Tips for how to make the most of Fall Market at High Point

High Point Market (HPMKT), a mecca for design inspiration, awaits – an immersive experience filled with endless treasures, unique insights, and the chance to connect with industry experts. But traversing this grand design haven requires a strategic approach to make the most of your time and leave no stone unturned. 

Are you ready to access the insider track that fuses street smarts with some juicy behind-the-scenes know-how? Join us as we unveil a guide to High Point Market that goes beyond the surface. Whether you’re a seasoned attendee or a first-time visitor, our expert insights will arm you with the knowledge to make the most of this extraordinary event.

Guided Tours

Unlock the hidden gems of High Point Market by booking a guided tour with none other than Jeanne Chung of Cozy Stylish Chic – a seasoned veteran of the event.  Jeanne’s unique perspective and insider knowledge provide unparalleled insight that you won’t find on your own. Let her guide you through the market’s intricate landscape, revealing the stories behind the exhibits and the nuances that shape this incredible experience.  

Event Map

High Point Market’s vastness can be overwhelming, but fear not – we’ve got you covered. Study the event map meticulously, grouping your shopping destinations by location. By doing so, you’ll optimize your time and avoid unnecessary treks across the expansive campus. To further refine your experience, create an itinerary that aligns with your goals. Research exhibitors in advance, ensuring you don’t miss the chance to explore brands you’ve been longing to see, as well as those you’ve yet to discover.

Hidden Gems

Leave room for curiosity and exploration – a key ingredient to unearthing the unexpected. High Point Market is brimming with eye-candy distractions that can lead you to new avenues of design inspiration and vendors who can execute current project visions. Venture beyond the mainstream and discover off-the-beaten-path sources like the Phillips Collection warehouse where you can shop their live edge wood slab inventory, Schwung Home with its delightful French café, and an array of vintage shops that offer unique finds.


Endless Education

High Point Market is not just a visual feast; it’s also an educational opportunity waiting to be seized. Prioritize time to rest your feet and attend panels featuring industry experts. The HPMKT website unveils these events and programs two months ahead of the market, allowing you to plan your schedule accordingly. These panels offer a chance to connect with like-minded designers, learn from industry icons, and gain insights to elevate your own business.


Time is precious at High Point Market, and every minute counts. For seamless transportation, consider renting a car to eliminate wait times for shuttles. Maximizing your time ensures you can pack in as much as possible during your visit. Parking options are aplenty, with affordable on-site rates, at $15 on the grounds, or a convenient option adjacent to EJ Victor, $50 which includes parking and a complimentary dinner at Pandora’s Manor for your carpool companions.


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Designing for Different Generations: Addressing the unique design preferences and needs of various age groups, from millennials to seniors

Navigating the ever-evolving landscape of interior design demands more than just a keen eye for aesthetics; it requires a deep appreciation for the diverse tapestry of generations that shape our world! Each age group brings forth its distinct set of values, experiences, and aspirations. Partnering with the seasoned expert Christi Barbour of Barbour Spangle Design, we invite you to explore the significance of tailored design solutions that speak to each generation, unraveling the threads that weave together timeless aesthetics and functional considerations!


After years spent building their respective businesses and honing their individual expertise, Christi Barbour and Christi Spangle found themselves envisioning a new kind of studio — one where imagination would be rewarded, personal growth would be prioritized, and the process would be as important as the resulting designs. They founded Barbour Spangle Design on the belief that authentic connection is the cornerstone of creativity.


In what ways do you ensure personal growth is fostered within your design team, and how does this impact creativity and innovation in your projects?

As for personal growth, we have each team member participate in coaching specific to how we communicate, which helps in many ways: with clients, with each other, and in their personal lives. We want everyone to be well-rounded, both at work and at home. For advanced team members, we have them go through additional coaching programs specific to leading other team members. We also support their attendance at trade shows to see the latest products and design trends, host lunch and learns and CEU courses for continuous learning, and cover the costs of professional memberships where they participate in various programs.

Everyone on our team researches conferences and learning opportunities to ensure they have the most current information on the market. It’s built into our designers’ daily schedule to seek out new resources and opportunities to ensure we are at the head of the industry.

All of these efforts impact how our team interacts with clients (both current and future), their knowledge about products and the industry, and the creativity and innovation they put into our projects.


Can you share insights on how your design process evolves to accommodate the changing needs of clients as they transition through different life stages?

Communication is the key to success, so we invest heavily in it.

Our team needs to understand who uses the space for our commercial projects: Is it a start-up company with lots of collaboration and a young team? Is it a more formal office environment with a large range of age groups, and if so, how do we cater to those various needs with the right products and space allocations?

For our residential projects, our team needs to understand the family dynamics and their ages. If it’s a young family, spaces need to be designed to be safe for the youngest members and comfortable for everyone, meaning they need to be durable and practical. Suppose it’s for an older/aging family. In that case, there are conversations about aging in place, ergonomics of hardware selections, flooring transitions, adequate lighting, counter surfaces, built-in functionality (such as automated window shades), and more.

