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Designers and Trades | Working hand in hand

Hey everyone!

As we welcome the release of our new website design (I hope you like it!), we are also working on several new exciting opportunities. We won’t spoil that…yet.

With September approaching and kids starting to head back to school, parents and other adults alike head back to their daily routine to start dreaming about their home. This is what people do, right? Some people dream of simple fixes, others, full make-overs. After deciding what you’re looking into doing, you determine your budget and finally you look up contractors in the area to do the work.

Here’s where it can get tricky. Your contractor can make or break your experience. Some people hire friends, contractors others have used and recommended, or take the gamble with someone new entirely. Ample amounts of research should be done to determine who will best suit your project, including interviews, if necessary. It can become very stressful sometimes!

When you hire a designer, like us *hint hint*, we do that process for you. We are your advocate, and that’s what we are paid to do. We want this process to go smoothly for you, and we know who’s great and who’s not-so-great in the industry, and can offer our best advice for who to pick based off of all your needs. If you want to hire your friend, no problem, we can still make sure they do their job professionally.

We have heard so many horrors of people who have experienced the fly-by-night contractor, and we cringe and empathize towards those people entirely! A young couple with a new baby decides to get their bathroom done and the contractor fails to pay the trades even though they are responsible for that. The contractor goes MIA. The client is then out of pocket paying for the trades that never ended up getting paid or even worse, trades start a legal action case. No one ever wants that, but if the client has not done their due diligence of in depth research of who they’re hiring, there is that potential risk.

I decided to consult with my friend John the Plumber, who is very well known in our Ottawa plumbing community, regarding this issue. He mentioned that “it can be a problem, no one ever wants to go after a client. We do our best to resolve the situation before things get dirty.” Even as designers, we prefer to work with people we know, or that the client knows first hand. If we are working with someone new, we make sure to do our homework so our client can trust them in their house. John, who’s company vans are very visible and clearly well labelled, has taken every measure to legitimize his business to help his clients feel better about who they’re hiring.

This economy is very social-media based, and companies rely on word of mouth and social advertising as a key foundation of business. With that, it’s so easy to get scammed by businesses or people alike now. Some businesses that have been around for more than 25 years may not need social media because they are already well established businesses. But us newbies over here rely on it. Ottawa is a small city, and one bad word can really affect your brand. When we hire companies, we make sure they reliable, and ultimately they want the same results as we want to give our clients:

MAKE SURE THE CLIENT IS HAPPY!

This is the foundation of any proud business owner.

Make sure to do your homework when looking to do that new renovation, having a designer along with you will help guide you into the process and give the best results for you. Happy dreaming!

Plan your Reno in the Winter | Tips for the savvy shopper

IMG_4454Here at Nested Green we’ve interacted with many folks who have expressed starting their renovations in the spring or summer and some into the late fall. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s great you want to get started! However, it can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress because of schedules, availability of product or contractors and most importantly, affect what you want. The most important thing about planning for Spring/Summer renovations is to plan over the winter.

Why?

There’s lots of reasons why you should plan your renovation over the winter:

Contractors are busy people. Often they’re booking weeks or months in advance, and naturally they are always looking for work. By planning late fall or early winter, booking them in advance, at least for consultations for early spring with plans to renovate later is very key to their scheduling. This way they can try to schedule you into their books based on your schedule, and not theirs.

You have a few months to keep dreaming. This is extremely important in any design planning. This of course involves booking your Interior Designer/Architect *wink wink*. Joking aside, whether you hire a designer or not, it’s extremely important to browse the world of Pintrest, Houzz, and all the unlimited resources we have at our fingertips to discover what you want, and even more importantly, what you don’t want. Make a list of priorities and what you’re willing to compromise on, this will help you narrow your needs/wants in your renovation and design and get what you want. What do you want the space to look like? What are your dreams? If you’re not hiring a designer, do a lot of research into the products that are available and this will help with coming up with your….

