Diary of an Install | Cara McBroom
When I tell people that I am an Interior Designer, many people tell me, “Oh, that must be a dream job!”…”That must be so glamorous to get to shop for someone else all day!” The fact is, I DO love my job!!! I thought it might be fun, however, to blog about what it’s REALLY like to be an interior designer–talk about the fact that it can be MESSY, dirty, chaotic, harrowing, grueling, and completely non-glamorous! (and how, out of all that chaos, emerges beauty, along with the vision that we saw possible all along.)
So, I am going to give you a few peaks into a few of my recent installations, with some random photos that I happened to take along the way. There were a lot of photos I wish I’d taken, but was too busy working, such as the wallpaper, drapes, tile & cabinets going up. Or, the bedding and bed sheers being steamed by me (it’s hard to take a photo of yourself–especially when you glance in the mirror and see a bedraggled, barefoot, sweaty mess!)
Let’s start with this. This is not an install picture, this is actually what this project looked like in the design stages. I am making design boards on my dining room table at home. It’s Christmas, and my work papers are totally winning the war against my Christmas decorations, wouldn’t you say? My husband wishes I wouldn’t bring my office home with me, but the truth is, an Interior Designer’s office IS her dining room table. HA! As well as her car and smart phone. Once I was finished with my cutting and pasting, all this mess was divided into 1-beautiful project binder, 1-organized client file with fabric samples stapled neatly, and 1-giant trash bag full of scrap paper and clippings!
You can probably guess why I had the theme song from Ghostbusters stuck in my head all day…
So here we are! This, my friends, was my first day of installation! This is not an ideal situation. In a dream world, construction would be finished on time, and a project site would be pre-cleaned and polished by the time I arrive. As it happens, changes and additions can be made to a project that run it behind, and when everyone has the same deadline, you can end up all stepping over each other on I-day (Installation Day). As with anything, things don’t always happen the way you want them to, so it’s my job to roll with the punches, and handle things in a professional manner (not “Flipping Out”). So, while the cleaners were cleaning up drywall dust and wiping down cabinets, I kept myself busy doing this:
“Oh, pardon the mess…”
This is also not ideal. Back to that dream world, where the delivery site is on the first floor, and the truck has ample space to park and unload goods. IN OUR CASE, our condo was on the 12th floor. My guys had to park outside the parking garage entrance, then physically carry or roll (thank goodness for dollies) the goods 50 yards into the garage, into the elevator vestibule, where they finagled the items onto the elevator, then down the hall and into the unit! Because of this harrowing trek, they decided to unbox a lot of it INSIDE the unit to avoid any unnecessary damages. Back to my mess:
My job, at this point, is to unbox all of this! After hours of opening, unpacking and searching for my box cutter about a gazillion times, this is what I wind up with:
…A tiny handful of accessories!
Haha! Ok, so I am exaggerating a TAD, but it is true that a room full of boxes can break down into a handful of accessories, but a CONDO FULL of trash!
Opening all these boxes is tedious on one hand, but like opening a bunch of presents on Christmas morning on the other hand! I was able to unbox treasures, like this organic silver leaf console, then set it in the middle of my chaotic box mess and drool over it! Opening jewels like this fills me with renewed delight and excitement, encouraging me to keep going.
“Hello, James!” (Spencer wouldn’t let me take his picture)
Here my delivery guys are, on one of their many trips off the elevator and down the hall!
Dave is getting ready to put the feet on this sectional piece.
Part of Day 1 is to roll all the furniture into the unit (placement is not necessary yet). Also part of Day 1 is me discarding my shoes somewhere in the first 1-2 hours of being there!
You’d think that after years of doing this, I’d learn my lesson and choose flats over something cute on the first day!
So, things are moving along today! Things like column installation and electrical are still happening!
Mark, with MB Construction is taking matters into his own hands.
Cleaning up caulk and grout.
…More overseeing the final details…
The guys were working on all the settings for the steam shower and plumbing, if I’m remembering correctly. This room also had heated floors!
…more direction from me on placement and height of EVERYTHING (bath hardware, lighting, cabinet hardware, art, furniture, t.v.’s, etc.)
