“I tweaked her sofa, I put it on an angle, I added a couple of pillows, and I put the rug a certain way. She said, Jen, ‘I have lived in this space for years. I have moved everything around every possible way that I thought that it could go, and you just did something different.’ I still get chills. It was a defining point of like, wow, I have something that doesn’t come easily to everybody.”
In episode 42 of 1st Floor Conversations, we were joined by Jen Verruto. For the last decade, Jen has been the Designer in Chief of Blythe Interiors, a San Diego-based interior design consultancy. There, she and her fantastic team of designers have spent the last ten years helping average everyday folks make cost-effective decisions that help them create spaces in their homes that they can fall in love with.
This interview felt especially timely, as Jen helped listeners understand how we can take the pressures, stress, and boredom of quarantined life and use it as an opportunity to turn a living space into a home. With a few simple and actionable steps, we can design a more productive space and maintain a better quality of life. Let’s dive in.
Often, when it comes to design and making changes to one’s home, people feel stuck for fear of making the wrong decision. Imagine the guilt you’ve felt after a past purchase. Maybe it was a watch or a pair of shoes that just didn’t fit right or wasn’t exactly your style. People have this odd juxtaposition of loving to spend money and feeling like they shouldn’t do it at the same time. We call it buyer’s remorse. Now, imagine the intimidation before investing in a kitchen remodel, a brand new living room, or that dream nursery.
Overwhelm can lead to an element of paralysis by analysis. It can also cause people to make decisions that are inconsistent with their lifestyle. Buying a couch is more than a price analysis. It’s a designer’s job to figure out how you live and develop a space that reflects each element of that lifestyle. It must capture the proper aesthetics delivering the optimal functionality.
What does Jen consider when working with her clients?
Are you right or left-handed?
Where do you empty your pockets when you walk in the door?
Do you have children or pets?...
Each of these variables and many others play a role in the functionality of your living space.
Most people don’t have unlimited disposable income, mega-mansions, or million-dollar listings. They have a budget and want to make that budget work hard to elicit a vision, a vibe, an emotion when they walk into the room. Thankfully, interior design is no longer reserved for the uber-wealthy. Jen worked hard to make her business approachable and functional, so clients can, “walk into a space and breathe a sigh of relief.” Here’s a piece of her process.
Jen begins with a paid consultation. She will visit the client’s home, even virtually, and spend a couple of hours building a relationship, collecting information, and providing real advice that can be acted upon whether or not the relationship progresses. Her guidance for choosing a designer: don’t be surprised if a free consultation is more of a sales pitch than a collaborative brainstorming session.
Good design helps us live better and feel better. Jen encourages people to begin their journey by going online and finding pictures of the things they like. A simple way to organize these ideas is to develop a checklist of the main pieces you need (desk, chair, side table, couch, etc.) and begin placing photos of pieces you love in a PowerPoint. The process will help you visualize whether or not the individual items are cohesive.
Ask yourself these questions: How do you want to live? What do you enjoy? What is important to you? Use the answers to find inspiration for colors, patterns, artwork, photos. There is no detail too small.
Jen spoke passionately about her love of evolving the places that provoke peace and joy for people every day. Great design changes how we feel, yet I think it’s safe to say a lot of us forget how big of an impact it can make; how much natural light, color, floor plan impact our well-being, and the ability to foster a healthy living space.
Given the quarantine, millions of Americans are cooped up at home, bouncing between a couple of rooms trying to work, remain productive, and unwind when possible. Ultimately, it’s challenging if you are not accustomed to working from home. Here are Jen’s four tips for creating a more appealing and more productive environment.
Removing the clutter from your home can help declutter your mind. Toss the items that don’t serve you and organize the ones that do. Adding a basket or a bowl in areas prone to mess can go a long way.
Take the time to open the windows. Walk into the guest room and open the blinds in the morning because it will enhance the energy in the entire house.
Play with paint. Explore Pinterest for inspiration and try to emulate a color that resonates with you. You can order fan decks, swatches, and paint from both Home Depot and Lowe’s. Paint is such a dramatic way to change a room instantly.
Don’t be afraid to make a bold choice. It may be permanent in theory, but with $25, that poor color choice is history.
Plants are going to bring depth, character, color, and most importantly, life to your living space.
It can be a house or a home, your choice. Use these four simple steps to begin to transform your space into a beautiful place that brings you peace every single time you open the door.
The Wrap Up
Interior design can seem like an intimidating profession, but thanks to businesses like Blythe Interiors, it is becoming so much more affordable and attainable. Great design is no longer a product of only the rich and successful.
So, thank you for being here. A place where even interior design circles back to our thesis: the view at the top is only as good as the foundation which preserves it. We hope that you walk away with something that can help improve an area of your life and allow you to enhance the energy and viability of your space.
The promise is simple: great stories, amazing people.
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