By Alice Gerard
Diane Garey owns a Grand Island-based interior design company. In this conversation, she talks about how she transforms homes into places that people can love and enjoy living in, regardless of the client’s budget.
‘Love Your Home’
Diane Garey: My motto is “love your home.” I believe every person should be able to come home to a place that is their haven, regardless of their budget. As an independent interior designer, it is my greatest pleasure to be able to do so. I also do a lot of decorating, though. I specialize in custom window treatments, blinds and accessories. Things that pull the room together.
Dispatch: Let’s talk about windows and how you can make your windows look nice and springy but without breaking the bank.
DG: What I generally do for any new customers is I take an impartial walk through the whole house with them. I look at the things that they like in their home, the things that work, the things that look great, and the things that could use work. Quite often, you can pull from one room and put it in another, not necessarily with window treatments, but with accessories and things to get a new feel for your room. Once I do an objective walk through, I talk realistically to the homeowner about budget parameters. How do you get a room or home, whether it's with window treatments or the home as a whole, that you love without breaking the bank? How to be realistic with your budget parameters.
We could talk about what you’re comfortable spending now, and we have to make decisions, like I do with my own home. How best to spend your money to get that “wow” factor and to get the most bang for your buck. Quite often, it is getting a to-do list together, finding stores you’re comfortable shopping at. There are great stores that I shop at locally for home goods, like a lot of my clients. Then there are some higher-end manufacturers that I deal with, where, sometimes, we pull in an interesting piece or two that give you a different look, so you don’t have the same artwork as your neighbor or best friend.
Dispatch: For me, it would be different because I produce my own artwork.
DG: That’s interesting, because I had a client call me last year. Her mother had passed away, and she was a fabulous artist. She had a couple of dozen pieces of artwork. She called me and said, “I’m hoping you can help me, because I know enough that hanging them all at eye level is not the best way to show this work.” She had me come out to her house, and we did groupings. We went through the rooms. We moved accessories and things. We purged. And then, we added a few new things. She’s got a whole new look. We did draperies on a 9-foot window, which made the room balance with some large-scale beautiful artwork. She feels that she has a house that’s pulled together, that she loves for the first time in her life. Your home environment is so important.
Dispatch: Your home is your castle and, when you have someone come and look at your house, you might be very nervous and think, “You’re going to wreck my castle.” What do you say to them?
DG: That’s a good question because I have a lot of customers who have never dealt with an interior designer. It’s intimidating for some people. The people who call me are the people who don’t quite get the results that they want when doing it themselves.
What I do is gather information, and you can do a lot with computers nowadays. I go through, and I find their likes and dislikes. And then I go shopping, based on a feeling of what they like and dislike, and can find things to supplement what they have purchased for their own home. So often, people say to me, “I can’t believe it. It’s like you read my mind. I can’t believe you were able to pull everything I love.” Well, it’s because they gave me the information. I just know how to pull it together, because I’ve done it for so long.
Dispatch: It sounds like what you’re looking at what makes clients happy, and you’re accentuating it. …
DG: I am helping them get it. Exactly. You need to find the end result first before you take the steps to get there.
Dispatch: I know that I have a vision of what I want it to look like, but I don’t have the organizational skills to get to that place.
DG: That’s true of so many people, or any of us when we’re shopping. Sometimes, you need to get certain pieces that you like to work together to get you a room that you love. If you have that end result in mind, with our first appointment, I can remind you, “But, look, this is going to get us here, and that’s how the process works.”
It’s fun, and it’s stress-free when you’re working with someone. It helps prevent mistakes, and it saves money.
Dispatch: Let’s get to spring. I would think that the springy thing would be that you’d want your home to feel more open and vibrant.
DG: I get a lot of calls in January from people who say they never like their house, except when it’s decorated for the holidays because, during the holidays, you have layers. Whether you have your tree, your candelabra. There’s more stuff out. Then people take it down, and it looks bare. It looks empty and lonely. What I tell people is to put their money in things that stay year-round. Have a professional paint color that you like. Have some furniture that’s the best that you can afford. Invest in blinds and draperies that give you a finished look and that don’t make the room look inexpensive. Then, save your money on your finishing steps because that’s what you want to change out. Maybe seasonally. You could add some plants, whether they’re live or artificial, some new lamps, a couple of new accessories. You take out your little winter chachkies, and you put in spring ones. A little snail or what have you. Different things to get different elevations in your room is what gives people that look.
You have draperies hanging down. Your eye hits the artwork. Then it goes down to the sofa. You have pillows, a cocktail table with accessories. That’s the “wow” factor, when people walk in your home, and they go WOW! Or when you walk in your own home and think, “I can’t believe I live here.”
Shortly before the holidays, I had someone from Heron Point Apartments. She was a new customer. I took all her artwork and all the accessories that she had, and I re-placed them throughout her apartment. I moved plants from one room to the next. I put her artwork in groupings that better balanced her furniture that she had. I took something from her closet, because she hadn’t been able to use it, and suggested that she put it up in her bathroom.
A lot of that is having a fresh set of eyes – who can take things that you love, without having to invest in something new, and repurposing them throughout your own home. She did not buy one new thing. We didn’t paint. It was literally moving things she had and creating a whole new look. That’s apartment dwelling. That’s anyone’s home.
If you’d like to talk with Diane about creating the home of your dreams, you can call her at 716-773-5714 or check her website: https://www.dianegareyinteriors.com/.
Diane Garey with multiple carts shopping locally for accessories and finishing touches. (Photo courtesy of Diane Garey)