DESIGNER OF THE MONTH - JUNE 2011
Question: What would you say was the single most influential event or person to direct you into the world of design?
Alyce: While I was going to Kendall, the work load was intense and I was raising my two children on my own. I became overwhelmed and went into my instructor’s office to let her know I was dropping out. Mary Laham changed that decision with only a few words of wisdom and I credit her for the encouragement to achieve my goal. I will never forget her for that!
Q: In the years you’ve been a designer, what has changed the most, in your opinion…products, styles, pricing, trends?
Alyce: In the last couple years, the economy has definitely influenced this industry. Projects have been put on hold. Building has slowed down. People haven’t been so quick to jump into projects as before; they have become more cautious about spending money.
Q: Do you see any economic improvement at all?
Alyce: I’m thinking that things must be improving…I’ve been trying to get some remodeling done at my own house and have been having trouble finding someone to come over and look at the project because everyone is so busy! In general, I believe people are gaining more confidence and are spending their money a little more easily when it comes to home improvements and remodeling projects. New construction seems to be on the upswing as well.
Q: A two-part question here…what’s the hardest and the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Alyce: Well, that two-part question actually has the same answer! Variety! I absolutely love the different projects I get to work with…every day it’s something new! But, the tough part is the variety of personalities I find in my clients. I really have to “read” people well. I could find myself working with a very quiet, acquiescent person one day and a very stubborn, strong-willed person the next. In this profession, you need to get along with every personality type. I have only had one really impossible client that’s made me question why am I doing this?! But only one in the last twelve years; that’s not too bad!
Q: If you could have the dream design job, what would it be?
Alyce: My dream design job would be designing an entire home, either new or a remodel, without a budget! And then, if it could be someplace fun, like the Caribbean, that would be even better!
Q: What has been your most challenging assignment?
Alyce: I have a project, actually Rivershores is part of this one, too…the house is completely round! Not a straight wall in the place! Space planning has been a little challenging. There is a circular fireplace in the middle and everything spirals off the center in pie-shaped rooms. The floor plan is quite cut up, but the transformation has been unbelievable! With the hardwood flooring, the owner doesn’t want much trim, like baseboards, so every piece is cut precisely to fit up against the curved walls. The owner wanted a very rustic look and Rivershores installed a beautiful hand scraped, wide-planked Hickory hardwood floor. Marilyn designed the kitchen using rustic cherry cabinetry, which is the heart of the client’s living space. I was asked to complete the space with carpet, furniture, window treatments, etc. to finish the project.
Q: What else have you and Rivershores done together?
Alyce: We’ve collaborated on quite a few projects. We did a cottage remodel on Lake Michigan together, using strand Bamboo for flooring. We also just completed a remodel in South Haven. Marilyn designed the kitchen using Bamboo cabinetry and teak for the island top. Rivershores installed a Hickory floor…it is gorgeous!
Q: With regard to hardwood flooring, do you think it’s something that will ever go out of style? Is it more in vogue now then it used to be or has it been more so in the past?
Alyce: No, it’s not going to go out of style. If anything, it’s more in vogue now then before. Many of my clients have discovered hardwood flooring under torn out carpeting and virtually everyone understands the value there and will have Rivershores refinish it. It’s like finding a hidden treasure. I think people are more conscious of natural, “green” products and hardwood is becoming more and more desirable as time goes on.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see being made by those who try to do their own designing/decorating? What’s the best piece of advice you have for the DIY group?
Alyce: I have found that some people just cannot visualize things in scale, even when it is drawn for them on paper. And, there are those who cannot make a decision and they have to be guided to the right choice. Building a new home or even remodeling one space can be very overwhelming. It is important that everything flows from one space to the next.
Sometimes they don’t know where to start and there are so many details to consider…the choices are endless. If they’re not working with a professional, they might become frustrated and spend money on something that ends up having to be redone.
A trained professional is also aware of what is available in the industry…from appliances to plumbing fixtures. Their resources are endless and they can help with choices, weeding out the good from the bad.
Q: Finally, how do you keep up with the current trends and styles?
Alyce: I confess that I’m addicted to design magazines! Also, I have been fortunate to have aligned myself with true specialists in the trade and have learned a tremendous amount just by working with these people and companies. To me, that has been the secret to my success: aligning myself with some very talented people in the Design field. That includes the finisher that can work his magic if something comes in flawed, or the tile installer, painter, carpet installer, electrician, upholsterer, carpentry work, etc. It’s not about one person; it’s all about the teamwork…working with highly trained professionals. They’re not only professional in their training but also in their work ethic and standards. It’s invaluable to me to be able to work with people I admire and trust!