Interior Design Podcast

132 – Betsy Helmuth: Affordable Interior Designer

Betsy Helmuth: Affordable Interior Designer

On this episode of The Louge, fellow podcaster and interior designer, Betsy Helmuth joins us to talk about Affordable Interior Design and how to design your own home on a budget, at your leisure. Her podcast, Big Design, Small Budget runs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes where she spills inside tips on design and how to do it yourself.

Getting to Know Betsy

Betsy waits all week for her Saturday night tradition of going to Outback Steakhouse with her family and ordering a martini. She recently became a suburban mom, moving her life to from NY City, where her business began, to Westchester. Her business has expanded from Manhatten to the suburbs and now, across the globe online.

Inside Affordable Interior Design

Besty’s company only consists of 5 designers and 2 handymen yet they get 8-15 new clients every week, and design 500-700 spaces a year! They’ve worked with everyone from hoarders to billionaires.

What makes Affordable Interior Design, affordable, is offering flat rate plans that tell clients exactly what to do and buy, so they can execute it on their own time and at their own rate. The whole process only takes 6 hours! 2 hours are spent meeting in person or online, 2-3 hours are reserved for the designers to ‘shop’ online and build a mood board, and the last hour is to meet back up on the phone to look at and tweak items. All that is left is for the client to execute the vision! Now they can budget accordingly. 90% of Betsy’s business consists of this plan that clients implement on their own, but they do offer packages where the designers do everything as well, it’s just more expensive as you have to pay for their time.


Betsy never spent a lot of time on advertising, if any at all, as her name advertised for itself. If anyone googles “affordable interior design,” her website pops up. Which, is exactly what the user is looking for. Then her reviews, referrals, history, and designers’ degrees and high-end experience leads people to stick around and use the service.

Recently though, for the last 3 months and for the first time in 10 years she has started marketing and hired people to help. As the company grows and more designers are added to the team, she wants to make sure clientele is still growing also.

Betsy has an impressive repertoire of PR but has never paid for any of it. Each exposure has its own story and some were as simple as a Google search. Find her on the Today Show, the Wall Street Journal, LifeTime, NBC, CNN, USA Today HGTV, the DIY Network and more here. Betsy shares with us that TV exposure doesn’t really translate to clientele at the time, but instead, after the fact it gives credibility and interest. A lot of marketing is about good photography and Nick tells us his secret hack on how to get high-quality pictures for cheap.

Inside The Podcast: Big Design, Small Budget

Betsy’s had her podcast now for a year and a half now. She believes that knowing how to design is a right, not a gift. You shouldn’t have to hire someone. The principals of design can easily be learned by anyone, you don’t need a magic eye. Betsy is passionate about giving away her design secrets and imparting everything she knows on others. You have to live in your home, so you should be comfortable doing so. Betsy also tells us how she got started in the podcast world and how it has helped reach and boost her online platform which includes design classes, design packages, and her book.

Of everything, Betsy loves that the items she chooses can really make a difference in people lives. She tells us that she truly believes furniture can change people’s lives.

Contact her at and learn more on her website


131 – High Point Spring Market 2017 Show #4

High Point Spring Market 2017 Show #4

126 – BD West: Boutique Hotel Design Conference

BD West: Boutique Hotel Design Conference

Today in the Lounge is a BIG show. Nick traveled to LA for all things hospitality and design, the BD West conference. He had the chance to interview Christian Schnyder, a very accomplished hospitality designer based in LA, Deborah Herman, founder and president of Fabric Innovations, who was showcasing at the conference, and the conference head honcho, Michelle Finn.

Checking in with Michelle Finn

Michelle Finn works for the Hospitality Media Group, which owns BD West. The company hosts two trade fairs every year – BDNY and BD West – in addition to three forum events that connect buyers and sellers with unique interests like skiing, wine, and craft beer. Hospitality Media Group also puts together the largest hospitality matchmaking event.

Learn more about Hospitality Media Group and their events, please visit the Boutique Design website.

