Behind the Design: Lauren Messina of Lauren Messina Interior Design
Designer Spotlight: Lauren Messina of Lauren Messina Interior Design – Charleston, South Carolina
How did you get where you are today?
I graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in interior design. Afterwards, I moved to Little Rock and worked for two very talented interior designers, one being the fabulous Tobi Farley. After about five years of hard work, amazing training and determination, I decided to go out on my own. Naturally, this was right when the economy dropped and people weren’t building or renovating houses at all. It was like everything was frozen in time. At that point, I decided to integrate wedding planning into my business and it worked fabulously! People were still getting married! I worked in the wedding planning industry while still designing houses, for almost six years. During that time, I met my now husband on separate trips to Seattle and three years later, I moved to Charleston and got married. Moving to a new state, getting married and re-starting a business in a city where nobody knows you is challenging, but I did it! Today, I have some of the most amazing clients, and work not only in the Charleston area, but have completed projects in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Chicago. I’m currently working on a new build project in Nashville, TN.
Lauren – you have 14 years of interior design experience, offering a range of services from new build and renovation specifications, to space planning and decor. What’s the most exciting part about starting a new project?
I love getting to know my clients and their family. Family means so much to me on a personal level, and I love to find out more about how my clients live, what their hobbies are, and their personalities. These important pieces of information are what help to make the design fit for them. No design is ever the same because no family is ever the same! I also love to help a client discover their style…even if they don’t know it quite yet! The planning and schematic phase is a favorite of mine.
You have been a part of many projects that were published, including features in HouseBeautiful and Traditional Home. What are some projects you are particularly proud of?
I was so lucky to work with a large designer in Little Rock who taught me the importance of detail. Many of the projects that I was a part of while I was there were published. I believe that attention to detail and truly creating a functional surrounding while having some “out of the box” elements is what sets a project above the rest. Recently, my Spring 2016 bathroom for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Showhouse was featured on One Kings Lane’s Instagram account as well as Town & Country‘s Instagram. It’s gone viral and that’s definitely something I am proud of! However, more than anything, I am proud when my clients adore their home! No publication in the world can give me the gratitude I feel when I have a happy client!
How do you stay current and source interesting, new-to-market products and materials to incorporate in your designs?
I travel! I am blessed enough to be able to travel out of the country a few times a year. Whether it’s the Dolce & Gabbana windows on Corso Venezia in Milan, or a two hundred year old wine estate in South Africa, I am constantly taking photos and jotting down notes. I get some of my best design work done while I am traveling!
Who are some of your favorite Charleston vendors that you work with?
Ro Sham Beaux is of course one of my favorites for lighting. They offer some of the most beautiful hand-strung beaded chandeliers around. Taylor Burke Home is a definite go-to for stunning and creative furniture and lighting. Mirth Studio is another company based out of Charleston and on my radar. There are some seriously amazing girl bosses based out of Charleston, South Carolina!
How does designing make you feel?
Happy. Seriously happy. I knew I wanted to be an interior designer from the age of 8 when my mom was a rep for my cousin’s custom rug company, New River Artisans. Once I was in high school, I was able to work with local interior designers in my home town of Tulsa, and would file fabrics after school, help them with the Tulsa showcase home and everything in between. I was happy then and I’m even happier now.
What’s your business mantra?
If you can do it, buy once and buy well. I want my clients to take their time filling their homes with items that have meaning instead of us ordering to fill a void.
Honestly, gratitude and grace are the most important parts of my business.
When you start a new project, how do you get to know your client and the space?
I like for my client to walk me through their existing home first. Even if we are building a new home, I want to see how they live, what works for them and what doesn’t. A home is so personal and I feel by seeing how a family lives and functions makes a huge difference!
How do you manage multiple projects at once and stay organized?
Asana, iCloud, Ivy and Dropbox are my life-lines. Basically, my interior business is in a cloud! Everything is backed up, and I can access any of my project files from my home office, design office, or anywhere in the world. I have a fabulous office manager who keeps me organized as well! I document everything and upload it in multiple places so that it’s never lost. Of course, I have client binders as well that I take to each project, but the cloud keeps me organized for sure!
In your opinion, what’s the most rewarding part about being an interior designer? And what’s the most daunting part?
The most rewarding part is knowing you are improving the quality of your client’s lives. Yes, it’s so nice to walk into a beautiful new kitchen and know it’s going to photograph well and look pretty in a magazine. However, really knowing that your clients are going to host family gatherings in that kitchen, cook meals quicker so they can have more time together, and look forward to coming home is the most rewarding part.
The most daunting part is when something either comes in damaged, or doesn’t make it in the time the manufacturer promised. As a designer, we are backing each piece we put into a client’s home. Even though it may not be our fault for items not making it on time for that big party, or coming in with a broken leg, it still feels so personal and we are the ones having to break the news to our wonderfully patient clients. I have lost many nights of sleep over broken furniture legs and defective wallpaper.
Why did you join Ivy?
I needed a platform that was not only easy to use, but that I could use no matter where in the world I am. I am also very visual and love how Ivy let’s me upload photos to every component of a project. It makes things run so much more quickly!
You have used other programs including Studio Webware, Design Manager, and a few others. How are the programs different? How does Ivy make your business and project management easier and more enjoyable for you?
Ivy is easier to use, hands down. The interface is stunning and Ivy is changing and growing constantly. Ivy listens to our issues and almost immediately improves!
How has Ivy helped streamline your workflow?
I am not having to go in and re-enter the same items to generate a PO or Invoice. Ivy makes ordering a BREEZE!
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
Photos and the Presentation Mode. It’s very hard to sell a beautiful side table to a client if they can’t click on it and see the detail, no matter how much they trust you. Even if you showed your client that piece the day before in a catalog, enabling the clients to see the piece again by that price reaffirms how much they loved it in the first place.
Are you an interior designer in search of an easy interior design software and project management tool to run your business? Learn more about Ivy here.