BUDGET. I really shouldn’t have to say more than this, but be sure to evaluate your financial situation before starting a renovation or project of any kind. Determine what type of renovation you’re doing and make sure to do research on the types of products you’re interested in and what the average costs are for doing these renovations/construction. Make sure to allow for unexpected costs as no one knows what’s under old floorboards or behind walls that might unleash a whole can of something.IMG_4492

To add to this, if you’re intending on renovating an older home like a heritage home, be sure to get the right people in to evaluate the situation appropriately. Your project may add up quickly if you discover you want to renovate your bathroom to find out all your plumbing is lead or electrical is knob and tube. Things like this are completely against code, and are required to be fixed immediately. It could mean the difference between getting all new electrical and getting the upgrades you wanted… which would ultimately impact your design, and of course you would be left disappointed.

Account for product delivery and ordering. By planning during the winter, it offers lots of time to measure and quote out the products you want as some are 4-6 weeks while others are 10-12 weeks. By ordering these in the right timing, it will prevent your project from being delayed any longer than necessary. Additionally ask about your designer, architect and contractors timeline…how much time do they need to get started? Designers often need 4-6 weeks depending on complexity/technicality and project, but it may require submitting to an architect technician with a BCIN (Building Code Identification Number) to then submit to the city for permits. Please be aware that technicians charge on the upwards of $1000 for their time to review and stamp the project. Once submitted to the city, permits could take 2 or more weeks depending on the project. If this is already completed by the end of winter, then in the spring you’ll be all set to start!

Consider your return on investment. Do property research of those around you and if you need to, get your property evaluated by a real estate agent. Be sure you’re not putting unnecessary funds into your property that you won’t see when you try to sell your house. Play it smart: use the budget efficiently in the right project upgrades (an interior designer can help with this!) and it’ll increase your property value but still at realistic pricing. All too often we see houses trying to sell for far more than they’re worth for the area.

Lastly, be sure you’ve planned around your project. Updating your only bathroom or kitchen? What will do you then…will you stay somewhere else? Something that must be considered especially if there are children in the home. Respect your contractors time and space, if you are getting in their way, this will delay your construction and cause aggravation all around. Stay at a friends/family’s house, go on vacation, stay in a hotel etc. until your project is at a reasonable stage.

Thanks again for tuning in, I hope these tips helped… please share this to your friends/family or anyone looking to start a project in the near future!

– Jennifer.

[image from dailymail.co.uk]

Architecture in Business | Review: Shopify

Hi Everyone… Jenn here!

We’re big fans of businesses that innovate and create business for others, even better when there’s quality of life and morale among the employees. We’re doing a special blog post about a company called Shopify. If you haven’t heard of it we highly recommend you check out their website. In a nutshell, this business helps create e-commerce websites and takes a very minimal percentage from those company’s sales in compensation. Their process is easy and fantastic for those eager to jump into their business but have no idea where to begin selling.

So why mention Shopify? Well, my husband David works for a company who is building their new headquarters (100k square foot of office space), located in our National Capital. This past Monday I had the luxury of being invited to an open house for his work employee’s families before Shopify employees took occupancy only a few days later. I wish I could post the many photos I took (legality reasons…boo!), however their Twitter account as well as Linebox on Facebook (the Architect) has been posting sneak peeks of it. They have some very fun ideas and I love that each floor seems to have a relevant theme (ie: one floor looks like the great Canadian outdoors full of the most adorable bean bag bears as chairs and gorgeous hand scrapped log walls). David had told me that they [the CEO’s and Architect] had gone to Google headquarters, along with Amazon and few others to feel inspired for their new space.

I’ve seen/heard some complaints from other business owners in response to Shopify’s headquarters…things like: “I’ve been in business for 30 years, this seems so juvenile” (since Shopify will soon have a slide into a ball pit in their cafeteria!) and you know what? To each their own. The world of architecture and design is changing for businesses across the world. With technology developing every day, people have become dependent on it, and especially those from my generation and those to come. I know how to disconnect, but I can and often feel lost if I don’t have my phone with me. The other issue is because we sit on the computer for hours on end, we often need to get up and move around frequently to ease our minds. The world of productivity is changing! I know I’m more productive in short spurts, as I become easily distracted… or there are certain times of the days where I feel more motivated to work. Business’s like Shopify want good and hardworking employees. But they also want their best work. Creating things like open spaces, nooks and “telephone booths” (there are at least 3 everywhere you turn all with their own theme!) for privacy to make phone calls or plugging in in a non-traditional space. Shopify’s office space gives people the option of working at their own pace because they want the best results. They have a yoga studio, a massage room, lots of spaces to sit (quiet or communal), and food always available. They even have showers there! Makes you never want to leave… see what they’re doing?

