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S24 E3 – High Point Market Fall 2019: Everything* Designers Should Know

Living room design by Mitchell Hill
Beach house design by Southern Studio
Dinning room by Mannarino Designs

On the final episode of the Chaise Lounge’s coverage of High Point Market, Nick hosts a panel with Vicky Serany of Southern Studio, Adrian Bugg and Brandeis Short of Pillar and Peacock, Anna Maria Mannarino of Mannarino Designs and Michael Mitchell of Mitchell Hill. 

These designers have seen it all and been through it all, and, in this panel, they talk about the things they had to learn on the job, whether or not they went to school for interior design where somebody should have taught them about what they would need to do in the industry. 

As always, if you like what you hear from these designers, check them out on their Instagrams: @southernstudio, @pillar_and_peacock, @mannarinoannamaria and @mitchellhillcharleston.

Chaise Lounge Updates

Welcome to the week of High Point content! Stay in the loop for more on our Instagram and Facebook pages and keep an eye our for our upcoming market events!


Upcoming Markets

KBIS – Jan 21 – Jan 23, 2020

Atlanta Market – Jan 14 – Jan 21, 2020

Wrap Up

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!

261 – Live From High Point: The Breakfast Show 3

On the final High Point Breakfast episode, Nick and co-host Rachel Moriarty, of the upcoming Visibility with Rachel Moriarty, invite a rotating cast of guests to talk about their histories, High Point experiences, and hopes for the future.

256 – Live from High Point: The Breakfast Show

Welcome back! Today in The Lounge we’ve got another special episode recorded from High Point Market at Universal Furniture: “The Breakfast Show,” a live talk on everything design from television and Mercanteinfiera to advice for students! For this show, Nick and co-host Trish Semmoum, host of The Student Lounge, got together with designers Michel Boyd, Robyn Baron, and Toma Clark Haines, as well as Cynthia Ferguson and Billy Ceglia.

Vegas Market Trends Summer 2018

Vegas Market Trends Summer 2018

By Elizabeth Aaron | July 31, 2018
I just returned from Vegas Market and boy, are my feet tired! I visited over 110 showrooms in four days. I’m honored to have been a Style Spotter for Nick May’s The Chaise Lounge Podcast. In covering so much ground, I noticed the following trends:
  • Whitest Whites & Lots of Color
  • Texture
  • Whimsy
  • Made in America
  • Multi-taskers


 color1                      color2                       color3

I provide regular color consultations for clients and have noticed this year that everyone wants white walls. So it’s fortunate that vendors are featuring lots of color in furniture, accessories and area rugs to make homes cheerful. Things like upholstery in fun colorways as well as family-friendly stain-resistant white fabrics, lacquered mirrors in every color of the rainbow, casegoods in unexpected colors, and rugs made from silk saris all brighten the home. And while it might not be time to cue the disco music, plexiglass is back in a big way as a chair leg or complete table.


texture3          texture1         texture2

Texture was everywhere this Market – from upholstery to lighting and accessories. Accessories are smooth, shiny, spiky or spotted. Upholstery is fluffy faux fur, pleated or channel quilted velvet. Light fixtures and tabletop accessories feature colored, bubble & leaded glass. Another noticeable trend is concrete for use indoors and out.


            whimsy1                     whimsy4

I believe a good sense of humor is one of life’s most important skills. So I’m thrilled to see so much whimsy in this season’s furniture, art and accessories. Whether a nod to vintage graphics featured in photographic prints or bold patterns in casegoods, it’s easy to infuse fun in a space simply by placing a special piece. Be on the lookout for lions, tigers and bears – animals are big this season in art and accessories.

Made in America

 IMG_6557                               IMG_6677                          IMG_6706

It was notable that many companies are returning to source and manufacture in America. While you might expect to pay more for domestic production, that’s not necessarily the case. So buying American is something we can not only feel good about but also afford!


               IMG_7388                              IMG_6727

Our busy lives have us working longer hours to juggle everything. So it only makes sense that we demand our furniture multitask with us. Our desks can go from sitting to standing with the push of a button. People aging in place can benefit from lift chairs. If you have a significant other who snores, an adjustable bed just might fix that problem!

Elizabeth Aaron is an acclaimed interior designer, founder of Elizabeth Aaron Interior Design, and author of the Four Friends Design Blog

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

Whatsup! I’m Tyler and I work for Nick at Walls by Design. One of the various things I do for him is manage our Google Advertising. Nick has asked me to explain how you can use Google Ads for your interior design business. I use Google Ads to market interior and cabinet painting but you can follow the same template for interior design!