We recently designed for a senior living community whose executive team is committed to vetting the selections based on what questions residents will ask, not only for the current generation but also for future generations who will come to inhabit the space.


How do you approach designing for different generations, considering their unique design preferences and needs?

As professionals, we need to listen to what the clients want (their unique design preferences) and then interpret that based on our experience and vast product knowledge.

For spaces that include multiple generations cohabitating, we design for ease and accessibility with all in mind. Our design process, by nature, was developed to adapt and reflect the needs of our clients. Our personalized approach allows us to do this by asking the right questions.
For senior living and commercial projects, we see the perspective of all involved, including the facilities team, when designing a spec to ensure that the selections work and function for both the residents as well as the cleaning staff and maintenance requirements.

Specifically speaking, we consider the following things for different generations:

  1. Dorms: Focus on high durability, feelings of home, and creating an inspiring environment
  2. Young Families: We incorporate performance fabrics, evaluate the products used in the home to support children, etc.
  3. Empty Nesters: Downsizing, design for aging in place, primary bedroom on the main level, ADA bathrooms
  4. Senior Living: Making the environment adaptable and multi-generational, creating a beautiful aesthetic and incorporating feelings of home

Age-inclusive design is about considering vision, hearing, balance, memory, touch, aesthetic, and more when we design. We can incorporate these needs as we age while enriching lives through design.


What are some essential elements or features you consider when creating spaces that appeal to multiple generations?

At home, we suggest highly durable finishes such as washable fabrics, scuff-proof flooring, washable paints/wallcovering, hard counter surfaces, rounded edges, and nothing too precious. This approach results in a livable, comfortable home for all ages, young to old.

At the office, it’s a little different; we have to think about the workflow of generations. For example, Gen Z is much more comfortable with all things digital and moving from desk to desk, whereas many members of Gen X still want an office with storage for items they have collected over the years.

For multi-family and senior living projects, it’s essential to understand the demographics surrounding the community to provide a design and space that reflects the given environment. If the community is on the coast, add some coastal ties relative to the aesthetic, but that doesn’t mean standard beach landscape for artwork; instead, how do you create an environment that is reflective of the beach landscape? It’s about evoking a feeling and experience within the interiors that makes all generations want to stay a bit longer.


What are some key considerations you take into account when designing spaces for older adults that are both functional and aesthetically appealing?

Cabinet and door hardware can be a nuanced design element that significantly impacts the end-user. Additionally, counter finishes, flooring transitions, and overall lighting are essential as eyesight declines. Automation in the home can make aging in place much more comfortable, for example, having window sheers automated, so they don’t have to be raised and lowered manually.

For senior living or any residential project, we ensure the furniture’s scale and size are in proportion, since that can significantly impact daily routines. It becomes hard to get around as we age, therefore we want to ensure our furniture selections give the end user independence when living within a community space or in a private residence. When designing for accessibility in a community space, we want to evoke independence and make the environment comfortable. Some key elements to ensuring we do include seating with arms for ease of getting in and out and when seating is too deep, providing a lumbar pillow for support.


How do you handle situations where different generations within a family have conflicting design preferences, and how do you find common ground?

There is a delicate balance to this that requires good negotiating skills for the designer. Everyone deserves to have input on the final design, and our design process (which we explain in greater detail on our website) helps us determine how to find common ground that will be reflective of the family members living in their homes.

One tactical example includes incorporating soft surfaces for additional seating, such as ottomans and built-in benches, for visiting family members. We don’t envision the primary population utilizing these options, but when family visits, it allows for overflow seating for kids or adolescents to sit down.

We want to find a common ground for all to enjoy the space! As the designer, we are responsible for providing a solution that brings peace, compromise, and function for all parties involved within the environment.

Designing for Well-being: Exploring the impact of design on mental and physical health, including biophilic design and wellness spaces

Interior design has a, sometimes sub-conscious, profound impact on our mental and physical well-being. As our lives become increasingly intertwined with the spaces we inhabit, the design of our surroundings can either nurture or neglect our health. Today, we have the distinct pleasure of interviewing Circaphiles ambassador Angela Harris of Trio Design, whose expertise has redefined the relationship between design and well-being.

Together with Angela, we delve beyond stylish interiors, as she has harnessed her design prowess to explore the influence spaces exert on our mental and physical health. Read on to uncover the intricate connections between design and well-being, including the concept of biophilic design, a term that has been gaining momentum in the world of interior design.


Angela Harris is an American interior designer, product designer, CEO, mother, and industry board member. At her renowned interior architecture firm, Angela has spent over 23 years working directly with the nation’s most prominent builders, developers, and product manufacturers.

Her robust experience in market-driven design coupled with a Masters in Sustainable Design has led her to embark on a new journey inspired by mindful design powered by science and technology. Angela is currently earning her PhD degree in Visual Arts, pursuing research in the field of Aesthetics, Design, and the Built Environment through IDSVA.

Angela and her talented team collaborate on all aspects of master planned communities, model homes, clubhouses, sales centers, commercial, hospitality, multifamily apartment communities, and product development.


