In this special guest-hosted episode of The Chaise Lounge podcast, we find ourselves in the excellent company of bespoke furniture designer Bruce Andrews Macdonald, founder of Bruce Andrews Design, and interior designer Sarah Eilers, of the award-winning Lucas/Eilers Design Associates, based in Sarah’s hometown of Houston, Texas.
We hope you’ll enjoy this frank conversation between Bruce and Sarah—two industry leaders who have built successful careers making their clients’ investments in their homes pay off in long-term beauty, pleasure, and comfort.
“I want to thank Nick May of The Chaise Lounge podcast to have this opportunity to create a luxury podcast and discuss the situation in our world,” says Bruce. “I positively believe that we will all be looking at a new world going forward, but I think it’s going to be a world in which we all feel more connected in and more appreciative of, once we realize what we need to do—together.”
Redefining Luxury Interior Design and What It Means Today
Luxury interiors require “a curated look—it’s not one-stop shopping and you can’t do it overnight,” emphasizes Sarah. From concept to completion, her new-construction projects evolved over a period of about two years of planning, purchasing, and implementation.
Here’s how these pros keep their big projects on track:
Every Project Starts with Plan, a Budget, and a Story
As Coco Chanel said, Bruce points out, “Fashion changes, but style endures.”
At the end of the day, he says, luxury is sustainable because you’re not throwing anything away—you’re keeping something over time. “I’ve seen too many people thinking that luxury means that you can change things out and perpetuate newness. But luxury to me is that endurance of time—and really beautiful fabric.”
Sarah agrees: “I’ve never met a mohair or linen velvet that I didn’t love. Mohair wears like iron. And there’s nothing prettier than a linen velvet and it lasts a very long time.”
Collecting vs. Hoarding : Shop with a List
Keeping a warehouse or storage unit full of furniture, antiques, art, and accessories can pose a strong temptation for interior designers who love to shop. (And let’s be honest, what interior designer doesn’t love to shop?)
But Sarah advises shopping for your project with a list.
“I don’t like to keep an inventory or warehouse of things,” says Sarah. “It’s expensive!” She’d rather buy especially for a targeted project than stockpile merchandise in a storage room, where you can lose sight of what you have.
Think twice before you buy for an imaginary client, or you risk creating cookie-cutter interiors or harboring hundreds of square feet of design materials that simply won’t work for multiple clients who have diverse tastes and personalities.
When Shopping Online, Look for Dealers You Know
Sarah loves to travel and finds treasures at places ranging from the Houston Design Center to the Roundtop Antiques Show to Paris’s famed Marches aux Puces.
“Online sources like 1stdibs and Chairish are great resources for designers,” says Sarah. “But I’m always comforted when I see a dealer online that I know, so I can already trust what the quality is going to be.”
Bottom line: The more homework you do before you buy, the less worried you will be that the product you purchase online won’t measure up to your clients’ expectations.
If It’s Not Easy to Live With, It’s Not a “Luxury”
“My mom used to tell me, ‘You don’t have to put out everything you own,’” says Sarah, whose meticulously tailored interiors are known for their individuality and comfort as well as their elegant restraint.
“I grew up with parents who were collectors of English and American furniture, art, accessories, and I was raised living with these things, and not creating a museum interior,” she says.
It Pays to Be Practical
Remember: As a designer of luxury interiors, you’re not focusing exclusively on bells and whistles.
There are practical questions that need to get asked, too. Will there be children or pets? Are their ADA compliance issues to consider? Does the client plan to “age in place”?
In some instances, wide doorways, grab bars, an elevator, first-floor guest suite, crayon resistant walls, or cat-claw resistant upholstery, or muddy-paw resistant rugs are the kinds of little luxuries that pay over big over the long term.
Being happy, comfortable, and secure in a beautiful, easy to maintain home that tells your own story is the greatest luxury of all.
Learn more about Bruce and his bespoke furniture designs at bruceandrewsdesign.com
Connect with Sarah Eilers at lucaseilers.com and on Instagram @lucaseilersdesign . And look for her new book, Expressive Interiors: Designing an Inviting Home, scheduled to be published by Rizzoli in Fall 2020.
Chaise Lounge Updates
A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.
If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!