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SWFL Interior Designers: 4 Decorators Who Perfect Your Space

Aug 28, 2017 12:29PM ● Published by Kevin

Diane Knight of Sanibel Home Furnishings says listening is her best tool in working with clients. Fabrics with sparkles and crystal are out right now, she adds. Photo courtesy of Sanibel Home Furnishings.

Gallery: 2017 SWFL Interior Designers Guide [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

Southwest Florida has an abundance of designers, those making our interior spaces as individual as we are. TM Media has selected a sliver of a very large pie of interior designers to share with our readers:

Julie Albrecht of Robb & Stucky

Robb & Stucky's Julie Albrecht says colors, textures and patterns tend to go in 10-year cycles. Photo courtesy of Robb & Stucky International.
Fort Myers

TOTI Media: Interior designers, born or made?

Julie Albrecht:
“Well, that is a sensitive subject. I was born into interior design. My great-grandparents were master tailors, my grandpa a skilled furniture craftsman and reupholsterer. I was always around fabrics. Some of the design interns I’ve trained are super fashion designers. It isn’t brain surgery after all, which I have to constantly remind myself if anything gets too hectic in design.”

TM: Earliest memory of arranging or designing?

JA: “My Barbie houses at age 5 or 6 were always top notch!”

TM: Signature style?

JA: “My job is to design all architectural detailing, backgrounds and final decorating to fit into what their [clients] desires are. We accessorize, furnish and decorate to ‘ice the cake’ of great design/architecture details. We are hired to make their environment sing.”

TM: Clients’ needs and communicating that?

JA: “Unfortunately, the term ‘programming’ is an entire course in college. There are numerous front-end questions that need to be answered to know all the clients’ desires, wants and needs. I personally am very direct, funny and honest. If I don’t know the answer, I respectfully ask for more time to find out.”

TM: Inspiration?

JA: “Having a degree in environmental design with an interior design major and art minor, I find inspiration everywhere! A fieldtrip to somewhere fun in the Everglades, to a continuing education class in Paris, France. Inspiration derives from the new construction job site or gutted-down-to-the-support-columns/beams refurb, to be able to see all the new trends in construction on top of and behind the walls.” 

TM: Favorite colors, patterns or textures for 2017?

JA: “Everything goes in cycles, about 10-year intervals, on a bell curve. So, colors that I was using in 1993 reared their head again in 2003 or 2013, etc. They just had different textures, graphics and techniques to achieve them, modernize them.”

TM: Banished looks?

JA: “I still do not trust brass and its tarnishing nature. I do, however, like to mix metal in my personal accessories. It gives balance and can complement any color palette!”

Diane Knight of Sanibel Home Furnishings

Sanibel
sanibelhomefurnishings.com

TOTI Media: Interior designers, born or made?

Diane Knight:
“Designers are born! Style, proportion and color eye cannot be taught. You either have IT or not.”

TM: Earliest memory of arranging or designing?

DK: “Oh, my … the Saturday morning family clean-up. I’d rearrange the furniture in my room and redesign the bookshelves. I was a very bold 15-year-old and painted the family bathroom lime green. Perfect in 1968 … and even 2017.”

TM: Signature style?

DK: “Sophisticated-casual. They call me the queen of color, comfort and style. I personally like color and warm natural woods. Fabrics are my passion. I’ve been designing for over 40 years and remember my first trip to the Brunschwig & Fils showroom in New York … I was in fabric heaven.”

TM: Clients’ needs and communicating that?

DK: “LISTEN, stop talking and LISTEN. Have your client bring pictures of what they love and also discuss how the family lives. Sometimes what a client loves just won’t work for their lifestyle. Being friendly; above all, honest.”

TM: Inspiration?

DK: “Nature, history and architecture. Trends are just that. I like rooms that have a sense of the traditionalism. The perfect room for me needs to have interesting pieces that reflect the life I’ve lived.”

TM: Favorite colors, patterns or textures for 2017?

DK: “Greens, blues and yellows ... the colors of nature. On my design inspiration board for the coming season, I’m flirting with pink, coral and turquoise. Patterns and textures need to be yummy and comfortable and pleasing to the eyes. A great room needs to have layers of color, texture and pattern to create that special WOW room.”

TM: Banished looks?

