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Boulder Business Feature: Joe McGuire Design

When we had the chance to speak with Joe McGuire of Joe McGuire Design, we simply couldn’t resist! Since founding his interior design company in 2005, he has become one of the hottest modern designers in Colorado. He has a reputation for creating spaces that are perfectly suited for his clients’ individual tastes, and he is an unquestionable authority on the interior design process. Here’s what Joe had to offer when we asked for a bit of his time and expertise:

We understand that you have a talent for making a space reflect the true personality of its owner.  What steps do you take to better understand the client’s personal tastes before beginning a project? 

JM:  “We walk through their existing home to find out what they like and don’t like about it. We ask them to tear pages out of magazines, collect images online, and maybe start some Pinterest boards. We ask a lot of questions: Do they lean towards bright colors or earth tones? What are their hobbies? Do they entertain a lot? What words describe how they want the space to feel? Do they usually eat at a table or on the sofa? Are they likely to stain rugs or fabrics? What do they do if they are up in the middle of the night? It gets very personal. Being a designer involves considering the tiniest details of people’s daily lives to bring more ease and order and flow.

Whether for residential or commercial projects, have you noticed any design trends that seem to be specific to the Boulder area?  Any common themes? 

JM:  “Definitely! Green, non-toxic, reclaimed or locally handcrafted pieces are more popular in Boulder. Compared to Aspen, where I have worked for many years, our Boulder clients are generally a little more relaxed and prefer a more casual, comfortable lifestyle with practical furnishings. But they also LOVE modern design and tend to be very well-traveled, so they bring a sophisticated eye to the design process. It’s a really great mix. It’s why my partner, Matthew, and I love living here!”

We hear so much about green design.  What are some examples of the design elements that make a home more eco-friendly? 

JM:  “To be more eco, it’s important to consider construction materials as well as fabrics, furnishings, and finishes. We love to present options to our clients that are local, re-purposed or recycled, fair-trade, organic, non off-gassing, etc, whenever possible, and we try to always use certified sustainably-harvested woods. It is exciting to see how much growth there is in this field, and there are many new techniques and materials developed every year. Ultimately, though, the degree to which a home is “green” depends on the values, budgets and priorities of our clients.”

If someone is planning to remodel their home, at what point in that process should they contact your design firm?  (Before or after electrical, plumbing, etc?)  

JM:  “Right away! Or as soon as possible. I can’t tell you how many dysfunctional floor plans, odd window placements, or dreary wall colors we have been able to fix just in the nick of time.  The earlier a designer is involved in a project, the more likely that every decision that they make will result in a beautiful and functional home.”

When first speaking with an interior designer, what questions should people ask?  Should they have any information ready before they call? 

JM: “They should ask the designer to show them images of previous design work. They should ask how a designer charges for their services, so there is a clear understanding of the costs from the get go. They should also ask for references of previous clients. There can be ‘divas’ and inexperienced people working in the design world, and if a designer can’t put you in touch with previous happy clients, it’s a red flag.”

Image Courtesy of Joe McGuire Design

Image Courtesy of Joe McGuire Design

What is the difference between an interior designer and a decorator? 

JM: “Great question! It’s probably best to avoid the term, ‘decorator’ because some people consider it derogatory. These days, ‘designer’ is used more commonly because interior projects require knowledge of complicated aspects of design and construction, including lighting, plumbing, electrical, bathroom and kitchen remodeling, custom furnishings, and so on. The level of expertise goes beyond ‘decorating’, although I still think it’s a fun term.”

Do I need an interior designer if I am already working with an architect? 

JM: “It depends on the architect. There are architects who also do interior design, and this can allow them to fully execute their vision for a home. However, there can be benefits to having a separate set of design eyes on a project. Some architects are capable of considering the full range of details that an interior designer does, but others seem to get caught up in the bigger structural elements of a project and do not have time to delve into the minutia of fabrics, furnishings, art and other items that make a home feel finished in a way that truly embodies the style and personality of the homeowner.”

How are the project budget and duration determined?  For residential projects, will the home owners need to vacate while work is being performed? 

JM:  “Budgets and timelines are crucial to discuss up front. Regarding budget, sometimes clients have a desired maximum budget in mind. If not, the designer can meet with them to assess the scope of work and come up with estimates and allowances. If construction is involved, general contractors can be brought in to provide bids and determine the most feasible schedule.”

Does the size of my project matter?  For example, what if a home owner would like to start with only one room in the home? 

JM:  “That’s perfectly fine — but be careful, it’s a slippery slope! Once you redesign one room, it’s really hard to stop. Sometimes people will hire a designer for something as small as a single sofa, or window treatments. Years ago when I got started in the business, throw pillows and window treatments were my bread and butter, but I’m not able to take on small requests like that anymore. Generally, the more a designer is allowed to do, the better the result.”

How are contractors chosen?  What is the process for making purchases for my project? 

JM:  “We often recommend using contractors with whom we have worked with previously and had success.  Some contractors may be better suited to small or medium size projects, and others may be better for full remodels or new construction.  I would recommend trusting your designer or architect when it comes to the selection of a contractor.”

How can potential clients contact you for more information?  Is there anything specific that they need to know about the initial consultation? 

JM:  “We can be reached at our office in Boulder (tel 720-638-9827) or by email (joe@joemcguiredesign.com).  We are happy to provide initial free consultations, and feel it is important to meet in person before committing to working together. The client/designer relationship is a long-term one, and process can be a lot of fun, but of course there is also a lot at stake, so it is important to have good, open communication and trust.”

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