How do you balance aesthetics and functionality with the emphasis on promoting mental and physical health in your designs?

It’s been said that the future of science is in the home, and I couldn’t agree more. As a design professional, I have the opportunity to not only provide my clients with beautiful spaces but enhance their well-being on a daily basis. Luckily, on a biological level, we are hard-wired to be more attracted to spaces that mimic the natural world.


How do you incorporate the principles of biophilic design into your interior architecture projects to enhance the well-being of occupants?

Being human means taking in your surroundings 24/7, and sometimes these environments are healing, and other times they’re not. Studies have shown that interior design has the ability to ease stress levels and promote well-being through a variety of biophilic design tactics such as exposure to natural light, incorporating patterns and textures that replicate those found in nature, and the use of organic materials like wood, stone, etc.


Are there any challenges you’ve encountered when implementing biophilic design, and how do you overcome them?

Human beings use their subconscious mind more than their conscious mind. Knowing this, we are constantly judging our environment without even realizing it. As a designer, it’s important to keep this in mind so I can ensure my client is happy in their space. This can be a challenge, since there are always so many details to take into consideration – from the number of windows allowing sunlight in a room, to the texture of the carpet below your feet.

With your ongoing research in Aesthetics, Design, and the Built Environment, what exciting discoveries or trends could revolutionize the way we approach interior design for well-being?

Promoting a sense of connection with nature is simply essential for psychological well-being. Biophilic design is proven to promote better sleep, enhanced creativity, and even boost immune systems. Another way to look at it is that 90% of our time is spent indoors, so there must be a critical connection between the built environment, design, art, and well-being. At least that is the way I see it at a very fundamental level.


With your experience in various project types, from master-planned communities to commercial spaces, could you share how the concept of well-being and biophilic design varies in each context?

The concept of biophilic design can (and should) be applied to any project, whether it be a residential community or a commercial space. Human beings everywhere could benefit from this scientific research, making it a valuable tool for creating healthy and sustainable living spaces. For example, incorporating loads of natural light and fresh greenery into an office space will likely have a positive effect on the mood and cognitive function of its employees.


As a mother, how has your personal experience influenced your understanding of well-being in design, especially when it comes to family-oriented spaces?

Through the study of neuroaesthetics and biophilic design, I’ve grown to truly understand the importance of creating a healing space for kids and adults alike – one that provides them with peace of mind on a subconscious level. As a child, I was also able to experience the power of art by living with an aunt who had Schizophrenia. It was clear to me that the art on the hospital walls and the opportunities we had to create art together had a direct influence on her health and wellbeing.

Preserving the Past: Techniques for Restoring and Reviving Antique Furniture

In the realm of antique furniture, you will encounter various approaches to restoration. Warning: Not all approaches are accurate and authentic! Some restorers prioritize achieving a flawless finish that aligns with contemporary interiors, often disregarding the historical essence of the piece. Instead, seek restorers who engage in complete transformations as part of an upcycling endeavor.


A damaged antique impacts the value significantly and can easily be detected by experienced buyers and dealers, who can then adjust the price accordingly. In contrast, restoration is a complex process that can have an equal influence on the value. It is not always readily noticeable, and a skilled restorer can transform a severely damaged piece into a pristine condition. It is important to note that restored antiques are not considered fake; this is simply a way to retain their authenticity.


The process is one that cannot be rushed. Don’t let your antiques become available to amateurs…ensure these treasures are restored to their original beauty properly and precisely with these following steps:

Investigate the condition

Remember that you are acquiring an artifact that may be hundreds or even thousands of years old, so perfection cannot be expected, and natural changes or decay over time may have occurred. It is advisable to engage the expertise of professionals when it comes to restoration, storage, mounting, cleaning, or repairs of your ancient pieces.


Observe the period and genre

The first step to restoring an antique piece would be to observe the period and genre, narrowing down to a smaller range of dates when it would have been created.  If there are missing parts (like a veneer section, a carving, hardware, or a body part in figures), having knowledge of the date, a restoration specialist can source a period-correct replacement.

interior design by timothy corrigan

Repair veneer

When repairing veneer, just like matching a pattern on a chair from the cushion to the frame, the wood grain should line up with as little a break as possible.  A particular kind of glue known in the antique world for hundreds of years is bone hide glue, which exhibits great strength, low-pressure gap-filling ability, high initial tack, and fast cure.


Rebuild to restore structural instability

One of the primary reasons for furniture restoration is structural instability, such as separating joints on unbalanced chairs. Traditional approaches to address this problem involve fully disassembling and rebuilding the piece.  This comprehensive process enables thorough examination and repair of each component before carefully reassembling them to enhance precision and overall strength as needed.

Shine on

Finishes like French polish, wax, and shellac are key in bringing the shine back to the surface of antique wood.  Waxing a table-top regularly will allow the surface to resist moisture from a glass of sweating ice water.  To preserve your item’s integrity, avoid subjecting it to sudden fluctuations in temperature, humidity, or brightness.





