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Springfield, MO

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Photo provided by BRENDA VAN EPS
Photo provided by BRENDA VAN EPS

A Conversation With ... Brenda Van Eps

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Tell us about your company.
I started Studio V Design in April 2008. It’s a full-service design firm, and I specialize in commercial interiors. Some of the services I offer are space planning, interior finish selection, custom casework – designing millwork for built-in cabinets or anything related to woodwork – furniture specification, and artwork and accessory selection. I am the only employee right now.

How does interior design fit into a company’s overall image?
Interior design is an investment in the image that the company wants to portray. I think a lot of times, business owners might have a vision for their company, but they have trouble creating the actual environment that goes along with that vision. That’s when the interior designer can come up with a plan for them and execute it (and handle) the coordination of several different people in trades, not just coming up with the initial design. The result is a nice space that should relay to customers what the company is all about.

What are some common mistakes companies make in interior design?
Often, it seems like the reception desks, when (customers) walk in are cluttered with papers or knickknacks, or they just look disorganized. Sometimes, there’s even a computer monitor that’s blocking the view of the receptionists when you walk in. That’s just really uninviting to the customer. When (customers) walk in the door … you want that area to appear really welcoming and clutter-free. Another thing is that artwork is often hung too high. It seems like a simple thing, but artwork should typically be hung 66 to 72 inches to the top of the piece from the floor, or approximately 5 feet from the floor to the middle of the piece. That’s most visually appealing in a room with an 8-foot ceiling. You want (art) at eye level.

What other simple changes can help refresh a company’s interior design?
Paint colors can become outdated, like anything else. The simplest and most inexpensive change is often just to freshen the paint colors and add updated artwork with nice framing. Adding accent lighting also can sometimes be pretty simple, but lighting can add so much life to a space.

What are some paint colors that might need replaced, and what are some popular shades?
Some of the more outdated tones are the darker burgundies, reds and greens. Some of the more updated paints seem to be a lot lighter, and it seems that these days, the paint colors are leaning toward more colors related to nature, blues, greens, browns … that you would see outside.

What are some larger scale interior design updates?
Updating a reception desk can be quite expensive sometimes, or adding a feature wall to a lobby or reception area. Also, adding new technology – flat-screen TVs, projectors – can be really impressive in an executive conference room. Those things create an impact, but they are more expensive and need to be planned for.

What trends are you seeing among your clients?
I’ve noticed that a lot of business owners are asking to use modular carpet tile rather than broadloom carpet, because they’re realizing the operational and maintenance benefits of carpet tile outweigh broadloom carpet. For instance, if one area is stained, you just pop up a tile and replace it. Also, it’s really a lot easier to install around systems furniture or if you’re renovating an existing space, you can go in and install little areas at a time, instead of clearing out a room and doing it all. … More businesses seem to want the more clean-cut, modern and contemporary design. I always try to recommend, in the beginning, for companies to buy the best office furniture, artwork or accessories they can afford, because the quality of those items will last and hold their value.

What led you to start your own company?
I worked at Butler, Rosenbury & Partners for almost 10 years, and I was laid off in March 2008. At the time, I had quite a bit of experience in managing projects and working with clients, and I also led the interior design studio at Butler, Rosenbury. So I was pretty comfortable that I could do the job on my own, and I was also very fortunate that I had past clients and friends in the design community (who) called on me as soon as I was laid off … for my services. I started my business and was working on projects within a week of being laid off, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
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