Getting to know Deborah Herman

Deborah Herman is the president and founder of Fabric Innovations. She loves to travel to new destinations. Deborah’s favorite room in her home is the library, where she has a memory of every book that she’s read.

In the past, draperies and bedding in Las Vegas hotels would last for 10+ years, but these days, Deborah tell us that properties are switching over to all white bedding. She has contracts with them and works on only hospitality projects. Deborah also provides quilted blankets to Delta Airlines.

Deborah builds her business through personal connections, sales calls, and working hard. She was recently recognized as an enterprising woman of the year and gives speeches on the do’s and don’ts of business.

To learn more about Fabric Innovations, please visit

Christian Schnyder of Belaco Design

Christian Schnyder owns Belaco Design, which he shares with us, is named from a made up language. The firm works on 75% hospitality projects, including hotels and restaurants. Christian Schnyder is from Switzerland. His favorite room in his house is the living room, as it represents who he is.

  • How Christian got into design

Christian is a trained architect, but when he came to the U.S, he needed a job to sponsor his Visa immediately. Christian ended up taking a job in interior design and never looked back. As a project manager, he oversaw renovations and new construction in restaurants. This position helped Christian understand the business side of design, but at some point, he became disinterested in managing and wanted to get back to design. He took a job with K&A Design for eight years and became a principal designer before starting his own firm.

  • What the business looks like today

Belaco Design employs a design director, three designers in FF&E, and designer in architecture. Christian says that the industry is a family and competitors are your friends. As a business owner, Christian enjoys wearing different hats. He tells us that there is no time you completely have off. He can never not think about the business, as he loves it and always wants to do more.

Christian and his team do some residential work, but mostly hospitality. Residential allows for more materials and detail that you can’t do in hospitality. Also, Christian mentioned the anxiety surrounding spending people’s money in residential and that decision making in hospitality is much different. In addition, residential design is more rewarding than hospitality as you get to see people’s reactions and contribution to someone’s life.

Christian has not had to put a lot into marketing and PR yet. The team is fortunate that their hotels are opening up and they have good marketing people to help. He does tell us that

Belaco Design sends out email updates and that he likes to keep in touch with contacts. Every year around the holidays, Belaco Design collaborates with a maker to create custom pieces to send out to clients and potential clients. Word of mouth and repeat clients is how they sustain their business. All of Christian’s projects are currently in the US but are all over the board. The team completed twenty projects in 2016 alone.

Learn more about Christian and his business at, Instagram, and Facebook.

  • Upcoming Events

 HD Expo – May 3 – 5

ICFF – May 21 – 24

NeoCon – June 12 – 14

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

  • Wrap Up

 If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at  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!


125 – Industry and Previously Owned by a Gay Man

Phyllis on Branding and Michele Hofherr on Previously Owned by a Gay Man

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with industry partner Phyllis Harbinger about branding and email messaging and Michele Hofherr about her business around curating unique items and the story behind the name: Previously Owned by a Gay Man.

Checking in with Phyllis on Branding

Phyllis recommends consistent messaging across all platforms, even down to your email signature. An email signature is the block at the bottom of your emails that often includes contact information, social icon links, and your company logo. Phyllis also mentioned that including your photo can help people feel like they already know you.

Phyllis also cited that 72% of consumers want to hear from you via email rather than any other method of communication. So, how much is too much in your signature? If you are telling an entire story, including product information, or have irrelevant quotes, you may want to consider simplifying the content.

Beyond your email signature, there are other branding components to consider, like your actual email address and logo design. As far as the email address goes, using “,” “,” etc is a mistake, rather, use your company name. This not only supports your brand but makes you look more professional. A well-designed logo can make all of the difference as well. Phyllis and Nick recommend services like Hatchwise and 99Designs.

These are both cost effective ways to have a third party skilled designer create a logo for you.

Phyllis recommends finding creative and useful ways to use your logo too. She added her logo to a tote bag to give clients to keep their samples in. The pair also discusses handmade and personalized gifts for clients, and always keeping colors, logos, and fonts consistent. In closing, take a look at the brands you know, love, and trust. What can you learn from them?

