Follow by Email

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A client asked that Stanley come over and edit her bookcases.
It's not as simple as removing items, books, etc. Placement and overall concept play a part. Remember to keep the weight at the bottom and don't be afraid to remove a shelf or hang a small piece of art on the bookcase.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Passing Scene

This past week marked the end of an era.  The children of Elmore Leonard held an estate sale to dispose of the furniture, lamps, accessories, etc. of their father's home.  I had the personal pleasure of helping his ex-wife, Christine, put their home together during the early, happy days of their marriage.  It was a bit sad to see the house being broken up and carried away.  As I walked around the house I recalled all the fun we had creating a warm and comfortable environment that supported Elmore working at home. Warmth and comfort were as important as style.

I like to remember Elmore's gentle and friendly manner.  He definitely enjoyed his success but he was completely devoid of pretense.  More times than not, when I would call the house, he would answer the phone.  When I came to the house for an appointment he often answered the door.  I especially remember the extra care we took in creating his working environment.  He took over the back half of the living room where things were shaded and quiet and had a view of the sweeping back yard.

Architecturally, the house had the look of "Hollywood Regency" which is experiencing a resurgence of popularity with west coast designers.  We respected the architecture of the house in both scale and style. Colors were warm but subdued.  The furniture was selected with comfort in mind, inviting the user to sit back, relax and spend time in soft conversation, reading or contemplation.  He always displayed an active interest in current affairs and was curious as to others' viewpoints.

I feel very fortunate to have met and known this great guy.  He was generous with his time and attention.  I carry with my wonderful memories of our brief times together.  Thanks, Elmore!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This posting came up on my facebook page from one of my friends.  It states in a nutshell what I've been saying for years!  It comes from "Thrive Mag." Check it out.

