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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.

182 – Kevin Htain: Home Staging Extraordinaire

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks shop with Kevin Htain of Identity Home Staging, Real Estate Stager and HGTV contributor. Very well known in California, Kevin had an interesting pathway through the design world to end up as one of staging’s most high profile players. Find out more, in this episode of the Chaise Lounge.

The Business

Kevins start t in the interior design business was designing model homes and leasing offices with KB Homes as his first gig out of college. He began as a studio art major in school, but then realized he needed his creative education to have a solid business fundamental. That’s when he discovered interior design. He has since worked for powerhouses like Ikea and progressive businesses like Pacific Dimensions, a merchandising company that seeks to blend traditional staging techniques with cutting-edge design trends. It was the most unlikely of avenues that finally got him into the staging industry though…a call from Mom. She had heard about it from a friend and recommend Kevin look into it. The rest, as they say, is history. Kevin was enrolled in staging training just weeks later.

Staging and Interior Design…What’s the difference anyway?

Kevin believes that home staging is all about putting a home’s best foot forward; if it had legs of course. It is really real estate market driven, so one needs to understand that segment in addition to having a background in design and aesthetics. Interior design on the other hand, is all about customization and personalization. It is design for a particular person or persons in mind. Staging is much less personal but still geared towards that target client. California’s staging market is robust, so staging is seen as a valuable tool at a seller’s disposal. Staging works across the board; in all budgets. Its all about helping the property perform at it’s highest potential.

What it Takes

Kevin has a team of 7. They include his stylists and moving crew. It can be tough to maintain a team in this industry, due to the fast pace and the eventual burn out that team members can face. That is one of the biggest challenges to be overcome. Keeping inventory fresh is another critical factor in keeping installations fresh and having properties show at their best. Some brands are also beginning to position themselves to meet the unique needs of the staging community. Brands like Uttermost, Coaster, and Ashley offer pieces that are striking, yet lightweight and easy to maneuver. Always keep the price point of the property in mind and stage accordingly. The scale and colorway in a million dollar home is going to be different than your average home’s inventory. A really good stager understands this and can market properties effectively.

Getting into the TV Game

Kevin is proud to share that Identity Home Staging has worked on 46 projects with HGTV over the last 3-4 years.  There were originally contacted by the casting agency for the show ‘Flip or Flop’. Its been a great fit over the years and now Kevin will be contributing to the upcoming HGTV show ‘House to Home’. The next steps for Identity Home is to start their own furniture line.  Nick is excited to pass some connections along in that area and to questions why there isn’t a current HGTV show focused solely on staging (hint, hint, casting!).

IAHSP and Kevin’s Commitment to Training Staging Professionals

Kevin Co-chairs training for the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. He is passionate about attending as many of the events as possible and keeping stagers trained in the latest merchandising techniques. His biggest piece of advice to students looking to join the field of staging is to challenge themselves not only to focus on the design side but also to be really well versed in the real estate market. That combination of design knowledge and business savviness is a winning one. Just ask Kevin…he knows for sure!

Learn more about Identity Home Staging online at: www.identityhome.com

Via Twitter @identityhome, Instagram  @identityhome, and Facebook  @identityhome


Chaise Lounge Updates

Join Nick and Porcelanosa on their upcoming trip to Spain. Post a story about why you want to go with the hashtag #letsgotospain. Deadline extended until January 31st 11:59 pm.Look forward to your stories!

Download our E-Book HERE!


Upcoming Markets

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market – Jan 28 – Feb 1

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify 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!

174 – Matthew Ferrarini: The Next Wave of Kitchen Design

Matthew FerrariniThe Next Wave of Kitchen Design

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks shop with Matthew Ferrarini of Ferrarini & Co, Kitchen and Bath Designer. Matthew works out of Philadelphia, but today Nick is catching up with him on location for a client in Miami. Turns out Matthew has interior design in his blood as the son of an interior designer mom and a contractor for a dad. Find out more, in this episode of the Chaise Lounge.

Breaking the Ice

Nick opens up about a favorite topic for a lot of guys…automobiles. Matthew is a fan of Tesla as an everyday vehicle and Ferrari for a higher end wow-factor. When asked about recent movies, Matthew shared that he recently got the chance to watch the movie Ma Ma with Penelope Cruz. Perfect segue to Nicks recent trip to Spain with Porcelanosa. Turns out Matthew been to Barcelona a few times and is also a big fan of Spain’s rich heritage, culture, friendliness and just overall coolness.

Getting Into the Business

Matthew attended Temple University (go Owls!) for a pre-law degree. Temple is well known for their law school, but somehow Matt just couldn’t shake the calling of design. While at school, he also pursued a certificate in interior design and construction management. He joined forces with his Mom and worked in the family business while still attending school. Upon graduation, he started his own company focusing on kitchen and bath with mom, Donna, as a partner.

From Humble Beginnings to Starting an Empire

Starting out was rough; very humble beginnings. Having lost substantial assets upon the split of his parents, Matthew made a grassroots effort to grow his business. Local marketing with flyers and an open mind is how Ferrarini & Co got off the ground. In the beginning, no project was too small and the business took pride in the work they did and the ensuing referrals. Good work and excellent customer service got them from a home-based business to a design office and showroom staffed with 5 people that accept clients nationwide.  

What it Takes

Matthew credits his success with clients to the broader view that he takes when designing his kitchen and baths. He doesn’t just focus solely on the space that he is tasked to redesign, but incorporates all adjacent areas to ensure a seamless flow. His knack for design really comes to light in space planning and problem-solving. Here is where his passions shine. He has made it a point to stay within his strengths and delegate the things he isn’t so passionate about to team members that are.

Accolades and the Way of the Millennial

Matthew Ferrarini’s point of view has earned him the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) ’30 under 30’ award. He believes in being progressive in his business and for a Millennial, that spells ‘tech’ heavy. Ivy is his software of choice to keep his business running smoothly. He transitioned from using a program that was more builder/construction directed and hasn’t looked back. He also uses Dropbox for file storage and Houzz as an avenue to work with clients using their lookbook feature. What seals the deal for a lot of his clients, is the use of photo-realistic renderings of what the space will look like prior to even lifting a hammer. As a value-added feature today, Nick is predicting that this will become standard in the coming years and you won’t be able to call yourself a designer without it.

Matthew believes in spending the time to find out as much about a client and their lifestyle as possible and creating one show-stopping design to present to them. Now that the business has grown, the marketing approach has certainly changed from the local flyer days. Ferrarini credits his storefront, referrals, and digital marketing through the website and online presence as the avenues that have gotten his name out there. His website is user-friendly, visually captivating and has something for every client. Even those that may not be ready to pull the trigger on a remodel just yet, have access to a free downloadable design guide. This gives the company a chance to get potential client’s contact info and stay on their radar for when they are ready to hit the ground running. Matthew invites you to check him out on Instagram @matthew_ferrarini.

Learn more about Ferrari & Co at: www.ferrariniremodeling.com.

  • Upcoming Events

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market – Jan 28 – Feb 1

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 atTheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, andTwitter 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!