First and foremost, you have to be the better business to be successful in Google Advertising. Ultimately, Google Ads spotlight your competitive advantages. Let me explain, pretend we’re a consumer in the early stages of their decision-making process. We have already decided that we need help in designing our new home and now we are doing our initial search on the web for a designer. Generally, the first search is for something simple like “interior designer (location)”. I just did a search for interior designers in Boston and Denver. What you notice, regardless of location or service, is how every business’ Google listing looks on the web page. They all read as follows, “(Company Name) – (Service Offered)” with a brief and simple description.

When looking at the Google search, there’s no real insight to help you choose one over the other. Nothing special separates these businesses aside from their name and their wording choices. The reason for this is because they are limited in what they can put in their title/description. The main goal is to receive a first-page spot for the searched keyword because as consumers we usually don’t look past the first page, never mind the first link. That’s why Google Ads are so special. They are first page Google listings where you can put whatever you’d like, in this instance your business! That is why Google Ads is a spotlight on competitive advantages because it allows your listing to stand out from all the rest.

I’m not going to give you a tutorial or step-by-step instructions for setting up a Google Ads Campaign. Google already does a great job at explaining that. You can find out how here. What I will talk about, is some strategies and performance metrics to keep in mind when you set up your campaign.

The most common strategy is targeting relevant keywords. A painting business would target things like interior painting, painting contractor, painter in (location), etc. Good words for an interior design business would be interior designer, interior decoration, interior decor etc. Google’s keyword planner is a great tool to help make sure you’re getting as many keywords as possible.

The most important thing to remember about targeting keywords is to target phrase match keywords instead of broad match or exact match keywords. The best way to explain this is through examples. Let’s say interior design is the keyword. If you target that as a broad match, you can appear for any search related to interior design like interior decorating. This is bad because sometimes you show up for searches that are not relevant to your business at all. Exact match is when you just target that exact keyword. So if you were using exact match, you wouldn’t show up for a search like “interior design near me.” This is why phrase match is the best. Phrase match allows you to appear for everyone searching topics related to your business but without the risk of appearing for something entirely irrelevant. 

Something to always keep in mind when using phrase match is utilizing negative keywords as well. Negative keywords are used to block keywords you might not want your business showing up for if that word is searched. For example, since Walls by Design only does interior painting, I have added negative keywords related to exterior painting so people don’t accidentally call us to paint the exterior of their house.

The second strategy that you can use Google Ads for is targeting your competitor’s web traffic. Instead of targeting keywords related to your service you can target keywords related to a specific business. This is where being the better business really comes in handy. For example, one of our competitors has a comparison chart for the best painting company (them) vs the oldest company (unknown) on their website. The whole idea for this comparison is to make them look like they’re the better painting business. Well, when they compared themselves to one unnamed business it definitely looks that way. That is until we started targeting their audience. One of our most successful ad has the title “There’s a reason why (our competitor) doesn’t compare us to them” and the description “We were voted best painting contractor of 2016, come find out why.” The link then sends them to ‘Our Painting Contractor Difference’ web page.

So essentially anytime a customer Googles the name of our competitors business, the first thing they see is the ad created by us. This was a golden opportunity for a competitor ad, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. As long as you have a competitive advantage over them though, it makes sense to target a competitor.

What I can’t stress enough is using the location feature for your campaigns. By targeting only the locations you service, you’re not wasting your Google Ads on useless leads. The only problem I noticed is that it doesn’t reach people who don’t have the location feature enabled. A moderate fix for this is to target city related keywords without the location feature on. For example “interior painting” will only be available in the cities I selected it to show but I will have “interior painting Denver” available worldwide.

Google does an excellent job at helping you create and manage your Google Ads. It seems like a lot at first, but like I said, Google is there to help. Google will constantly send notifications and reports to help you improve your campaigns. Listen to every suggestion it has. It’s the one that decides if your ads are quality or not.

If you do everything it asks, then it’s as simple as making sure you’re seeing a good response from using it. Keep in mind the average for all industries is a 5% click-through-ratio. It might not seem like a lot but anything over 3% is generally decent. Personally, I use the click-through-ratio only to measure how well the actual ads are doing. What matters most is tracking how people interact with your site after they click the ad. I use designated landing pages for this. A designated landing page for Google Ads allows you to gather keep performance metrics on the users who clicked your ad. The designated landing page for our ad is exactly the same as another landing page on our website, “Our Painting Difference”. The only difference is the URL and how the public can find it – only through the ad. This allows you to track how many people found the page through the ad only, as well as things like bounce rate, how long they stayed, and additional pages they viewed after. Another thing a designated landing page is good for is doing AB testing. You can have two identical ads lead to two different designated landing pages. This will help you improve upon the performance metrics on your website.

