Interview: Launching an Interior Designing Business with Karen Miller

Based on the thousands of questions we received from you guys after our last interview with Karen Miller, we are back with another interview! Firstly, we would like to extend our gratitude to our lovely audience that enjoyed reading the first interview we had with Karen and gave such a positive response. As mentioned earlier, we received a lot of questions from you all regarding Karen’s business, the services she provides, the process of transforming a living space, and various questions about recliners. In today’s interview, we will dive deeper into Karen’s professional life, ask her questions about her business, and understand what goes into revamping people’s rooms, offices and living rooms.

Interviewer: Welcome back, Karen! How are you? We are so glad to have you back here. Our audience here wants to know more about your business and how you transform your client’s living spaces. Can you please walk us through the process?

Karen: I love talking about my work, so I am really glad people are taking an interest in understanding my business, and I am more than happy to answer! My intention is for my clients to feel delighted to be at home as soon as they enter through the front door. People frequently comment on how unique my workspace is compared to anything else they have seen every time they visit. People should understand that there is a difference between a house and a home. Any place can be your house, but home is that one place that makes you feel your most genuine and comfortable self.

Interviewer: That is beautifully put! You know how they say: Home is where the heart is. Your heart can only feel at ease when you are in a place you love and feel most comfortable in. Is that not right? Karen, what kind of projects have you worked on?

Karen: That is most definitely right! Thank you for putting that out there. From conception to completion, I have designed and managed residential and commercial projects, working closely with my customers to develop a vision, come up with concepts, and regularly achieve deadlines. These three steps essentially comprise the entire process of designing.

Interviewer: What are each of these steps like? How do you communicate with your client and get them to describe their vision to you?

Karen: I have an initial consultation session with every potential client before they decide to continue working on designing living spaces with me. In the first meeting, I try to listen more and speak less. I ask relevant questions, but I like to hear what the client has in mind and get a good idea of what they are looking for. I always encourage my clients to support their vision through pictures they have found online, mood boards they are drawn to and suggest creating one for their living space with me. Doing all of this gives me a good idea about what they want.

Interviewer: After ensuring that you have a good grasp of their vision, what steps are taken next? How do you gather all the ideas and bring unique concepts to the table for the client to choose from?

Karen: I believe what really helps me put my best game on is to think that the project I am about to work on is my own. When you work on your personal project, you ensure everything is top-notch and carve out the smallest details to perfection. It allows me to put my heart and soul into every client’s work. Then I focus on space planning after closely surveying the client’s living space. Planning the arrangement of furniture and the placement of equipment is all part of the space planning process. Interior spatial regions are blocked out, and circulation paths are defined. Every interior design job starts with an evaluation of a space’s functional shortcomings and potential changes to better suit the residents.

Interviewer: Wow, that sounds like a lengthy process, and we have not even reached the part where you start revamping the client’s living space. Please keep telling us more.

Karen: I develop a concept for the room after I have a solid understanding of how it should work by combining it with the client’s preferred aesthetic and ambiance. The majority of my customers, in my experience, approach me believing that they want more room, more storage space, and more of everything. Since having more of something does not automatically require going big, I make an effort to gently steer them toward more simple approaches. Often, smaller, easier modifications might successfully satisfy a client’s vision. When you are able to put that well-thought-out idea into practice, the interior has a timeless and lasting quality. Designing the concept is similar to telling a tale for the designer. You must be able to describe in detail how the many components and features of the interior will work together to create a cohesive whole.

Interviewer: That is indeed a really beautiful concept. It amazes us how slight changes in the placement of furniture, the color of a wall, and the style of décor can make a living space pop up beautifully. Karen, one thing our audience wanted to know was what thoughts go into selecting specific material while revamping a place. Could you shed some light on that?

Karen: Absolutely! Quality is essential since the materials and structure have an impact on how a person uses the completed space. The sound and feel of high-quality materials differ from those of low-quality ones. The best materials are natural ones. I mostly utilize silk, wool, and linen materials and favour antique or well-made solid-wood furniture. However, paying a lot of money for anything does not always imply that you are getting a high-quality item. Before making a final choice, you must consider the material’s visual appeal and durability.

Interviewer: Thank you, Karen, for highlighting how quality is not always ensured when you pay thousands of dollars. People often equate expensive items to high-quality. Karen does it ever happen that a client comes to you with a vision; however, their vision might not look as good as it does in their head in practicality. How do you deal with such situations?

Karen: Definitely! In fact, this is something I have to face many times. Clients come to us because they know we can bring their vision to life; however, sometimes, they want what they like to be applied in every part of the room. I have to help them understand that no design should be overwhelming, and striking a balance is the key to making a room appear aesthetically pleasing. The contrasts between a designer’s chosen materials, forms, patterns, and textures can emphasize their inherent qualities. It might be difficult to comprehend this. Some customers will specify a certain fabric, couch, and décor. But each of those objects will have a similar visual value. The eye needs a juxtaposition in order to recognize the difference. Most of the time, you have to include a certain element or object that does not fit the client’s vision but will enhance the appearance of the materials they specified.

Interviewer: Karen, we have one final question for you. Do you think interior designers ever look at their finished work and realize they need to make some changes?

Karen: For sure! You see, designing is a process that requires me to add, remove and move items. To work as an interior designer is similar to hiring an editor. A designer understands when to add or remove pieces to create the intended effect. I may claim that one element is overused or that two aspects work against each other, so I never hesitate to take one out. Sometimes to display a strong composition of the items, I find that I need to incorporate some negative space. Getting rid of items is nothing to be terrified of.

Karen Miller is a founder of ReclinerAdvice.