How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you become an Interior Designer?
To answer this question, it’s probably best that I share with you a defining moment that brought me to where I am today – designing for people like you on exactly what to do to create a beautiful home that is elegant and modern while also maximizing your home value, saving you money and saving you a lot of time and frustration.
I was born to become an interior designer, literally and figuratively; it was in my genes. My father was an engineer and architect, and my mother was a creative jack-of-all-trades: master chef, astrologer, designer & florist just to name a few. Growing up, my family and I lived all over the world and traveled extensively, so my environment has always been a reflection of all things beautiful and comfortable. At the time, I didn't realize the significance the environment had on me until I moved to London.
In 1999, I was in the final year of finishing my degree in US Foreign Policy when I realized that I couldn’t see myself doing that as a lifelong career. I had a British passport, so I decided to move to London and took a job with a company that sold luxury home goods, bedding, and accessories. The first seed was planted.
Surprisingly, I was working in a setting that was cluttered and chaotic. The office was small, cramped with desks, which seemed just shoved into spaces, and no air conditioning. It was loud, morale was low, and everyone was miserable. There was no way I could be productive in that environment, so I approached the COO with a design plan and was given permission to redo the office space. I added dynamic colors, purchased new desks and chairs, which were now set up in pods, so people could actually work together and not yell from across the office. BONUS! I also got us air conditioning, which is pretty much unheard of in London! There was an immediate shift in my co-workers' performance and mood. People were ecstatic. It was an epiphany: change your environment; change your experience. I was also able to do it on BUDGET, on TIME and my clients (my bosses at the time) did not have to think about it again after giving me the go-ahead. They got a substantive change without worrying about details, were able to incorporate more people into a dynamically-growing company and thus build it to make more profits!
In 2004, I moved back to the United States knowing I needed to live in a city where I would feel fostered and supported by the environment. LA has become my soul’s home. For nine months, I worked in the movie industry and loved the respite, but knew I wasn’t living my life’s purpose. A friend who helped me revise my resume came running into my home one day exclaiming that he found the perfect job for me on Craigslist as an interior designer. No one had applied because it was misfiled. The seed that was planted in London now began to bloom.
The dictionary defines interior as being within; inside of anything; internal; inner; further toward a center. I realized that I am not just an interior designer who buys furniture and selects paint color - I help homeowners to substantially change their experience of their home and their future by creating dramatic changes in their home while they are able to go on living their lives in the process. I deal with every detail, saving you time and frustration. I have been in the business for long enough (14 years now!) to know where to spend money and where to save it, all of which saves you money in the short & long term!
Do you have tons of photos pinned on Pinterest but don’t know how to translate the aspiration to experience? Do you have the budget and the desire but no time to deal with all of the decisions and details that go into redesigning your home? Or maybe you have no idea where to start and want to find the easiest and most affordable way to create a luxuriously comfortable and beautiful space!
What makes me different from other Interior Designers?
Many designers are great creatives, but they do not have business skills or the focus and organization of details. Ashleigh Underwood Design is different than the rest. I look at design projects from a business standpoint and greatly value sticking to a budget, working from a timeline and providing ALL of the information and details clearly and easily. I use spreadsheets to delineate every single item used by the contractor to complete the work from plumbing to wall finishes and everything in between. I provide information both digitally and in clearly organized binders to be held on the job site for all to refer to. I bill and take payments online for ease and expedience. I also have a team that includes an organizational expert and a digital designer, so you can see your project in 3D BEFORE we start. We save you time and save you money, PERIOD.
What type of personality do you work best with and what is expected of me?
I work well with all kinds of people. On some projects, the homeowner is my main point of contact and on others, it’s the Architect or Contractor. Ultimately I am a clear communicator and appreciate that in return. I don't shy away from the difficult conversations that can sometimes happen with construction and I expect my clients to be clear and direct.
For what type of people are your programs NOT going to work?
Please know I’m very selective in who I work with and I cherry-pick my clients, choosing to (gently) turn away people who aren’t suited or are not ready. It is best if you have a clear idea of the scope of work, a starting point on budget and some fundamental ideas of what you want the outcomes to be. If you have only one of these, that’s good enough to start, since I have some great tools for drawing out the rest from you. Few people come to our first call with all three, but you MUST have at least one.
What is the Process?
Phase I – Feasibility
The objective of this phase is to evaluate the conceptual design requirements of the project, prepare and present design concepts for preliminary review and approval.
- Establish Scope of Project
- Establish Organizational and Design Criteria with Owner
- Schematic Space and/or Furnishings Plan
Phase II - Schematic Design
The design concept is more developed and drawn from the approved preliminary concepts presented in Phase I. Documents are prepared which include initial space and furniture plans, lighting concepts, and concepts for colors, material, and finishes, and the selection of specific furnishings.
- Define Interior Concept Design
- Refine and Develop Furniture Plans
- Identify Colors, Materials, and Finishes for Each Area
- Delineate Furniture Style Concepts
- Conceptual Design Presentation
Phase III - Design Development & Documentation
This phase is an extension where all architectural documents and preliminary furniture specifications are prepared for approval and implementation. The following will be drawn to be incorporated in an architectural documentation package. The plans submitted are not intended to be architectural permit plans that would be submitted to the building department. They are to be used by the client, contractors, and architect for design intent, non-structural layout, and fixture locations.
- Fixture and Furniture Plans
- Finish Plans & Elevations
- Prepare Design Development Estimate for Overall Project
- Phase IV - Specifications & Purchasing
Furniture & Finish Specification Documents
- Detailed Specifications
- Dimensioned drawings (construction documentation for design intent)
- Vendor Cut Sheets
- Finish Samples
- Material Samples
- Furniture, Fixture, Equipment & Materials Purchasing
In this part of the phase, we create all of the purchase orders for the FF&E and materials from the specifications written and issue and track vendor production.
- Issue Purchase Order
- Issue Vendor Checks
- Track Production Cycle
- Quality Control & Management of Any Defects, Reorders, Returns
Can I contact some of your former clients to see what it is like to work with you?
Yes, I encourage you to! Please go to the Client Testimonials page and read all of them. See which ones you feel drawn to, either because the person has gotten the results you want to get too, or perhaps because that person is in a similar situation. If you would like to speak to someone directly, I am always willing to set up a call.
How quickly can I start?
I only work on a few projects at a time. This allows me and my team to provide the detail, client service, and satisfaction and the project management that makes our service so excellent. For this reason, we may not be able to start immediately, but your project will always be started within 4 weeks of signing a contract. If there are extenuating circumstances, we will always work with you on the timeline.
OK, I’m ready to do this for myself, but I have a couple of additional questions. Can I call you?
Good, sounds like you’re ready to be in action! Yes, just book a time with me and I’ll be happy to walk you through the different options to see which one will be the very best for you. I can’t wait to see you succeed and am honored to be the one to help you. Let’s get going!
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Much Love, Ashleigh