I’ll Tell You One More Time: Decorators Aren’t Designers

“Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.
Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants’ quality of life and culture. Designs respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.
The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology—including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process—to satisfy the needs and resources of the client.”
-NCIDQ
I suppose that since my few previous articles have been a bit more lighthearted and consumer-centric, it’s about time for an angsty, honest discussion about something that has become, quite possibly, the singly most annoying misunderstanding of all time.
Final-Living-Room-Render
Since the time that my undergraduate education started back in 2005, I have been learning and seeing and hearing all about the common and blatant social misunderstandings surrounding Interior Designers and their respective field of work. In school, there was this silent (or perhaps not silent) understanding that architecture students and interior design students just didn’t get along. Sure we would cross paths at house parties or have nearly touching desks encroaching on the invisible division lines in design studio; but aside from these, it was a nightmare to imagine working with one or the other on a collaborative project. Why? Because to most architecture students, interior designers just didn’t know enough. Plain and simple. There was nothing that an interior design student could present that an architect couldn’t handle herself. In fact, there was a pretty obvious and generalized assumption that interior designers were crowding in on architectural work; touching things that shouldn’t be touched by non-architect hands and thinking about things that were too…architecty. We were considered the female-dominant degree that moved walls that couldn’t be moved without the building falling down and then continued to make things look pretty.
Not the case. Not at all.
I was always an interior design student who pushed boundaries and moved far into the realm of architecture by exploring structural systems and developing these on my own time to coordinate with my projects. However, I couldn’t help but be annoyed by all of the studio-trash talking in undergrad and the continuation of said problems post-graduation. There was just an overall air toward interior designers that was distasteful, and as I emerged in the working world I realized just how many people in the public tend to think we are as worthless as the architects tried to make us feel. In fact, it is common that we are referred to as decorators. By clients, professionals, and vendors alike. It’s insane. It’s not that clients don’t need us, but when they don’t understand what we do, we miss out an entire market and a whole plethora of opportunity that others get to tap into.
Having completed a BS in Interior Design as well as a M.Arch, I feel I have a right to take a verbal dump on both sides. I’ve been through both studio environments, both types of critiques, and worked with people in both concentrations. My opinion? Interior design and architecture should always be nothing short of collaborative fields that respect each others’ principles and goals as professions. They are too segregated and shouldn’t be as such. As for me, I chose to continue my life in interior design for a reason. Being an interior designer involves more personal interaction and deep psychological understanding than any field that I have ever explored. Architecture tends to involve more arrogance and less objectivism while interior design can be deeply introspective and personalized to a client’s every need. Don’t get me wrong: I love architecture. I love many architects. However, it’s hard not to be bitter when insanely intelligent and hard-working designers everywhere are being downgraded to decorator status, and much of this title-slinging comes from architects as much as it does clients and peers.
Let me cover my bases. I am in no way disrespecting decorators, either. However, I have over $100,000 in student loan debt, only half of the upper part of my right index finger, and several lasting health conditions to show for my efforts in interior design school. Schooling to be a designer is rigorous, expensive, and entirely demanding. Decorators are not required to obtain any degree to practice, and have not in fact been educated in the technicalities of buildings and their systems as interior designers have been. As an interior designer, I am constantly drawing electrical plans and configuring switching patterns; I am relocating plumbing and shopping for rough-in valves. As an interior designer, I am selecting beautiful finishes and then managing their manufacturing. I am designing kitchens and developing every inch of their construction detail. I know the typical spacing of floor joists as well as I know the Pantone color of the year. In fact, I do everything in a project with the exception of load-bearing adjustments. I leave that to the architects and the engineers.
If you’re a member of the general public reading this, familiarize yourself with the differences between decorators and designers. Don’t use the term unless you understand what you are saying, and pay these fields the adequate respect they deserve by properly identifying them. Architects: don’t call yourself an architect unless you’re licensed. No for real, it’s illegal. Also, don’t shy away from working with designers. They are specialized in the psychology of space…who doesn’t want to work with that? Interior designers: don’t be elitist. You need to know when to open your arms to architects and other professionals because you can’t control every part of a project. Also, it’s your duty to educate! If someone calls you a decorator, or pays disrespect to the field of design by not recognizing its vast sea of qualities, correct them. You have to make a point to ensure that the differences are understood so that designers are receiving the accreditation that they deserve in the professional world.
I encourage all of you to read more about the differences between decorators, architects, and interior designers. The NCIDQ website offers a great introduction to the definitions. Aside from this, Google it sometime. You may be surprised to see just how many designers out there are trying to clear the air of this misunderstanding along with me.

Summer or Winter....Always inviting.

Here's a project TTG completed for a client in the resort town of Saugatuck, MI.  Although this home is considered the client's summer residence, she has found it just as comfortable in the winter months.  This winter has been a test of survival for all of us. A home that is this snug and welcoming can help anyone make it to spring!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Before and After

Here's the same room today after The Teich Group transformed it into a working office.  A dramatic floor to ceiling shelving wall was built to house part of the owners' library as well as a collection of antique large-gauge toy railroad cars.  Now this room sets the tone for the rest of the house.
This was a typical living room  located to one side of the entry foyer.  It wanted to be an important room but, being small and somewhat removed from the other living spaces of the house, it was nondescript and under utilized.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

For years I've heard the phrase "the devil is in the details."  I don't know about the "devil" but I do know that the "details" can make or break a project. For a designer, it might be a molding detail, or a door location, or a window treatment, or a paint color.  For the client, it may be something much different.

I was reminded of this yesterday.  I met with a client who was looking for a new counter top material to be used in her laundry room.  She was determined to select a natural stone. She felt that granite would have the depth and richness she was looking for.  In her previous home she had installed a polished limestone.  As many of you know, limestone is very porous and even with a professional sealer applied, it is so absorbent that it stains almost immediately.  She definitely wanted to avoid that.  Unfortunately, the one stone she was attracted to was another polished limestone.  I suggested she look at one of the new man-made quartz products as an alternative.  To say the least, she was some what skeptical. I made arrangements to meet her at a local tile and stone showroom, Ciot.  This chic designer showroom displays incredible  products including porcelain, ceramic, glass and stone tile. They also have a large warehouse featuring slabs of onyx, marble, granite, and man-made quartz. 

