Elevated Spaces… One of the biggest thrills for interior designers, is watching different décor elements come together to create just the look they, and their clients, had envisioned—a process that involves more than one viewpoint and a lot of details. For Dana Angelucci, founder of Dalucci Design, based in Philadelphia, the excitement also extends to the improved lifestyles a fresh, “more organized” space can provide to her clients. Nothing gets her going more than the knowledge that something as benign as closets and extra sinks in a bathroom, or “found space” for a kitchen pantry, can have such a huge impact on a homeowner’s state of mind. No matter what a project’s scope is, says Angelucci, it’s the little things that make a difference. But to get to the “little things,” as she often reminds her clients, you have to see the big picture. Then you worry about the details. “Tell me how you live, and then tell me what you want. It’s that simple.” TWE: How long have you been in the interior design business? DA: Officially, about three years. But, my childhood exposure to the architect, construction and design industries pretty much makes me a “lifer.” I can still remember watching my grandfather, father and uncles as they dissected building and remodeling projects on paper and on-‐site. Their conversations fascinated me. Many of the projects I saw from start to finish—from footers being poured, to studs and drywall, to paint and then the final touches—sparkling chandeliers, plush carpets and artwork. All of it enticed me. TWE: Where does the Dalucci philosophy fall in relation to the industry, and also to other designers in the area? DA: One of my core strengths is the comfort level I have in blending—old and new, funky with functional, “glam” with livability—and an ability to draw out and
refine a clients true style. Empowering my clients to trust their instincts creates a unique bond that enables me to build lasting relationships. I also tend to use trends cautiously and strategically, and to keep my design/décor preferences in check. I prefer to enhance rather than bulldoze. And when it comes to resolving space and budget constraints, I am always up for a challenge. It’s the ultimate jigsaw puzzle. When you find the right piece, or design detail that fits, it’s exhilarating. TWE: How do you infuse your personal style into the Dalucci brand? What are some of your signature touches on-‐ and off-‐site? DA: While I promote my clients style first, I do have a few cardinal rules and design pet peeves. First, is organization: My clients learn right away, that this is the key to working with me—and to enjoying their space long after I leave. I take the time to not only design the new organizational system, but also to teach them how and why I did it that way, and tailor it to their own habits so its not such a hard new habit for them to pick up. “Clutter-‐clearing” (re-‐arranging books, picture frames, etc.) and organization both offer instant gratification; I’ve never had a client that didn’t thank me for persuading them to toss or file. And again, my affinity for blending old and new permeates every project. I love getting clients into their attics for a shopping trip. Usually there is something great up there just gathering dust. But through sharing it with me and with guests, a deeper insight is gained into into their personal style, as well as their cultural/familial history. Incorporating this into an updated, beautiful and functional space minimizes any chance that the space will feel rigid or cold because everything is new. I often use earthy tones on the walls for the same reason. TWE: What are some of the challenges facing both designers and their clients in the current economy? DA: The current economy has made designers more resourceful and creative in their sourcing. Salvage is very hot right now, and everyone is shopping around more, which is actually good for all. Buying local has become even more popular, not just because of the product, but because of the quality of customer service and strong relationships — traditional business values that never go out of style.
TWE: What are some of your favorite interiors in the city? DA: That’s a hard question a space is more than just what it looks like… I think of what it feels like when I’m in there. Like was it a comfortable dining experience, shopping experience, etc. Could I see or grab the item easily? My favorite building (inside and out) is the Bellevue Stratford. It’s just so rich in history and so beautiful. I have a deep appreciation for revivals, especially when the integrity of the period style is preserved and the amenities of today are properly integrated TWE: What are some of your favorite design blogs, locally and nationally? DA: Remodelista, Padstyle, 3Rings, Houzz.com– just to name a few. Sometimes I stumble upon a great one, read it, tab it, keep it up a while and then forget – so I am always wandering to see what everyone is doing. I am still a fan of glossy magazines. It’s my nightcap buddy on the weekends… TWE: What was your room like as a kid? How much say did you have in the way it was decorated? DA: I have been rearranging the furniture in my bedroom since I was strong enough to push a bed from one end of the room the other. My mom never got involved or pushed for certain window treatments or anything, so I was always in charge of my space. Thus, I was always imagining new designs for my room and coming up with new ways to hang a curtain, affix it to one side, cut it, re-‐sow it and piece it together. I loved moving my furniture around and that remains true today. Space planning/furniture placement is by far my favorite thing to do when designing. I also find it among the top most important elements when designing a space – like real estate, in design I think… “Location, location, location.” Even the best piece will look horrid in the wrong spot. This spatial inclined designer feels that a good space plan promotes the best design and living environment. Also, when I was young and had just finished rearranging my room (and organizing) I remember feeling so excited and happy, that I didn’t want to leave. My friends still joke today about me going to their houses and rearrange/reorganizing their rooms. TWE: Where do you look for design inspiration? DA: I have a fairly active imagination, so there’s no shortage of ideas. (Pinterest is also a favorite resource—for me, and apparently, the entire webiverse.) I can shop just about anywhere too; despite the economy, there are great little boutiques everywhere selling eco-‐chic to Uptown Manhattan chic. Nothing gets
