Prepare to be Charmed. Today we are chatting with Atlanta area designer and soon to be mommy, Cristi Holcombe from Charm Home. I have been a fan of Cristi’s for a while now and am drawn to her sophisticated modern design style. Take a look at a few of her design projects. I love her use of natural elements and pretty much all of her drapes are killer!
ST25: Describe your perfect client. Have you ever worked with a client that fits your description?
CH: Hmmm, for me, the perfect client would obviously be one with an unlimited budget, and someone who already has great personal style. Also, my perfect client would have to be open to new ideas. I’ve yet to meet this client, but if you are out there please give me a call. Let’s chat!
ST25: What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
CH: By far it’s completing a design project and knowing that my client loves to come home to their newly designed home. It’s so worth it when the client is thrilled with what I’ve done to their home.
ST25: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start their own design business. (do’s and don’ts)
CH: DO take risks [within reason]. DO research your competition and find out what is selling in your area. DON’T just take any project that comes your way. ALWAYS have your clients sign a contract. Realize that you can get burned fast. Have a contract for everything. Getting burned by a client is the quickest way to put yourself out of business.
ST25: I can picture you in your office pulling a project together. If we were a fly on the wall, what would we see? Do you ever bounce design ideas of off your husband since you work alone? If so, how does that conversation go? Who else do you bounce design ideas off of before presenting to your client?
CH: Well, since my office is in my extremely small condo, first of all you would see a big mess. The lighting is different in each room so I often spread my projects out over the whole house so I can make sure that I’m seeing fabrics, paints, etc. in the correct lighting. I love to drink carbonated water too so you’d probably see a glass of carbonated water somewhere nearby. My hubby, bless his heart, is not good at seeing the whole picture until it’s complete so I hardly ever bounce ideas off of him. If I need an extra opinion I usually call up a few local designer friends.
ST25: If you weren’t a designer you’d be…
CH: That’s a hard one…I would love to own a small boutique furniture store but I know that’s still very similar to interior design. I know for sure I wouldn’t be in the medical field. Needles and blood make me faint.
ST25: Which interior designer’s style would you say is most similar to your own?
CH: I would say that I’m a cross between Amanda Nisbet and Suzanne Kassler. They are pretty different in terms of their design style but I like to use color like Amanda and prefer Suzanne’s classic style.
ST25:Which interior designer’s style do you covet the most? Why?
CH: Definitely Kay Douglass, I think everything she does is phenomenal. I love how she can take the most unusual object and turn it into something fabulous, whether it’s an iron object or woven basket.
ST25: What are your top three favorite fabrics (pattern or showroom)?
CH: This isn’t really one particular fabric but I love slubby linens, Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Ling (aqua) and Imperial Trellis any color-way
ST25: What would you say is your go to design element?
CH: I love using anything woven in a design…a rug, a chair, a stool. I think that there is room from a woven element in every room.
ST25: What is your biggest design pet peeve(s)?
CH: Good question. Most definitely when people try to match every piece of furniture.
ST25: Do you say….Sofa or Couch? / Curtains or Drapes?
CH: Sofa / Drapes
ST25: After you are signed on with a new client, what is the first design element you start with…paint, fabric, floor plan, budget etc.
CH: I usually start with fabrics and pull the rest of the design together from the fabrics.
ST25:What are your favorite places to shop when designing for a client?
budget: Homegoods & Etsy
wholesale: Four Hands
high end: Oly Studio / South of Market
ST25: As designers, we have access to furniture and accessories that are ”trade only” and at wholesale pricing. As as designer, I have seen that this can sometimes be overwhelming or confusing to the client. How do you explain the benefits of providing this purchasing service to your clients.
CH: That’s a hard one. It depends on the client. I will really try to push a trade purchase if it is a unique, statement piece/fabric that can’t be purchased elsewhere and is going to make or break the design. I also try really hard to find a retailer in town who carries the line so that the client can see the quality of the product before buying it. That usually makes a client feel much more comfortable.
St25: Have you ever designed for a client that wasn’t 100% your “style”? If so, how was that expierence?
CH: Yes, I’m constantly working with clients that don’t share my same personal style. When I’m working with a client though, I try to adapt my design style to my client’s style…within reason of course. I still throw in my own personal touches but really try to get into my client’s head.
ST25: Your pregnant with your first child! Tell us about your plans for baby Chase’s new nursery and what inspired your selections. How complete is the nursery?
CH: I should probably be further along with the nursery design at this point, but I’ve just barely started. I do have a concept and know for sure the furniture and artwork I’ll be purchasing. I wanted to design a space that was not “baby” themed but something that Chase can grow into. I thought I might actually be changing my design based on a fabric that I saw online at Urban Outfitters, but when I got a window panel in that fabric it ended up being a totally different color than was pictured online. Now I’m on a mission to find something similar to that fabric for the nursery.
Here’s my initial inspiration board…
and here’s the fabric that I found that I love in it’s picture online [just not in person]…
ST25: Tell us a little more about your “touch of charm” design services. Any pics to share on past projects?
CH: I don’t have any photographs of completed projects, but I should have a few photographs of a nursery that I just designed pretty soon. Here are a few design boards from projects that are yet to be photographed.
ST25: It looks like you also have design projects that include Hotels and Residential communities. How does a typical project like that vary from your residential client projects?
CH: They are very similar but very different. One thing that is the common denominator amongst all projects is budget, budget, budget. Although it may not look it at times. Budget is one of the most important pieces in a design project. It is the basis of every design. One thing that varies between hospitality and residential are the details. Details are important in hospitality design, but it’s more about the overall impact and creating an overall vibe. Whereas, residential design is ALL about the details.
ST25: What are your 2011 plans/goals for your business? Any exciting changes or projects coming soon that we can look forward too?
CH: I think one of my main business goals is to expand my client base. I think that’s proabably every designer’s goal each year. I would love to work with more clients in Atlanta. Somehow I’ve managed to gain more out of town clients than in-town clients. I’ll take them however I can get them though. ) Right now I don’t have anything exciting on the horizon other than figuring out how to balance motherhood and a career. The last half of the year is going to be extremely exciting once Chase get’s here. I’m looking forward to the fun changes that are coming my way.
ST25: And..last but not least …How much time do you spend reading other design blogs and what keeps you coming back to you favorites?
CH: This varies week to week and day to day. Some days I will spend hours reading blogs and then others I barely have time for one blog…if that. My schedule changes so often and I try to read as many as time will permit. What keeps me coming back to my faves is exciting new content. I also love to read about personal projects that my favorite bloggers are working on.