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Treasure Hunting: Tips for Interior Designers to Source and Curate Antique Pieces

“According to the official definition, any item that surpasses the century mark is classified as an antique.  Therefore, any item is more than 40 years old and less than 100 years old is considered vintage.”

 – Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva


Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a curious enthusiast, the enchanting realm of antiques is fascinating and complex, and takes much time and careful research to master. At the forefront of my own interior design projects are these exquisite pieces of furniture, where stories of bygone eras are woven into every curve and color. With endless hours dedicated to this craft, I am sharing a few of my best tips to discovering these timeless treasures! Read on before you begin your quest for artful artifacts…

Real versus Fake

  1. Furniture that is not antique is described as an “antique reproduction” or “inspired”, as in “a Jean-Michel Frank Inspired sculpture.”
  2. Real antiques are always accompanied by an age, as in “circa 1800” or “early 19th century.”

First, find out from your client their level of expectation for antiques. Are they seeking museum quality, or will they stand for some patina or a new part, such as hardware or a mirror plate?


How to find a reputable dealer

To become a member of trade associations, dealers must fulfill specific requirements. Being a part of these associations offers enhanced protection for both customers and dealers. In the event of any issues arising from your purchase, and if you are unable to reach a resolution directly with the dealer, you can seek assistance from these organizations for guidance and mediation. Notable associations include the Antiquities Dealers Association (ADA), LAPADA, International Association of Dealers of Ancient Art (IADAA) and Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvres d’Art (CINOA). By visiting the websites of these organizations, you can access lists of reputable dealers.

interior design by circagenevieve id

Due diligence required

This is a series of thorough examinations to ensure that the items sold are not counterfeit, illegally obtained, or stolen. In addition to relying on their own expertise, this process may involve seeking advice from other specialists and restorers. For higher-value items, it is crucial to cross-reference the object with online databases of stolen items, such as the Art Loss Register or Art Recovery, to ensure its legitimacy.

Pro tip? Keep and preserve any receipts or certificates that are given to you when making a purchase. These documents become an integral part of the object’s provenance, which holds significant importance. Notably, as the value and significance of an item increase, more comprehensive details regarding its origin and history are required.


Guarantee of authenticity

Every trustworthy dealer will furnish a certificate of authenticity for the item, which should encompass a photograph, description, and the item’s condition at the time of sale, to the best of their knowledge.

In buying from a reputable dealer, you are assisting the preservation of cultural heritage that normally would not find a place in a museum and supporting the legal trade of ancient art. The trade, museums and academia are inextricably linked in fostering research, preservation and conservation of artifacts. Nowadays, many dealers and trade associations support preservation by fundraising for museums and by contributing to research and scholarship with grants or expertise. Many private collectors choose to publish and lend their collections to museums and institutions, exchanging ideas and expertise with academics and the public alike.

Auction Houses

A practice I’ve been implementing in my career (and inspired by my great mentor, Timothy Corrigan) is sourcing from auction houses. Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Doyle, Bruun Rasmussen are all personal favorites and houses from which I’ve won the hammer!  I have gathered storied pieces of great provenance from Stair Galleries for my current Neo-Gothic project in Utah.

  1. Prices are often far less at auction than at an antiques dealer’s shop.
  2. If the description is vague, reach out to their support team to inquire more about the condition report or additional images.
  3. Bidding online at Live Auctioneers for many houses across the world makes the process very simple.
  4. If you aren’t able to log on during the scheduled auction, place an absentee bid for your highest price you/your client is willing to pay for the item.


Circaphiles top 5 favorite antique sources

  1. Provenance Antiques in Atlanta
  2. Marche aux Puces in Paris
  3. Decorative Collective – The UK and European version of 1stdibs.  You can communicate directly with our Sellers, no commission is charged to Sellers or Clients. The website is very transparent and encourages discussions between both parties. 
  4. Some dealers are “hunters,” for example Mitra Kilburn, the Art and Antique Hunter, who travels throughout Europe with specific wish lists from designers.
  5. Newel Antiques – always on my list when I visit New York!




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5 KEY Tips to Learn before designing a custom piece of furniture

Embarking on the journey of crafting custom furniture is not one we take lightly here at Circaphiles. One piece of custom furniture can take a space from ordinary to extraordinary, so it is essential to master the skills to make sure you get the design just right.

Today, we are unraveling the truth behind custom furniture, debunking the myth that it always comes with a hefty price tag. Join us to learn the long-term value and cost-effectiveness of investing in bespoke pieces that stand the test of time, far surpassing the need for replacing mass-produced items every few years.

We chatted about these tips and learned about so many more in our member Key Call in April.  Haven’t joined us yet for a call?  Save your seat for the next Key Call and book a virtual meeting with me today to explore how Circaphiles can alleviate your pain points!

Custom does not always mean “more expensive.”  

It certainly means there is more value in the quality and could be costlier up front, but when you consider, for example, that the sofa will last for 30+ years, and you will take it from house to house, the cost spread over that (life)time is far less than spending $5,000 on a big box manufacturer sofa every few years.  