DK: “Oversized, dark and heavy furniture. Gaudy lamps. Fabrics with sparkles and crystal.”

Michael Biondo of Michael Biondo Lifestyle Design

Naples
michaelbiondolifestyledesign.com

TOTI Media: Interior designers, born or made?

Michael Biondo: “I was born to translate things into beautiful designs. I decided at a young age to make my OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder] tendencies work to my advantage.”

TM: Earliest memory of arranging or designing?

MB: “In my early teens, I rearranged my aunt’s home. I was carefully thinking about every angle, placement and function of the room. When I was done, the room had three distinct sitting areas. ‘This is your calling, Michael,’ she said.”

TM: Signature style?

MB: “My last home, for example, was very colorful. I designed our new home to be more monochromatic and dramatic, silk shantung wallpaper in charcoal with deep taupe which displays beautiful vibrant artwork. Style is ever evolving and changing.”

TM: Clients’ needs and communicating that?

MB: “First, I listen. I am there to create beautiful and comfortable spaces. They retain me for my insight and sense of style. But I am really taking their sense of style, translating it into inviting rooms for them to enjoy.”

TM: Inspiration?

MB: “Anywhere and everywhere, the color of the water in the British Virgin Islands, a woman’s lipstick color. Naples Botanical Garden. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The opera. The theater. I am constantly inspired by colorful people!”

TM: Favorite colors, patterns or textures for 2017?

MB: “I’m loving Pantone’s Greenery. And a little trivia―green is the easiest color tone for the human eye to see! I’m loving textured velvets, cotton fabrics with stitching of raw materials like twine and linens with large-scale yarn stitching. Burnished brass and satin brass are my favorites, as are mixed tones of ivory, pale blush pink, pale camel with pale gray with soft white and beiges, such a beautiful and soothing combination of colors.”

TM: Banished looks?

MB: “Design with what you love ... just do it in moderation, and with the right scale and proportion. There is something for everyone in present design.”

Christopher Michiels of Christopher Michiels Interiors

Christopher Michiels of Christopher Michiels Interiors uses inspiration for design from global travels, unexpected and small things serving as his muse, he says. Photo courtesy of Christopher Michaels Interiors.
Estero

TOTI Media: Signature style?

Christopher Michiels:
“A dynamic, unique and inspired take on luxurious, graceful and inviting modern interiors bathed in warm light, nature-inspired texture, cool and fresh serene colors, all while paying tribute to both the architecture of the home and the furnishings. I focus greatly on highlighting or creating architectural interest to the space first.”

TM: Born or made?

CM: “Hands down, this boy was born to design and create spectacular interiors! Little doubt remains in my mind that most designers are born with the talent, some just discover later or following a different path. It was also my mother’s amazing design tutelage and my love of artistic and beautiful things that started laying those yellow bricks down the exciting interior design road.”

TM: Inspiration?

CM: “Everywhere, literally everywhere. The beach here, Saint Basil’s Cathedral [Moscow], scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, or the favelas in Medellín [Colombia]; travel is key to my creativity. Find something that moves you like I do; unexpected and small things become your design muse.”

TM: Clients’ needs and communicating that?

CM: “Capturing my clients’ personality, lifestyle and budget consciousness is a gift of mine that I am very proud of. While stunning and inspired interiors are the fundamental base requirements for a project of mine, it is expressing their essence that makes it their home. A majority of our clients either travel quite a bit or have a home elsewhere, so it essential that they trust our ability to see each and every project of ours, big or small, from concept to completion, implicitly.”

TM: Favorite colors, patterns and textures?

CM: “Like a shaved-ice snow cone on a sweltering-hot Florida day, think cool and refreshing, brisk blues, grays, roses and lavenders balanced with their warm and sultry darker counterparts sparked with gold and copper metals, gray woods, textured glass and quartz wallcovering so breathtaking you can’t help but want to reach out and touch it.”

TM: Banished looks?

CM: “Please, please, please [yes, I’m begging] … oversized, overstuffed, over-carved, overdesigned and ‘lead blanket feeling’ colors and furnishings of the ‘Tuscan era’ overwhelm me and make my eyes bleed!”

Written by Craig Garrett, Group Editor in Chief for TM Media.
Life+Leisure house & home september-october interior design

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