Send Phyllis an email to get in touch and learn more!

Getting to know Michele Hofherr and Previously Owned by a Gay Man

Michele Hofherr is a straight woman married to a straight man. She loves black handbags, Montecito, CA, and red wine. She isn’t a private person, so nothing is off limits; she even admits to loving guilty pleasure, binge-worthy TV.

  • What’s with the name?

Previously Owned by a Gay Man is a peer to peer marketplace that curates furniture through individuals. Michele and her team curate unique items and individually list them on their website. These items don’t have to be owned by a gay man. It’s about the essence of a gay man, not the literal interpretation.

The name came from the true origin of the idea as it articulates what inspired them. Michele’s gay friends would move constantly and would always have extra items. These items were given away for free far too often to people who didn’t fully appreciate them. While Ebay and Craigslist fill a niche, those avenues can be overwhelming.

  • What the business looks like today

The business has been up and running for three years. Michele runs the front end. She’s the creative idea person. Her business partner, Lindsay runs the back end, with a focus on technology. Lindsay has never been into design personally.

There are now at least 1000 items listed on the site. The goal is to remain very curated and not too large. Michele wants to prevent the overwhelming feeling that other marketplace sites possess. She wants to have a revolving door of great stuff.

As mentioned prior, Previously Owned by a Gay Man is a peer to peer marketplace. Individuals list their own items and warehouse them, while Previously Owned by a Gay Man facilitates shipping, which is paid for by the buyer. Geoffrey De Sousa, Chief Curator, is a design aficionado with an objective point of view. Everything submitted goes through him.

Learn more at Previously Owned by a Gay Man’s website.

Industry: The Chaise Lounge Podcast

Upcoming Events

 High Point Spring Market – April 22 – 26

HD Expo – May 3 – 5

ICFF – May 21 – 24

NeoCon – June 12 – 14

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13


Wrap Up


If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at  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!

119 – Barry Wooley: Painter Turned Amazing Interior Designer

Barry Wooley Designs

Barry Wooley: Painter turned amazing Interior Designer

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with Barry Wooley for the second time. Barry shares his journey into design, how he started his business, and how he keeps a family culture alive in the workplace.

Checking in with Barry

Barry is joining The Lounge from Louisville, KY. Barry Wooley DesignsHe and Nick met previously at High Point, where Barry works with Hillsdale Furniture to curate collections and provide input on finishes and hardware.

Barry loves Barcelona, Spain for its architecture, fashion, food, and mixture of old and new.

He also likes cats, Mac products, and convertibles. Barry loves to entertain in his dining room, but you will never catch a glimpse of his TV room, not even on Instagram.

How did Barry get into design?

Barry’s mom was creative and always decorated their homes, and his siblings are all in creative fields. Barry went to school for educational psychology then worked in the corporate world. He took on some design jobs on the side and was able to make the move to full-time by age 27.

Barry’s parents were painting contractors and decorators, which was an advantage for him. He evolved the paint company to paint and decor, and now into a design firm. Barry has no formal education in design, so he started by hiring people to work for the firm. He can’t draw but can come up with solutions. Barry disagrees with some things that are taught in design school but realizes the importance of differing opinions and teamwork.

What does the business look like today?

Today, Barry runs a full-service interior and exterior design firm specializing in residential, commercial, and hospitality projects based in Louisville, KY. He loves the personal connection of residential projects. Barry employs 20 full-time employees within two retail locations. His employees include designers, carpenters, painters, affiliates, etc. He wants to be able to do it all for his clients.

Barry talks about some of the coolest projects he has been involved with including: fantasy interiors in basements, amazing kitchens, upholstering walls, grass cloth on ceilings, and even a bourbon bar in a basement or speakeasy wine cellar with a separate entrance.


How to turn a painting company into a design firm?

