Friday, November 27, 2009

How Does It All Work?

The majority of our current projects are actually in the drawing stages right now. Unfortunately, not that interesting for photographs yet. But we are often asked by potential clients, "Just how does the process work?" I thought it would be a great opportunity to explain what's involved in the design process when you work with Interior Spaces on your design project.

Initially, we meet with the clients to find out the scope of the project. Sometimes it's a simple renovation, and often it's a complex scheme to sensitively combine existing rooms into a more beautiful and usable plan. We often work with the homeowner, architect or designer to help use every square inch of space to the absolute maximum benefit. That's our specialty, and what Chip is best known for.

Once we have a sense of the client's desires and dreams for the space, we prepare what is called an "as-built" plan. This is a plan of the space as it exists currently, and is necessary to show us dimensions, wall placements, ceiling heights, etc. Occasionally at this point a contractor is also brought in to confirm the practicality of "removing this wall", for instance. There is seldom a renovation that "can't" be done, but occasionally there may be a structural element that would make a desired plan cost-prohibitive. Better to know that now rather than after a plan is presented!

Then the project hits the drawing table in earnest. Chip starts manipulating the floor plan to make design sense of what may not be working currently, or Missy begins drawing potential exterior treatments to show how to appropriately add an addition to the existing structure. There is much to be considered here, and this is where the years of experience that Interior Spaces brings serves the client well. This part of the process may result in multiple design ideas. We make sure we keep working at this part of the process until the client is thoroughly satisfied that the plan meets their desires and needs.

This is a typical example of a re-designed floor plan for a new kitchen and surrounding rooms.

This is a sketch that Chip likes to produce to "bring the project to life" for the client. The 3-dimensional view gives them a good idea of the finished design aesthetic he hopes to achieve in the new space.

Once all of the above have been reviewed and accepted by the client, elevations for each interior or exterior wall are drawn to show the contractor, cabinet shop, builder, etc. exactly what we want the finished project to look like. This is a sample elevation of one wall from a past project. Notice the signature "Vogel" clock above the sink!

Occasionally, engineering plans are required if major structural changes are to be part of the design. All of these plans are then reviewed with the contractor or builder. Most clients involve us during the building process in order to insure the design goals are met. And we often assist clients in the choosing of flooring, counter tops, appliances, finishes, etc.

All-in-all, it's an exciting process, and as you can see one that should be approached with an educated and prepared team at your side!

Now, what questions can I answer?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lien On Me

Those of you who've been following this blog for a while probably discerned that I wasn't all that happy with our contractor during the construction process of our new studio space. But you know, the project gets finished--or almost finished anyway--you're happy with the new space and you figure you can all part friends.

Well, recently we had a lien put on our property from a company that had supplied building materials to our contractor. Ouch! I mean, come on! I thought it was all over and done with.

I expect that most of you are more knowledgeable than I was about this sort of thing...but there could be some out there that this advice will help.

In our contract it was very clearly spelled out at what stages we would be billed, and for how much. The contract even said that we could request Lien Releases during the process. Stupidly, I didn't know what that meant. I also made the mistake of thinking that since we had worked with our contractor on multiple projects, and we refer clients to him, he would treat us ethically and professionally. Well, the joke is on me, but I don't think it's all that funny!

PLEASE review your construction contract carefully on any renovation project. Be sure it states that you can request Partial Lien Releases (and ultimately Final Lien Releases) from all sub-contractors and suppliers. Watch what materials your contractor is bringing in, and what subs so that you know who and what to request these Lien Releases for. And it's not a bad idea to double-check with the subs to make sure they actually provided the Releases. You should not make the next payment to the contractor until you receive these Releases. They show you that he is actually paying for what he's providing to you. If you have questions or don't understand the language of the contract, ask an attorney to review it with you, or a neighbor or friend who has had experience with that sort of contract.

I hope you won't make the same mistakes we did, and if you know someone considering a remodel, I hope you'll send this advice along. Most contractors are going to do the right things to protect their reputations and licenses, of course. But a little more education on the front-end of the process can go a long way.

Hey, for those who knew all this, where were you when I needed you 7 months ago? Oh well...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just When You Think It Can't Get Better

These are some exterior photos of our recent project. You saw the gardens in previous postings, so here are pictures of the upstairs and downstairs porches that view and lead into the rear garden. Just enough color to bring the design to life, without wearing you out.

I really love this! There are a pair of these beautiful sconces that hold a series of votive candles behind the metal leaves. The way they were hung really brings your eye to the great arch treatment in the brickwork surrounding the French doors and lights above.

These are two upstairs views. Designer Connie DeGood did a terrific job here, both in doing inviting furniture placement, and delightful vignettes to keep it interesting!

Fully finished kitchen photos will follow!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Don't You Call?

We realize that many of you might not be ready to tackle the kind of extensive renovation projects that we've been looking at. But I also expect that many of you have questions about specific areas of your homes that you would like help with. Things like:

Would a different color give this room the feeling we're trying for?
How could I rearrange this furniture to give the room a better traffic pattern?
Is there a way to add trim to my existing windows and doors to make them look better?
Are there any "quick-fixes" that I can do in my garden to spruce it up?

Well, Interior Spaces doesn't just do major renovation design. We also offer design consultation on an hourly rate.

We can meet you in your home and offer advice on color, trim, furnishings...almost anything in the design realm! We can often give lots of tips and suggestions in as little as one hour.