Articulating the value is key in these conversations with clients, especially when you are working with first time homeowners and/or the younger generation, who may not have realized the value of their grandmother’s sofa all those years.


One of the biggest reasons a custom order may go wrong:  vague specifications!


  1. Right off the top, few details leave so much room for error.  When beginning to work with a new custom vendor, don’t give too much liberty to someone who knows nothing about your design standards, your project or your client.  
  2. I always recommend talking through the provided specifications (like how tall the client is) when finalizing the measurement for the depth of a sofa.  
  3. Some examples of how detailed you need to get:  Did you note on your Purchase Order how high your rug pile height is to account for the sofa skirt drop? Does your dining table have an apron height that will dictate the height of your dining chair arms? There are dozens of details about surrounding items and the architecture that are important for your custom workroom to know when fabricating your piece.  Nearly all of those details are prompted for you in Circaphiles’ Purchase Order Specification Templates.
  4. Best case scenario for the designer is to provide an inspiration image or CAD drawing.  The vendor would then produce their own, likely more detailed CAD 2D or 3D DFA (drawing for approval).  

By following these steps, you will be sure to have a smooth, successful collaboration and the piece you envisioned!


We tapped into the minds of two of our certified Circaphiles vendors for their best tips!

  1. Knit-back every fabric you send to an upholstery workroom.  Without this structural support for a fabric, feathers pass through the ticking envelope and the fabric, the longevity of the fabric decreases and it doesn’t upholster as smoothly.  Pro-tip: Sometimes thick mohairs are strong and dense enough on their own and don’t need knit-backing.
  2. The down to feather ratio for cushion fills should be stated with the down percentage first, followed by the feather percentage.  For example, 25/75 means 25% down and 75% feather content.  Pro-tip: A 10/90 ratio is Grant’s “workhorse” level for a more budget-friendly project; 25/75 is his “happy-medium” range that most clients like; 50/50 is his “luxury” range for a discerning client.
  1. Oak is the most durable wood for a dining table.  The strong wood will hold up best with daily use, especially with kids, and frequent entertaining.  There are many finishes oak can take on to fit modern and traditional projects.
  2. A “bar top” finish will withstand the most use.  A French polish finish can take up to 4 weeks to dry, so please consider that in your timeline prior to packing and transporting to the project.  A Classic wax finish enhances the wood with a soft, satin sheen and protects against stains.  


And finally… the KEY benchmarks in a custom order!


  1. Send RFQ (request for quote) to the vendor with as many details as possible, images, sketches, floor plan/elevations, etc.  
  2. Receive formal quote.
  3. Place order and include all supporting documents: room plans/elevations, images, fabric cuttings, control samples
  4. DFA and SFA(s) approval: Add approval dates to your P.O., sign and photograph the samples.  At this time, check that all pieces fit through clearances where you are installing (freight elevator, doorways, balcony, etc.)
  5. Perform raw frame or prototype (if multiples in order) inspection prior to (muslin) upholstery or finish application.
  6. Perform final inspection before packing for shipment or delivering to client’s house.  Pro-tip:  Always double and triple check the dimensions, even if you’ve been working with this vendor for many years.  We are all human!



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How to Qualify a Custom Workroom

Here at Circaphiles, we pride ourselves in our ability to deliver top-tier vendors and artisans for your projects, no matter where in the world they are located. From furnishings and architectural & renovation materials to otherwise hard-to-find service providers, we have compiled an unparalleled list of vetted brands, so you don’t have to forage endlessly for trustworthy resources. These artisans are far from the usual suspects to boot!

With ongoing research and referrals from designers we know and love, Circaphiles has this process of vetting vendors and custom workrooms down to a science! Read on for my top four tips to determine whether you should enter in business with a vendor or custom workroom and ensure the partnership is fair and fruitful for years to come.

Go see the vendor’s work in person! 

Don’t solely rely on photos or who they say is (or was previously) on their client roster. Have them take you on a tour of the home they built or sofa they are making in their workroom and ask specific questions about their process.

Ask for references AND actually call the references.  

Ask about the customer service experience with that vendor. Besides assessing the quality, answering that question will be crucial in determining whether this is someone with whom you would like to collaborate. I have found, in my experience, that designers don’t hold back when talking to like-minded peers. 

Pro-tip? If they can’t provide references, it may be a sign they don’t have the time or care to truly partner with you on this project.  Or it could mean that they haven’t had successful deliverables.

Inquire about what happens if something is made incorrectly, becomes damaged or goes wrong in the process.

I hate to say it, but if the custom piece is made wrong, take ownership that you should have caught that at final inspection at their workroom before it is delivered to the client’s house.  No excuse in the world will make up for the feeling you get when a sofa is placed in the client’s living room and it’s 3 feet too short.  

Is the vendor willing to fix their mistake on their dime because they care deeply about their work, righting the wrong and continuing their relationship with you? Or do they have an attitude that insinuates they’ll leave you holding the bag? (And that could mean you are out major moolah!)

