Designer Ian Graham’s modern comtemporary esthetic is beautiful and upscale without sacrificing comfort or functionality. Here he imparts advice on how you can realize your own design goals when considering revamping your interior.
Designing your dream home has never been easier. In today’s contemporary society, digital dream boards overflow with subway tiled kitchens, rustic wood paneling and gleaming Edison bulb light fixtures; HGTV channels overflow with down to earth design duos who rave about the luxury of giving your home a facelift and the internet has made it easier than ever to connect customers with suppliers. The tools to guide your inspiration are as endless as your own imagination.
But sometimes, this information overload can do just that – overload our brains and leave us with oversaturated project dreams and a muddled mess of eggshell vs. matte and brass vs. copper.
This is where Oomph Designs and their modern contemporary esthetic is here to help.
The award winning multidisciplinary design firm works with their customers to remove the doubt and confusion from designing your home or commercial business. With a focus on branded interiors, personalized graphics and concept/creative, OOMPH celebrates truly unique interiors that are a representation of yourself and/or your company – while adding that extra oomph that their name guarantees.
“A little extra [Oomph] really is in essence what people really want,” says Ian Graham, owner and lead interior designer at Oomph Designs.
“Hiring an interior designer will save you money and time – they execute your vision without the trial and error,” said Graham. “Time is money and if you are constantly redoing things, especially with residential design, you can end up frustrated and unhappy with the outcome.” Graham said he approaches each project from a creative standpoint with the vision that each interior is as unique as the person behind the project. “You always take into account who you are creating for,” said Graham. “I like to work very closely with my clients to develop their design. It’s the chaos of pulling everything together and making it all work which is the beauty of this job.”
For those looking to take the plunge and design their home or business, OOMPH Designs has insightful tactics for conquering your renovations and emerging with the home of your dreams.
Learn How to Communicate your Vision
The ability to communicate effectively is the number one key to designing a home or business. Graham says design websites such as Pinterest and Houzz have had a very positive impact overall on the interior design business.
“People are becoming more and more specific as the years pass and it’s because of Pinterest,” said Graham. “The access to so many images is extremely helpful. They can now communicate with images.”
And communicating what you do not want is equally as important.
“Now, you can quickly differentiate between what you like and what you don’t like and effectively communicate that to your interior designer,” said Graham. “A couple of years ago, a client would contact me, and I would email them images and they would email me back and we would go back and forth like this. Now people come to me with a [Pinterest] board for the kitchen and a board for the ensuite, a board for the overall look, etc. So I knew, before I even met them, what they were looking for and what they are trying to achieve – without the trial and error.”
Think Outside the Box
While working on both commercial and residential properties, Graham says he commonly witnesses customers limiting their design esthetic in order to conform to society’s depiction of how their properties should look when completed. Graham said he likes to approach commercial properties from a retail point of view in order to make them unique.
“I work on a lot of dental offices and [customers] will constantly look to other dental offices to be inspired and I am like, no,” said Graham. “I tell them, look at anything. Look at the restaurants you like, the cafes you frequent and the feeling that these places give you.”
“Just because you are opening a dentist’s office doesn’t mean you need a big flashing tooth sign at the door; just because you are designing a residential kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t draw from your favourite restaurant,” said Graham.
As incredible Pinterest is as a tool for inspiration, Graham says it is equally important to draw inspiration from your surroundings and not solely a computer.
“I am inspired by anything and everything,” said Graham. “Music is a huge inspiration and how it can transport you through time; movies and their visual effects – the fact that someone creates scenes and places that don’t actually exist. And most importantly how people approach things, not so much how they get to the end result, but how they thought through things, how they got to the final point and the journey they took.”
Graham said he was inspired at a young age by a Beatles movie to become an interior designer.
“Four of the Beatles walked into what appear to be four separate townhouses … and then [the film] showed that in fact they had walked into one open room,” said Graham. “And as a young kid, I thought that was so cool. I didn’t even know what the career was called yet, but right then and there I knew that whatever job that allowed me to create that, that’s what I wanted to do.”
Graham also cites travelling as a main source of inspiration.
“Visually [Italy] is amazing,” said Graham. “It is the architecture, it is everything. When you go to a cafe, a pizza place, the cobblestone roads, I just love it. This one wine bar was built on a side road on a huge angle. So what they did was they actually made the tables step up this hill. I just looked at it and loved it and it inspired me to really utilize space.”
Maintain a Realistic Budget – And Be Flexible
Designing and renovating your home can be expensive. Graham says in order to maintain sanity during a project do your research: educate yourself on the general cost of materials, be verbal about your budget goals and understand that if you want the best you have to pay the accompanied price tag.
“People have a hard time with cost and understanding that construction is expensive,” said Graham. “What is involved and the number of people you need in order to properly execute your vision – it adds up.”
And do not tiptoe around the price. Graham says ask questions to better understand why the price of renovations might exceed the initial budget.
“When you find a tile, and its $10 dollars a square foot, people only factor in that single cost and say ‘oh that is not too much’,” said Graham. “But it isn’t really $10 dollars a square foot. You buy it at that price, but then to install it is usually another $10 per square foot; all of a sudden it is $20 a square foot with labour.”
Create A Design Package
In order to accurately maintain and communicate your vision when delivering your wants and needs to potential contractors, a design package can be created which outlines the specific requirements for your project. This allows your project to be accurately priced out by multiple contractors – allowing you to choose the best person for the job.
Without a design package, the project becomes convoluted, because customers are rarely consistent when they describe their project multiple times to multiple companies.
“Without a specific design package, a contractor cannot actually nail [a project] down,” said Graham. “Most people will have a conversation and say ‘Okay contractor, I want this kind of kitchen with this, this, this,’ without any specifications, without any drawings, without any materials. But then they will have the same meeting with Contractor B and Contractor C – but they will rarely say the same thing. So any comparison you may have between contractors is thrown out the window because there was no consistency.”
Hire a General Contractor
Hiring a general contractor is important in order to connect all moving parts of the project. Having an effective team and learning to delegate is an important factor that Graham says not only ensures a project runs smoothly, but maintains consistency and a budget that does not fluctuate unnecessarily.
A general contractor is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of a construction site, management of vendors and trades and the communication of information between all involved parties.
“I am a big fan of a general contractor,” said Graham. “Any time someone tells me they want to general contract their own projects, I always ask them if they are sure they want to do that. A general contractor knows what is right or wrong, what the process is, what is involved — if that is not your profession, you just don’t know if everything is running as smoothly as it can be.”
General contractors as well keep your budget in mind and can ensure that outside workers are not pushing your project behind larger jobs.
“If you’re leading your project, you are a one off to an electrician or carpenter,” said Graham. “And you may not get the best pricing and service because you are a small job. But if a contractor is leading the project, these other professionals want to maintain that connection for future projects.”