Interior Designer Spotlight with Janice Dietz
Owner of The Consulting House, Inc., Atlanta, GA
Janice Dietz is an award winning interior designer with an architectural background who’s been featured on HGTV and was named Best of HOUZZ 2016, 2015, & 2014. Janice has a long history of curating and purchasing museum quality art combined with business experience as executive of Fortune 500 companies.
Join me as Janice shares her insights on how HGTV has changed client expectations, how interior designers are making better use of design technology and finding sources for more unique rugs, furniture, art, and fabrics…
Is HGTV Changing What Clients Expect From Interior Designers?
“I think the industry has been changing and will continue. I believe HGTV has had an impact. In general, you have many more clients who are taking greater control over the process. There’s a growing number of people who feel they may need a designer for consultation, but they want to do more themselves. They’ll use a designer so they don’t make mistakes and to council them on any part of the process where they feel insecure. At the same time, with all of this you still have a plethora of clients that don’t feel they have the time nor the vision to do it themselves. I currently have two clients that started with a designer and they ended up switching over to me because (the clients felt) the designers were not responsive enough. They see shows on HGTV where you can get it done in two days and they don’t want a long drawn out process.”
Why is Atlanta a Great City for Interior Design?
“Atlanta is continually growing. When I moved here there were approximately two million people in the city. Now there are around six million people and growing! It’s a beautiful city with gorgeous houses—some that were built in the early 1900’s. It wonderful to work on those houses and bring them into the 21st century but still keep their original character. There’s nothing like an old house. The market in Atlanta is very strong. There is a continual flow of people looking to improve their homes.“
How Did a Coca-Cola Company Executive Become an Interior Designer?
“As a child I was very good at both arts and mathematics. I grew up in a family that was extraordinarily creative. My parents collected investment art so I was surrounded by beautiful art objects that you would see in museums. I love art and I studied architecture at Cornell University and these two things led me to interior design. Funny thing is, I left Cornell after two years and received an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania. I went into the corporate world and worked at companies like Ernest & Young and Coca-Cola. During my executive career I would still help my mom collect art and help place them in corporations and residences. I also did some interior design work. In 2000, while I was still at Coca-Cola they had a major shake-up and eliminated all the senior officers. My boss at Coke was let go and I was in limbo so I decided to go back to what I loved and my passion. So in 2001, I started my own design firm and the rest is history!”
Do You Have a Preferred Design Style?
“I love a lot of different styles. I do have my innate style, but when I’m designing spaces for my clients it’s about making sure I bring a beautiful aesthetic to what makes sense for their style. It’s not about my ego. I don’t want a portfolio with everything looking the same. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about making your clients extremely happy. My inherent style that I would use in show houses or spaces for myself would be a design with clean lines. I dislike clutter and probably am more of a minimalist at heart. I like using a lot of texture and making the space serene. If you are walking into your home, I want you to feel comfortable and great. I trend away from designing homes where one is blasted from all angles like one is out in the world, but I do like to bring an eclectic touch. I like a style that is sophisticated, classic, and casual. I don’t get too trendy but I do like to have an eclectic sense. It allows me to mix a lot of old and new.”
How Does AutoCAD Help You and Your Clients?
“All of my planning starts in AutoCAD. I use it to design new homes, renovate existing homes and decorate spaces. I review with the client to ensure we are on the same page before moving forward. I then create elevations for the space so they see exactly what it will look like. Lastly, if there are any furnishings or fabrics in the space I may pull a picture to show them an idea and give them options on what’s possible. My work will include all architectural elements, finish & material selections, lighting plans, cabinetry design, and interior decorating. If I am involved in a construction project, I approach my work by breaking it into three phases: Phase 1—the design phase, Phase 2—the selections phase, and Phase 3—the interior decorating phase. Even on interior decorating projects where there is no construction involved, I always start with the agreement on the design and then I move into the selections.”
AutoCAD Planning View of Kitchen
AutoCAD Elevation View of Kitchen
Where Do You Source Fabrics, Furniture and Designer Rugs?
