Welcome to Life & Culture USL November 19, 2014 Jerz's Life, Uncategorized, USL Stories Today we had the pleasure of interviewing an interior designer who is known for unique concepts, colors that reflect personalities, and an all in all very distinct brand. If you are considering remodeling or designing your bathroom or kitchen, take notes! Ayasha : How long have you been an interior designer? Toni Sabatino: I’m 52 and I have been in this business for my entire adult life with a kitchen and bath focus, however, I have had my own business for the past two years. Ayasha: Ok…Great! Is this something that is self-taught? Or did you go to school for it? Toni Sabatino: I was an apprentice! Ayasha: Oh…WOW! Toni Sabatino: I was a young woman with two little kids and unfortunately, I had to end an unhealthy marriage. But it is thanks to that I was able to teach my passion for art and creativity and also to do some sort of incentive-based work that allowed me to spend quality time with my kids. The business has been very kind to me. I spent some time working in retail kitchen and bath store, I spent some time running a plumbing supply store. I’ve spent 19 years as the sole commission designer and sale person of department store designing over 1,000 kitchens and what happened was that people would love what I did with their kitchens. I had sort of a kitchen-centered approach to the whole home. I wanted to people to really be able to enjoy the space and my concept is if you feed your family and friends, then essentially you are feeding your soul. Making the whole the open-kitchen concept happen in many homes is what I did. People would ask me to apply spatial planning principles and my color sense to the rest of the house, so I found myself working with clients and doing whole homes on the palm beaches in Las Vegas. So I decided time to put on my to “big girl pants” and start my own business. Ayasha: Wow! Toni Sabatino: I have done very well… Ayasha: This is all so exciting to hear… Actually where does your passion comes from? Does it come from your family, colors, or environment? Where does your inspiration come from? Toni Sabatino: Working on residential projects, it really comes from fashion. I like to create an environment that I would think that the client will wear well. Like a really comfortable outfit… I like jeans, and colors to compliment. I like to take inspirations from their closets. This allows me to see what they enjoy surrounding themselves with and that way I can essentially amplify that into their environment. Ayasha: Okay…Cool! You mentioned very briefly having the opportunity to have your design style implemented into people homes throughout United States. I would like to say that it is extremely impressive to hear that people from various places near and far appreciate your design concepts. How does that make you feel? Toni Sabatino: It makes me feel really great, I think that a lot of it has to do with respecting the architectural and the view, if there is a city view. I did a ski house on a mountain pass in Vermont and there house was all about the view. So I am not competing with the view of resort destination trying to bring the inside out. To properly answer the question, it thrills me that they like my sense of style, skill, and scope. They understand that I am going to integrate that into their homes to design a place to feels intimate and warm to them. They really love sharing with their friends and family. Ayasha: Great… great! I noticed that you received the Best of Houzz 2013 Award in remodeling? Toni Sabatino: Houzz is a pretty fantastic organization. It is a website based digital magazine http://www.houzz.com. They have millions of reviews each month and the fact that people loved the photos I uploaded onto the Houzz site is thrilling to me. The reason why I received the Best of Houzz award is because I received a lot of really good reviews from clients who I worked with that posted there. Ayasha: That is so awesome! Toni Sabatino: It’s really a nice feeling that I am appreciated by my clients and colleagues. Ayasha: I agree with you. It is a wonderful feeling… being valued and recognized for the quality of your art, design, and craft. Toni Sabatino: Yes, and it is nice to put yourself out there. People are able to find you on your other social media avenues. Like I found your company on Twitter. I absolutely love Twitter and I love the idea that you can take a bulk idea and then condense it into 140 characters and people can get more info by clicking onto your link. I think Twitter is a brilliant idea and I enjoy researching things that have to do with fashion, art & design, and current events. Ayasha: Have you worked with any exclusive clients? Toni Sabatino: I worked with a couple of non-disclosure clients. They don’t want me to mention their names and for the record, those people are just like everybody else. They have the same basic needs and principles…. I want to make everyone happy even if they are not a celebrity. My clients usually put a budget in place and we use pictures that have inspired the client and bring them to life in accordance with the set budget. Ayasha: Do you have anyone in particular that you would love to work with? Toni Sabatino: I would absolutely love to work with someone in the music or fashion industries. I appreciate the whole urban vibe… I would love to work with someone like Beyonce and Jay-Z or someone like Madonne. I believe that people’s personalities make it easier for me to design for them. If the client is not forthcoming about how they want their space to be and I’m dealing with a blank