Call us to schedule an appointment. (813) 251-8862
This could make a terrific Holiday gift!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It Just Gets Better

This week we'll look at more completed pictures of one of our recent projects. As you move through the house from front door, through the large open hallway to the rear of the house, the feeling goes from slightly more formal to relaxed and comfortable. But believe me, I could be pretty comfortable in any room of this home!

This is the view when you walk in the side door from the porte-cochere. A beautiful view to walk into!

More pictures-including finished kitchen-to come.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Can We Help

Don't forget, if you have a question about a design challenge you're facing, please email it to us along with some information about the problem. We'll see if we can offer any advice that might help you over the hump.

You know the drill...operators are standing by! Sorta...
Send to:

Friday, November 13, 2009

And Then There Were...Part II

More photos of our recently completed project. Did I mention a wonderful art collection?

These homeowners have put together an eclectic collection of art through the years...pieces that are by well-known artists as well as pieces that may have been done by artist-acquaintances, and therefore hold an extra-special meaning for them. I remember walking through the home when it was all put together, and each piece of art just made me feel so happy! That is a great reason to hang wonderful things in your home.
Don't worry...there's more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And Then There Were Furnishings

We've watched this project through the reconstruction phases, and now it's time to take a look at the end results!

You'll remember from past postings about this project that the renovation here was done by "remote". The homeowners were up north during the process, making the occasional visit to check on progress. When work was almost complete, they had a truck loaded with their furniture and accessories, loaded up the dogs in their car, and made their way to Tampa. Their wonderful designer, Connie DeGood of Chagrin Falls, Ohio flew down to help make it all happen. Connie has worked with these homeowners for years on several other homes, and knows their furnishings--and taste--well. I happened to see the house one Friday, empty, and was invited to a dinner party there the following Friday. Well, this is what I had the great opportunity to walk into!

These are the views just inside the front door! Inviting entry hallway, formal dining room and living room. And this is just a taste of their wonderful art collection.

I see this home as a tribute to many things, but especially a good design and build team. Yes, I're worried that I may have broken an arm patting myself on the back. (And after that rotator cuff surgery, believe me it could happen!!) But seriously, we hope that this project is an indicator of why designers are important in a renovation project. (And besides, I'm administrative here. I'm really patting the team on the back!)

A good designer starts by working very closely with the homeowners to discern their desires, their tastes and needs. An even better designer will also anticipate needs that the homeowner may not mention, and design accordingly. That comes from experience. A good builder then takes the project through the next phases, and an even better builder will consult with the designer to make sure that the design is executed precisely according to the plans.

Then, with the aid of a wonderful designer like Connie, the final layer is applied to bring the space to life. Furnishings, lighting, art...these are what make a house a home, in my opinion. So, welcome to your new home!

Have I whet your appetite? More pictures to follow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Home Tour Reminder!

Just a reminder that this Sunday is our Autumn Home Tour. There are six beautiful and varied homes on the tour in South Tampa, and believe me you won't want to miss this. See all six homes for a suggested donation of $10.00 (a bargain!), and all proceeds go to The Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

It's going to be a beautiful afternoon on Sunday, and I personally can't think of a better way to spend it!

Sunday, November 8th from 2:00-5:00. Tickets available at all six homes. Information and map at
or call 813-251-8862 for more information!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home "Front" Help

A reader has sent us this picture of the front facade of her home, and asked for advice on how to give it more personality. You've got a great start! I like the roof line, and your deep front yard with shade tree offers a lot of possibilities. Too bad we can't move that tree about five feet to the left, but... Here's the home, as-is.

It's often difficult to tell from the angle of a photograph, but I'm trying to figure out why the garage door seems to be a little off-center on the garage. Much of the material that is used to create the trims under a stucco finish are lightweight and easy to work with. You might try duplicating the trims on the right side of the garage door to balance it out.

She also wondered if her garage door should be painted to match the front door for continuity. Well, this is a tricky matter... One issue I have with many newer built homes is the garage. Because we all would like to house our 2+ cars per family, we sometimes (luckily, not in your case!) end up owning a garage with attached home! But I don't like to see all the attention brought to the garage if we can help it. Here's what a dark garage door would look like.

In this case, I would be more inclined to paint the garage door to match the home color, which will really focus more attention to your front door.

Other ideas to increase your "charm factor" would be pavers on the driveway and walk, or a stamped-stained concrete over the existing drive and walk. I would remove the Travelers Palms (or giant Bird-of-Paradise?) from the left side of the house...these will become huge and unruly. At the far left corner of the house and the right corner of the garage, I might use Crape Myrtles in bush form (foliage not trimmed on lower branches) in a dark pink color. Then, try forming a planting bed that will wrap around the Crape Myrtle on the left side, come around to encompass the oak tree, and softly curve down to end about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down the driveway. This would really lead the eye to your front door, and make your entrance more inviting. You could also do a bed around the Crape Myrtle to the right of the driveway that would tie into the driveway on that side, ending about 1/2 of the distance the other bed encompasses.

These planting beds could be filled with ferns and green plants of multiple textures and heights, leaving room for annuals and perennials in complementary colors to the Crape Myrtles.

If you're interested in a color change for the exterior, I could envision a "Cafe Latte" color for the body of the house, with a warm gray trim, still keeping the garage door the color of the body of the home. Then you might try a complementary color for the front door to add a little spark. Photoshop is a great place to try out new home colors without buying any paint, or try just printing a picture of your home on regular paper, and using colored markers. Hey...why not turn the kids loose on this? You may find an unexpected solution...or not!