By Erin McNelis
While selecting the ideal color palette and curating the perfect decor for a room come with the territory, there is so much more to the story when it comes to interior design. That is why for 18 years, Jennifer Smith of Jennifer Smith Designs in Doylestown has been practicing her craft and helping homeowners create their dream spaces through many different facets of the business.
“Interior design is thought of as decorating. Design is so much more.” – Jennifer Smith
Decorating and interior design are not interchangeable terms. “Interior design is thought of as decorating,” says Smith. “Design is so much more.” Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations, as well as universal accessibility standards.
An Artist’s Touch with a Technician’s Eye
Smith started out earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Course work included intensive studies that can further your career in fields such as architectural firms, interior design firms, hospitality design, kitchen and bath design, historic preservation and more. “Electricians come in and they know they have to put four recessed lights in a kitchen” she explains. “But I have to know if it is possible, how it will fit together with the other aspects of the room, and the best way to place it.” It is also her responsibility to know the building codes and understand when potential aspects of the building or a business aren’t compatible with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Prior to setting up her own shop, Smith worked with Ethan Allen furniture company and Orleans Home Builders. Sometimes a home was just a plot of land when she worked with the owners, using floor plans and helping the homeowner fill in the design options. “I love working with people,” says Smith. “But it is sometimes tricky. People have such strong opinions, and they don’t always match their partner’s strong opinions.” This is a big benefit of hiring Smith. Homeowners can trust her expertise while also tempering the waters with her ability to navigate the give and take of designing a home together.
Smith opened her own design business during the housing crisis in 2009. Since then it has grown and evolved into a powerhouse in the design game in the area, bidding out big firms for prestigious jobs. Smith specializes in new construction, space renovations, vacation homes, educational facilities, health and beauty salons, corporate and individual offices.
What’s The Process Like?
When you hire an interior designer, it helps if you are prepared to trust her. She is the expert; let her work her magic and trust that she is going to do a great job. “The first thing that a potential client and I do is figure out the scope of the project,” says Smith. “If it is as simple as a paint consultation, I can book that for the first hour I have available and the fee is by the hour.” She will make sure you get the right color the first time, and she can even recommend a trustworthy, quality painter in your budget range to get an estimate. For larger projects, like a kitchen or bathroom remodel, she starts with drawings and documents over the computer. Then design is nailed down and supplies are ordered.
Smith has recently opened a mini design center in her home, where she has her collection of fabrics, a work station, and hundreds of design books. She can go out in the field, but she can’t bring her books with her, so it is a great place to meet with clients. “You can hire me and I can do all the suggestions and concept designs, or we can get to the point where you hand the job over to me,” she explains. That way clients get to trust the expert to do what she knows is the right thing for the space. Homeowners are very close to their living space. Hiring a designer can help you see it from a professional angle and understand how to fit the style you want into the space you already have.