“RIGHT THERE! Wait, go up…too far, go down…left…back right 1/2″…Ok, back left & down again…hmm…Perfect! WAIT! Go up 1/16 of an inch!!!” hahaha! This type of install humor normally happens around Day 2 or 3 when delirium has set in!
While my crew goes to lunch, I munch on my packed lunch and envy those below me, who are currently enjoying the beach, and not just it’s view. When the day is “done,” I rarely go home. I normally go reload my car with anything else I can fit, then make a giant trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond for random items, like shower curtain liners, sheets, mattress covers, duvet fillers, pillow fillers, towels, etc. (My receipt is normally about 36″ long, and the ladies all know me when I walk in.) It’s not unusual for me to keep shopping for things afterwards, then dragging myself home around 9:30pm.
This was just one of 3 buggies this day…
This is a typical car load, by the way… This was from another recent install, but I had to take a picture of my accessory tetris. It looked much fuller in person! I am looking at it now & thinking, “shoot, I could fit a bunch more in there!”
Now, all this stuff I’m buying and loading, I am also UNloading, and hauling that same 50-yard trek up to the unit, in the heat. Sometimes I just ask one of my delivery guys to do it, but most of the time I’m too impatient to wait on that. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
So, on Day 2, we are able to start laying out rugs and setting up furniture!
I always bring painter’s tape to an install. Why? It’s an easy way to make notes on a wall, without messing up the paint! Whether it’s to point out areas that need paint touch-up, or to mark heights for sconces, it is always removable and clean. Sometimes I use it to tape off hyphothetical furniture, in order to plan t.v. placement, as in the picture below!!
By doing this, I discovered that the television outlet was installed too far to the left and needed moved! Time to call the electrician and drywaller! Just a minor bump in the road.
Oh, goody! The mirror has arrived! Notice I’ve planned accessories for the hypothetical console, which didn’t get delivered until Day 3.
On the third day, I was able to make beds, make final placements for accessories, which I’ve shuffled around dozens of times, and polish off any other details.
It’s coming together!
Look, my hypothetical custom-built television console has arrived! Currently floating out from the wall for a bit of final drywall repair and paint touch-up.
This room turned out so beautiful! Loving my barn doors, which were faux finished the same as my custom t.v. console.
Bathroom lacking some cabinet hardware, but looking amazing! (I can still see you, Mark!)
Calgon, take me away!!! What do you think of our water droplets chandelier?
Here is a detail that I had to share! Look how seamless and genius this schluter corner strip is! They were going to use a shiny metal one, and I almost fainted. I didn’t want anything to visually stunt the horizontal flow of my band of accent tiles. This one blends in perfectly!
The daughter’s room!
…and finally, a finished kitchen! Polished, clean and sparkling! I had ya worried, with those Day 1 pictures, didn’t I?
After three days of hard work, my clients were able to come and see their finished, completely renovated condo for the first time! Thankfully, they completely loved everything! They said they felt like they were staying at their favorite high-end hotel, except it was better, because it was all THEM! They sent me this picture at 8:30 in the evening to show me how much they were enjoying their new condo! This was all I needed–to know they were able to come in and relax, and LIVE. The fact that they love everything and were so blown away, is why I love being an Interior Designer! All messes, stresses and bumps in the road forgotten!
My clients dining on their balcony, the evening of their arrival!
Want to see a few other photos of random installation work? Here’s a few things we never imagined ourselves doing at an install:
Try realizing you have to hand-wash 800 glass chandelier pieces before you hang them, because they’re all cloudy and dirty! I’m taking a break from our 3-man assembly line to take a picture. That’s my son trying to lure Krista into not helping!
In photo: Krista Vind & Joey LaSalle
Whadya do when you need to get some trim pieces up 10 stories, and they don’t fit in the elevator? (and your contractor has a broken, booted foot?) You make your own elevator out of rope and bucket! Here, my contractor Brad Armbruster is lowering the bucket…
There’s our bucket! 10 stories down! I could think of a million ways this could have gone wrong, but it worked!!!
Stay tuned to my blog for some professional photos of both of these installations, and thank you for visiting!!!