Talking About a Home
Interview with Interior Designer – Alexandre Fleuren
Tim Barkley: I’m Tim Barkley with Charleston Home and Design Magazine and today’s radio show is coming to you from the Mount Pleasant Design Center, located at 767 Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. Now we’re talking with interior designer Alexandre Fleuren with Alexandre Fleuren Interiors. How you doing Alexandre?
Alexandre Fleuren: Hi Tim, I’m doing well, how about you?
Tim Barkley: Good. Take a moment and tell everybody about Alexandre Fleuren Interiors.
Alexandre Fleuren: Alexandre Fleuren Interiors is a residential interior design firm, we’ve been in the low country since 1991 and we’ve been in business in Mount Pleasant since 2006. So, we’re longtime residents and we love it here.
Tim Barkley: How do you help homeowners?
Alexandre Fleuren: I think that the most important thing that we do as designers, as an industry, is to get the homeowner’s focus refined. Give them a sense of what their style is and help them cultivate that style. Then, make it work into a functional space for them, so that they get the best of both worlds. They get a functional design, but that it was created for them.
Tim Barkley: Got you! It must be a challenge when you’re working with homeowners may be that they’re afraid of making the wrong decision, for example.
Alexandre Fleuren: Well those are the homeowners that we really like to work with. Because, when someone’s unsure, that’s really when we can do our job best.
“Our firm is known for being able to imagine what you cannot imagine for yourself and then to be able to make it into a reality. So, we love to work with someone who really hasn’t made a decision or seems to lack a focus about what they want to do.”
Homeowners Typical Experience with Interior Designers
Tim Barkley: Do you work with homeowners, maybe, who have never worked with an interior designer before?
Alexandre Fleuren: I would say that most of our current clients have never worked with a designer. They’re buying a property that they’ve always dreamed of, their moving into the new area and they want to make that home wonderful. They don’t want to make mistakes- it’s a great time to call in a professional so that you don’t make mistakes.
Tim Barkley: Tell me if this is this is accurate. People who have worked with an interior designer in the past- when they have another project coming up, they wouldn’t try to do that project without working with an interior designer again, because of that experience that they’ve had, that good experience.
Alexandre Fleuren: Absolutely. About half of our client base are return clients. Maybe we did their home 10 – 15 years ago and now are doing another home for them- or we do a lot of projects out of the area. We’re working on a project now in Jacksonville. One of our clients from 15 years ago moved, bought an estate and asked us to come in and redo it for them. Because they did learn it was so easy to hand it to us the first time around, that it’s absolutely to their benefit- to let us do it again for them. Sometimes, it’s a new home that we’re starting over for a return client sometimes it’s just that next room that they want to work on.
Importance of Using a Professional Designer
Tim Barkley: Right, and the reality is, if you’re building a new house, you’ve got a vision of what it’s going to be like- when it’s all done, you’re sitting around the living room with your family or you’re entertaining friends in the beautiful new kitchen. Everybody has that vision of what it’s going to be like.
But the reality is, the outcome of a project, where there’s new construction or remodeling it’s not guaranteed. It is certainly possible, and there are cases where people have. . . maybe cut corners or maybe gotten free advice from the show rooms. . . You’re talking to a tile person, “do you think this will go with my cabinets or the lighting?” Their focus is the tile. And so [homeowners] are relying on free advice. Then when all is said and done, and all the money is paid and everything’s installed and the contractors are gone- they have some regrets and they wish that they had done this or that. Working with an interior designer you take away that possibility of the outcome- not being what you would want it to be.
Alexandre Fleuren: Well, I would agree with that.
“I think that what you said early on about you as a new homeowner or buying that new property that you’re just so excited about creating your space for, you imagine a feeling that you get there. You mentioned things that you’re going to do with your family and entertaining. So you imagine what you’re doing there, and you’re imagining what how you feel there.
When you express that to us and we can understand what the feeling is that you want to have in your new space. And what those activities are, that you want to easily flow in your new space. Then we can make that look happen and we can make those activities function very smoothly for you. That’s where I think the real expertise of the professional comes in. You know what you want to feel or do and we know what that ends up looking like.”
Tim Barkley: Yeah and most people want to snap their fingers and have the whole thing be finished and completed. The reality is you know it’s going to be kind of a long haul and you might as well try to enjoy it as much as possible. It is a stressful experience when you’re building a new house or you’re going through a model and an interior design can really help to take away that stress.
Alexandre Fleuren: Yes. A good interior designer really should.
“At the very beginning [as a homeowner] you hand them the keys and really that’s all you do. Once she has decided that you like the plan. We have a wonderful interview on our website from a former client who expresses that. Literally, he said yes and then he never did another thing. Because our firm handles it all. We handle working with the general contractors. We handle working with a sub-contractors. Our clients really don’t do anything, except for hand us the keys.”
Tim Barkley: And approve what it is that you’re selecting?
Alexandre Fleuren: Well that’s right. That happens early on and once they’ve seen the plan. They say- yes, we love this, or you know we love this but, we want to change this whole fabric. . . You know we make our little tweaks that make it perfect for them. Then, once that plan is approved, it’s our job to do it and our clients go off and enjoy their lives.
Scope of Work
Tim Barkley: Give me an example of like someone who we might call Alexandre Fleuren Interiors for something small and also maybe something really big.
Alexandre Fleuren: Well, like I said, we’re working on an estate in Jacksonville right now- and that’s a complete gut. It’s a coastal property that owners wanted to completely redo. It was an early 1980’s build, and so everything has to be redone, and a small addition built as well. So we do things like that, we do just plans, quite a bit actually.
In areas locally on the peninsula and in the Old Village- where people are going in and they just want to have a plan of action. They want us to hand it over to them and let them run the project.
We do everything. As for something simple- selecting the lamps for someone.
Tim Barkley: Or paint colors for example?
Alexandre Fleuren: Yes we do paint color consultation. We do wall covering consultations. If the client wants us to implement those paint colors and wall coverings then we have them all installed.
Where to Find AFI
Tim Barkley: Well just a warning to our listeners: If you hire an interior designer like Alexandre Fleuren- it is addictive. You will feel like you can’t live without them. You can’t make a decision without consulting them. So, more than likely, you’ll end up with having a long relationship with the interior designer that you hire. Alexandre, tell everyone how they can get in touch with AFI.
Alexandre Fleuren: Well online, you can find us at designafi.com. Locally, we’re at 767 Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. And right now we are at the Design Show House downtown at 36 Society Street. You can always find us at designafi on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook.
Tim Barkley: All right. Great! Well, we have been talking with Alexandre Fleuren of Alexandre Fleuren Interiors. Thanks so much.
Alexandre Fleuren: Thank you.