In case the following review is too lengthy, I’ll sum it up by saying that working with Sandy was a pleasure, and the finished product is beyond my expectations.
I worked with Sandy on the design/renovation of my newly-purchased lake house. It was built in 1969, stood at around 2,800 square feet, and had 5 beds, 3 baths. In short, it needed to be nearly gutted and redone. I hired Sandy due largely to the style of some of her past projects being quite similar to what I had in mind. Specifically, I was shooting for a rustic/industrial mix, and liked the work she had done along those lines. Many other designers in the area seemed to have a style that would result more in a cookie cutter suburb-looking house that just happened to be located on a lake, and less in the cozy and peaceful retreat that paid tribute to the surrounding nature vibe (which was my end goal). Additionally, I found her pricing to be competitive and fair. Finally, as her company’s name suggests, her process is a collaborative one. I wanted to take part in the design process, rather than blindly hand decisions over to someone and then just cut the check. I learned more about tile and flooring and paint and bedding and light fixtures and so on… than I ever expected to know. But it resulted in our playing complementary roles in the partnership, and probably in both of our feeling as if we built the house with our own hands.
Sandy’s value came from three main factors. First, most obviously, was the design aptitude and experience. Part of the reason I hired a designer, was to push me out of my comfort zone, and prevent everything from ending up a typical male-chosen brown or grey. Sandy delivered, challenging me here and there, and presenting ideas that added interest to the house, while still respecting my style. She demonstrated excellent attention to detail and sense for the space and the vision, even accounting for how the individual elements would play off of each other, to form the full effect. Also, as part of that style and design guidance, she was able to provide recommendations that maximized the impact of my reno budget. For example, she advised on where putting extra money into higher-end finishes (reclaimed wood, for instance) would make a significant impact and create a “wow factor”. And conversely, she was able to steer me toward “standard” options in other areas that would be less impactful and didn’t require the extra investment. Second, she was able to help me arrive at conclusions that, without her, would have taken hours upon hours of googling, and would still lack practical knowledge. For example, she has a band of vendors that she trusts, and they do good work. At the outset of my project, I was insistent upon calling several options, pricing them out, looking at reviews, etc. But it wasn’t scalable for me to do that across the board, and it wouldn’t even necessarily result in the best decision. By the end of the project, I was jumping at the chance to just roll with one of her recommendations. There’s significant value in that network, and in not having to agonize over vendor selection. Finally, she was helpful in guiding me through the process. This was my first property, and definitely my first renovation. And with a full-time job keeping me busy, I was only able to learn so quickly on the fly. She was gracious in walking me through what factors I should consider, and in anticipating questions and decisions that would need to be addressed. And she was also able to handle the tactical items (confirming specs with vendors, asking clarifying questions, etc.) that I either wouldn’t have had the time to do, or wouldn’t have thought to do.
Lastly, I’ll say that I work in consulting, where we often evaluate team members via the theoretical airport test. That is – if you were stuck in an airport for hours with this person, would you be ok with it, or would you pray for it to be over (out of boredom/frustration/whatever). I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed working with Sandy. I looked forward to our meetings, and the discovery/decision processes that unfolded; and I always walked away feeling like we accomplished a lot. So, I would be fine getting stuck in an airport with her. As long as she doesn’t make me look at any more tile samples ever again. ;)