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Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:01 am

Interior designers bring ideas to life

Kris Salter of KSID Interiors, Inc., does both residential and commercial work.


When it comes to remodeling, it may be easier to perceive a new room than to make it a reality.

Interior designers can help take ideas and translate those feeling into homes people can truly enjoy. Springfield-area designers want those with redecorating plans to know help is available.

Tara McVary, owner of Afar Interiors, has been designing for years. Out of her Springfield shop, she offers services for the entire spectrum of designs, from window treatments to carpeting, paints and furniture. A special feature of her shop is the drapery workroom, where McVary and her team create custom drapes at the location.

When it comes to putting a room together, McVary said people often get confused when starting on their own. Generally, people have a good sense of color and pattern, but they can get messed up on proportions.

Another risk to the self-starters who want to redecorate on their own is the massive amount of information available today. It’s comparable to when a person is sick and starts Googling symptoms only to end up lost in information relevant only to physicians. McVary said an expert designer can help people sort out what clients are imagining before they get lost in a sea of design ideas.

One of the first things McVary focuses on when visiting a person’s home for the first time is the furniture that will remain in the room and the colors, patterns and textures that best suit a person’s lifestyle. While a person can imagine and map out a room, being able to get a physical feel of the carpet samples and curtains via the resources a designer can offer is important to putting a room together.

Something critical to the interior design business today, among other markets, is “color forecasting,” or the need for designers to predict what color will be “in” next. (This year’s colors are violet and navy, according to the experts.) But McVary, who said her team focuses on doing designs that will stand the test of time, said it’s important to create designs that will suit the homeowner’s taste for the long run. On the other hand, setting up a room where people can make small changes over time is equally important.

“A house is like a living thing,” she said. “It’s not like you do something and you walk away for 20 years. You do a little bit every year.”

Designer Kris Salter of KSID Interiors said it’s a misconception that one must be wealthy to get the help of a designer. Her team, which consists of her sister, Kendra Schmulbach, and designer Erin Brewer, help people with projects small and large, from a project clients just need a little help moving forward with on their own, to the full-blown house-wide remodel.

Melissa Strockbine of Belle Dwell Interiors puts together mood boards for clients, using design software.

One of the top struggles residents face when redesigning a room by themselves is envisioning their own ideas in the way they will actually appear. An outside set of eyes can help shape one’s perceptions.

When it comes to putting a room together, Salter first looks for what purpose the space will serve. An important question before taking on a project, she said, is to ask: “How do you live in this room?”

Then, she looks to see if there are any signature pieces to keep, talks about the budget and outlines a plan beginning with paint and lighting. Salter and her team put those ideas together and create a 3-D visual of what their redesign will look like before going shopping.

Over the 23 years since Salter graduated with her interior design degree, she’s seen a lot of changes in the business, including the increasing presence of do-it-yourself websites and television shows that center around remodeling and decorating.

That information is making clients smarter, she said.

“It’s been helpful. It has people wondering: can this work in my house? Before that, people didn’t know what was available,” she said.

Some of the shows give the impression that the designer has all of the ideas, however. Salter said that’s not how she operates.

“Sometimes people are surprised when we tell them we want to know their opinion,” she said.

One of the biggest changes to design over the years has been the shift to informality, according to designer Jim Wilson of Jim Wilson Interiors. People used to design their homes with a greater focus on formal areas, from stiff couches to formal dining rooms.

“It was an expensive space and just something to look at,” he said.

But today, there’s a greater focus on comfort and keeping it casual. 

Tara McVary, left, Marilyn Fleck, center, and Jo Anne Wendling stand in front of white drapes they’ve been producing for the past month at McVary’s Springfield business, Afar Interiors.

Wilson has been designing for 35 years and has a store in Springfield. He special orders most of his materials and works with the entire spectrum of interiors, from window treatments to floor coverings. When he meets with a client for the first time, he tries to get an idea of a person’s lifestyle before starting on a design.

Often a room can instantly be improved via rearranging, Wilson said. Just like a designer’s outside opinion can help a person get a new idea for their home, he said placement and layout has a lot to do with remaking a room.

“Sometimes there’s arrangements that they just don’t think of or think is possible … sometimes they just don’t think outside the box,” he said.

That’s why an expert eye can add to a redesign, Wilson said. And he said it seems like more people are turning to designers today. But he still wants to end the misconception that an expert opinion costs a fortune.

“I think the thought is, it’s going to be more expensive. But oftentimes it’s not,” he said. “Do not be afraid of designers.”

A designer who is taking a fresh approach to redecorating is Melissa Strockbine of Belle Dwell Interiors. Strockbine started Belle Dwell about a year ago and focuses her energy on design consultation in an affordable and budget-friendly way because, she said, “everybody deserves a beautiful home.”

Strockbine visits a home, gauges the residents’ style, factors in different concerns such as whether they have pets or children, takes measurements and budget needs, and then she draws up a visual of the room on a 3-D design program. She puts together a “Dwellkit,” which is a shopping list of different options and items that could work for the room, with the prices and where to purchase them. She tries to find as much decor locally as possible.

 Following that, it’s up to the client what to do next. Strockbine, who charges a flat rate of $2.50 per square foot, can help the client put the room together and do all of the shopping, or the clients can take the list and take the task on themselves. That way, they can hold on to the shopping list and remodel over time, as their budget allows.    

While the help of a designer can end up saving people money and can add to the value of a home, Strockbine noted that her essential purpose is to help people figure out their own ideas.

“A majority of people are the ones you see standing in the curtain aisle, and they’re wondering, ‘will this match?’” she said. “They have their ideas and they need some help pulling the room together.”

Contact Lauren P. Duncan at intern@illinoistimes.com.

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