me going as much as walking block after block, taking a pulse on what’s for sale and what’s in use. Hey if you don’t want me looking, close the blinds! I get a lot of inspiration from my dreams, as crazy as that sounds. Basically, I obsess and fantasize about furniture and décor the way other people daydream about food. TWE: Improvement is the motivation behind all remodels. How does your design improve a client’s experience in their home? How do you know you’ve provided a good design? DA: In any project, spatial layout is key. Without a deeper understanding of HOW to improve a space, it can just be a big bill with little payoff. Being able to get involved at the beginning of a full-‐scale remodel, allows me to attain optimal fulfillment for both my client and myself. This, of course, begins with listening carefully to what a client wants out of the remodel AND what he/she wants in the way of improved everyday living. Being skilled at helping to identify a client’s needs even if when he/she is unaware of these issues, is crucial to getting it right. When I get letters from my clients after the project, telling me how much happier they are (it’s not always about how much better the space looks that grabs them); that’s getting it right. TWE: What are some of the challenges of creating redesigning an existing home? DA: With an existing structure, too many changes equal huge construction costs and lengthy construction times. SO, identifying the most crucial problem areas in the space is key that way we CAN finish and we don’t sky rocket the budget towards the end…. Not everything always has to change. An expert needs to inform the client which area(s) are truly in need and what areas are simply cosmetic. The client in turn needs to communicate what they really dislike about their current home and what they are okay with, by this we can prioritize and get the job done with effective results! Then, I plan, plan, and plan. I always have a plan of attack. I think, “What can we re-‐paint, sand or refurbish to make a totally new look out of an existing wall or built-‐in/etc. without breaking the bank? How can we do this with as little aggravation to the daily lifestyle of the client? What item(s) are the clients attached to on a sentimental level? It is also crucial to know what NOT to touch. And always remember, perfect does not exist and some limitations can be good!
TWE: Kitchens can be the most complex and expensive rooms to remodel. How do you design a kitchen for the 21st century homeowner? DA: When designing kitchens, learning what is most important to the person who runs the kitchen Step No.1. Being up on appliances (and having great connections) is also paramount. Typically the cost of appliances eats up a lot of the budget, so there’s plenty of reason to know each and every detail. Getting clients to think practically in a kitchen project is not always easy. Kitchens are showpieces. If a client is a cook, I help them get their dream kitchen. If they’re more about the occasional party and resale, I help them get the look. Energy efficiency is obviously hot right now, so there’s even more information to sift through. Finding space when it’s not there is another challenge as prep areas are bigger nowadays; people seem to be cooking at home more and eating out less. With so many cool cooking shows and portable tablets, you can learn from the best in your own home. Saving a little space to set up your iPad wise. Storage is bigger now too. Everyone has an abundance of appliances but they don’t necessarily want them out on the counter all the time. TWE: How do you approach bathroom design for different types of client? What are a few of your favorite elements to include in a bathroom? DA: Clients want to be comfortable in their bathroom. The style may change, but being accommodated properly (shower size, counter/sink height, privacy needs) come first. The best question to ask clients is what they hated about their existing bathroom. Generally, I love a sharp tile design, sleek and clean, or sophisticated rustic. Tile covers so much surface area in a bathroom that the design has to be spot on. I use AutoCAD to layout my tile for a bathroom so the tile layers know exactly what I am trying to accomplish. Quality tile layers have a HUGE impact on a bathroom’s design. I like the guys who treat it like an art instead of slapping tile over grout and calling it a day. TWE: Outside of kitchens and baths, what is your favorite living space to design? How do you make this space stand out? DA: Entryways, master bedrooms and dining rooms. I love the impact and drama of a stunning entryway and the formality of a dining room. As for the master bedroom, the design process is very different than any other room because it’s a very personal space with tremendous impact on the client. It’s more of a challenge, and I like challenges.
TWE: What space would you love to get your hands on and renovate/revamp? DA: That’s easy: The Bellevue-‐Stratford on Broad Street. I already have a design concept drawn up for the 19th floor that would include a club, theater and restaurant, The Labyrinth. It is based on unexpected, almost surrealistic design concepts. Bringing this project to life would be immensely gratifying. TWE: What should potential customers consider when embarking on an interior design project with a professional? DA: Three things: budget, timeline and trust level. Once those parameters have been worked through, it’s time for a little show and tell. All initial consults should start with a client sharing photographs and/or magazine clippings. Showing details and styles that you like is much easier than explaining it. Plus, it enables the designer to pick the images apart and find out exactly what it is about this space that is enticing—the lines, the colors, the shapes, the accessories, all of the above? The client also can glean information about the designer—most significantly if the designer is genuinely excited about your choices. Finally, it is imperative that you put trust in your designer and clearly communicate your personal style and your LIFE style. Without knowing how you, and others, are going to use the space, it is impossible to create a design that is both attractive and functional. To designers, insight into a client’s life serves as a mental blueprint and results in a space that excites you every day. daluccidesign.com