Before and After

Before and After

I've always been intrigued by the power of transformation. There is something about personal change in particular that is so inspiring. Seeking improvement, whether it be increased confidence, a new job, or a sense of inner peace, is inherently hopeful. And seeing someone’s journey from “before” to “after” can be really captivating too. Television shows spotlighting people who, for whatever reason, want change have been hugely popular. While the final reveal is exciting, what’s often most interesting to me about a makeover is what happens behind the scenes: the space between the before and after. That’s where the action is, where the work gets done, where things begin to shift. It’s where the magic happens!

Maybe that’s why I love working with people and their homes so much.  Whether a blank canvas or a refresh of an existing space, transforming a home is an exhilarating and challenging undertaking. At Dunbar Road, we love to showcase exceptional before-and-after projects (you’ll find a selection on our Instagram page), but getting from Point A – where we started – to Point B – the finished product – involves a multistep process unique to each client, and it’s what I love the most about my job. When I begin a new project, I try to find out as much as I can about the clients and what they envision for their home. Learning about how they live and what works for them (and what currently doesn’t), their budget, and their likes and dislikes all help direct my team and me to the next step: research. Based on the clients’ vision for their home, I approach the design from multiple angles – the style of their home (are they looking to preserve the original character of an older home, or is this a new build?), their personal preferences (what words do they use to describe their style?), the people who will be living there (do they have children or pets?) and how they envision living in their space (do they entertain often?). I consult books, from architecture to art and design to textiles, and whether it’s a project nearby or out of town, I learn as much as I can about the region and neighborhood. I comb through the inspiration files I’ve curated over the years, and I always seek input from my team. The internet is a wealth of information, but I find it can be overwhelming and not always the best use of my time. Reading, discussion, and thoughtful consideration are often my best resources.

Selecting textiles and furniture for the space takes time and a fair amount of trial and error. Pulling fabric, trim, and wallpaper options can feel like a puzzle. The basic framework comes together, but often as many selections don’t work as do, and we continue to reevaluate as we look through our design library. Hardware considerations are another part of the puzzle – door knobs, cabinet pulls, faucet sets, the list goes on. It takes a while, and I often think about a project throughout my day, allowing it all to “marinate” until it forms a cohesive picture. But it’s important that we don’t take too much time; there’s a fine line between careful consideration and overthinking. Often our initial designs are not far from what we ultimately present to our clients.

And that’s the next step: revisiting with our clients and presenting a carefully curated selection of options for their home. These meetings are key to the next phase of a project. We listen to their feedback and tweak our design as needed to get it just right. A lot of time is spent coordinating with our vendors on availability and timing. Communicating with everyone involved is a constant priority and essential to the overall success of a project – from the client to the general contractor to the furniture builder and wallpaper hanger. Everyone plays a significant role. Does it all go smoothly? How I wish I could say it always does! Issues present themselves, but we face them and ask, how do we fix this and move forward?

Installation day is exciting for everyone involved. We see it all come together, and it’s incredible. The energy is high as deliveries are made, draperies and art are hung, and final accessories are placed. Our goal is to please (and hopefully wow) our clients, and when we see them happy, we’re beyond thrilled.

And so we have the “after” – a beautiful space that’s a reflection of the owner and how they want to live. What’s behind the wow are the hours spent dreaming, scheming, planning, and refining. It’s not magic, but it’s hard not to call it magical.

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