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S22 E16 – Holistic Design by Laurence Carr

Today in The Lounge, Nick speaks to Laurence Carr of Laurence Carr Design. She finds inspiration in everything from music to nature, from art to food, and she’s not afraid to bring her worldly influence to interior design.

263 – Maria Killam: Color Expert

Welcome back to The Lounge! Today Nick chats with Maria Killam, a color consultant, from the heart of Vancouver. The two talk trends, scrape the surface of the science of color, and cover all Maria has to offer in classes and online.

223 – Alberthe Buabeng and Ariel Johnson

Today in The Lounge we have two incredible designers, Ariel Johnson of Ariel Fox Design and Alberthe Buabeng of Albie Knows. Respectively, these designers offer invaluable advice about finding passion and setting up the businesses they dreamed.

201 – Kendall Simmons: Southern Charm with an Edge

Kendall Simmons: Southern Charm with an Edge

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks to Kendall Simmons of Kendall Simmons Interiors, Southern charm with an edge. Kendall talks about her journey to design, how she developed and grew her business, and plans for the future (hint: E-Design!).

Kendall’s Journey to Design

Kendall was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, but lived in Tennessee for high school and has relocated back to Nashville, and loves it there. She grew up in a home with a very artful and creative mother and believes this is where her interest in design developed. She has traveled all over the world and feels that when you are limited in language by being in another country or culture, you become an observer and really pay attention to lots of visual information. Kendall knew she wanted to pursue design in college and said she was able to intern during the summers for a few weeks at a time. During these internships, she felt she really learned valuable information about what she did and didn’t want to do. 

Kendall moved to New York after college for a job with Campion Platt (an architecture firm). She then returned to Tennessee and took a job with McAlpin (an interior design and architecture firm) and got a world of knowledge and experience. She then opened her own firm and has had it for 4 years now. Kendall says going off on her own was like “jumping off a cliff,” but after contemplating it over a year she gave notice and jumped in. Doubt immediately filled her mind until she received 2 emails pretty quickly asking for her help to design spaces. She’s glad she did not open the business too soon and admits the timing was “serendipitous.” Kendall’s upbringing in Nashville gave her a splash of Southern Charm and it’s combined with the “edge” of her New York experience and her younger clients’ perspectives. The perfect combination!

The Company

Kendall Simmons Interiors is run by just her and her husband, Kane, who helps with business development, management and outreach – this helps free up her time to be creative. She has had some interns, but these have not been consistent, so she doesn’t rely on them at this time. Although Kendall admits she does not really do any “true” marketing, she has found success in other ways. Her husband, Kane, will outreach to bloggers and other individuals and companies they think will be a good collaboration. Kendall is also very involved with her website and supervises everything on it to make sure it is user-friendly with lots of visuals. She wants it to feel approachable and be a good representation of all the projects she has done and the services she provides.


Kendall talks with Nick about the success she has had from Instagram and how she has over 9,000 followers. She talks about how most of her clients are young and love the visuals on Instagram and she gets referrals this way. Kendall recommends Instagram updates every day with new content to always keep followers wanting more. Kendall gives 3 tips to build success on Instagram:

1) Invest in getting your work professionally photographed. Check to see if there are local photographers who are looking to build content as well – team together. 

2) Post on a regular schedule. Kendall will post every day, sometimes twice. She says this consistency keeps you in their mind and they want to see what you’ll post next.

3) Devote time – put posting on social media on the calendar every day as a “to-do” item. Make it important and it will pay off.

The Future is Bright in Nashville

Kendall’s younger clients typically have not had experience with a professional interior designer before and some want to do the work on their own and just need a roadmap of how to get there. So, Kendall started a web-based E-Design service for those clients with lower budgets. Interested clients give her a detailed questionnaire (including measurements) and can upload an inspiration board. She gets back to them within 2 weeks with information about designing their space with a furniture plan, detailed notes, and even a shopping list! The shopping list is on an interactive PDF with active links to the vendors mentioned in her plans. Kendall let E-Design happen organically at first, but it is becoming more popular and she is now talking about it on Instagram as well. She wants to find a way to have people submit before and after photos and is working on this component.Kendall also has a side project where she designs rental properties just for the freedom to do what she wants. Learn more about these rental properties at www.theHousePunch.com.