So, if you’ve owned a business that’s remained unchanged for 30 years, chances are you have older employees who (most likely) don’t like this dramatic change! And that’s okay. Large tech businesses like Shopify, Google and Amazon are catering to the younger generation now and using everyday technology to enhance the overall experience so they keep their employees longer. We all know that if we’re happy, we’ll do our best work, and want to come into work – right? I’m sure Government offices could certainly take a hint or two! 😉

Long story short, business owners of all kinds should start evaluating what type of world we live in. People want to be healthy, people want to use the best of what technology has to offer, but we also want quality of life and to be happy with where we are. If we’re happy with our jobs, we’re happier to clients… and if clients are happy, then you’ve got a client for life! And they’ve got friends! Unfortunately, a lot of companies prefer to look at their bottom line, and they forget what valued employees look like. People who work in a company that aren’t happy with where they work, often won’t recommend others to become customers/shop/employees.

Learn from Shopify’s business (or Google even) and see the difference between their success, and yours.

got space? Are you having Emotional Interface with it? Whaaaaaat!!??

dave

It’s ok to admit it.  Everybody wants it.  In fact, in most places it is expected.  Emotional Interface, that is.

What is Emotional Interface you ask?  If you are a web-designer you are well familiar with the name and the concept.  What works in the virtual world should work in the real world too, no?  Architects and interior designers could learn a thing or three from our virtual design world cousins.  In 2010, Aarron Walter, Director of User Experience at Mail Chimp gave a presentation called “Learning to Love Humans”.  In his presentation, he says:

“Humans, though cute and cuddly, are not without their flaws, which makes designing for them a challenge. By understanding how the wet, mushy processor works in these hairy little devils, you can design interfaces and web experiences that will have them hopelessly devoted to your brand.”

Our ancient ancestors were very good at Emotional Interface.  For them, it was as simple as sitting around a fire pit, sharing stories, dancing, meditating and posting the days events on the cave wall.  So, if you have linked, shared or participated in a space then you may have achieved Emotional Interface. Human needs dictate that we require functional, reliable, usable and pleasurable spaces.  You know when one of these elements is missing in a space:  Where is the door?  Is this the right door?  Can I open the door?  Wow, the door opened for me!!  A positive Emotional Interface experience = pleasure.

Cave Painting Cartoon

Technology plays a huge roll in making our living spaces more pleasurable. From old tech like refrigerators and vacuums to new tech like the AI thermostat “nest”.  They all have a function that can make life a little easier for us. Although both creepy and awesome, the “nest” thermostat learns your room temperature desired patterns so that one day you just leave it alone and it will just know what temperature you want your room to be.  It is kind of like raising a child… but then there is always the teenage years… “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?  Dave, I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question.” … or for the younger crowd … “The cake is a lie”.

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The spaces that you create for yourself tell the world of your values… you are visually communicating your brand as it were.  What are you telling the world about yourself?  Our cultural and social upbringing influences how we feel about the spaces we inhabit and our expectations of what they should give us. Restaurants are a good example of expectation of an emotional interface. Depending on the quality of the food and prices on the menu, we expect a restaurant to deliver an equal or better offering in service and the physical environment.  Food, service and decor are the Holy Trinity of a successful restaurant… just ask effing Gordon Ramsay!! … aaaaaand we expect it to work out or we give an unfavourable review and the relationship ends.  It is harsh, but like Mr. Walter says, designing for us hairy little devils is a challenge.

“Interior spaces are often the primary interface between users and the built environment and can have a marked influence on our sense of belonging, comfort, emotion and productivity.” Arqua Design

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Every element of design in our environment plays an emotional toll on our soul. The shape, size, colour and texture create a composition of balance, contrast, pattern, proportion and more … that’s a lot of combinations and permutations that could go horribly wrong!!  Be kind to the design!!  Know that everything evolves, the designers are taking note of what works and doesn’t and there is always another toy arriving to distract us from those pesky negative emotions and give us one more pleasurable experience.

“The only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that it’s all learned.” – Bruce Ediger

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