Barry began helping his brother and his wife paint and decorate their home. He was able to personalize it without spending a ton of money. He ended up developing a questionnaire to help select colors and soon became known as ‘the guy with a painting company who was good at color selection.’ This was a natural evolution to move into decorating and selecting furniture. In 1998, Barry was invited to a home expo, then people started hiring him to design their homes. From there, Barry hired designers and developed a resource library and the rest is history.

Barry’s projects range from main homes in Kentucky and Indiana, winter homes in Florida, and summer homes on Lake Michigan. There are currently over 30 projects in the works. Barry believes that the busier you are the better you are. And if you love what you do, it all works out.

Barry feels strongly about creating a family-like atmosphere at his company. He is building a new design center with a family room, child care, and a space to eat lunch together. Everyone has their own office but is encouraged to work collaboratively.

On the marketing side, Barry says they do everything from editorial publications, charity events, local TV shows, radio ads, social media and more. He is currently working on a pilot for TV called Ministry of the Interior.

To learn more about Barry Wooley, visit him in real life at 835 East Main Street, Louisville, KY 40206, online or on social media (Facebook and Instagram).

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at 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!

117 – Larah and Dieter: A Power Couple in Design and Branding

Dutch East and Warren Red

Larah and Dieter: A Power Couple in Design and Branding

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with Larah Moravek from Dutch East Design and Dieter Cartwright from Warren Red. This power couple shares their journey from their design beginnings, the chance at meeting through a mutual friend, and how they have joined forces.

Dieter Cartwright

Getting to know Larah & Dieter

Originally, Larah is from Illinois. Her family moved to England, then Texas. She has been in New York for the past sixteen years. Larah loves Spanish and Portuguese wines and the movie Captain Fantastic.

Dieter is from Tasmania, Australia. He has been in the US for ten years now. Dieter enjoys beer, wine, and cocktails. Larah and Dieter met through a mutual friend/vendor and are currently married and live in New York.

How did Larah & Dieter get into design?Dutch East - hospitality design

Dieter always wanted to be an architect. As his parents built their house, he followed the architect around everywhere. Dieter even went so far as to observe meetings between his parents and the architect.

He started to work towards becoming an architect, but was sidetracked as a beekeeper, then hair dresser, then back to studying architecture.

Interior design was never his initial goal. Dieter gained experience in bartending and working in hospitality, which ultimately proved invaluable in his design career. Soon, Dieter started working for a designer in New York, but then the economy dropped. He managed to combine getting laid off with starting his own company.

Larah was not interested in design until later in her life. She grew up interested in poetry and animals. Larah soon found out that she wasn’t cut out for working in a hospital, but she did start to understand how space affected people physically and mentally. She switched her major from biomedical science to interior design.

After traveling for six months, Larah was able to start her own company. Today she typically works on bars and restaurants and wants to create spaces that encourage good social dynamics.

Larah and Dieter began working on projects together and have even begun pitching together. This has allowed for them to expand their bandwidth and offerings to clients. Now Larah and Dieter have decided to merge their companies while keeping Dutch East focused on interiors and Warren Red focused on branding.

Laura Moravek

What does the business look like today?

Larah and Dieter employ two interior designers who work with them. They like to hire people with prior history in other fields, like law and construction.

As a business owner, Larah finds it challenging to balance big picture ideas and strategy with daily minutiae and client relations. She wants to understand and respect everyone. In addition, Dieter doesn’t have a lot of experience working for someone, so he likes to challenge the status quo.

How to get into hospitality

If you are a designer looking to get into the hospitality design industry, Larah and Dieter would first recommend understanding why this field appeals to you. While there is no right or wrong answer, it can be helpful to know what excites you.

They also recommend looking into who is building and hiring and making connections. Referrals and word of mouth are huge within the design industry. Most things come through an introduction or referral, not cold calls. Larah and Dieter are constantly trying to foster a larger network and engage with people.

Hospitality design Dutch east

What’s next?

Larah and Dieter mentioned that lots of change is happening. They want to allow for themselves and their employees to pursue personal passions and work towards common goals. They are interested in owning and operating a small hospitality location, perhaps a bar.

To learn more, please visit Larah and Dieter on their website.

hospitality design

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at 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!