Monday, June 22, 2015

0 Lessons from Linwood


It was so refreshing to scroll through social media networks yesterday and see all the love for fathers. With so much craziness going on in the world, I think we are all starving for a celebration of love. Personally, this year was the first year in a long while that I was able to drive 20 minutes down the road to see my dad on Father's Day, and I am so thankful for it!

I started to think about the lessons that I've learned from my dad that carry over into my career in design. Some of these lessons he instilled in me purposely, while others I gleaned from his example.

HAVE FUN
Linwood prioritizes having fun in life. He loves to cook and entertain, ride his motorcycle and hang out with his friends and family. I'm not as good as he is at making time to just have fun, but have realized that it truly does increase my productivity. If I don't take a break to laugh, enjoy some good food and people that I love, my work becomes dull.

DIVERSIFY
Even though my dad has been working in healthcare for half of his life, he also created businesses for himself outside of his formal education. He's previously owned several businesses all while maintaining his specialty in radiologic technology. His entrepreneurial spirit has made me think about how I can expand my design services to help more people in various ways.

KNOW YOUR SKILLS
Spend more than an hour around my dad, and I can guarantee that he will tell you that he has 756 skills. What exactly are all these skills? I'm not sure and I don't think anyone really is. The point is, HE knows. He knows what he's great at and what he's not so great at. (Most of the time) he sticks to what he does well so he's more beneficial to others. When I'm designing, I stick to what I'm great at and rely on a team of experts in areas I'm weak in to support my vision.

VALUE YOUR OWN CREATIVITY
I admire my dad's confidence in his own ideas and vision. When he comes up with something, he doesn't hesitate to share it and believes that people will love it. So many times as a creative we are our own worst critic. There have been so many great ideas that never came to fruition because they were cut from a vision before they were given a chance. Whenever I start to question whether my idea is "good enough" - I think of Linwood and at least take a second look!

WORK HARD(ER)
No professional can succeed without giving 110% to what they do. Growing up, my father taught me that nothing worth having comes easy and pushed me to keep going. Quitting was never an option, and being tired was not an excuse. I appreciate my dad teaching me this at a very young age, because it's definitely got me through when I felt like giving up.

What has your father taught you that helps you in your career? I hope y'all have a great Monday!

-Niki

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

3 what does an interior designer do?


If you've been following my blog for a while, then you know that I've had a bunch of jobs. I worked for various retailers, taught music lessons, interned for a hotel design & management company, etc. etc....

In all of these positions, no one questioned me about what my job duties entailed. It's pretty straight forward when you tell someone that you're a piano teacher; they know that you show someone how to play the piano and coach them on how to play more beautifully.

When I tell people that I'm an interior designer at an architecture firm, I'm usually met with a look of confusion and a slow nod. OR, my favorite response, "So you can help me decorate my living room!"

Well.... yes, I can help you with your living room, but that's not what I do at my firm. I love decorating and styling, but, there is very little of either in my job role. I realize that this confusion comes from a few things. First, the overall misconception of the general public that the titles designer and decorator and interchangeable. The two job roles overlap, but have distinct differences. Second, most people just don't know what it takes to actually build out the interior of a building. We inhabit them all the time, but most don't think about how they became what they are.

In my current role, I follow a process with every client to ensure they have a space that is both functional, boosts productivity & wellness and is beautiful too. Here's how it goes:


PROGRAMMING
Most of the time, my client is actually a commercial real estate broker who is hoping to occupy a space in a building with a tenant. That tenant has a list of requirements for that space, and my job is to assist the broker with creating a floor plan that will incorporate all their needs within an available vacancy in a building. But first, their needs have to be identified! How many people need offices? How much storage do you need? Does the tenant host visitors frequently? These are all questions that determine the program. Once the program is nailed down, then I create a schematic design plan.



SCHEMATIC DESIGN
For example, say a client needs 10 offices, has 8 workstations, needs a break room, conference room and work room, and there is a 5,000 square foot vacancy in a building. My job is plan out the space in a way that simultaneously meets the tenant's needs, adheres to building codes and stays under the broker's budget. Whenever a tenant fit-up is negotiated into their lease agreement, there is a cap on how much they can spend on building alterations within that lease without paying additional money beyond their rent. After a space plan has been finalized, the fun part starts!


DESIGN DEVELOPMENT
During design development, the details are laid out. This is when lighting plans are created, flooring is selected, paint colors and more! At this point, the tenant gets to choose what makes their space unique. I love this stage of the process because it really makes the space come alive for the tenant. I can show them actual carpet samples, paint samples and they start to visualize how the space will feel.


CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS
After the space plan has been defined, finishes have been selected and the tenant has signed off, I use AutoCAD to draft very detailed documents that instruct a general contractor on how to build out the space. This includes dimensions, millwork drawings, electrical details, lighting plans, and finish specifications. In order to receive a building permit, these drawings have to be reviewed and signed by an architect. Hence, why I work in an architecture firm! After I've prepared a set of drawings, my architect reviews them to make sure they are structurally sound and signs them. We pair our architectural sheets with drawings from engineers who at the same time have been creating drawings that dictate electrical, mechanical and plumbing requirements. That complete set is submitted to the city or town where the building is located in order to gain a building permit.


CONSTRUCTION OBSERVATION
After the permit has been received, construction starts! A general contractor and his crew comes in to tear down anything that needs to be removed and prepare the space for the new layout. I make periodic visits to the site to make sure everything is rolling according to plan. Subcontractors send submittals to me for review to make sure millwork is built correctly and lighting is installed properly, for example.


PUNCH LIST
When all the building is done, we walk through and make sure that all the details we specified are actually there. At this point, the tenant usually has begun moving in their furniture and the space starts to feel like "home".

So you see, there is no decorating involved in this process. Once a certificate of occupancy has been received and the tenant has moved in, they can choose to do what they like with the space. There are interior designers who specialize in decorating corporate office spaces, and do not do any of the process I just described. There are designers who do not do commercial office design at all, and only decorate homes where they wouldn't need to go through all or some of the steps I listed above.

I have been blessed to do both commercial and residential design and love both of them! By no means am I saying one is better than the other. In fact, I think having experience in both helps any designer serve their clients better. The thing I love the most about design is that it is a balance between creativity and structure. Working at an architecture firm allows me do what I love every day and no day is the same. Consulting for residential clients allows me to keep my hand in decorating. Both continually impact the lives of people in a positive way, which means so much to me.

Questions? Comments? Tweet me, or leave a comment on Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, June 8, 2015

8 where i've been for the last year+

...It's been so long I forgot how to log into Blogger. Literally!

It's been quite a while y'all...

Where have I been for the last year or so? Well, "Where haven't I been?" is a better question. In 2014, I was working full-time and in-school part time, I lived in 3 different residences, had 3 different jobs and lived in 2 states. Yep, I moved back to Raleigh, North Carolina in November and I am loving being back in my home city & state.

I started off the year finishing up the last of 13 episodes of Elbow Room - and got to see my work on HGTV! What an amazing experience. I still miss the crew and the fast pace of TV all the time.


I (finally) graduated from Meredith College with my degree in Interior Design & Studio Art. I cannot even describe the level of emotion I felt when I put on my cap & gown that day to walk across the stage. I wrote a little about it on Instagram, which you can read here. I participated in the graduation ceremony on May 3rd, but I still had one class to finish over the summer. By this time, I'd found a Designer position at a small architecture firm in downtown Atlanta and was already working there. The first episode of Elbow Room Season 3 premiered a week later. Talk about an exciting week!


Transitioning into corporate office design was a dream of mine since returning to finish my degree in 2013. When I was hired last year, I was still in school part time and had an hour+ commute each way to my little cubicle Monday - Friday. Getting accustomed to a new field, while tackling school and Atlanta traffic everyday was a lot.

With my commute, every day was a 12 hour day and most of the time, I still had homework to finish for school. My last class met on Saturdays from 8AM to 1PM, so it felt like I had a part-time job until August, when I was finally done. I also became a small group leader for a toddler class at my church, so my Sundays were spent teaching babies about Jesus. :) Blogging just got lost in the shuffle!

In October of last year, after months of stretching myself thin and not taking the best care of myself, my body finally MADE me stop. I spent 5 days in Piedmont Hospital, which I'll tell you more about later. I got sick the same week I was supposed to move to Raleigh to start working for the firm that I am currently with. With God's grace, I made it through that rough patch and was able to start working back at home with my family & friends that I missed so much. Now that I have my head out of the fog of all that, I feel like I can share my evaluated experience with y'all and get back to my normal blogging routine. This blog has always been just as much about my life as it has been about design inspiration, so I feel it's only right for me to keep it an authentic reflection of who and where I am. Last year, I just wasn't in a place where I could do it.

But for those who missed it, I just want to apologize for neglecting this blog for so long. I wrote a similar "I'm back!" post last year and although my intentions were good, I just didn't have the capacity or focus at the time to do it. I've recharged, researched and refocused and I'm ready now!

So, what can you expect moving forward? You'll still hear about what's going on with me, design tips and inspiration, some new technical tips and highlights on the Raleigh area.

What did I miss in your world while I was away? Leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, January 20, 2014

0 the responsibility to lead

janelle monae quote responsibility lead

I thought this quote was so appropriate for MLK Day 2014. I hope that we all take some time to reflect on how Dr. King and others gone before us accepted responsibility to lead, and to think about how we can do the same thing.

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