“It really depends on the client’s style and their budget. For clients that have a larger budget I typically shop at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC). Although 99% of the time regardless of the client, my fabric and wallpaper will come from ADAC. When it comes to furniture, designer rugs, and window treatments—it depends. I will do a lot of researching online with my trusted manufactures. If I see something I like, some have showrooms, so I can see the objects in person. There are also some stores in Atlanta that I frequent. They sell to the trade and retail. There’s a couple of those right around ADAC and close to where I live in Buckhead. All jobs include a combination of sources. Each client’s style and needs are different and therefore what I purchase for them is uniquely suited for them. So you really never know who will have the exact piece, which is why a designer should have many resources.”
How Did You Come to Use Espresso Beans as a Design Element?
“The owner of the house agreed to have his house be the 2013 Atlanta Symphony Decorator Showhouse. This was a unique show house for me, since typically when you are assigned a room, the shell of the room has been built out. My spaces were on the lower level which had not yet been built out. The space had concrete floors with no walls. Originally, the plan was to make the space an enclosed wine room. However, the homeowner wasn’t a big wine drinker, but loved coffee. He also wasn’t interested in having a typical wine room. After several discussions with the homeowner, we agreed to create an espresso room. I designed every element of the space and built it out.“
“Since it was a showhouse I looked to do some unique elements. I used tile in the centers of the wainscot and laid the wainscot out so that it created an interesting shadowed effect. The client wanted the room to be Art Deco and I suggested that we incorporate Art Deco elements but not to have the entire room be of that decor. I designed a pewter counter top with the edge design having an Art Deco feel. The antique mirror on the wall incorporates three different frames with a bit of an Art Deco feel. I had the espresso canisters imported from Turkey. That was a bit of a challenge, but well worth it!“
“For the wine area—I wanted to make it more of a wine gallery. So when you walk down the stairs it appears like a piece of art. I created a soffit in that space so that it looked like the room was dug out. The back wall was tiled in a metallic porcelain. I designed the cabinetry to have a bit of an artistic flair. The wine holders were a bit of a challenge as we ended up having to piece them together and chrome plated them and that proved to be very expensive. It was a great space to create.”
Why Do Prefer Wool Rugs over Viscose or Silk Rugs?
“I personally like the look of wool over nylon. It depends on what room it’s going in. A lot of my clients have dogs, cats, or children. The rugs need to be durable and be cleaned. Honestly, I tend to favor wool rugs and natural flat weave rugs. There are also many great outdoor rugs that have a natural feel and come in a variety of patterns and colors. I also love really soft Oushak rugs, and for the modern client, Tibetan rugs are great. Additionally, I like fabricating wool carpet into rugs or runners.“
When Do You Use White or Pale Colored Rugs?
“My rug selections are based on the aesthetic of the room. If you have dark floors then I typically go lighter on the floor so there is some pop. I stain protect rugs regardless of how much traffic the room will get.“
Why Do You Advise Mixing Different Styles of Rugs?
“My design style is to have rooms in a house flow from one to another. That doesn’t mean each room needs to look like each other. In this home, the family room extended from the kitchen and my client loved the color yellow. I used yellow on the bar stool leather in the kitchen, so I wanted to pick that color back up in the family room. Originally the client had her home decorated in a traditional manner. She hired me to make it more transitional. In the dining room I wanted to use a flat weave rug for practicality. There wasn’t much pattern in the room, so I wanted to bring pattern in through the rug.“
Do People Choose Interior Designers from Advertisements?
“I do not believe most interior designers are selected from advertisements. I have found I am selected through various avenues. First and foremost is through referrals. Doing a great job for your client and having them refer you is critical. Real estate agents is another avenue. In Atlanta , with a strong home market, there is a lot of activity with change in property owners. Architects and builders also suggest a designer to their client. That’s another avenue. Lastly, people do their own research online—through Google’s search or on Houzz.”
What’s Your Favorite Interior Design Publication?
“There are a couple. I really enjoy House Beautiful. I like many of the projects that have been featured and I like to see the before and after. I also like Elle Decor. I find that I look less and less through magazines and spend more time online. In years past, I would go to Barnes & Noble and sit in the magazine section and go through all the magazines. I’ve always loved to do that! Now I’ll go online and look for inspiration. I’ll go to Houzz and look at other designer’s projects. I go to these projects to get inspirations. If I’m looking for a really cool shelving unit, I may end up looking at tables or a fireplace for inspiration to incorporate a color or material with what I’m doing.”
For more on Janice Dietz visit: www.consultinghouseinc.com