If the product is semi or fully custom, inspect it at their workroom. 

Here is a quick little “lessons learned” checklist I use when inspecting custom upholstery:

  1. Bring your Purchase Order to reference.
  2. Measure the piece.  Does it match the plan and the CFA?
  3. Does the wood finish match the SFA or control sample?
  4. When you sit on the chair or sofa, does it make a noise like a click or rocking?
  5. How padded is the wood frame between the fabric?  
  6. Welting – is it neat or fraying?
  7. Sew in your custom company label to the interior decking.
  8. Take photos of problem areas…and beautiful areas!
  9. Is there extra fabric or trim you can take back with you so that it is on hand for future use?  Sometimes workrooms dispose of these fabrics after a short period of time.  

If you are not able to go (if the vendor is located out of town), have them send detailed photos or conduct a video call inspection with the production manager.  Pro-tip?  My purchase orders state that my firm must inspect the order before it is packed.  Many vendors may say, “oh, it’s already packed up.”  By having that term on my P.O., you have the backbone reinforcement to demand they unpack it, photograph it and await your approval.


From furnishings to architectural & renovation materials, our vendors and workrooms have been vetted to meet the top quality standards to meet your needs EVERY time! 

Sustainable Interior Design: How it Can Benefit Your Bottom Line

Sustainable interior design: an eco-friendly approach to create a beautiful, functional and safe home for a homeowner AND their environment. A growing trend in our industry (no pun intended) we tapped in to two interior designers who are on the forefront of this conscious practice, to ask the burning question: how can it benefit your bottom line?


A boutique design firm located in the Baltimore / Washington DC area, Laura Hodges Studio focuses on creating beautiful, tailored spaces while fully expressing every client’s individual style and taste. Principal Laura Hodges is known for an international aesthetic along with a love for unique and dynamic environments. Influenced by a Norwegian grandmother, British mother and Jamaican father, Laura developed an early appreciation for travel and diverse cultures, having traveled extensively to over thirty countries — from Greece and Morocco to Thailand and Peru. Laura Hodges Studio’s signature aesthetic is clean, tailored, and eclectic, incorporating unique vintage and antique finds, curated art and natural elements. 


The Hawk & Co moniker pays homage to principal Summer Jensen’s Hawaiian family roots.  The ka‘io, Hawaii’s native hawk whose radiance inspired the ali’i, or chiefs, to adopt it as a royal symbol.  The noble reference is a fitting one.  It matches Jensen’s dedication to her design sensibilities: contrasting light and shadow, exquisitely meticulous attention to detail and a deference to the natural environment. She feels, “Mother nature is the greatest artist”. And with her bird’s eye view and overarching eye for intuition of a client’s understanding and trust, Jensen is in a design stratosphere all her own.

Laura, you have a LEED accreditation for practicing sustainable design and are LEED AP and a GREEN AP. Can you please share with our readers what these accreditations mean for your practice and what requirements each of your projects must meet? 

Being a LEED AP requires a rigorous study of sustainable building practices and an understanding of the process by which a structure becomes LEED certified by the USGBC. The GREEN AP program is more focused on interior furnishings and the accreditation requires knowledge of the effects of the design industry on climate change, how to create furnishings more sustainably and our impact as designers and makers. As a design studio, we keep sustainability at the forefront of our design process. Unless the building owner is seeking LEED certification, we’re not required to fulfill any specific criteria for most of our projects, but we do use the knowledge we’ve gained to create spaces that are responsible to the environment and make the most conscious use of materials, limiting our carbon footprint. 

You quote so elegantly on your website, “Good design is also sustainable design, and we make a commitment to our clients, our community and our environment to be eco-conscious in our design practices.” How do you effortlessly weave in sustainability at the forefront of each step in your design process?

Whether it’s repurposing existing furniture and materials, avoiding VOCs and off-gassing, integrating insulating materials to efficiently heat and cool a space, or sourcing furnishings more responsibly, we do our best to consider how our design will impact our environment. We prefer to source from sustainable manufacturers, so we prioritize those vendors that we know are working in a responsible way to source renewable materials, efficiently produce with little waste, reduce their carbon footprint and maximize their water usage. It’s also important that our vendors create a safe working environment and pay their employees a fair wage so we can let our clients know that their project supports communities and doesn’t come at someone else’s expense. Lastly, we love to source from brands that produce in America with traceable material sources and transparent fabrication methods, so we can reduce environmental transportation costs and support our local communities. 

You are incredibly philanthropic and involved in organizations such as The Children’s Home, the Catonsville Women’s Giving Circle and Second Chance. Can you share a few of your most impactful projects with these organizations and what you are most proud of?

We recently worked with The Children’s Home, a residential home for displaced youth, to create a new café for their residents, forming partnerships with local businesses and tradespeople to bring the project to life. Nicknamed the Treehouse Café, this space was designed to uplift and support the young residents of the Home and give them a space to connect with each other. Additionally, when we recently renovated a law firm, since we were updating all the furnishings, we coordinated with our client to donate all of their office furniture to The Children’s Home for their boardroom and back offices. 

