Letting in the light!

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I adore all things Autumn, but as the days seem to grow shorter this time of year, daylight becomes very precious.

We as humans are happier and healthier when we enjoy a generous amount of natural light in our daily routine. Since we are so affected by the daylight, due to our natural circadian rhythm, it seems prudent to consider ways to improve this in our homes and workspaces. Here are a few ways to do so ~

  • Add to or enlarge windows in the building. This can be a wonderful architectural feature, but is costly and may require a builder and/or architect’s help.

  • Similarly, adding a skylight or two can improve the daylight greatly, but may also require professional help.  This may not be an option depending upon your existing conditions.

  • I have had great success adding a sun tunnel in darker corners of a space, particularly in windowless hallways, restrooms, and walk-in closets.  These can be less expensive than new windows and really add a wonderful amount of daylight in windowless areas. See image 1 below.

  • Adding a transom or sidelight to your doors can help to transmit daylight across the space. Even replacing your front door with one that has a small window insert makes a big difference. See image 2 below.

  • An easier (and cheaper) way to let in light is to remove heavy drapery or window treatment that has seen better days. Cut away over grown trees and bushes near your windows to let in the light.

  • In a pinch, there are “daylight” bulbs and special lights you can purchase that emit a feeling of daylight if you cannot use any of these other options.

  • Don’t forget that lighter wall paints and furnishings affect the overall light reflection in a room. Take that old dark piece of furniture or wall paint you’ve never liked anyway and exchange it with something fresh and new!

Please enjoy the coziness of the Autumn season outside and inside as often as you can, because nothing beats that natural sunshine!

Image 1 Sun Tunnel

Image 1 Sun Tunnel

Image 2 Transom

Image 2 Transom


Though ignorance and naiveté can be comfortable and nice to hide behind, they have no room in the building and renovation process! It is crucial that you, the client, make yourself an active and knowledgeable participant. Of course, you rely heavily on your General Contractor (GC), who is in charge of the entire project, but you should also understand the process, know the construction team, and what each discipline provides. If you understand how they make decisions, report back to you, how payments are made, and are active in the decision-making process and the timing and coordination of their respective services, you will be a more satisfied customer in the end.

Whether it is a new building or renovation of your own home or business, you will be working with an army of sub-contractors whose roles you need to know and understand. These subcontractors are the trades that work under your GC, but ultimately still work for you. Examples of these would include the obvious, such as the plumber, electrician, HVAC installers, carpenters, and painters. However, this often includes the window and door installers, the landscapers, insulation providers, window treatment installers, flooring and tile installers, sound system experts, custom finishers, driveway pavers, and more.

Educate yourself about the process and people, because a good General Contractor will welcome your interest and involvement, and if they have done their job well, you will be well informed from day one. But you do need to establish this relationship right from the start in a respectful and professional manner. It is good to have a written list of questions each time you meet with the GC and to have them promptly answered and recorded. Most GC’s provide an agenda for these meetings which helps immensely! Recording these meeting notes, whether the meeting is planned (weekly updates) or impromptu (oops, something happened!), will help the project run as smoothly as possible. I always appreciate when the GC has these written job notes as a formal part of his records, highlighting the “who, what, and when” of each step. When this happens, it is an interior designer’s dream-come-true as the project is a much less stressful and bumpy affair!

If all of this seems intimidating, never fear, because this is where the interior designer becomes even more crucial! Since the designer has been through this before, they are a great asset as they represent the client to the architect/builder and to all the sub-contractors. Once hired, they represent YOU in all project coordination. Your interior designer knows the right questions to ask, knows you and your needs and expectations, learns to know the construction team, what to expect, how things should run, and keeps tabs on the whole process for you. A good interior designer should know the specific vocabulary and expectation of the trades and builds a good relationship with the team, always respectfully starting with the GC. The interior designer represents YOU, and is there to make decisions and to ask the hard questions when problems arise.

Remember, your key to success for your interior design project is to educate yourself, and to have a trusted interior designer by your side!



You have finally found your interior designer and have scheduled a consultation  (if not, see ANI blog post .1), so now you want to make the most of your valuable time together. What do you do next? In my 30 years of design experience I know there is nothing better than the client being prepared for the initial consultation in order to make that meeting, and those to follow, as fruitful as possible. A good designer wants to hear your dreams and goals and does not come in and steamroll over them. After all, it’s your space, but it can be enhanced by an outside eye; the designer!  Giving your designer some direction is EXACTLY what is needed in order to have the best job done for you.

Here are a few steps you can take to organize your thoughts and ideas so they can be interpreted correctly.

1. COLLECT INSPIRATIONAL IMAGES – These images can be photos that have really caught your eye, like pages you’ve ripped out or copied out of your favorite style magazine. You can easily go online to houzz.com or pinterest.com to share, pin, and follow your own designer or thousands of others and collect images, ideas, and design concepts that inspire you.

