Greetings from the interior
Want to avoid a ‘so-so’ makeover?
When Sheila Tripp and her husband returned to B.C. after a four-year California sojourn, they returned to a tired and dated home on the West Vancouver waterfront.
Armed with all the designer magazines she could find, she set out to take on the job on her own. Then reality set in: the thought of choosing furniture, fabric, draperies, carpets and tiles for her large home threatened to overwhelm her.
Where to start? “We rented out our home while living in California and when we returned, we realized our 20-year-old house really needed freshening up,” says Tripp. “When I thought about all the legwork involved, we decided to hire an interior designer to help us.”
Tripp had seen the work of Vancouver interior designer Robert Ledingham in a number of home and garden journals, and gave him a call.
“He came and met me the very next day and I instantly liked his manner and ideas,” says Tripp. “After a few meetings, he gave us suggestions and incorporated our vision into some designs.”
In hiring Robert Ledingham, Tripp and her husband hired a man who has provided interior-design services to homeowners and builders and developers for four decades, work that has generated more than 26 awards and made him the first Canadian to receive the International Interior Design Association Leadership Award, as a 2006 story on an honorary doctorate granted by his alma mater, the University of Manitoba reports.
Tripp loved many of his suggestions, but there were some she rejected. “Bob didn’t pressure us to go with an idea we didn’t like; instead, he had alternatives he presented to us,” she says.
Not only did Ledingham come up with innovative structural ideas that hadn’t occurred to the couple; the renowned designer also had access to an extensive selection of samples - everything from flooring to fabric, and granite to sinks and lighting - and that made a daunting task easy to manage.
“It would have taken me days and days to source out everything he had right in his office,” says Tripp.
Ledingham, who owns Ledingham Design Consultants, has had his work featured in many architectural design magazines and books, including Spectacular Homes of Western Canada. He says he takes time to get to know prospective clients so that his recommendations will reflect their personalities, lifestyles, and wants and needs.
When asked if he’s ever had to walk away from a project, he laughs and nods. He likens the relationship between an interior designer and client to that of a married couple: “it’s very close and personal and often lasts for more than a year.”
“When conflict arises, sometimes you both have to throw up your hands and say the best thing is to part ways,” he says, noting that delays can be stressful, yet are unfortunately often unavoidable. “However, most interior designers try very hard to work through problems, but sometimes personalities conflict and it’s best not to prolong it.”
At Country Furniture interior decorator Marlene Seguin of Vancouver is also in the business of helping people beautify their homes. “I like to help customers take their house and create a home,” says Seguin.
She’s often asked by clients to work alongside a contractor to help with layout. She may be called upon to do something as simple as accessorizing a room - to decide what to place on a table or countertop - or to design a room around an anchor piece.
“For example, a client had an antique sideboard inherited from their grandmother and they didn’t know what furniture would look good with it,” she says.
She says interior decorators and designers can offer clients a “new set of impartial eyes.”
“When you walk into your house day in and day out, sometimes you can’t see anything other than what you have, you can’t picture any other way for the room or rooms to look,” Seguin says. “I can help give a fresh perspective to a client’s space and create ones that reflect the homeowner’s personality.
“A home should almost scream who the person is who lives there.”
Interior decorators typically charge $50 an hour, she adds. “However, if clients hire me and then purchase furnishings or rugs at the store, my fee is deducted from their bill,” says Seguin, who adds this is often typical at larger fine furnishings stores.
Seguin, who studied interior decorating for two years, adds most homeowners have little to no concept about proportion and scale, which are key to form and function in any home.
Ledingham, like many interior designers, often collaborates on larger projects with architect Robert Lemon.
“The relationship between an interior designer and architect can be very close, depending on the job,” Lemon says, noting that an architect is often called in on renovations to design new kitchens, bathrooms, lighting or millwork.
“It’s a good assimilation of talents,” says Lemon, adding that he and Ledingham recently completed a stunning Galiano Island home from the ground up. “Interior designers have, at their disposal, a good source of fabric and material samples, as well as a library of furnishings, which are very useful resources for architects.”
Concord Pacific called on Ledingham to do its Flagship interiors, such as this one on False Creek.
Left: Robert Ledingham works on the interior design of a new-home project. Right: Marlene Seguin of Country Furniture is often asked by clients to work alongside a contractor to help with layout. She may be called upon to do something as simple as accessorizing a room - to decide what to place on a table or countertop - or to design a room around an anchor piece.
Often a room is decorated in a style that enhances a main feature, or a striking piece of furniture.