slate, I get my inspirations from my client’s closets. I like to put their life and passion on display and one of the ways to do that is to go through their wardrobe and find a commonality for colors, patterns, and things that make them comfortable. Ayasha: Do you have a consultation fee for people who are interest in getting their bath or kitchen remodeled? Toni Sabatino: My consultation fee is $400 for 2 hours. I am not interested in doing free consultations because I am giving the client concrete ideas. It is not about the sales process, it is about the client and the design. During the consultation session, I will discuss some factors as simple as paint colors to full blown out project management of the entire resident. However, sometimes people do call me because they want to tweak something they have done and they are not sure how to pull it all together. I will say this; I do free phone consultations for interested parties, but not on-site. Ayasha: Would your consultation fee be the same price for someone who would be interested in having you design their commercial property? I know from my experience that sometimes remodeling can be different from designing something from scratch. Toni Sabatino: That is very true… I have several ambitions which are more interest of to me than working with celebrities. I would absolutely love to design a kitchen for a cooking show and to design for a boutique hotel. Those are things that would really excited me as a job going forward. But basically at this point it would be an hourly situation and it’s difficult for me to determine would be a fee for a project like this. It would have to be something that I decide on a per project basis as every situation is different, with different factors involved. I would prefer to evaluate each particular situation and then put together a proposal for my client. Ayasha: Yes… I guess to sum up what you are saying it really depends on the each individual need of the client! Toni Sabatino: Correct! Ayasha: Can you give me an estimate of how long it would take for someone to remodel or design a kitchen or bath? Toni Sabatino: 3 to 4 months is a reasonable time frame from conception to completion. In terms of actually ripping a house apart, in 1 month you should be able to tear the kitchen apart and then put another kitchen back in. If you are doing other substantial work for instance, if you are changing the wall structure or maybe putting different doors and windows, this is whole another matter. In terms of process, much of the time goes into the planning and making all the purchases so that you will have everything ready for your crafts people to come in and do the job. The crafts people working on your bath or kitchen project will require very little of your time going forward as they execute the plans that you have drawn up together. You really have to be diligent in coordinating with the different parties such as the electricians, plumbers, tile cutters, the cabinet installers, and as long as you put everyone on a tight schedule you should be able to do it in 4 to 6 weeks. This is unless, of course, you are doing other major structural changes with your home. Ayasha: Just hearing you explain the process and I’ve learned that a project of designing your kitchen or bath is very involved and it seems like you work with all parties involved, which I find great because at the end of the day it is all about communication and working together as a team. Toni Sabatino: Absolutely! Ayasha: When you re-design your kitchen or bath, it adds value to your home. Many homeowners look to add value to their home if they are looking to sell put their home on the market and many homeowners are purely interested in enhancing their space to improve their quality of life. Toni Sabatino: That is very true as far as enhancing the value of the home and yes, it also enhances the lifestyle. If you do things that will work well for you as an individual or for your family when it comes to enhancing your kitchen or bathroom and don’t do anything that’s too outlandish, you are definitely going to increase the value of the home. But I think it makes more sense to do it for personal enjoyment unless you are simply flipping your property. A passionate and happy home I think has a better look to it and it sells faster in terms of the values. Ayasha: I know that a lot of people look at magazine and say I want this or that, but may not have a budget or even an idea of the planning/implementation process of designing or remodeling their kitchen or bath. Toni Sabatino: I recommend for readers to spend time look at Houzz because you are taking all your ideas and then assembling them into a folder. You are talking to the design professional and having them guide you to stay in the range of the project. This is really the goal of the professional in my opinion, is to coordinate the cast of characters; the architect, the contractor, and everyone else who is a part of the plan. We make sure that everyone is working according to the plan, and we focus on having the budgetary needs together. I think the design professional is important for those reasons and I thank you for taking the time out to interview me. Ayasha: You’re Welcome and it has been a pleasure, Toni. If you are thinking or to get know the Toni Sabatino Brand go to Toni Sabatino website http://www.tonisabatinostyle.com/ and connect with her on social media Twitter: @ToniSabStyle Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tonisabstyle/ FB: Toni Sabatino Linked In: Toni Sabatino Leave a Reply Cancel Reply You must be logged in to post a comment.