The story of Story & Space
In 1999 I found myself working in a dismal grey cubical in Silicon Valley at a job that I hated. It was the height of the dot-com boom and money was flowing. I should have been happy but I knew there was something more for me to do in this life. And I knew I needed to find a more creative career, not to mention a more colorful work environment. So, I quit my job and headed to San Diego to study interior design.
Three years later I graduated with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Interior Design and began my design career. I haven't followed a conventional path; my first "design" job took me to Los Angeles where I worked as a creative assistant for lifestyle personality Susie Coelho. In that position I dove headfirst into styling, set decorating, and writing and worked with many well known companies such as eBay, HGTV and Pottery Barn. In 2003 I went out on my own and founded Arte Styling. As a freelance stylist, I had the pleasure of working on photo shoots with celebrities, a short film, and had a two-year stint with a local TV cooking show. Eventually I began focusing more and more on Interior Design projects, and found myself feeling extremely rewarded. I was making a difference in how my clients felt. Every day. What's better than that?
Several years ago I developed a nagging desire to understand color. To really understand it. That's when I discovered the International Association of Color Consultants/Designers and became obsessed with color psychology. The seminars laid the foundation for my specialization in color and showed me that there was no way I would ever fully understand color. Not in this lifetime. But I know quite a bit, and it has become one of my biggest passions.
Around the same time I also became immensely fascinated with environmental psychology and the meaning of space. I have been absorbed by these topics and have recognized that this is also something I will never fully understand. But, like with color, this passion is unwavering.
In 2012 I realized that the name Arte Styling was no longer an accurate representation of my business. I had outgrown it. And so Story & Space was born. With my "new" business comes new responsibilities. As a designer I am dedicated to helping my clients create spaces that tell their own authentic stories. Together, through color, furniture, floor plans, etc. we can make a home - or business - what it needs to be: an environment that elevates your day to day life experience and makes you feel truly "at home."
I've now been designing for nearly 15 years and every day I pinch myself. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.
When I first started working as a designer I was often asked "What style of design do you do?" This question always made me uncomfortable. I was never really sure how to answer it. And I wondered what sort of answer people were looking for. High-end? French Country? Minimalist? I just couldn't put myself in a box like that and often found myself struggling for words, feeling like I was completely inadequate at selling myself as a skilled and experienced design professional. I probably lost a lot of would-be clients in the early days of my career by not telling them what they expected to hear. But how was I supposed to describe my work?
This struggle led me to think about my design services in a different way. It wasn't a particular style that was my focus - it was the client. And my passion was in creating unique environments for each individual, family and business that I worked with. It was then that I began to understand that my "style" was not a style at all, but rather a philosophy.
Design is a personal process. A journey. The spaces we create have a profound affect on how we experience life. Whether at home or work - or even traveling - our environments are an active part of everything we do and everything we feel. We may not have control over much of the built environment, but we do have the ability to design our own spaces. We have the freedom to express ourselves and to create beauty and comfort. Relaxation and joy. Love and safety. We have the ability to welcome guests into our homes, workplaces, shops and restaurants. We have the ability to create our own styles. Our own designs. To tell our own stories.
My job as a designer is to help guide you through the design journey. To help you find your way to your own style. To help you tell your story in your space. It doesn't matter what my style is. What matters is that I understand you and your needs and help you create a space that speaks to you, your guests, or your clients in your most authentic voice.
It's your space. Tell your story. That's my philosophy.
Who needs an interior designer?
Anyone can benefit from the services of an interior designer. If you are in the process of remodeling, an interior designer is invaluable. She will help you make key decisions that can often times be extremely overwhelming to a homeowner. Additionally, an interior designer will be able to keep the bigger picture in mind throughout the duration of the project. It’s easy to forget some of the details of design, but with an interior designer you are sure to have all the details incorporated into the overall plan - right down to the hardware on you cabinetry and the perfect lampshade for your light fixture.
An interior designer can also help you diagnose your design problems. Sometimes you may know that something is “off” in a space, but you just can’t figure out what it is. A designer can immediately help you locate a problem and come up with design solutions (on any budget!). A designer has the training and experience to come into a space with a fresh eye and will provide you with creative solutions that you may not have thought of.
What “style” do you specialize in?
I specialize in YOUR style. A good designer should be flexible and adhere to the needs and tastes of a variety of clients. When a design project is complete, it should reflect a client’s sensibilities, not just the designer’s.
