All of Angela Lee’s work begins with interviews. “The client may not know what they want, but I’m able to guide them at the end of the process.” Design work can be very emotional, she says. Lee, who has a Bachelor of Arts in interior design from Louisiana Tech University, is the principal designer and owner with her husband, William, of Evolution by Design (www.evolution-bydesign.com), a 12-year-old interior design firm based in Houston. She has learned that the interview process gets to the heart of what clients desire. “I interview everyone in the house–parents and children–to get a sense of likes, dislikes, and lifestyle. Do they entertain regularly? Are children over all the time?”
Lee’s firm specializes in a range of concept-to-completion services for both residential and commercial dwellings that include custom furniture design and project management.
These are her recommendations for hiring the right team in creating your dream home.
Designer or decorator? Know the difference.
Decorators tend to focus on the aesthetics of a space that include colors, accessories, and window coverings. Designers have the same creative ability as decorators, but are usually credentialed and have technical training in areas such as architectural design, cabinetry, developing floor plans, and furniture design. Designers can conceptualize and alter structures or make recommendations on structural changes, and some, like Lee, work with construction teams. “[Clients] often hire me once they hire their builder and architect,” says Lee, originally from Tyler, Texas. “I then sit down with the architect and red line the entire plan. I’m looking at it from a different standpoint. I can do floor plans and work out all the details on paper.” The architect delivers rooms, while the designer gives it perspective. “I determine how those rooms will turn out because I’m thinking about how it will look fully furnished. I can tweak the room and make adjustments as it’s being constructed.”
Do your research. You shouldn’t use anyone who can’t show you what they’ve already done, says Lee. “Designers should have a portfolio of their work.” Because designers complete projects to the satisfaction of clients with varying tastes, new clients should judge work based on color selections and overall execution. “Examine their use of color and how well everything is put together. You may not like the style, but there should be elements of the design that draw you in.”
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