Continued (page 2 of 4)
Don saw the logic in Judy’s thinking. “In the past, clients may have wanted to use a designer from out of town, sometimes from out of state,” he says. “You have to wait on decisions, and that can add months to the project. Some people do the interior design themselves but then they wind up leaning on me for decisions and that makes my fees go up.”
After interviewing two firms, Judy chose Stephanie Larsen & Associates. She says she and Stephanie had “very similar tastes” and she was impressed by her professionalism from the beginning. Stephanie is a graduate of the Interior Design Institute of Denver where she worked for a design firm before moving to Newport Beach, Calif. She opened Stephanie Larsen & Associates there when she was 24 years old. She moved to Sedona six years ago when she tired of the “rat race” in Southern California and brought her business with her. She is certified with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).
“We met the Ruthvens in November 2004 and we really hit it off,” Stephanie says. “They liked the fact that there were three of us [designers] so someone was always available to answer their questions. We also understood their style and what they liked.”
After the Ruthvens chose Stephanie and her team, which included Lynne Montedonico and Barbara Young (Stephanie and Lynne are both contributors to Sedona Monthly), they met with the designers to review photos from magazines and pictures of the interior of one of the Ruthvens’ Florida homes. Judy says she told Stephanie she wanted “casual elegance” and that she was partial to the rich earth tones in her other home.
Stephanie says she likes to choose one main focal piece with her clients and design around it. In this case, it was a classic Northern Persian rug with a tribal design incorporating colors Judy loves: lichen green, gold, lemon, cranberry, cinnamon and beige. The 11-square-meter rug is made from fine young handspun wool – super soft on bare feet – and was hand woven in Azerbaijan and hand finished in Pakistan over a period of 14 months. It sits in the great room under a large glass coffee table.
Stephanie says there are five phases in her contract with a client: interview, design development, interior design plan, purchasing, and delivery and installation. It was in the design development phase that the rug was chosen, along with hard surfaces such as cabinetry, flooring, tile, wall paint and textures, plumbing and lighting. It took about six months to choose all the hard surfaces and from there the interior design plan began. The Ruthvens and Stephanie’s team first designed the furniture layout and then chose furniture styles and shapes that best fit each room.
“The space plan is so important,” Stephanie says. “You have to figure out the flow and function of each room – do the homeowners plan on entertaining? Do they play a lot of games? Do they have kids, which might mean using more durable fabrics?”
The Ruthvens wanted to be able to entertain indoors and outdoors, which led to custom iron patio furniture with comfy cushions in rust, green and gold, and travertine-topped tables. Judy likes that she can open the glass walls in the great room to create one large entertaining space with plenty of seating for her guests.
After the furniture, fabrics, window coverings and bedding has been selected, Stephanie says it’s time to go shopping. Custom furniture must be ordered four months prior to the completion date because delivery can take up to 16 weeks. Judy joined Stephanie and her team for a shopping excursion in Scottsdale in fall 2005 to pick out accessories at art galleries, home stores and interior design centers accessible only by professional designers, which offer furniture and accessories at wholesale prices, and let designers take items to the home on loan in order to make sure they work. If the homeowner likes what they see, Stephanie buys the piece.