It’s no mystery why the Utah Valley Parade of Homes is one of the county’s biggest events of the year. Although the majority of the 20,000 attendees won’t purchase a new home within the next six months, chances are they will do something to change, improve or update the interior of their home — whether it be hanging a new family photo or replacing the family room carpet. In fact, interior design is one of the major draws for Parade of Homes attendees.
Interior design services in the valley range from offering one-shot services such as blinds to offering full-service design — working with the architects, electricians and framers to ensure that each room will fit the custom homeowner’s needs and tastes.
A style all our own
Although Jacci Hood, owner of Interior Concepts, believes Utahns “hold their own” when it comes to great interior design, others find that Utah is slow to follow national design trends.
Salt Lake’s Norwalk is the only one in the company to carry only one white sofa on the showroom floor, while other stores sell a high percentage of the elegant white couches.
“We have large families, and we are conservative,” says Jennifer Armstrong, Norwalk interior designer.
Utahns aren’t shy, however, about embracing versatility in the front living room.
“Some choose to make their living rooms extremely dressy, while others are using their living rooms as piano rooms or dens — a place where the kids can have some quiet time and work on their homework,” Armstrong says.
Utah homes range from the simple, self-decorated, to the elegant, ornate architectural design of Springville’s Krieger Ricks. Designers say the key is to feel at home in your home.
Rules of thumb
While design varies from year to year and person to person, following basic principles will ensure that a room doesn’t date itself quickly.
First, don’t attempt to match all of the woods in your furniture, frames and flooring.
“Using only one wood and stain throughout the home would become monotonous,” says Carolyn Tong, designer with Steve Peterson Interiors. “Blending woods gives variety and character to a home.”
Second, establish continuity.
“You want to make sure you keep two-thirds of the house the same with carpet and wall color, and then use the other one-third to accent,” says Kimberley Green, manager for Salt Lake’s Drexel.
Using this rule of thirds allows for consistency and flow, which are the signature of good interior design.
Third, avoid trends.
“If you’re ‘in,’ you’re also going to be ‘out,’” Hood says. “Good design doesn’t date itself.”
Fourth, don’t forget accessories. Just like earrings, bracelets and watches put the finishing touches on us, lamps, tables and greenery make a room feel warm and personal. Designers suggest accessories make up 20 percent of the interior design budget.
Worth the money
Area designers find that homeowners are keeping their furniture an average of 7 to 10 years. The longevity of these purchases, designers say, should make them worthy of a hearty budget.
Designers point out that although Utah Valley residents spend up to $40,000 or more for a Suburban or Durango that they’ll drive for only a few years, they have a hard time spending $10,000 on a room they spend hours in each day.
Updating your interior, however, doesn’t have to be high budget.
If there isn’t money to buy new furniture, designers suggest redoing the paint in the room. Select colors that work with existing furniture and accessories. If you can afford new furniture and new walls, select the fabric for the furniture first and then find a paint to coordinate.
It looks just like you
While interior designers are trained in color, texture and design principles, they suggest following the homeowner’s lead.
Clients often tell designers, “I don’t know what I like.”
“Everyone has a style, they simply may not be able to put it into words,” Hood says.
A simple exercise to determine tastes is to go through several home magazines and make a pile of things you do like and a pile of things you don’t like. The two piles are equally revealing. Then a designer can look through the stacks and find the commonalities in the preferences and the non-preferences.
A home should be a reflection of its owner, not the designer.
All area designers suggest working with someone you “click” with.
“A good designer should inspire and support, but they shouldn’t dominate,” Green says. “Designers should play a supporting role rather than the leading actor.”
If a homeowner is able to find a design that fits his or her own style, he or she will be happier with the design for a longer period of time.
“People are more concerned about what they love than with what’s in,” says Amy Bishop, interior designer at Downtown Design. “I want them to do whatever they are happy with.”
How to get started
Perhaps the ideal way to use an interior designer is from Day One in building your custom home. However, for homeowners who simply want to update part or all of their current home, the best way to start improving the interior is to create a master plan.
Rarely does a homeowner redo their entire interior all at once, but if a homeowner has an overall plan he or she can start prioritizing within the plan. If homeowners don’t have a master plan, they will buy things that don’t fit and end up wanting to replace them because everything is not coming together.
One great way to create a master plan is to ask a “master of the trade.”
If there’s a vision from the start, a designer helps everyone from the electrician to the tile layer stay true to the vision and establish continuity.
Finding the right designer
Finding a designer can be overwhelming, but by asking trusted friends for referrals, meeting the designers in person, and seeing some of their work, it will become apparent if the relationship is one that should continue.
Most high-end furniture stores in Utah have complimentary design services, which involves professional advice. While it isn’t the standard in most metropolitan areas to offer free consultations, Utahns are fortunate that most of the area designers are willing to put together some ideas free of charge.