Lori Dennis Celebrity Luxury Interior Designer | Blog

A blog about luxury and green living by top interior designer Lori Dennis

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How to Hire an Architect or Designer, Part I

So you want to remodel your home and you're not sure where to start.  Don't panic.  We're here to help guide you through the steps of starting your project and will point you in the right direction. If this is your first time, the whole process of building your dream might make you a little nervous. Just relax and read up on our 3 Part Series that will help you along the process. Depending on what you'd like to do, you will mostly likely need a Builder or Contractor and an Architect or Interior Designer. #1 What is the Difference Between an Architect and an Interior Designer? While they each have their own special skills, they often overlap in certain areas.  A simplified description might be that Architects focus on the exterior and structure of a building, and Interior Designers focus on the interior (and sometimes exterior).  If you're interested in adding on to your home, you will most likely also need a Structural Engineer.  Both Architects and and most Interior Designers have years of training and are certified to design all types of buildings - not only homes.  They have studied design, architecture, construction, building codes and sustainability.  Both will redesign and move interior walls, plumbing and electrical, and create computer generated construction plans and elevations.  Both specify finish materials for your walls and floors and oversee the progress in construction.  And both focus on beautiful form, function, needs and safety of the users. It's common for people to assume Interior Designers are merely decorators.  While it's true that designers have an impeccable eye for aesthetics, more importantly they are designing how you use and feel within a space.  They create a space plan and appropriately select furniture, lighting, drapery, art, color, texture and finishes so your space feels rich and layered. Looking for a Professional who is a Green Design Expert? Look for an Architect or Interior Designer who is LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional).  Designers and Architects who are LEED certified have advanced knowledge and training in the world of green design and are one step ahead in creating a healthy space for you. If you're interested, I happened to write the book on Green Interior Design which will help you create beautiful interiors while lessening the waste and pollution generated by the building industry.   #2 How Do I Find an Architect or Interior Designer? Word of Mouth This is one of the best ways to look for a professional to help you with your space.  Ask your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.  Reach out to your online community on Facebook or Nextdoor. Online Check out sites like Houzz or The Franklin Report and Look for Pros in your area. Local Chapters  These organizations are a great source for finding licensed Architects and Interior Designers near you. AIA (American Institute of Architects) ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) IIDA (International Interior Design Association) Websites Once you've narrowed down your search to a handful of Designers or Architects, look through their website. Does their work excite you?  Do you have a similar design style you're interested in? Really think about the kind of space you want and start collecting images.  You can easily start an Ideaboard on Houzz, Pinterest or your own computer files.  Having images you like will help you visualize and begin the creative path.      #3 Pick Up The Phone When you have your list of people you'd like to potentially work with, it's time to start a conversation. Be Prepare to Answer Questions About Your Project: What is the style of your space? When was it built? How many square feet is it? What are your goals with the project? (Would you like to add on? Remodel the kitchen and bathrooms?  Add new windows, doors, flooring, paint and lighting? Do you need new furniture or will you bring in your old items into a fresh space?) What is your personal style? What are your priorities What is on your Wish List? What is your budget? (They ask not so they can spend every dime, but so they know what level of work to be done and finishes they can specify.) When would you like the project to be completed? (They should be able to give you a rough estimate of how long this might take.)  These 3 Tips should be enough to get you started. Stay tuned for Part II and Part III on How to Hire an Architect or Interior Designer. Next Up: #4 Meet Your Architect or Interior Designer #5 Understand the Designer's Process #6  What are the Architect's or Interior Designers's Services #7  The Digital Age of Design #8  How Much do Interior Designers and Architects Charge? #9  Who Will Hire the Builder or Contractor


Manual of American Interior Design

  We are thrilled to be published in the Manual of American Interior Design, along with friends Timothy Corrigan and Joe Lucas. The editors have done a beautiful job of capturing stylistic building techniques and furniture from the Early American Colonial Period through Modernism.  The book is filled with rich colors, textures and variety and our project Club Laurel Canyon was featured in the chapter of California Style. Images for our project Photography by: Ken Hayden


Green Interior Design: How Do I Know If I’m Buying Green Furniture and Building Materials?

Anyone see the smog images from China lately? If you had any questions about how the environment is adversely affected by  the manufacturing of goods and materials, you're likely a believer after viewing those photos.  For those of you who think, "oh it's all the way in China, it won't hurt me", think again.  The atmosphere doesn't require a passport. Believe it or not, furniture, accessories and materials used in buildings are a significant portion of what's being manufactured in China, and around the world. Something as simple as the curtains hanging in your kitchen is playing a role in the causes for the disturbing images below.   If you're asking yourself questions like, "Am I partially responsible and if so, what can I do?" -- you're not alone.  As consumers are becoming more aware about how a product is made, what it is made of and the amount of energy it takes to manufacturer, transport and package it, we are equally concerned about what our choices mean to our planet and our health.  The problem we're facing is far from that we are apathetic,  it's the frustration at the lack of knowledge available regarding the "ingredients" of what we're buying. One way to help decipher healthier choices for the planet (and your body)  is with third party certifications that I discuss in detail in my book Green Interior Design. Green Interior Design by Lori Dennis Some of them include researching the following organizations: Greenguard Green Label Plus GreenSeal BIFMA level FloorScore Green Squared FSC Greenguard Gold Organizations aiding in research for Sustainable Product and Material Research include: USDA Certified Biobased (Biobased Products), Building Green (Building Materials), Cradle to Cradle (Material Chemistry), SMaRT (Material Life-Cycle Assessment), Pharos Project (Material Toxicity) and SCS Global(Sustainable Products and Testing). The list is daunting, I know.  However, the information found at these organization's websites is pretty simple to understand if you take the time to read it.  And if you're facing issues like asthma, fatigue, constant illness or you're aware of the fact that our resources are limited and our planet is under a chemical attack, a few hours of reading doesn't seem that impossible to accomplish. Once you've digested the information, it's so much easier to make wiser choices about pieces that are going into your home or workplace or those of your clients.  Further, once you understand who does what, you can look for the labels from manufacturers for clues that about what you're buying.  We've learned to do this with our food, so the process is familiar. Some logos to look for: USDA Certified Biobased Products Logo Building Green Logo Cradle to Cradle Logo Smart Certified Logo Pharos Logo SCS Certified Logo     Just in case you're wondering what the color trend of the season is, take a look at this river downstream from a clothing factory in China.  I'm guessing Persimmon.