Most of my projects are architectural in nature (designing custom homes, kitchens, baths, etc.) and often the client doesn't request help with furniture or décor, until the very end, almost as an afterthought. I gladly assist with these requests, but even then, they frequently fall short of what I would consider 100% complete. Because of that, when it's time to photograph a project for my portfolio, there are often gaps to be filled. Sometimes these gaps are large (missing furniture) and sometimes they are small (needing accessories). Either way, if I'm going to invest the time and money in photographs, I have to address these missing pieces.
Such was the case this last weekend. First, let me just say, this was an amazing project. I asolutely LOVED working on the interior of this custom home with the help of Krannitz Gehl Architects. http://krannitzgehl.com/ (Construction by Anderson Construction Group) It was a dream project to be sure: waterfront location, classic Nantucket Shingle-Style architecture, and a young, female client with strong sense of personal style and a fearless approach to color. Imagine bright, pure, saturated colors, like yellow, green, blue and coral, all mixed with loads of white--perfect for a house on the water! When she hired me, I was asked to help with selecting interior finishes and draw up tile details, but the job quickly grew into so much more. I was in designer heaven!
Most of my work looks like this: construction site visits and working out the architectural features and finishes. Here is the KITCHEN, under construction.
And this...lots of tile work. (MASTER SHOWER) I love selecting the pieces and designing the layout.
First, I start by going through a series of "progress shots" that I keep on file, making notes of what major pieces are missing, what might look awkward in a professional photograph, or what could possibly be the perfect finishing touch. I like to print out photos on my office printer and scribble notes and ideas right on the printed photo. For some reason, I am better able to analyze a space and "fix" the problem this way. Sometime I even use this approach when designing for a client.
This was the house towards the end of our work. The chair was left over from a previous home and didn't seem to fit, so we swapped it with a chair from another room, and had that chair and the sofa reupholstered.
A peek at how I work--a photo of the room, with loosely sketched furniture and décor ideas, as well as notes so that I can remember what I am thinking. The fun part is in seeing the finished room next to these quick little sketches!
Here is one such Pinterest photo: I knew I wanted to add some blue and white pottery to at least one or two of the rooms, so this image caught my eye. The blue and white pottery has such a beautiful, classic look for a beach house. I also liked the coffee table décor.
More blue and white pottery found on Pinterest. I didn't add the pottery to the kitchen like they did here, but I liked looking at the assortment of sizes and shapes and how the pieces were arranged.
Full disclosure here: Decorating was not something they taught me in my Interior Design program at Bellevue College, so it is something I have had to study and learn on my own. I love it, but it feels a little less natural to me than designing the architectural features of a home and it is an art form I am always trying to hone and perfect.
Next, I spend hours shopping, both online and in stores, looking for the perfect pieces to use for my staging. Of course budget is critical here. I want it to look like a millions bucks, but I don't want to spend a million bucks! And because I've done so many of these now, I have countless Rubbermaid tubs, filled with home products just for this purpose. It's kind of fun to dig these out of storage and go through them, "shopping" for things that I already own! Sometimes, I might even borrow items from my own home, such as house plants, lamps, an accent pillow or two. Whatever works I say!
I start this whole "prep" process weeks in advance--planning, shopping, taking notes, and thinking about how I want the entire house to feel and look. Soon shopping bags and delivery boxes start to pile up and eventually, it feels like they are completely swallowing my office. (This part drives me more than a little nuts. I could definitely use more space during this phase.)
Here is a shot I took while playing around with décor in my then cluttered office, trying to decide what I wanted to use for the coffee table centerpiece.
And the finished product. (LIVING ROOM) I love how it all turned out. The blue white and green looked so fresh and pretty!
Then just when I think I can't take it any more, the photo shoot day finally arrives. I buy loads of fresh flowers, some tasty-looking produce or food items for the kitchen, then all those blue bins and pieces of furniture get loaded into my not-so-glamorous (but highly-functional!) mini-van. I head on out to the client's home, feeling a bit sheepish as it clearly looks as if I am moving in. Some clients are a bit shocked, but I think most are fascinated by the process, and besides, who doesn't want to see their home magically transformed into something magazine-worthy, all in the course of a few hours?
If I am lucky, I have an assistant or two to help me with the pre-photo session cleaning, de-cluttering, and final staging. It is serious work and you have to have stamina for this, not to mention muscles! Those big blue tubs weigh a ton! Lucky for me, I have had a great assistant on my last few photo shoots--someone who intuitively knows what to do, with little instruction. (Thank you Brandi Cook!) It is so exciting to see the spaces come together and look like you always pictured them. The process is so rewarding and you always hope the homeowner will be just as thrilled and inspired.
BREAKFAST NOOK during the construction phase.
Selecting fabrics for the BREAKFAST NOOK bench and cushions.
And finally, a peek of the BREAKFAST NOOK on the day of the shoot, taken with my cell phone.
The FOYER during construction
Finished FOYER on the day of the Photo Shoot.
A progress shot of the LIVING ROOM...
...and the finished space!
The DINING ROOM during construction
Selecting chairs and fabrics for the DINING ROOM
The final space, ready for entertaining!