“It’s four walls and a ceiling before I make it pretty,” said Marilou Stones of Stones Design Group Inc., who has spent the last 28 years making homes and commercial projects pretty throughout Central Florida.
Stones is licensed and fully accredited by the American Society of Interior Designers. She is quick to point out the difference between an interior designer and a decorator. “A decorator has a knack of putting pretty things together, while a designer has a degree, worked in the field, passed a state test and goes through 20 hours of continuing education. I make it pretty, plus functional to a lifestyle you want to live.”
Stones says she does a lot of listening and asks a lot of questions, because she wants to find out how the space is going to be used.
“I want them to tell me what they don’t like first, how the space is going to be used, and then we talk about the budget and their comfort fabrics,” she said.
Stones then gives the project owner homework — bringing in samples of rooms and designs they like from magazines and the Internet. She can usually determine the color and style preferences from the type of pictures and information brought in by the homeowner.
When asked about her style, Stones said, “I don’t really have a style because my pride comes when a client says, ‘I love my home.’”
She describes the Florida style as a “maintenance-free home.” When designing this style, she utilizes materials best suited for the climate and an active adult lifestyle. According to Stones, the hottest trend in interior decorating is “less is more,” which projects clean lines and less clutter.
According to Stones, the biggest issue most homeowners struggle with is an empty room in the home.
“They hear about a sale, buy what they see, and it is usually too big or too small,” says Stones. She points out that planning for an empty room in a home should begin with a floor plan with real measurements. Understanding how the room is going to be used is vital in designing a functional floor plan.
Nowadays, interior designers are being utilized more in Central Florida because many new residents need the long-distance help to get their new home properly constructed and furnished.
With the advent of smart phones and online shopping, many out-of-state homeowners can hire an interior designer to handle all aspects of their new home for less money than multiple flights and hotel stays. Home designing is more than a knack — it’s a skill.
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