For more information about Kendall Simmons visit www.kendallsimmons.com. Find Kendall on Instagram – @kendallksimmons

  • Upcoming Events

BD West – April 4 – 5

High Point Market – April 14 – 18

HD Expo – May 2 – 4

ICFF – May 20 – 23

NeoCon – June 11 – 13

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

195 – David Phoenix: Daring Self-Starter

David Phoenix: Daring Self-Starter

Today in The Lounge, Nick interviews David Phoenix, a daring self-starter who shot out on his own with only his ideas and passion to back him. We learn how David went from being jobless in the 1990s to working with millionaires overnight, all without college experience or the internet to guide his way.

Getting to Know David

David was born and raised in New England just west of Boston. He now lives in Los Angeles, California and has been living there since 1984. Watches are his favorite fashion accessory while his favorite vacation spot is Fiji. The room he likes the least in his house is his walk-in pantry/ closet and while he doesn’t drink, he does enjoy Pellegrino with a squeeze of lime.

Oh the Places He Would Go

In his mid-teens, David had a mentor who would take him through furniture stores where he would take home the magazines they had out and trace over the pictures. After high school, he attended design school for a single day before deciding the environment was not for him. He then worked numerous jobs at showrooms, fabric stores and the like; anything that gave him experience in the design field. After being let-go from one of his jobs and being unemployed for a month, David decided he would start his own design firm. Shortly after making this decision, he ran into Maria Shriver who liked his concepts and character. She then gave him a job the following day.

Where He is Now

Today, David has six-to-seven staff members on his team. They mostly work ground-up construction, though do not hesitate to take on remodeling jobs or both simultaneously. He has done work all around the United States from the West to East Coast, though would love to do a house, hotel, or resort in Hawaii as well. When hiring staff, he looks primarily for characters who are highly organized, self-starters, and those who readily take on work. He ensures that his staff is open to making connections with him and their co-workers so as to limit the potential for internal conflicts. David highly prefers applicants with experience to show alongside their skill sets.

David’s business has grown from a walk-in closet to an office space in Los Angeles without a marketing team to  advertise his brand. He has managed to maintain a steady flow of work via word-of-mouth and recommendations from clients. David claims that the biggest struggle of his job is working amicably with the clients, which he likens to marriage counseling. He also designs showcase homes which are enormous time and financial investments, but worth it for the client to see the designer physically linked to the spaces he creates. When figuring out how to price himself, he asked others in the field how they priced themselves and based his assessment off what he learned.

David launched his first line of furniture with Hickory Chair last year.

Learn more about David Phoenix at www.davidphoenix.com

Also be sure to check out www.hickorychair.com to keep up to date on when David’s furniture line launches.

  • Upcoming Events

Modernism Week – Feb 15 – 25

Design Bloggers Conference – March 4 – 6

BD West – April 4 – 5

High Point Market – April 14 – 18

HD Expo – May 2 – 4

ICFF – May 20 – 23

NeoCon – June 11 – 13

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

149 – Sandra Funk: New Jersey Girl of Interior Design

Click on the photo for more!

Sandra Funk: New Jersey Girl of Interior Design

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks shop with Sandra Funk of House of Funk, interior design’s Jersey girl. Though originally from Michigan, Sandra now calls New Jersey home. House of Funk has offices in both New Jersey and the beloved New York City. Sandra took an unusual path to her interior design career; from planning to be a third-generation tire heiress, to a website/business finance consultant and then finally to an award-winning interior design principal. Find out how she did it all, in this episode of The Chaise Lounge.

Breaking the Ice

Sandra is a lover of neckwear. From scarves to necklaces, this is her accessory of choice. She supports Chavez for Charity, a maker of jewelry that gives a percentage of proceeds back to charitable causes, a business model that Sandra has also woven into House of Funk. Her perfect night out is a beautiful night stroll through New York City, stopping in for red wine and apps, and seeing where the evening takes her. She is a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters and takes great advantage of the Au Pair program! Growing up in Michigan, Sandra was always surrounded by a strong DIY spirit in her family and community. This is where the initial interior design seeds were planted.