Be sure to share your pages and boards with your designer so they can get an idea of the style direction and vision before they even get to your door.

Even if you’re unsure about an image, but it strikes you, save it and share with your designer.  I have seen lots of seemingly random style images shared with me by a client with no clear vision or reason about the photo, although they all spoke to the client in some way. I can often see the thread of similarities between photos that the client can’t. We can use this insight to benefit the current project.

2. HAVE A FLOORPLAN OR DRAWING – Whenever possible, get a floor plan from the developer or builder. This can save many hours of measuring and research time for your designer, ultimately saving you from those billable hours!

3. COLLECT PAINT SWATCHES – As you go about your workday, consider what colors inspire and interest you. Are you working with a business logo color? Is the design concept inspired from another space you entered? You can go to a paint store, and simply select a few color swatches that speak to you and share them with your designer as your color preferences.

4. LIST OF QUESTIONS – Be prepared with a list of questions, concerns, and ideas that you can share. This is the jumping off point for so many beneficial conversations. If there are others with strong design preferences, a business partner or other, they must be represented so the direction can be talked through at the start of the project, so as not to derail down the road after the design direction has already been made. This is another great cost savings for your business so the design hours don’t double unnecessarily, or good working relationships erode.

5. BUDGET – Some clients don’t want to share their budget for the project. But sharing this is very helpful for the designer as it gives good direction for all the finish and material selections. The interior design fee isn’t typically affected by the budget level so there is no need to hide it. Knowing this up front is crucial in saving many design hours of selecting items that aren’t appropriate for the budget. Often, I think clients don’t share the budget because they don’t have one! Most clients are not in the construction business so they need guidance on establishing budget numbers. An experienced designer can help them get estimates for flooring, new walls, electrical work, windows, millwork, etc. Do this as early as possible in the design process.

6. PARAMETERS – Please let your designer know up front if there are any restrictions when designing. The budget is always a concern, but what about other needs such as project timing, disability, or sensitivity needs? If you have important parameters, your builder and designer need to know this upfront so that they can work together and smarter, to fulfill those requirements.

7. PATIENCE – Remember that the design and building process can be longer, harder, and come with more surprises than expected. That is actually a regular part of the construction process, so don’t worry! Since “the best defense is a good offense” make sure you select a team you have faith in and feel comfortable talking with about every detail, whether it’s the easy fun planning and design or the difficult aspects of the process. Patience is key to producing a functional and aesthetic work space for your business!

With all this said, you are hiring the interior designer for their expertise and design ideas, so keep an open mind to all they suggest, even if it is a different direction than that which you first imagined!


Hello!  As an experienced Interior Designer that has helped thousands of people work better, feel great, and find joy in their interior spaces every day,  it is an honor to offer my insights to guide you and your business in the selection of the interior designer you need to help you improve your space as well.

Though it can seem intimidating, here are a few pointers to set you on the right path to that all-important selection:

  1. OBSERVE.  You are affected by your interior surroundings everyday and in every way. Look around you and the spaces you are experiencing.  What really resonates with you? What inspires you? What do you appreciate the most in those areas? Are you inspired by colors, patterns, or architecture that you see in a space, in nature, or in fashion? Think about what end result you are hoping for; Dream!

  2. ARCHIVE. Keep photos, magazine tear-outs, and of course Pinterest boards to archive what you love and envision in your space. These images will speak volumes to your soon-to-be selected interior designer and will help you to narrow down your search for someone who understands your aesthetic preferences.

  3. INVESTIGATE. Ask other business owners about their recent experiences with an interior designer. How did they work together? Did they feel valued and listened to? Was the designer present, proactive, and productive? Would they use them again for their next project? A great referral is a good indication that you will have an excellent experience as well. Check out the website of the interior designer(s) that you are considering, in order to review their design style, testimonials, and project portfolio to see if they can accomplish your vision!

  4. INTERVIEW. An interview in person or over the phone is a good way to see if you have chemistry in your personalities and an appreciation of their methods and attitude.  Ask them about their pricing, timing, and try to gauge their interest in your project after you explain it. Designers often have niches that may not relate to your project, where they might focus in healthcare, retail design, or strictly residential projects, instead of your specific design requirements.

  5. INSPECT. It is a good idea to do all the above, and then go and look at the recent completed projects of that design firm.  Nothing will give you a better idea of their skills than experiencing a space that they’ve designed. They may even want to give you a tour themselves!

  6. CONTRACT. Once you have narrowed down the candidates it is time to talk details about timing, project scope, and pricing. Be sure that you are comfortable and confident that you will work well together, respect each other, and that they will represent you, your business plans, and dreams professionally throughout the entire design process!