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Your style, your home

Monday, June 27, 2011 Leave a Comment

Stapleton is full of unique homes from builders in all sorts of styles - - and all price ranges.  I love going down the block and seeing how my neighbors transform the same model that I live in into a completely different looking homes.   We’ve been looking for someone to contribute to the Dwell section of our site…and we found an awesome Interior Designer to write about putting your unique signature on your home.  From remodels to touchups, from new kitchens to new accessories, she gives us the lowdown on the latest trends.  Welcome Kama Weinberger!

Kama has an Interior Design business, Q+E Design Source, and she blogs about design.  She’s a native of the O.C. but couldn’t be happier to call Stapleton home.  Kama earned her Interior Design degree in 1989, NCIDQ certification in 1996 and her experience includes working for the top model home firm in Southern California.  Kama works for clients throughout Denver and California.  Look for her post every month!

We sat down for a little Q&A with Kama:

SM:  What’s the difference between an Interior Designer and a Decorator?

KW:  Well, unlike interior designers, decorators are not required to have any formal education. They also will not belong to any professional organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) or International Interior Design Association (IIDA). To become a professional member of these organizations you are required to pass the NCIDQ. This test ensures an individual has been educated, trained and has a strong knowledge to protect public health, safety and welfare.

What this means is that if you have a design project that requires things like selecting new paint and furnishings, a decorator will be great.  However, keep in mind that the formal training designers have received combined with work experience gives them the edge when it comes to knowing things about building and electrical codes, among other more intense design projects - like a kitchen remodel.

Interior designers in most states are also required to possess some level of state certification, which will also provide some legal recourse should a problem arise with the design project. In addition, the education requirements interior designers must acquire annually keeps them abreast of the latest design trends and tools.  I personally am required 16 hours of continuing education every 2 years.  This means I am update on codes, trends and new innovations in design.

SM:  What’s the biggest challenge you hear from Stapleton homeowners?

KW:  I have two types of clients so it varies.  For my clients who are just looking to change the overall look of their home it typically is where do I start?  I usually suggest the main are of the home where the family spends the most time, then build from there.  Many clients think they have to do everything at once and this is certainly not the case. 

My clients that are doing kitchen remodels or basement build-outs  have a list of all their wants and of course want to keep it in budget.  My clients are pleasantly surprised to find that typically I can include everything they want and stay within their budget.  I have been practicing for 20 years, through a few recessions and all over the U.S. so this has allowed me to gain innovative ideas that won’t break the bank.

SM:  What are some budget friendly ideas to add new life to your décor?

KW:  The biggest thing is a fresh coat of paint.  It is amazing how a little change in color can make a huge difference.  Recently I had a client that had their house on the market, but due to the recent downturn the decided to hire me to makes some changes.  We changed the overall paint scheme and added a fun platinum finish to their dreary fireplace.  We also knocked down one wall to create a more open floor plan.  They were so happy after these simple changes they said they were never going to move.

Adding some new pillows, a fun art piece or a rugs can create a whole different feel to a room.  There are so many resources these days for affordable accent items, even if you changed them every year and donated the old items to a charity it wouldn’t cost much.

I am big on repurposing what a client owns and making them new.  It’s amazing how a little change can create new life to an item. 

SM:  What are your favorite stores for affordable home décor items?

KW:  When I first moved to Stapleton in 2007 I had to find all new sources.  I have to say I love Hobby Lobby; they have so many affordable things to add that special touch.  Plus if you check their ad there is so much that is 50% off.  Cost Plus and Pier 1 are other great stores, plus the stores on South Broadway.  It is fun to go on afternoon and stroll in and out, there are always great finds. 

Of course I am extremely excited we are finally getting an IKEA.  I would have never made it through design school and my constant desire to change my décor without it!  They have so much to offer and fantastic prices.  There is everything from candles, pillows, lighting, window coverings and even fabric.

SM:  What are some things homeowners overlook when remodeling?

KW:  The thing I see the most is their future needs and advancement of technology.    I always ask my client where they see their family in 5 – 10 years?  Do they plan on staying in their home? These answers make a huge difference for their current remodel .  They are spending a significant amount of money, but if it won’t meet their needs in 5 years, what a waste.  Also if they are planning on selling they really need to know what potential buyers are looking for.  Jenn, my business partner, sold real estate so she has great knowledge on what is a good or bad investment.

Additionally is technology.  It is amazing how people don’t think this through when planning; let’s say a built-in for their media room.  I have to admit I am a bit of tech geek so am very aware of future trends when it comes to AV.  I always work closely with my clients or their AV person to ensure everything is expandable for the future.  Let’s face it- we might not have the budget for a fancy flat screen now but in the future we might, so plan ahead.  It doesn’t cost any more. 

SM:  What is your Interior Design philosophy?

KW:  I really design for my client’s specific taste and style.  I make it a point to create a design for every clients home that is different.  In my early career I worked for designers that really pushed their idea of what they wanted their client’s home to look like, not on what the client really wanted.  They also used the same materials over and over again.  It was really frustrating, so I vowed to never do that. 

In my designs I really adhere to less is more.  I see so many people try to put too much into a room or feel they have to do everything at once.  It is better to develop a plan of what you want then added a little at a time.  Find things you love along your journey and added them in, that way they will have longevity.  Whenever I travel I am always looking for something unique that I can add to my home or a future client.  Also, I tend for fabric and finishes that are more neutral and add the more trendy things with items that can be changed easily.   Kelly green and Lemon yellow might be a big trend now for 2011, but are bold colors you will probably grow tired of in a couple years.  Why not do some pillows or accessories in these colors versus a chair?  They are easy to change out.

SM:   What are the top 5 questions you should ask an Interior Designer prior to hiring them?

KW:  First, you should ask to see a portfolio or photos of their work.  This will give you an idea of their capabilities.  I personally share my portfolio electronically.  This allows me to keep it current with my latest projects and I can send it to them easily via email. 

Second, you should request references.  Not only clients but also vendors, this will help you determine their work ethic and how they work in a team. 

Third, would be finances.  What do they charge?  How do they charge, flat fee, cost plus or both?  Do they require a retainer? Will they provide a proposal outlining all services and cost prior to beginning work? 

Fourth, how long will the process take? Also what will be there involvement once the work or delivery begins? Will they be available if any issues arise?

Fifth, this really isn’t a question but more a feeling.  I can’t express how important it is you feel comfortable with your designer and feel you communicate well.  Designing the interior of your home can be a daunting task. After all, it’s where you live so it has to be right.   Also, remember that the design is really about you and your designer is there to help you develop the concept and then facilitate your vision. You shouldn’t feel like the designer is forcing “their” idea of good design. It should be a collaborative effort.


  • Kama said:  

    Thanks Liz! I am excited to share some great design ideas with my fellow Stapleton neighbors.

  • Unknown said:  

    Is that chalkboard paint on the playroom wall? I've been wondering about that. Lots of great ideas!

  • Unknown said:   This comment has been removed by the author.