From Em: This is the first time we’ve worked with an outside design team and it’s SUCH a different experience, I can’t even tell you. I feel a shared pressure, a shared workload, and Anne and her team bring skills, expertise, and experience that I just don’t have. It’s been a DREAM and while there is time for things to get hairy as they likely will at times, Brian and I feel so safe in this relationship. But I know that working with me is certainly a different experience – not just because I’m a designer (and designing for a designer is SO HARD) but because all of you are watching and weighing in (thank goodness – you’ve really affected certain decisions for the good). So Anne said she wanted to write about the experience thus far and of course I was down for it. What could possibly be the harm?? Take it away Anne. 🙂
It’s not often that I get to work with another designer on her future home, so I’ve embraced this experience with Emily to the fullest. Here are three things I’ve learned so far about designing for an influencer and fellow designer.
Please bear with me, this is my very first blog post. Being an introvert and a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of person, I always love hanging out with storytellers. I love stories. I am just not confident about being able to tell a story myself but really wanted to take on this challenge.
But here I go. Considering that I love organized thoughts in bullet-points, numbers, and no-nonsense systems, this is going to be challenging for me.
(Ok, there will still be numbers)!
1. Working On This Farm Is So Much Fun
Emily and Brian are kind, self-deprecating go-getters, and eternally enthusiastic and creative. I am having so much fun. We have been spending countless hours remotely together exploring many ideas. Not having a social life due to social distancing, I have been “pretend-living” their lives in their new home looking at it from every possible angle, including through the many eyes of Emily’s very kind and inspiring audience, her brother, and my husband. It is like having a million best friends. I always tell my clients that the fewer cooks in the kitchen, the better, not to design for their friends and family, and to be careful of following trends as they tend to date a project.
Well, in this case, Emily, Brian, and I are confusing ourselves by looking at every trend, listening to all our friends and families, and going in circles like there is no tomorrow. While this is not an efficient way to design by any stretch of the imagination, the three of us are having so much fun in the process!
The other day we had one of our 3-4-hour meetings. I am having to put my foot down so we can finalize the window and door sizes and locations so we can get the framing plan wrapped up. Well, I thought we had a lot of windows before today’s meeting, but ohhh nooo, Emily and Brian were able to find room for more skylights!
Emily and Brian also decided last week to move the mudroom from one end of the house to the other. We carved this out of their large main bedroom, which, for the longest time, they convinced me they needed. We actually added onto the ’60s addition to make the bedroom larger. Well, it was a great change to the spaces and we even added a gallery… with more windows (of course) and we found a space for a library ladder… again. The dog washing station keeps going into and out of the plans. I decided to stop designing yet another version but just write a note into the plans that it might come back.
So, 1st lesson to remember, Anne: there is a lot of fun to be had by not being your German, efficient self and instead, taking the long, explorative route to the destination.
2. My One-Step-At-A-Time Approach + Emily’s Exploratory One = Great Creative Challenge
Arciform’s 20-plus years of experience has taught us that, if we do not have most of our ducks in a row before we start with a remodel, we all hustle to make final decisions on the fly, financial predictions are harder to make, and the result might not be quite as thought-out.
Well, working with a social media influencer/blogger who goes at rapid speed and loves a lot of different ideas (we have this very much in common), we are approaching this project from all sides. We are still designing windows and door sizes and layouts while we have the engineer doing structural calculations and the demo phase has begun. Granted, doing the demo early in this case is smart, as the Henderson family is not living in the house. We are calling it the “Discovery Phase”. Homes that have been remodeled often tend to have hidden “treasures” behind the walls, or under the ceiling and floorboards. By uncovering those early on, we can make more informed decisions about the home’s new structure.
Emily, Brian, and I were a bundle of nerves about having made the right decision with regard to demo-ing the front porch when we did. We have peeled back layers of past trends and can now see through the framing with x-ray vision towards the future of this old home. It is funny when Emily and I fret over tile layouts, plumbing, and lighting fixture choices while we are not even sure if the space we are designing these details for will exist the next week! I must admit I have gone down the design rabbit hole in most every option we have come up with. Not efficient at all! Stephyn Meiner, Arciform’s Design Associate, keeps telling me to hold my horses, but it is hard when one is having fun.
The 2nd lesson learned: stepping out of my more structured comfort zone by exploring so many more options than usual and demo-ing before the scope is set has pushed me creatively. It does confirm to me that I love this momentum and Emily and Brian should keep it up!
Here are some of the “hidden treasures”:
3. Emily Has A Lot Of Industry Partnerships And Works Hard For Those Relationships
It is incredibly impressive to see how hard Emily and her team work to promote and support their partners. Emily wants to make it worth everyone’s time to team up with her and does she ever! She is loyal to a fault, and we all must be sure she makes decisions that are best for her and her family in the end. She also admitted to me that we must keep her in check so she does not design just for a photo op. This is a new one for me, but I really like the way she looks at a space through the lens of a camera. It balances the practical with composition and the element of the story she wants to tell. So, in addition to designing for a family that is re-inventing themselves by moving from sunny California to less-sunny Oregon to live on a mini-farm for the first time, we are also looking at the project through the lens of promotional opportunities and the many ways Emily can tell her stories.
So, the 3rd lesson that I have learned is that looking at designs through a camera lens, or as if I were promoting a product, is a great additional tool to help design spaces.
Spinning and twirling and exploring and considering has been the norm for the last 3 months and it has been nothing but fun! ‘Til next time!