If you keep these things in mind, then you and your business will be golden. Don’t be intimated about diving into a head-first commitment with this form of marketing. It’s not a $1,000+ commitment like TV or radio but instead, you can do something as little as $10 a day. If you see a good return on investment then you can bump it up to your liking. The number of benefits that Google Ads has, far exceeds the risks. It really makes sense to at least give it a try. It’s worked for us so it can work for you too!

84 – Industry: Christopher Guy talks about Starting his Multi-million Dollar Furniture Business

Christopher Guy

Industry: Christopher Guy talks about Starting his Multi-million Dollar Furniture Business

On today’s episode, we listen as the tables (er, mic) get turned and Phyllis interviews Nick. Then Nick interviews industry giant Christopher Guy Harrison, the owner and founder of the Christopher Guy furniture line.  Christopher explains how he started the company, how it grew, what challenges face the industry, and why it is so hard for designers to compete in the furniture business. .

As many listeners know, Nick recently assembled an advisory panel to give him feedback on the podcast. And one topic that kept coming up was Nick’s story. Who is this paint contractor taking the Interior Design industry by storm!?! So without further ado, the scoop on your podcast host…

Nick May gets Interviewed

“It was kind of inbred in me, I guess.  My dad worked for himself and my father-in-law owned a car wash outside of Chicago so I saw that modeled for me. My godfather owned his own business… I’ve just had all these people around me growing up that had their own business so I guess that’s just what I always wanted.”

As for painting, after Nick’s freshman year at the University of South Carolina, he answered an ad to be a manager for a local paint company. He learned a ton that summer and, entrepreneur that he is, decided to spend his next four summers in business for himself.

Every summer when he came home to rev up the painting business again, his dad would remind him that he was going to school so that he wouldn’t have to be a painter for the rest of his life. In many ways, he was right. Later Nick explains that he very rarely does any painting these days. In fact, this year he even transitioned out of the sales and project management. Two of his employees worked their way up and now manage their own territories in Denver. “So now I get to focus my energy on the marketing and big-picture stuff for the business.”

Nick's team painted one of the most iconic homes in the country

Nick’s team painted one of the most iconic homes in the country

Speaking of owning a business, Nick talks about the nitty gritty. He likes to joke that, “As a business owner, I get to work any 80 hours of the week I want!” He’s usually at the computer by 6am, but that also means he can go to the gym at 10am and, despite the long hours, he loves the flexibility. He also loves meeting people, problem solving, and building systems and processes. In fact, he attributes much of his success to the latter. Building good systems means he doesn’t have to micromanage people and that means happier employees and happier customers.

Nick on Owning a Business

Running a business is a risky endeavor and Phyllis probes Nick on what scares him most as a business owner. “I wonder if we won’t be able to fill the schedule. Even during the times when we are busy, I wonder if the phone will stop ringing. What if 2008 happens again?”

He also talks about a fear that he hears from many small business owners that just doesn’t keep him up at night.  “I know some people are afraid of hiring more people, but for me, I actually feel safer as we get bigger because I know that I can reschedule things easier, and more leads are coming in as I have more people out in the field.”

Tell us about an embarrassing Nick May moment: “I was on a job site and asked a new-ish employee if it was his first day and he reminded me that he’d been working for me for 3 weeks and had met me before… Yikes.”

“A more serious one, one that has helped shape me… A long time ago, I decided to expand the business into flooring/light remodel jobs in addition to painting and I took on a business partner to do that. That did not go well. A year and a half in, it wasn’t working out and I had to buy him out. I didn’t do enough legal due diligence so it led to me walking away with $380,000 of personal debt and I almost had to file bankruptcy. Luckily, I was able to turn it around and avoid that. Eventually, we paid off all the loans. So that was a tough lesson to learn, but it taught me a lot about focus. Now we just do painting. And, in fact, we just do Interior painting, nearly entirely residential. On top of that, we don’t do any faux finishing or even staining anymore.”

And now for a few fun questions!

