experienced in all the specifics of kitchen and bath design. Kitchen & bath designers and architects each have their own set of specialized skills and knowledge, and these differences are perhaps no more pronounced than they are in kitchen and bathroom remodels.
I can get a free design at the kitchen store. Why should I hire you?
As both a kitchen and bath designer and an interior designer, I take into account your entire home and lifestyle, making sure that all spaces flow from one to the next and reflect how you actually live. "Free" design is included in the cost of the products you buy through the kitchen store, and showroom designers are often paid commissions based on what they sell. Additionally, your options are limited to what is available only in that store. As an independent designer, my priority is creating the best design for you using my extensive list of trusted resources and suppliers.
What is the difference between a decorator and a designer?
"Many people use the terms 'interior design' and 'interior decorating' interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways. Interior design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Interior designers adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design." - NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification)
Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces have passed laws regulating interior designers through licenses, registration, or certification. The approval process includes documenting formal education, training, and work experience. In 2002, New Jersey passed The Interior Design Certification Act, which regulates the title of Certified Interior Designer in the State of New Jersey. By contrast, interior decorators require no formal training or licensure. I am a Certified Interior Designer in the State of New Jersey.
What are your specialties?
I am an interior designer who specializes in green kitchen and bath design for the smart, modern homeowner. See my Services
and Design Philosophy
pages for more information about what I do.
What is your service area?
My projects are mostly based in Montclair, Upper Montclair, and Glen Ridge, NJ. I also accept projects in Verona, the Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Bloomfield, Nutley, Fair Lawn, Maplewood, West Orange, South Orange, Summit, Short Hills, Livingston, Morristown, and Roseland. I limit kitchen and bath renovation projects to a 30-minute radius from Montclair, NJ, as I am very hands-on and make frequent job site visits during construction. For established clients, I am available for vacation homes in Jersey shore towns such as Spring Lake or Ocean Grove. I am also available for long-distance design work on a case-by-case basis.
I’m interested. How do we get started?
Email or call me
to discuss your project. If it seems that we might be a good fit, I will schedule an initial complimentary consultation at your home to further discuss the scope of the project, your timeframe, and your spending plan. If you are unsure about any of these things, I am happy to work through them with you.
Great, I want to work with you! Now what?
Once we decide to work together, I prepare a letter of agreement, which confirms the scope of the project, the services for which you are hiring me, and the compensation amount and payment schedule. Your deposit is due when we have a signed agreement. I then schedule a meeting to measure and document the existing space and to interview you regarding your wish list and preferences. It will be important for all who have an opinion to be at this crucial meeting.
(NOTE: I usually have a waiting list, so I may not be able to start with you immediately.)