Do you offer free consultations?
I am often asked if I do free consultations. My answer to that is “Are you sure you really want this service for free?” You will most likely get what you pay for.
I offer a 90 minute consultations for $300 for new clients. During this time I may take photos of your space, measure, interview you about your design needs, tastes and lifestyle, choose preliminary paint colors, suggest design resources, and offer some design suggestions. If you choose to utilize my services after our initial meeting, I will have all the necessary information to get right to work! If not, you definitely don’t go away empty handed.
Why would I pay for your design services when my local furniture retailer offers complimentary design services?
Many retailers offer “free” design services to their customers. This can be helpful at times. But keep in mind, the designers are probably working on a commission and it is their job to sell you items in the showroom. Although the services are free, you are most likely paying for the designer indirectly in the cost of your purchases. Also, it is important to check a designer’s credentials. What sort of training, education and experience do they have? If they are legitimate designers, they will be comfortable sharing this information with you. If not, you may want to look a little further for design services.
I want to be involved in the design process. I don’t want a designer home - I want one I can live in. How do I know I will like what you do?
I do not work on a project WITHOUT client input. Isn’t the point of designing a home to create a place where the homeowner can live and feel good? I take pride in being able to work with a broad range of personalities and aesthetic tastes, and you can rest assured that you will always be the one in control of your project. I’m just here to utilize my skills and experience to help you develop and execute your vision.
I’m not made of money. Isn’t it expensive to work with a designer?
Not necessarily. A designer can help you as much or as little as you’d like. If you are on a tight budget, a designer can not only keep you from making costly mistakes, but can help you stretch your dollar by offering creative solutions to any area of your home. If you look at the cost of design services comparatively to the cost of your home, design services are really just a drop in the bucket. Your home is most likely your biggest investment and the place where you spend most of your time so why not create a space that you really love and that truly reflects your personality and lifestyle?
How do your services work?
During the initial consultation, we will decide exactly what services need to be provided for your project. We can customize a design and/or color package for your specific design needs. It is recommended that you have a budget in mind for your project before our first meeting. This can vary greatly depending on the project. Once we have decided what services you need, and your overall budget, you will receive a Client Agreement. After this form is signed and returned to me, we can get started! For those clients less budget conscious, I can provide you with al a carte services at a rate of $180/hour.
Do you hire subcontractors?
Not typically. I prefer to let my clients have complete freedom in choosing who they would like to work with.
Will you work with my contractor/architect/subcontractors?
I’m planning on acting as my own contractor. Can you still offer me consulting services?
I’m not ready for a designer. My house isn’t ready for a designer. I need to ______(fill in the blank) first.
People have many excuses for not improving their homes. I’ve heard them all. And if you truly aren’t ready then hopefully you can keep me in mind for when you are. But think about it. This is your home and your life. Why would you want to neglect these things? A designer can come in at any stage in a home’s life and can see it’s true potential through clutter, extra furniture, shabby curtains, you name it! Sometimes you just need to stop making excuses, call in a professional to help guide you and get started!
I am already working with an architect/building designer. Why do I need another designer?
It’s great that you are already working with an architect or building designer. The advantage to bringing in an interior designer is that we sometimes see things differently as our focus and knowledge is slightly varied. Your architect may not be great with color, or may not want to deal with the details of the design. This is where an interior designer can step in and help. An interior designer can also work with the architect at the planning stages and may be able to incorporate more of your personal tastes and lifestyle into the design by acting as sort of a “design liaison”. Using both an architect and an interior designer simply increases the likelihood of the perfect design being created.
Can you get me into the trade stores?
Absolutely. As a designer, I have access to many stores not open to the public. I’d be happy to shop for you, or have you accompany me. I also will share my trade price with you as a thank you for working with me.
How does furniture purchasing work?
I can purchase furniture and materials for you. I charge an hourly fee for shopping. A 50% deposit is required before any purchases are made. You can also make purchases on your own as you please, and I’m happy to work with them. I also shop online for many items, and will send you links so that you may purchase the items for yourself.
Do you do “green design”?
Green can mean many different things, and it has become a very trendy marketing term. Seems like everything and everyone is calling themselves green these days. Perhaps a better term is sustainable. And, yes, I’m always thinking about sustainable design. If you are looking to use materials that are kinder to our environment and lifestyle, I’d be happy to work with you. It might take a little more ingenuity, but if you’re up for it, so am I!