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Home / Interviews  / Behind the Design: Julie Daniel of L’Abri Interiors

Behind the Design: Julie Daniel of L’Abri Interiors

Julie Daniel Labri Interiors

Designer Spotlight: Julie Daniel of L’Abri Interiors, Arlington, VA


 

How did you get where you are today?
I was born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, and just moved back here after living in Los Angeles for the past year. I moved out to L.A. after finishing my MA in Interior Design at Marymount University. L.A. was a ton of fun and a great experience, especially for a new interior designer, but I’m glad to be back home.

 

Do you remember the first moment you realized you wanted to be an interior designer?
Growing up, I always told people I wanted to be an artist. I’ve always loved organizing and re-arranging, and hoped to study interior design for my undergrad degree. That idea was quickly shot down by my parents, who encouraged me to get a degree in Spanish Language. I graduated with my BA from James Madison University in 2007 and have spoken Spanish exactly 0 times since then. I got the itch to go back to school after I had been out in the working world a few years, right as the recession was in full swing.

 

You are both an Allied Member of the ASID and a LEED Green Associate – what exactly does it mean to be a LEED Green Associate?
LEED Green Associate is earned by passing the exam of the same name given by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; the U.S. Green Building Council is the authority on green design and building here in the U.S. It was a HARD exam, I was fully expecting to fail it. One of my classmates told me the day before I took it that a bunch of architects in her office had just taken the exam and failed it. I really confused the lady at the testing center when I came out crying. I had studied so hard for the exam, so it was a huge relief to have passed it.

 

When did you start experimenting with E-Design and what has been your experience so far?

I started experimenting with e-design when I moved out to L.A. and had trouble finding a design job. I was actually getting a ton of offers, but they were all paying a terrible hourly rate, and all were primarily as AutoCAD technicians, which is my least favorite part of interior design. I kept seeing job postings for Laurel & Wolf online, so I initially started doing e-design with them.

Julie Daniel Living Room Decorist

Which E-Design platforms have you joined and why?
I dabbled with e-design at both Laurel & Wolf and Havenly before ending up with Decorist, which I’ve been very happy with. Currently half of my time is spent working with Decorist clients, and half with my own clients, both real life and e-design.

 

Are there certain colors and materials you’re particularly into right now?

Navy will always be my favorite color. If you told me to design a room and that I couldn’t use any blue, I’m not sure I could do it. Blue is such a calming and peaceful color, I use it in nearly every space I design. Jute and sisal are timeless, and it’s hard to go wrong with a natural fiber rug in a living space with a hide rug overlay. I love a good textured boucle fabric as well.

 

Can you share some of your favorite Los Angeles and D.C. shops for sourcing?

Besides the Pacific Design Center in L.A. and the D.C. Design Center, Melrose Avenue in L.A. as well as all of L.A. Cienega Boulevard in L.A. are filled with home design stores. Nearly every furniture retailer in the country has some sort of presence on one of those two streets. In the D.C. area, Greenfront in the Virginia suburbs of Manassas is a great resource for clients looking for a high-end look but are on a budget.

 

How does designing make you feel?

It’s obviously my favorite part of the process, and it’s great when you actually get to design–so much time in being a designer is taken up by admin work. I sometimes have to remind myself to have fun and unwind a bit when it’s time to actually design.

Julie Daniel Dining Room Decorist

Splitting your time between Los Angeles and D.C. must get complicated – how do you keep your business and life outside the office organized?
Short answer is The Container Store and a label maker. Long answer is de-clutter, de-clutter, and de-clutter some more. I’ve really pared down my possessions to not a ton of stuff. When I am in L.A., I crash with my sister who has a house in Pasadena, so I just go out there with a suitcase and my two dogs.

 

What’s your business mantra?

Progress not Perfection. The perfectionist in me (and I’m sure every designer) doesn’t want to start a project until I have a nice block of time to really dig into the design. I’m working on not sweating over the huge project, rather tackling small chunks of work at a time.

 

When you start a new project, how do you get to know your client and the space?

Pinterest boards and Houzz idea books are huge. I can tell within a few inspiration photos what the client is going for. The past few clients have sent over photos that are either all white and natural tones, or super eclectic with lots of jewel tones. Photos of their current space are also hugely helpful in getting to know the client.

 

Your website features an “in-take” questionnaire, a place where new potential clients can submit some personal information about the project – do you find this questionnaire to be helpful?

Yes! I tried to make it long enough that I get all the information I need without overwhelming the client. I know it can be a daunting experience trying to communicate what it is you want and need for your living space.

Julie Daniel Decorist

You offer services for both short-term and long-term projects including custom Pinterest boards, designer on demand, architectural floor plans, feng shui consultations, and complete room designs – which service do you find to be the most fun? Which service do you find to be the most profitable?
I’m on a huge Feng Shui kick right now, so I love doing that and would love to do more of it. I’m really sensitive to energy in a space, so I love being able to help clients identify negative energy drains in their house, and help them bring in good chi, or energy in their space.
My complete room design package is my bread and butter. It’s the most comprehensive package, while still being a really good deal for the client, compared to some of my competitors who can charge up to $1,000 for the same thing.

 

You are very active on social media, managing accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and Buffer, plus you have 2 websites to name few – which platforms do you prioritize and why?

Twitter is by far my favorite platform–I love writing, and my ADD brain loves the succinctness of it and fast pace of Twitter. Whenever people ask me what my style is, I sent them to my Tumblr, I think it does a good job of summarizing my design style, which I call southern traditional. Facebook is my least favorite, probably because I’ve been on it since it started over 10 years ago and it seems so cluttered. I have been blogging for years and years, but not so much lately–it seems like consumers are more interested in visual content (YouTube) or podcasts for design inspiration.

 

Why did you join Ivy?
The pretty branding is what caught my eye (#designerproblems), and I knew I was going to need project management software in the coming years. It was too good of a deal to pass up, so I thought it would be a good investment for my business.

 

How has Ivy helped streamline your workflow?

I’m working on moving all my business income and expenses over to a business checking account, and tracking my profit and losses, so Ivy is a great tool for helping me stay organized.

 

What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?

Invoicing! I’m not doing a ton of it since clients pay up front for e-design, but the ability to easily send invoices and purchase orders are crucial for a well-run interior design business.
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