How can sustainable interior design increase a designer’s bottom line? Can you provide an example or two, please?

Sustainable design can increase your bottom line if you integrate the practice into everything you do in an authentic way and offer the added value to your clients. Our clients love the stories we can tell them about where their furniture and decor was made (and often by whom) and that level of connectedness is invaluable, whether it’s to their local community or a faraway artisan collective. 

Biophilic design has long been a part of your practice, even before you knew the name for it. How did you get started in sustainable design, and why is it important to you?

Sustainable design wasn’t always a part of my practice, but as I saw more and more newly built homes demolished due to poor construction or a change in “style”, it became a morality issue for me.  To take without giving back pained me to see it happening all over our industry. As my own need for simplicity in an overly complicated world grew, I came back to my roots. Biophilic design and emphasis on ways to put people back in touch with Nature felt fulfilling. It gave back the meaning I was searching for.

Part of my mission is to demystify sustainable design for the masses. As design professionals, it’s surprising to me how little people talk about the health and wellness of their home and not just the wallpaper or art.

What are your favorite sustainable resources to incorporate into your interior design practice? There is a lot to consider when designing a home while keeping sustainability in mind from the site, to the lumber used to incorporating natural light…when you dive into a project, how do you keep sustainability as the highest priority?

To sustain is the ability to maintain a certain level. Or in layperson’s terms; equal in, equal out. Here is how I see how sustaining applies to home building:

  1. Passive architecture – to orient the house to use natural daylight and cross breeze for most of the day.  At this stage, organize the home to be efficient such as clustering services near each other like bathrooms back-to-back, kitchens adjacent to laundry rooms.  Wasted space also counts as not sustainable…encouraging smaller, more efficient builds.  The best way to be sustainable is to reduce consumption.
  2. Net-zero / energy production – most people are savvy when it comes to solar energy, but some others like geothermal heat pumps may also be on your radar.
  3. Mechanical systems – heating and cooling of the home is the single largest use of energy.  Efficient cross breezes, heat sinks, ceiling fans and hydronic heating can all lessen that load. 
  4. Water use – to capture rainwater for daily use as well as to reuse the water from our showers and sinks for landscaping…or get crazy and convert the methane from the black water waste and be able to power appliances.
  5. Finishes and furniture – these should be 0 VOC with only water-soluble adhesives.  All timber should be sustainable, FSC certified and hopefully fast growth.  But more importantly, start asking manufacturers questions to let them know that these are important issues to you.  Let’s get the industry to not accept anything less than biodegradable packing materials and palette wrap. 
    1. Think about the cuts of wood you use; plain sliced wood has a yield of up to 90% whereas rift white oak’s yield is between 50-60%. What sizes are you specifying and how much waste does your design create?
    2. There are a ton of products that claim to be green.  Do your research and understand what your objective is.  I choose biodegradability over longevity, which means I reject Petra-chemical products whenever I can.  
    3. Furniture foams are one of the worst culprits of toxic chemicals.  Ask for natural latex and wool batting instead of poly-fill.  I would be suspicious of anything that is off-gassed.
    4. I also give preference to local vendors and/or vendors who support worthy causes or are from underprivileged areas. 
  6. Food equity – How can you add equity to this home like integration of food production? From a few tomatoes on a vine to more elaborate food production.  Who doesn’t want to know exactly what they are eating these days?


How can sustainable interior design increase a designer’s bottom line? Can you provide an example or two please?

“You don’t need to choose between being purpose driven and being profit-driven, that is the big misconception” – Julie Mathers, CEO of Flora & Fauna.

I start by asking questions to the clients and produce a base strategy of the home. My first question is always, “would you rather have a home that is toxic or non-toxic?” 100% of respondents say the latter. After you set the client’s green priorities, start speaking with your design team and engineers to express your goals of wanting to build a sustainable home.  

There is a plethora of information out there and many people waiting for the opportunity to work on projects with new technology. This technology is often more efficient and cost saving, which in turn impacts the bottom line. I’m pleasantly surprised by how many people have built a net-zero home.  Be ahead of the pack and find small ways at first to think about your impact.  The more conscious you become, the more you will dive into other parts of sustainability.

Outside the Box Ways to Increase your Profit Margin

If I stopped you on the street and asked you, “how’s business?”, how would you answer?  I know, it is a loaded question! Because we are running businesses, not hobbies, your answer runs deeper than “it’s good” or “we’re so busy”.  Your profit margin determines the health of your business. Today, we’re getting down to brass tacks by defining what a profit margin is, how a good profit margin lends efficiency, and how you can achieve a robust profit margin.


So glad you asked! Before you build out a strategy, you need to know what you are working towards. Plain and simple, a profit margin is a financial ratio that measures the percentage of profit earned by a company in relation to its revenue. Expressed as a percentage, it indicates how much profit the company makes for every dollar of revenue generated. (Business News Daily) The profit margin we should be most concerned about as business owners is gross profit margin: your overall gross revenue minus the cost of goods.

