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Marketing Interior Design

122 – BIG Podcast: Marketing, Business, and Hospitality for Interior Design.

122 – BIG Podcast: Marketing, business, and hospitality for interior design.

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Krista Coupar of Coupar Consulting. Krista chats about how her business supports the design industry through business, marketing, and fulfillment. Nick also checks in with Mary Alice Palmer from HKS Hospitality on her experience of heading up a new division in a large firm.

Getting to know Krista Coupar

Krista Coupar is calling into The Lounge from San Francisco, CA. She loves shoes, even if they are painful, they are worth it. Krista finds inspiration in Paris and London but prefers Hawaii as a getaway. She also loves anything bubbly, including prosecco and champagne.

How did Krista get into design?

Krista is trained in interior design, but her current business is not design. She actually started in the family business of silk trading and fabric importing, then started her own business. Krista loves the design industry but always gravitated towards business side. She is fascinated by how the business works, how people work together, and getting projects from beginning to end.

Kendall Wilkinson hired Krista to run the business side of her company with a team of consultants to help. Krista compared this experience to a real life design MBA. She found that there was not enough time in the day to serve clients and run the business and that she needed to delegate tasks.

What the business looks like today

Coupar Consulting is a larger umbrella that consists of Coupar Communications and Studio Coupar. Coupar Communications offers branding, PR, marketing, content management, web design, and social media. Krista mentioned that most designers have a website, but many are outdated, i.e. not updated in the last two years. This side of the business consists of nine employees.

Studio Coupar takes care of technical design and fulfillment. Designers have the vision and sell the dream. Studio Coupar executes the fulfillment, installation, styling, and photography of the project. Studio Coupar employs nine individuals. Krista mentioned that while some clients utilize both sides of the business, there are also plenty that just needs assistance on one side.

Krista opened her business in 2014. She still finds that designers don’t value their time enough and underestimate the time to complete a project. Krista still learns on a daily basis and loves working with her team and clients. She still doesn’t like paperwork.

Learn more at Coupar Consulting, Facebook, and Instagram.

Getting to know Mary Alice Palmer

Mary Alice Palmer from HKS Hospitality is calling in from Fort Worth, Texas. She prefers phone calls to texts since there is less room for misinterpretation. Mary Alice also enjoys contemporary art, ice cream, boots, and tequila.

How did Mary Alice get into design?

As a child, Mary Alice built houses, furniture, and clothing for her Barbies. She even drew out floor plans. Mary Alice started in advertising in college but was picky about what to advertise for. She became interested in architecture and ended up at Parsons.

Mary Alice started working with John Saladino in residential design. While she enjoyed her time there, Mary Alice wanted to explore other avenues of design and started working in the art department of a feature film. She ended up moving to Los Angeles and worked in independent film production. Mary Alice likes set design because it’s about creating an atmosphere and representing a mood and experience, similar to hospitality by an experience or vision for a guest.

What the business looks like today

Six years ago, Mary Alice was asked to head up a new division for hospitality interiors within HKS. With 78 years of hospitality and architecture experience, the company wanted to diversify their offering with interiors.

Mary Alice is able to identify and bring in talent. She looks for work they have done, a unique vision, and a nimbleness and willingness to work on different parts of projects in addition to an openness to growth. She is open to looking at experienced individuals as well as those fresh out of school.

The team is working on twelve projects currently that range from a 60 room boutique hotel to all inclusive resorts with 1000+ rooms. They are brought into the project as soon as possible to create a unified, holistic design.

Mary Alice prefers hospitality design because it’s more business-like and corporate than residential. It’s a more interesting challenge. In addition, she enjoys the collaboration in terms of design, budget, and feasibility. Mary Alice likes managing the client experience steering them to an efficient and reasonable solution.

Learn more at  HKS and Facebook.

  • Upcoming Events

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  • 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!

Top Tips for Creating an AMAZING Interior Design Website

I am constantly on the search for amazing designers to interview on the Chaise Lounge Podcast, and in doing so, I go to A LOT of websites. It is true that a website speaks volumes for your business. It is like a big-picture window into your business, as if you had a storefront on Main Street in any big city across America. I think it is imperative that you have a great looking design because YOU are a designer. If your website is sub-par, then people will assume that your designs are sub-par; even though a website has nothing to do with designing interiors.

This is an example of a not-so-great website.

This is an example of a not-so-great website….(luckily it is their old site).









After looking at HUNDREDS of interior design websites, I thought I would give some tips on designs for creating a great website.  NO, I am not a web designer…I just play one on TV. Ha, no way. I wish. I’m not THE website expert, but I know enough about marketing a small business online that I believe I have the street cred to give some quick pointers. If you are looking for help on building a website, this will be a great start.

My top 5 tips for creating an amazing interior design website:

  1. Less is More.  I believe a lot of designers talk about this in interior design as well, especially with contemporary and modern design. But keep your website clean and easy to navigate by giving your audience fewer choices. Maybe only 5 items across the top that are good headers: About, Press, Portfolio, Blog, and Contact Us should cover it. You can have drop-down menus for some, but this keeps your header (at the top) very clean and easy.
  2. Example of a good site.

    Example of a good site.

    Good Graphics.  This would include your logo, any buttons, and background surrounding the main area of your website. This is a very common problem on most small business websites. I think most people think they can create it themselves, and you can tell. If your logo is outdated, or if you created it yourself, I suggest getting a new one made.  My favorite solution for this is a website called Hatchwise. You can get an amazing logo produced for under $250. Think of it like the centerpiece of a room. For other graphics, you can use Canva. Most things are free, but you can get stock images to use for $1 per image. Great resource.

  3. Big Pictures.  When folks are looking to hire an interior designer, they want to see big pictures that are high quality and lots of them. So make sure your portfolio viewer is easy to navigate, and you have great big pictures of your amazing work. I recommend finding a good photographer. Notice I did NOT say GREAT photographer. Those are just super expensive. When I went looking for a photographer, I found a gal that was a wedding photographer that had also done some commercial (building) work. Most of her gigs were weddings, and that meant she had lots of spare time during the week. She charged me and the designers I have referred her to about $50 per shoot. She charges extra for doing touch-ups, but the photos are really good, much better than I could ever do, AND she makes all the arrangements with the homeowner.
  4. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do you think a video is worth? Your viewers will be able to connect with you so much more. Keep them short (about 1-2 minutes), and try to get several on the site. One should be you, telling your BRIEF story. You can have a few testimonials from customers, and then you can do some about design. They are engaging, and really add a stickiness to your website.
  5. Lots of websites say the same thing: “Timeless design,” “We are passionate about design,”  “I love what I do,” and “we listen to our clients.” These are all clichés that I see on a lot interior design website. Very vanilla. I suggest you be different and stand out. Are you just like all designers, or do you have your own style? Don’t be afraid to show it. Let them into who you are, and what you are all about. Make sure your picture is on the About Us page, and you include photos of your team if you have a one.  You can even talk about each member of your team individually. Just don’t be boring and like everyone else.

Notice that I did not talk about social media. This is not a post about that. Yes it is important, but it should not be the focus of your website to push people to your social media. It should be the job of social media to push people to your website. I hope this has been helpful, and if you have taken offense to anything I have said, I am sorry. I just want to push you to be the BEST you possibly can be and to grow your interior design business.


If you want to connect with Nick May and The Chaise Lounge, please do so on our website at TheChaiseLounge.com where we talk the business of interior design.