While the client and I were discussing counter top alternatives I mentioned to her that the surface we had just set our coffee cups on was a quartz product. It was approximately the color she was looking for and it had a lot of the "depth" that she thought she could only get with granite.  After looking at all the alternatives, her final decision was for the Caesarstone's "Shitake."




The time spent looking for a counter top that met the visual and functional needs of the client was well worth it.  She came away from the meeting satisfied that one of her "detail" concerns had been addressed. 



Thursday, January 9, 2014

This is going to be a hard act to follow!

Yesterday we met with our client who is moving from a suburban home on 2.5 acres to a townhouse in the neighboring city of Birmingham, MI.  The above photograph of their current living room illustrates their appreciation of art, antiques and fine detail.  We are taking many of these furnishings, objects and are and moving them to the new house. 

This is the new living room.  It has completely different proportions (floor layout, ceiling heights, window openings, etc.) which would usually require furnishing, lamp and accessory selections that reflected this more expansive space.  Over the next couple of months we'll be sharing pictures of the transformation.


What we really want to share with you is the process a designer goes through when tackling a job like this.

Initially, we make an inventory of the clients' existing furniture, rugs, lamps, accessories, art and various other objects that make up their home.  We document all of them with photographs along with meticulous measurements..  We take that documentation and develop an initial furniture layout with rug and lamp locations.  This "map" illustrates where there are empty spaces requiring additional pieces.  Over a series of meetings with the clients the proposed layout is reviewed and approved by them. 

At this stage we keep things pretty loose and sketchy.  Nothing is hard lined onto the drawing.  We don't want to intimidate the client into thinking that the decisions are final and carved in stone.  Continuing discussions lead to modifications.  This drawing was developed for final review at which time the sofa facing the fireplace was switched with the two chairs and the sofa table was eliminated. Also, by request of the clients,  the secretary and two chairs in the gallery hall are being moved into the great room and will be placed on the wall to the left of the fireplace.  (I'm not sure that will work but we'll see at the time of installation.) 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Good Morning!  Michigan is one of the MANY states hit by a major winter storm.  We are all digging out while the temps are still bearable in hopes that tomorrow's subzero weather won't bring with it more snow.
This is the scene directly outside our office door.  This doesn't start to show how miserable it is out there.  Hopefully, most of you are home, sitting in front of a fire and drinking a hot cup of cocoa.

This morning as I was getting ready for work I had HGTV on my TV set and was listening to the Property Brothers.  They were discussing the "scope of work" and the "budget." The show delivers on its hype. Like most of the viewers I was impressed with the final product. BUT (and this is a big BUT) the budgets are totally unrealistic.  From a professional's viewpoint, who has had 35 years experience working with builders, it is obvious to me that the Brothers labor costs are greatly reduced or non-existent.  Materials used in their projects must be donated or sold "at or below" cost.  I have just gone through the renovation process myself.  I was able to do a lot of the purchasing myself (which saved me money) but the budget averaged $80.00/sq. ft.  Most homeowners planning a renovation project should plan on spending $80 to $100/sq. ft. and more if they elect to use higher end finishes, appliances, etc.  It is great fun to see the finished projects on the many TV design shows but the unrealistic expectations they create can put a real damper on a project when applied to the real world.

I have a couple of interesting projects coming up in the near future that I will be sharing with you.  One involves rebuilding a home that was destroyed by fire this past fall.  The clients have a real sense of their design esthetic and should be a lot of fun to work with.  The other clients are moving from a suburban colonial on a heavily landscaped 2.5 acre lot to a detached townhouse in Birmingham, MI.  They have collected beautiful antiques while traveling the world.  It was wonderful working with them on the last house and I'm looking forward to another exciting experience working on this new one.

Oh, and one more thing......

I work with two wonderful people, Stanley and Tracey.  Stan is a senior designer with the firm and Tracey acts as our project manager.  From time to time, they will also be posting on this site.  They will have their own unique "take" on the projects coming out of our studio. 

Enjoy your day.  Stay warm and stay safe.

Steve