New interior design business mixes modern and traditional
Two friends, who met years ago while working at a New York City design firm, have recently joined together to create a fresh, innovative interior design business in Rowayton.
Elena Phillips and Cristin deVeer, who both grew up in Connecticut, met in 2004 when they worked at Cullman & Kravis, one of New York's most highly-regarded design firms. There they discovered a friendship and a common goal of creating their own design businesses. They teamed up and decided to work out of Phillips' barn on her property in Rowayton. deVeer still lives in New York City, reverse commuting a few days a week to Fairfield County. They chose Rowayton because of the small-town feel, as well as its vicinity to the big city.
"It's a great balance," Philips said. "We have clients in both New York City and Connecticut. We're meeting more local vendors (here) and people have been receptive of us."
Inside the white barn, Phillips and deVeer meet with clients, discuss ideas and pore over fabric and paper samples. They are an extremely organized, efficient team; every project has a binder, and every fabric scrap has a bin. Labels indicate specific items and shelves hold numerous materials. Phillips and deVeer pride themselves on creating custom looks for every home and business they design. They work with each client to reveal the overall look and feel of the space, and they then match the idea to the items that the space will hold.
Every item is handpicked and has many working ideas attached to it. Phillips uses a common throw pillow as an example.
"We pick the fabric, trim, color and size of the pillow," she said. "It all works together."
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The bins in their office contain the pillow's material so they can show their clients an overall look.
"It's a lot of logistics," Phillips said. "Every client has a binder; we keep track of packages, work with vendors for the installation. We completely orchestrate everything."
Once Phillips deVeers Interiors has all of the details set up and ready to go, they install everything into the space. Paint goes on the walls, furniture is brought in, artwork is hung up, light bulbs are screwed in and decorative items are arranged. Then they have the big reveal with their client.
"Our overall look is modern with a traditional twist," deVeer said. "We have a young feel -- fun, chic and modern."
Phillips said they use these looks to decorate many different types of spaces -- from city apartments, to small spaces, to entire homes.
"Every job has fun aspects," she said. "We're happy doing all sizes (of spaces). We mix our knowledge of fine antiques and use custom companies. We can work with all budgets."
Phillips deVeer Interiors has noticed that recent trends in interior design include getting more for your money and sticking to a family-friendly, timeless look.
"People are watching their money, so there are budget concerns. We price things out in tiers," Phillips said. "A common request is making things durable, beautiful and being able to handle family living. People want a timeless style -- something that can evolve with the times."
Phillips deVeer interiors offers some tips on sprucing up your home:
White is timeless. "You can have a white kitchen forever," Phillips said;
A fresh coat of paint can cheaply update any room;
Add a splash of color with a new pillow or cashmere throw;
Reupholster your sofa for a big impact;
Use layers of lighting. Include a ceiling light or chandelier, lamps and sconces in the same room;
Pretty accent pieces or accessories go a long way.
Recently, Phillips deVeer Interiors created a chair for Pink Aid's Pink Chair Luncheon and Fashion Show fundraiser at Mitchells of Westport. The designers were invited to create a pink chair that would be one of many auctioned off for charity. They lacquered a cushion back chair white, added intricately patterned pink upholstery and finished it with a turquoise trim to add more color.
"It was a traditional chair made more young," deVeer said. "We decided to pipe it in turquoise -- which is our signature."
The team enjoyed being a part of the large Fairfield County event. They hope to participate in more events in the future.
Phillips and deVeer hope they can continue to expand their brand, gain new clients and become well-known in the area. Phillips noted that there's always an end to a project and they have to gain new ones to continue with success.
"It's fun, but jobs do finish. We hope to expand and have more employees (in the future)," Phillips said. "We have a lot of ideas."