In this instalment of Design Files, we discuss budgeting for your renovation and our obsession with RESULTS of design with Interior Designer, Josée Lalonde, of Josée Lalonde Designs. Spruce’s Design Files series brings local Victoria home experts and their insights on trends, investments, and design to Victoria locals looking to refresh and spruce up their home.
Meet Josée Lalonde, an interior designer and stylist at Josée Lalonde Designs. Josée works on renovations, new builds, and home styling in Victoria, B.C. She is also the CEO and founder of THE HOUSSE, Victoria’s Premier Furniture & Décor Rental Company for Home Staging & Events.
“I approach interior design like I approach fashion – start with the classics that don’t go out of style and then don’t be afraid to accessorize with bold pieces that make a statement.”
Q & A with Josée Lalonde
How would you describe your interior design approach?
I like to describe my approach to interior design as collaborative and a little unconventional. Collaborative in the sense that I really enjoy getting to know my client – not just their sense of style, what they aspire to use their home for, and what they actually use every room in the house for. Together we create spaces that are both useful and beautiful. I also like to collaborate with my associate designers, project managers, and the tradespeople who all work together to make our client’s dreams come true.
By unconventional, I mean that I start with a simple approach – quality elements and “big ticket” items form the foundation of the design, but then I love to throw in details that are a little unexpected. I approach interior design like I approach fashion – start with the classics that don’t go out of style and then don’t be afraid to accessorize with bold pieces that make a statement.
If you could give one REALLY amazing piece of interior design advice to someone who doesn’t know where to start, what would it be?
For most people, the sky is not the limit when it comes to budgeting your design project, as much as we as designers and you as homeowners wish it could be! With the help of your interior designer, it is important to determine in the planning stages of the project what are the elements you want to invest in, what your “must-have” items are. You will never go wrong investing in things that get the most use and are more permanent fixtures that are tricky to replace: countertops, cabinetry, flooring, tiling. You can always add bold, fun touches through things that can easily and inexpensively be changed like paint colour, transitional furniture pieces, and decorative items.
By being clear about your non-negotiables at the beginning of a project, you can stay focused when you start having the “might-as-well” conversations during the process of renovation or building. As in, we are already doing this, so we “might-as-well” do this too…these can be the decisions that push your budget beyond your comfort zone. That said, I recommend keeping a little contingency fund in your budget for the unexpected!
What is something few people understand about interior design? Or a misconception about being an interior designer?
In the last decade or so people have become much more intrigued with interior design. Or rather, the results of interior design, the “Reveal”. HGTV has played a huge part in exposing us to the possibilities of what can be accomplished in transforming an ugly duckling into a swan. But there is only so much you can really see in a half hour television show that focuses mostly on the Before and After. There is a whole lot of stuff that happens in the In-Between that is not especially fun or glamourous.
Interior designers don’t just blink our eyes like I Dream of Jeannie and your space magically transforms. There are endless meetings, text messages, phone calls, coordinating tradespeople, managing task dependencies, sourcing, dealing with supplier issues and delays, managing client expectations and emotions, troubleshooting, overseeing budget and scope increases…the list goes on. You hire an interior designer not just to help you create an incredible space, but to plan, manage and execute all the details that are necessary to make that space incredible.
And I don’t mean to be a buzz kill, but you should never be surprised or shocked at the end of the project. If you and your interior designer have been collaborating every step of the way, there shouldn’t be an astounding “Reveal” like at the end of the HGTV shows. You will be creating every “WOW” moment together!
What is something you think is really worth investing in when it comes to designing your home?
If I ever built my own house, it would be a big kitchen and a bedroom…that’s it! The kitchen is by far the most used room in your home. Yes, it is obviously the place where you cook, but it is also the space to gather and connect. We often work, do homework, and tackle creative projects in the kitchen. It is where every morning begins, and the place you come to at the end of day. For many of us, the kitchen represents coming home.
Because we spend so much time in the kitchen, it is a room that needs to be both functional and beautiful. It is always worth it to invest in the details that make your kitchen convenient and that will stand the test of time. Countertops, backsplash, and flooring are more permanent elements, so I recommend choosing timeless, classic options. Well-designed cabinetry with pull-out drawers and built-in organizers will make life so much easier. Good task lighting is vital, and decorative lighting fixtures are the jewelry of the space.
What’s the most important factor in choosing an interior designer to renovate your space?
I tell all my clients at the beginning of their project – we are on a roller coaster ride together. There are going to be lots of moments when you LOVE me, and there are going to be some moments when you want to strangle me…LOL. Working with an interior designer is a very intimate relationship, especially when we are renovating your current home. This process is going to disrupt your life in many ways. So, like any relationship, compatibility, honesty, trust, and good communication are key.
Are there any trends you’re seeing that homeowners should be excited about?
Just to be clear, I don’t want to confuse trends with fads. Fads come and go, often seasonally – like fast fashion. Because I believe we are becoming more and more conscientious about the ways in which our consumer choices impact our environment, I see trends as longer lasting – a shift towards something sustainable, rather than something short-lived and wasteful.
That said, through the latest Josée Lalonde Designs projects, we have been seeing a shift towards natural, sustainable, organic décor: using greenery throughout the home (especially fiddle-leaf figs, ferns, snake plants), choosing furnishings made from sustainable woods like wicker, rattan, bamboo, and acacia.
We have been looking towards simplicity and minimalism as a response to excessive consumerism. I am intrigued about one trend that has recently been defined as “Japandi Styling”, which merges Japanese functional minimalism with the natural, rustic, and cozy elements from Scandinavian design that has become known as “hygge”. Both cultures are known for their exceptional craftsmanship and simple, timeless elegance which fits perfectly into the trend towards sustainability.
Read more like this interview with Josée Lalonde: Design Files: Raubyn Rothschild