Getting Into the Business

After assuming that she and her sister would take over the family business of tire retreading, it came as a shock when her father sold the business. Sandra had even started college as a finance major in order to do just that. Upon graduation, forced to discover a new path, Sandra took on her first job as a business consultant, which allowed her to travel while she figured out her next steps. At that time, website usability consulting started to take off. As Sandra headed in that direction, she began taking interior design courses at Parsons School of Design to facilitate her website design work. She fell in love with interiors through her studies. Suddenly, the dot-com crash happened and Sandra was laid off. She, however, could not have been more pleased! It was full steam ahead of her interior design career.

Sandra’s first design gig was at Ethan Allen as a sales consultant and decorator. She received terrific training and was chosen to design TV host, Joy Behar’s, home office which would subsequently be featured on the television talk show The View. Upon leaving Ethan Allen, Sandra joined the team at Christopher Norman, where she really got to know the “Who’s Who” of the New York Interior Design community and learn about the intricacies of high-end design.

The Nuts and Bolts of House of Funk

House of Funk is a 6-woman team. Sandra is the creative overseer and editor with two lead designers. She has a head of PR, Head of Finance and a Coordinator that wears many hats. While Sandra tools around in CAD to facilitate the design idea process, she leaves final specs to her rockstar lead designers. She also enjoys using Wecora to pin ideas for design charrettes and also loves sourcing personally once the design direction has been established. Sandra likes to walk the city to source and contact her go-to vendors for the perfect item for clients. When it comes to vendors, style and quality are imperative, but customer service is THE most important factor. Vendors must stand behind their products after they’ve been delivered and really believe in their business. Sandra makes sure to build relationships with vendors that have high integrity as this will always translate to their projects.

Sandra advises that when adding to your team, always allow people’s strengths to shine. It is more beneficial to do what you are good at. Try not to seek out that one person that you think needs to do everything. Internships are another great way to get to know someone and find out if they are a fit for your team; much like an extended interview.

Systems and delegation are also key to success and reduced stress; take it from a former business process consultant! Sandra likes to use Asana to keep track of her projects and recommends Kimberly Seldon for great Interior Design business processes.

Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

Sandra was fortunate to have two longer term projects during the economic downturn, though Nick thinks Sandra’s way beyond luck. She is always working and dives into the nitty and gritty of the residential side of the business.

When it comes to marketing and PR, Sandra had her first foray into that side of the business when she had tried to launch a line of sustainable wares. She hired a public relations team to help promote this line. Though the line was unable to launch, she learned that launching a specific brand was crucial. She went back to the drawing board and spent time really developing the brand for the business. When it came time to launch, she hired a PR firm to really get it off the ground and let the world know about House of Funk. She likes the idea of using a PR firm for really specific short-term goals and using her own avenues, such as blog posts, to keep her projects accessible and current. Sandra’s work has been featured in various publications from Apartment Therapy to Elle Décor and Luxe Interiors+Design.

Learn more about House of Funk at www.houseoffunk.com.

Chaise Lounge Updates

Nick got the chance to attend a networking event for RESA (Real Estate Staging Association) at the Denver Design Center. It was a blast from the past, as Nick started recording his show at the Decorative Materials showroom, way back when! He got to catch up with Sarah Lewis, affectionately known as Slew; his former co-host on a few early episodes of the podcast.

He also interviewed Shell Brodnack, founder of RESA, recently in Las Vegas. Click here to learn more.


Porcelanosa Check out the Air Slate Collection, lightweight sheets of slate for cladding and overlay applications. A thin veneer that is actually flexible!  Can be used in wet areas as well. Easy installation.

Benjamin Moore Two great new paint products to check out. Natura is a natural product with no VOCs; it is even asthma and allergy approved! Waterborne Ceiling Paint has an ultra-flat finish designed to hide common ceiling imperfections. It will give a beautiful and near flawless finish.

Design Manager is a great organizational tool for designers encompassing project management, activity management, accounting, inventory management and collaboration. It takes the place of your CRM as well. This software does everything!

  • Upcoming Events

Casual Market Sept 12 – 15

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on InstagramFacebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!