What is a “good” profit margin?

You’ve done the calculations, now it’s time to check the pulse and see if your profit margin is healthy. Every industry has an average profit margin you should be aware of to determine how your own business is performing. For a design firm, a healthy gross profit margin can be anywhere from 30-40%. (Logistis for Designers) The goal is a good gross profit margin, one that is high enough to keep the business sustainable. The lower the gross profit amount and thereby percentage, the more income is needed to run the business. 


Why should YOU care about a healthy profit margin?

Simply put, profit margins are important because it detects how much of every revenue dollar is flowing to the bottom line. A profit margin can quickly determine any pricing problems (undercharging, ahem!) that may exist. If not identified quickly, pricing errors can create cash flow challenges and therefore threaten the ongoing existence of your entity…and that is an impending doom we do not want to face! 

How do YOU make your design firm a high profit margin business?

While many businesses looking to grow focus their efforts on increasing sales, improving profit margins is an out-of-the-box way to drastically increase their profitability. By widening your profit margins, you can make more from every dollar of your gross revenue, without increasing your client roster or services.

Here are a few of my favorite and most impactful ways to increase your profit margins:

  1. Restrict the number of initial sessions: prospective clients can take up hours of your time with in-person creative brainstorming sessions before choosing to work with you. Let them know at the beginning of your engagement the price for the first session (or that the only complimentary onset time with you is the first call), and everything moving forward will have an associated fee. Pro-tip! If you have a questionnaire for prospective clients even before a discovery call, state the initial consultation charge there.
  2. Hire accountants who understand your business: as the interior designer, it is your job to focus on your craft: sourcing materials, customizing furnishings, attending site visits and implementing final installation…bringing your client’s vision for their spaces to life. Leave the numbers to the experts! An accountant who is well versed in the design field will navigate business concerns that you would not have learned about in design school. They will take on the backend financial burdens of your day-to-day activities: vendor payments, client invoices, credit card reconciliation, and the list goes on. Pro-tip! By request, my accountant sends me a custom monthly report (that I can actually understand) of income, cost of sales, sales tax owed, income tax and savings to put aside.  Being able to read a report clearly will allow your financial literacy of your business to skyrocket.

3. Review your pricing strategies: if you have more tasks than you can handle but aren’t making enough money, you are not charging enough. Get comfortable knowing your worth and match your fees to your value add. If your clients abandon you solely because of pricing, they did not respect your expertise in the first place. Where do you start? The Circaphiles, 5 Ingredients in a Viable Pricing Strategy, of course.  Pro-tip! Once you are working with a profitable venture, you can have more say over what projects you accept and how much you charge.

*This document is just one of many valuable resources in our library. Add this to your toolkit and become a member today! 

You will receive a $2,000 value of template + guides, complimentary with a Circaphiles membership!*

Power Up your Networking Game

Networking: the exercise that seems to haunt us! The idea of circulating a room and struggling to strike up conversations and make meaningful connections after a full day’s work? There are many reasons to avoid networking – it forces us out of the comfort zone to portray the best versions of ourselves under the pressure of making a great first impression. 

Take a deep breath and let it go… I am about to release the anxieties of networking and provide a new mindset to this necessary and beneficial activity to make your time spent valuable. Say goodbye to your days of wandering aimlessly, counting down the minutes until you can make an Irish exit. With these tips, you will want to network all day or night long!


Events may seem like they get in the way of your “day job”, but consider them from a business development perspective. You could meet someone, an artisan who could forward your project where you may have been stuck, or a future mentor who could foster your career in ways that you never thought possible.  Broadening your horizons in this way is a vital part of keeping your perspective fresh, relevant and in constant forward motion.


Try attending events solo so that you are forced to talk to strangers rather than talking to your best friend who you came with. Grab a drink, there is usually an open bar!, and introduce yourself.  Be interested (and interesting)!

There are also benefits in inviting a friend. Ever heard of a wing woman?!  No doubt, it’s fun to tag team with your design pals, and they can also introduce you to people outside your circle or vendors you don’t know, too. 

interior design by circa genevieve id,

photography by talia claire photography


If you nab a ticket to a fun design event, instead of calling up your close friend, think about reaching out to an acquaintance you’d like to have a better relationship with (an architect or maybe even a potential client!).


Follow up as if your next job depends on it. Meeting someone at an event and getting their business card is great, but that relationship won’t lead to anything if you don’t follow up.  I drop a good – ole fashioned note in the mail no later than a week after the event. If you really connected with them, make a lunch date within a month or visit their studio/showroom or host them at yours.


Meeting other designers is fun, certainly an industry icon is thrilling, but have you ever thought about all the jobs they turn down? Jobs that are in your ideal wheelhouse.  Wouldn’t you appreciate that noted designer’s referral? The same goes for a peer…perhaps they have too much on their plate or only specialize in modern design, and they are approached by a much larger (or much smaller – think bread and butter!) client with a traditional home. Let people know what you are available for in a genuine way and what you are passionate about.

interior design by marea clark interiors