Design Strategy - The Winning Combo

Shopping For Those "Treasures" That Round Out A Project

Have you ever purchased art, accents, artifacts and accessories for a project?  It can be daunting....tiring really, but its necessary.   The inclination is to go online and purchase all from there and its quite possible....but if you want to "raise your game" or enhance your own space...venture out.  Go treasure hunting.  There are some great sites I use online...don't get me wrong but sometimes you just have to go "old school" and do some shopping.

As a designer, I and my staff make note of every special boutique, store, and trade that may provide something that is not average, expected and uninspired.  I especially ferret out the stores that carry items from local trades, artisans and vendors because I know I will find something unique and special.  Whenever I am in a new town or city, I go looking.  My kids have learned to simply wait as there is no chance I will pass up an interesting little local gallery, shop or atelier.

I have found paintings by locals, had them framed and hung in gorgeous estates and they always seem to capture the most compliments!  Perhaps its because it reflects the area in some way.  But I believe its the "unexpected"  that will add interest and layers to a room that sets it apart.....makes it special.

Of course I purchase new items, like everyone else.  I also have custom items made and add in a bit of vintage.  Here are my tips for going that extra distance and taking the risk to elevate your project or space and really make it special.

Follow These 5 Tips For the Winning Combo

1) Balance is a word all designers use and they know it intuitively.  That is something that cannot be taught.  However, I can share some of the things I do to achieve balance.  Scale, (of course) light, negative space, reflective/shine, smooth, texture, contrast and organic elements sometimes a bit of drama- combined accurately are the elements that I use to create a room

2) Mix it up.  A room, with classic modern elements will appear more chic and last over the years much longer than a trendy space.   The way I incorporate that is through equal parts - new, vintage/curated and custom.   Example:  A sofa with classic lines and unexpected upholstery, a well made acrylic side table, a transitional rug .  

3) Accessories.  This is where you can have some fun.  Is there a collection you or your client has?  A love for old music?  An interest?  Find items and artifacts that will appeal.  Perhaps they are very involved in community and have philanthropic interests.  Perhaps they will entertain a lot....make the space they have interesting enough so the layers of their life show through.  This is their space - make it so.

4) Go the extra mile.  Find the vendors and shops that have curated items that will reflect your clients style.  Not all things have to be expensive as I related earlier about a painting in a project that receives the most compliments. Its not always the price.. the real key is to know where to seek out these very special items.  Continue to search where ever and when ever you can.  PLUS I very much want to keep all these artisans, curattors  and shops in business....They truly bring so much to each project.  They are necessary.

5) I take risks.  I purchase items on sight.  You know, at the end of a project....I cannot go back and ask my client about every piece of artifact and accessory.  I purchase them....I take the risk of owning it for another day or year or forever.

  On install day we place them throughout the home and get the property ready for photos.  Almost always, the client loves what we have found and purchases them anyway. What would happen if I  had not done that??  The project would not be complete.  It would lack signature touches and an added sensibility that most clients aren't aware of until it's there....and the client is far more pleased with the end result.  That is a WIN that keeps you in business and your calendar full of projects.

Creativity And Entrepreneurship Requires Taking Smart Risks

Over spending or making foolish purchases is not what this blog is about. Its about trusting your intuition.  Knowing that the item you are purchasing is so fantastic and will make your project sing....within reason.  Be smart.  Think it through but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.  In my experience,  this Winning Combo strategy has paid off for me as I end up finshing the project with a completed space, photos, a happy client and a profit....which - Creatives have to be aware of.  it isn't a business unless you are making a profit at it.  So be thoughtful, careful and smart but do take risks - they pay off.


If this was helpful...

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Elizabeth Ribons, ASID, CID and creative entrepreneur has successfully owned an operated her own creative businesses most of her life.  She has mentored many into their own successful careers and brings Better by Design Academy as a support to creatives wanting to create their own businesses.