Behind the Design: Nichole Gabriel of Perfect Piece Interiors
Designer Spotlight: Nichole Gabriel of Perfect Piece Interiors – Atlanta, GA
How did you get where you are today?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY where my mom and I lived in a row house, and where I spent the first 17 years of my life. I loved that house so much, with its 1970’s red shag carpeting and red sofas to match. I believe this is where my love for interiors began. We took what we had, and my mom made the very best of it. It was such a meaningful and peaceful place, and one that functioned just the way we needed it to. I try to bring that sense of “peace” into every design project we take on today – those feelings of comfort, peace and “home” which were the original elements of our old Brooklyn row house.
I started studying Interior Design 15 years ago, when I rediscovered the field and recognized it was a legitimate career option. However, shortly after I began my first company, 2nd Impression Designs, my husband and I became parents for the first time, and my company was put on hiatus to begin our beautiful family. Now, 15 years later, with my 3 little corporate helpers (my kiddos), my love for interior design was finally able to come to fruition. I love what I do so very much, and it’s even better doing it with my family by my side.
Perfect Piece Interiors, Interior Design & Home Staging is a full design service firm and creator of EZ Design Services, affordable “slow design” for the budget conscious. What are some ways you alleviate the stress of a project and help bring peace to the process?
I take this part very seriously, and feel like the design process shouldn’t be a stressful one. We take the stress out of the process by handling any and everything pertaining to our clients’ project. We want them to experience the excitement of the process, and the satisfaction of having reached their ideal space, without the worry of every detail. Does everything run perfectly? Of course not, however, it’s our goal to shelter the client as much as possible from the nitty gritty process details…those details are for us to worry about!
What does “slow design” mean exactly?
“Slow Design” is a concept I realized about one year ago, when a client of mine was looking for a more curated, collected look for a second space we were designing in her home. I visited thrift stores, antique shows and estate sales looking for just the right items for her space that would tell a “story”. We realized that the story we were trying to create, for her purposes, would be better told “slowly” with real, meaningful, personal items that entered her space or life over time. This is where “Slow Design” was born – instead of a typical, pre-set length of time to begin and close a project, we offer slow design to clients looking for a more organic approach to designing their space.
You offer virtual design services as well, what platforms do you use for e-design and why?
We employ a number of platforms for our e-design services, and are ever-evolving in this area, as technology changes so quickly. I frequently use Photoshop, Pages, Icovia, SketchUp and Home Designer Pro. Olioboard just came out with a new E-Design platform that we are currently testing and really love. These are all platforms that streamline the entire process, and give us a nice clean result, that we believe, clearly communicates visual design concepts (sometimes complicated) to our clients.
How do you stay in-the know about new-to-market products and materials to incorporate in your designs?
I’m lucky enough to now live in the suburbs of one of the world’s largest design meccas – Atlanta! ADAC (the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center) and The AmericasMart Atlanta are only a short drive away, and are literal gold mines of resources, materials, vendors and events. We make it a priority to attend Market there twice a year to learn of new offerings and we attend events as often as possible to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry. It’s hands down my number one go-to resource when I begin a project. I’m truly very blessed to be so close to such a rich resource! This, paired with the Internet, and magazines like the Ivy Magazine, keep me in the know!
Who are some of your favorite Paulding County/Georgia vendors that you enjoy working with?
We’ve got all of the traditional contractors necessary to get a job done, but where we really shine is in local artisanship! I take pride in working with local artisans whenever possible. There’s a richness and depth of artistic input that is injected into a project that I’ve experienced only when working with local artisans. A project takes on a whole new feel when I can get one of my local artists to touch it! I have a fabulous local upholsterer and workroom, Fuertes, a Local Artist, J. Williams Art, and a local photographer, Camille Youngblood Photography, just to name a few, that really help me bring my projects to life!
How does designing make you feel?
What an amazing multi-faceted question that looks so simple at first glance! This may sound cliche, but…alive! I think, for a designer, there’s a creative animal that lives deep down inside of us…it touches everything we think, do, and every interaction we have. When I get my hands on a space and envision the possibilities for my client, start to measure, and then pencil space plans and ideas onto paper, the creative animal becomes alive. It’s a fulfilling process to help an individual, or family, realize “themselves” in a space that was previously simply a “room”. When this happens, and their eyes light up, that is what designing is all about!
What’s your business mantra?
“It’s what’s inside that matters!” People often only see a one dimensional interpretation of this. For us, it’s more than simply furnishing and decorating a space. We value what’s inside of our client’s mind and spirit before, during, and especially after the design process! We strive to deliver a sense of peace, the confidence in knowing we’ve got it all taken care of, and the elation of finally reaching a space that once only lived in your head. We care about the feel of a client’s finished space, and how the space functions for their family, not just the aesthetics of that space. These are our measurables in determining if we’ve reached our goal for that client.
When you start a new project, how do you get to know your client and the space?
I personally go out and meet with every new client, not only to spec their space, but to get to know them, their desires, their vision, and their needs within the space. We also have a very robust (and quite quirky, fun, & unique) pre-consultation questionnaire that gives us a great head start in getting to know our clients.
What are some ways you stick within a minimal budget for the budget conscious?
* Buying used and sprucing it up.
* Using what you have, and viewing it in a completely different way.
* Slowing down the design – this is my number one way! Design can be accomplished on a deadline, and in most cases, it’s best to get it done! However, in situations of tight budgets, “slow design” is a much better way to gain optimal results. Patience is key here!
How do you maintain a good work life/personal life balance, especially during the holiday season?
I am a momma of 3 beautiful angels and a wife to an amazing hubby! I school my kids, take care of my home, and I’m an active member of my church. So, balance is an ongoing struggle for me. The key is to make a conscious effort toward balance. I find that planning is crucial to not losing my mind! I invest in a quality planner every year, and carry it everywhere I go…it’s my lifeline. Every single day, I make a conscious effort to create balance. Every detail is planned; from daily activities, to morning devotions and holiday celebrations.
What’s the most exciting part about being an interior designer? And what’s the most daunting part?
The most exciting part is the client’s reaction to their ideal space, hands down! There is no better feeling then knowing that your hard work has produced this much happiness, peacefulness and joy into a client’s life!
The most daunting part is most certainly paper, paper, paper. Design is 20% “HGTV” and 80% business! Most people see shiny results and think “wow, what a great career!” While it is an amazing career, the vast majority of it is no different then a career in accounting or tax preparation! Business is business, and however daunting it may be, especially for a creative, it must be done!
As a designer running a “one-woman-show”, what are some tips for the interior designer launching their own business?
Be strong, don’t give up. You can do this despite the obstacles that may present themselves. Always be in a state of learning and growing. Do the hard stuff first (ie. get those business ducks in a row!) Find a mentor (or a few) within the industry that will help you, listen to you and support you. Most importantly, never forget who you are.
Why did you join Ivy?
I was looking for an all-in-one business solution to help get those ducks in a row. IVY fit the bill!
How has Ivy helped ease your day-to-day pain points?
IVY is one place I can go to keep track of client information, projects, sourcing, time tracking, billing, invoicing, POs… these are all of my pain points! IVY makes these elements of my business so much easier to deal with on a daily basis. When things are systematic, it takes much less time to journey through the process, and I LOVE IVY for that!
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
Oh, my absolute favorite feature is the new IVY Product Clipper! I’m just going to be honest here and say that I did a real life happy dance when this feature was announced! 🙂
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.