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Interior Design that Reflects Your Personal Style: An Interview with Lila Levinson of Accent on Design

By Lila Levinson

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

I opened my interior design studio in 1980 and have been helping people make their dream homes come to life ever since. I have a lot of construction knowledge and am a Certified Kitchen Designer with the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and a Certified Interior Designer with the state of California. I am a great space planner and project manager, and have over 30 years experience and many satisfied clients who have used me on multiple projects over the years. We also offer full-service interior design, including furnishings, window coverings, lighting design, fireplace and tile and stone design, color consulting, etc. There is a lot more information on our website (www.accentondesign.net).

What are some important things for people to consider before they start a home design or remodeling project?

Remodeling can be very disruptive to family living so it is important to be realistic about how much time it will take, as well as how much inconvenience it will entail. Of course, a realistic budget is also extremely important.

Can you briefly explain how you help clients with design that matches their needs, desires and style?

Getting to know the client's needs and desires is the very first step in interviewing them, so establishing clear communication is critical. We go over all the things that are important to them including budget, lifestyle, colors, style and texture preferences. We also deal with the practical issues of traffic flow, function of each area, lighting, maintenance, what things they want to keep and what things to change, etc.

Can you briefly explain how you help clients with design that matches their needs, desires and style?

Open communication is critical to designing a successful project. Pictures are worth a thousand words and having clients show me pictures of what they like helps me recognize their style. I spend as much time as is necessary to understand what the client likes and wants. It involves educating them about what is available and what are the pros and cons of different products and designs. Each time I get feedback from them after showing them something, it helps me become more clear on what works best for them.

When people have a good idea of their own style, how can they use that to guide their design choices?

I'm always happy to help people who have a clear idea of what they like and what they want to achieve. It makes the process go more quickly and saves them time and money. My clients usually have excellent taste but don't know how to complete the picture effectively. The small details can make all the difference in how well the project turns out. Since I have access to a lot of items they don't have direct access to and am familiar with the quality of most items, I can help them make good decisions and achieve the look they are after within their budget.

What is one of the biggest challenges that homeowners face when it comes to interior design and how do you help them solve this?

Surprisingly, color selection is a big concern for many clients. They are afraid to use anything other than very basic colors but I can show them how use of color, to whatever degree they are comfortable, to enhance the project and take it out of the safe and ordinary realm. It might just be a little trim or a few pillows that are needed to wake up a room but it is those finishing touches that bring it all together. Clients are often afraid to use darker tones or real colors on walls but I remind them that it's only paint and is one of the cheapest and easiest things to change if they aren't completely happy with it.

What advice do you have to help someone who knows what they like when they see it but doesn't know where to start with their decorating project?

Again, I am able to show them things they would have never found in a retail store or on their own and there has to be a level of trust that what I am suggesting for them will achieve their desired goal. My project management skills and years of experience are valuable in developing a master plan from which to work. We all have a certain amount of ability in many areas but are best at what we specialize in and it's smart to utilize the help of experts in their field. Every interior designer is different, with unique talents and abilities. It is important to do due diligence in selecting one who is right for you. Pricing varies from designer to designer but it's important to compare apples to apples and realize that a lower hourly rate may actually cost more in the long run because the designer may be less experienced and take more time. Their lack of experience may also not produce as successful a project as anticipated.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

The best way to reach my company is usually through email at accentondesign@yahoo.com since we are often out of the office and not available by phone. Potential clients can also leave a voice message at 408-369-9801.

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