Favorite Podcast memory:  Interviewing Tom Felicia in High PNick and Eric Haydeloint felt a bit surreal. Even though he’s super approachable, I just felt like maybe I wasn’t qualified to be talking to him…And Eric Haydel – He has become a friend now. I originally met him at ADAC in Atlanta and he just got super specific with me in the interview, which is so helpful.
What is the one piece of technology you can’t live without:  I feel like I’m cheating, but I would say my iPhone. I’m constantly in awe of how many tools it has replaced for me. And also just having everything in the cloud, usually in Dropbox or Google Drive, especially since my office manager is in Chicago and the rest of my team is out on projects in Denver. We also use Google spreadsheets for scheduling.

(Phyllis also mentions that Microsoft Onedrive is easy to use if you’re in a Microsoft heavy office.)

What are your favorite podcasts:  Startup—at least the earlier seasons.

Small Business, Big Marketing by Tim Reid in Australia

Super Agents Live—sort of the same format as The Chaise Lounge, but he interviews successful real estate agents. Phyllis also recommends this one.

What is your order at Starbucks:Soy Grande Latte—Either White Chocolate or Vanilla. My family teases me that I like to have a little bit of coffee with my cream and sugar.  [P.S. Phyllis drinks a Grande Latte with Coconut milk if you’re ever looking to bribe her!]

Favorite Vacation spot: Vietnam and Italy. Next on the list is a riverboat tour!   (Phyllis recommends Seabourn cruises).

What music do you listen to:  Country + Top 40—I call my station “Nick’s Mix” on Pandora.   I actually got to meet Darius Rucker back in South Carolina back before he was super famous so I’m a big fan of him.

Christopher GuyChristopher Guy

Christopher grew up in the U.K. and even lived in Spain for a few years of his childhood. Eventually he landed in property and real estate in the U.K., getting into the furniture business quite a bit later—- not until he was about 32. It all began in 1989 when the interest rates in London shot up to 16%, collapsing the market, and eventually Christopher found his way back to Spain. Around that time, a coincidental meeting with a friend who owned a furniture reproduction company got him thinking about manufacturing high-end mirrors.

“I was a bit naïve. That’s the beauty of youth. I thought, four pieces of wood. How complex can it be?” So he set out for Jepara—a coffee village in Indonesia, charmingly described by Lonely Planet as “a dusty little village not worth visiting”—and spent 5 years there, learning everything he could about the trade.

Eventually, with a little bit of luck, traders began to catch on and carry his line. And then much later, in 2007, he expanded the company into a full furniture line and renamed it Christopher Guy.

File Aug 21, 7 04 26 AM

Christopher Guy showroom in Atlanta at AmericasMart 2016.

The Inspiration

Sort of like the early James Bond movies, Christopher wanted his furniture line to make people dream about a different lifestyle. In fact, he designed the line thinking about how Coco Chanel would decorate her home if she were still alive today. “Coco Chanel was both elegant and edgy. And that has become the slogan for the company. Elegance with Edge.”

Growing up in Europe, setting up business in Asia, and distributing his line worldwide has given Christopher unique insight on the differences from one market to another. “In Europe, manufacturing brands think of themselves as fashion houses, whereas in the U.S. they think of themselves as cabinet makers. There’s a difference in the way they market themselves. In Milan, people walk around in stilettos, At Highpoint, people walk around in Nikes. Highpoint is very productive. Milan is all about glamour. Our approach at Chris Guy is that you can’t have one without the other.”
It certainly hasn’t been easy, though. “It becomes a lot more complicated when you start getting into all furniture for sure. When you start getting into upholstery that means importing because the quality of the local supplies in Indonesia won’t do for national standards.” And that means customs and duties and all the challenges that come with that. “It’s much more challenging, but you expand your market.”

Industry Problems to Solve

It’s been so challenging, in fact, that Christopher began building a software platform to streamline the whole process. “The costs for an individual brand to distribute, market, and sell world wide are just prohibitive.  This software will help bridge the gap in the communication between suppliers and distributors. It’s a problem I see all over the world—in each of our showrooms—and nobody else was doing anything about it.”

Another problem that he sees in the industry is the current model that many suppliers are tied to, selling directly to Interior Designers at a discount. This model makes the price points really inaccessible for the end-consumer if they were to shop directly with the supplier. And that means these brands can’t compete with direct to consumer suppliers like Restoration Hardware. And with the uptake in online shopping, not being able to list prices online just isn’t sustainable. “So I think the industry needs a total re-think. What should the discount be for Interior Designers so that the online price for consumers can be lowered?”

You can learn more about Christopher and the Christopher Guy line at ChristopherGuy.com 

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!