ProSource | 11/16/2016 | Expert Advice
For 30 years, residential interior designer Margie Niehaus has been working with homeowners in Santa Barbara, California. A certified member of the California Council of Interior Design, Margie offers her clients a complete array of services ranging from space planning and kitchen and bath design, to specification of materials such as floor coverings, cabinetry and lighting fixtures.
“I love design,” Margie says. “I care deeply about my clients and always strive to deliver the outcome of their dreams, on the budget that they can afford.”
Margie discusses strengths she delivers for her business, and how her local ProSource of Oxnard helps her make it happen.
What trends are you seeing in home design and remodeling?
I think clients have become far more sophisticated. They are much more current on what’s available, and are looking for more customization. The plethora of online and television-generated options makes decision-making take longer. Clients can get paralyzed with all the choices available.
From a design standpoint, I’m seeing a rise in rustic and contemporary design. A lot of people are interested in clean lines and simplistic style, with some rustic touches. But to me, the best design continues to be individualized.
What are the greatest challenges you face in your work?
My greatest challenge is the expense of having work done in Santa Barbara. This is such an expensive area. Also, clients have high expectations because of rising home prices. People really think that they need to have a lot of high-end finishes. There is a ‘reality gap’ between the costs they see on ‘fantasy design television’ and the actual cost of professionally installed, high-end finishes and custom work.
The ‘hidden client’ is another challenge. You meet with one client, and learn later that there’s another ‘in the closet’ who is calling the shots. Having clients trust you completely, and putting aside the second-guessing of family and friends, is a bit of a challenge sometimes.
How does ProSource benefit your business?
ProSource Wholesale has helped me by providing top quality products such as cabinetry, tile, flooring and carpet. They have always stood behind their products and supported my clients through their projects.
With ProSource, I get to design while they take care of the paperwork, the ordering, etc.
They have so many things—you can design an entire project with the materials in their showroom. They have everything I need, in one spot.
How does ProSource benefit your customers?
ProSource supports my clients with superb service dealing with samples, stock, ordering and tracking their purchases. My dedicated account manager is the best at cheering my clients along during their projects. What I love is that she takes care of all that ‘shopping’ with my clients. She takes over and takes care of the samples, etc.
My clients are always treated like royalty at ProSource. They take care of them. Once my clients have gone in the door with me, they can even go back without me.
What brings you the most satisfaction in your work?
Seeing my clients happy with the outcome, and knowing that I made the difference.
I love that I form a genuine bond with my clients. As a team we make their project come in on time and on budget, and function beautifully. It’s a consistent goal for me—it doesn’t change from client to client. It has to be beautiful, it has to be functional, and it has to fit the client’s budget.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to a homeowner before starting on a remodeling project?
First, set priorities and be realistic about the cost of remodeling. Also, understand the difference between deferred maintenance and a new project. Sometimes people wait so long to replace something that it triggers a domino effect of related projects.
What’s your dream project?
I’ve been in business for 30 years, and working as a designer has been a dream come true for me. Making so many friends, working with so many nice people—for me, it’s been a dream come true just being a designer.
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