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Christiana Plum, founder of Beach Plum Interiors, is known for helping clients define their style, narrow down overwhelming choices and highlight the beautiful details of their space. She shares her insights on interior design for spaces small and large, on any budget.
SBT: How do you help your clients?
Christiana: People often call me for a color consultation for their home, or at the tail end of a renovation project, or they call when a project has just started and they are overwhelmed with decisions and choices. In either case, I help my clients gain clarity by helping them pinpoint how their space is affecting them. I help people get to the heart of how their space is making them feel.
SBT: Interesting. Environments – either outside or inside – can have an impact on you emotionally right?
Christiana: Definitely. Design should improve happiness, productivity and wellbeing. It’s all about how space makes you feel and it needs to really representational view. When I say beautiful, I don’t mean show house. I mean livable. I mean that it’s beautiful to you.
SBT: What are some of the common myths and misconceptions about interior design that you run into?
Christiana: Many people automatically think they can’t afford to invest in a well-designed space. We spend 80 percent our time indoors and two thirds of our life in our bedroom alone. Imagine the emotional impact of that if you don’t have a beautifully well-designed and purposeful space. You can’t afford not to have someone help you design a space. Design is attainable for everyone so don’t look at it as HGTV or an unattainable show house.
Design is about your standard of beauty, your style and your life regardless of project size and budget. That’s another huge misconception. It’s about the architectural details and objects already in your home that bring beauty and highlighting those details. Design is not about the designer’s style, it’s about the designer orchestrating the beauty and details that matter most to you.
SBT: New England has quite a bit of historic architectural styles to homes here. How do you honor the specific style of a home and a homeowner who might not really want their interior to reflect that style?
Christiana: I focus on the homeowner, their needs and why they bought their house. They may be living in a certain style home that they chose for other reasons. You can consider the architecture of the home, but it’s really finding out the person’s story. Just because you’re living in a Victorian home, for instance, that doesn’t mean you have to have Victorian fixtures. You can have something in that has a clean look that may or may not relate to that period. I had a client with beautiful historic stained glass windows and we highlighted the room by pulling out some of the colors from the stained glass. You can either juxtapose details or coordinate them. We wouldn’t have done that throughout the house, however finding those details and making the design intentional and purposeful made the homeowner happy.
SBT: What are the top results your clients get by working with you?
Christiana: Loving where they live and emotional comfort. There’s nothing that speaks to my soul more when clients say, “Wow, I love being in my home, I don’t want to leave,” or “My workspace is so much more productive.”
SBT: Is it easier to design for small or large spaces?
Christiana: I love both. I have clients who have downsized from four and five bedroom homes, to one or two bedroom condos or homes. I help them optimize for those smaller spaces. There is more problem solving with maximizing space for moving into a smaller home. People are used to living larger and have larger furnishings so trying to relocate that furniture into a smaller scale is extremely difficult. That being said, trying to move smaller sized furnishings into great rooms have to be in proportion and they’re usually not. Some of the clients who are downsizing have a little bit harder time than those who are upsizing because they feel like they’re letting go. There’s a lot of emotion around getting rid of a life full of belongings.
Personally though, I love small spaces. When I first moved to Boston, I lived in a 450-square-foot apartment that I absolutely loved. When I moved to Key West, I lived in a conch cottage that was 26 feet by 26 feet with a large outdoor deck. I love analyzing and maximizing space. It’s not just problem solving but assessing the problem. Design to me isn’t about stuff; it’s about having the things that you need to live comfortably and maximizing on those things. If you only need one bed and one sofa, then let’s get the best ones you can afford that work with your space and lifestyle.
SBT: What inspired you to become an interior designer?
Christiana: I was aware from a young age of how space can make you feel. My bedroom became my canvas and refuge where I would constantly rearrange the layout to feel more comfortable and create a space that truly felt like my own.
The concept of space fascinated me so I took electives in art, woodshop and computer-aided drafting in high school. When I arrived as a freshman at Syracuse University, I knew interior design was where I wanted to focus my studies and career. My multi-year internship at an architectural office solidified that.
SBT: Can you explain the difference between interior design and interior decorating?
Christiana: We each have our roles, however, HGTV and the like have done a disservice to true designers by interchanging the two titles. Interior designers are required to have knowledge of building codes, regulations, design concepts, the square footage and space needed for certain functions, and programming in order to create functional spaces. There’s a certain amount of education and experience required to be an interior designer. Interior decorators focus on furnishing a space with things like window treatments, pillows, colors, textures and patterns. Designers may decorate but decorators do not have the technical background to design. Be sure to qualify what you need and know when you’re ready to start your next project.
SBT: What’s the most important question a homeowner, or business owner for commercial spaces, should ask before diving into the interior design process?
Christiana: For a residential client, the question is how do they like to live? Your home should be a true reflection of you. Imagine living, working and playing in a space you love. For a commercial client, that’s more about their brand and business needs. Questions like “Does this location work best for their needs?” or “How can we attract a different kind of client?”
SBT: Anything else people should know that we haven’t yet covered?
Christiana: Think about how much time you spend in your space. Whether it’s your office or your home, how is it making you feel? Are you as productive as you like? Are you as happy as you’d like? Is your space giving you what you need? Bring your space back to the emotion. It’s my mission to demonstrate and celebrate the power of design to positively change people’s lives.
Christiana Plum is principle interior designer and founder of Beach Plum Interiors in Marblehead, Massachusetts. With more than 15 years of experience in residential and commercial interior design, Christiana thrives on helping clients love where they live work and play. Visit BeachPlumInteriors.com to learn more or call the studio at 781-990-6608 to schedule a complimentary phone consultation.
Gayle Nowak is a contributor to Small Business Trendsetters and Business Innovators Magazine covering influencers, innovators and trendsetters in business, health, finance and personal development. She also has contributed to Founderswire.com, an American digital news magazine and video channel that provides in-depth analysis and reporting on modern entrepreneurship and technology that solves global problems. She was previously a staff writer and contributor for several local newspapers in the Boston media market including the Ludlow Register, Ashland and Holliston TABs, MetroWest News and Taunton Daily Gazette.