Photographed by: AJ Harlond

Terri Scordino is the main creative mind behind the projects done by Scordino Design, a boutique interior design firm based in Niagara Falls that specializes in hotels, restaurants and luxury homes. Scordino Design is also experienced in space planning in new homes, offices and other businesses. Terri’s design philosophy is that “beautiful design should incorporate form, function, comfort and creativity, and that interiors should reflect a lifestyle and personality.” We recently caught up with Terri to chat all about the business of interior design.

Q&A

1) Have you always been interested in design?
“Yes, ever since I was a kid. I think because in my family, my mother and both my grandmothers were artists, and they were always involved in decorating the house. So when I was around 16, I would hang wallpaper in my bedroom and that kind of thing. I’ve always been interested in it.”

2) Can you remember your very first design project?
“It was a project in Hamilton, and I was working for a designer in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and we were given this project from a family in the falls that were opening up a pastry café. I remember thinking, oh my god, I have to do this? It was huge. I was looking at my mentors that I worked with, saying, “are you kidding me, you want me to do this? I just got out of school.” But it was fun, I really enjoyed it.”

3) What was the progression of your career path that lead you to opening up your own interior design business?
“Well I worked for a designer in Niagara-on-the-Lake for about six years, and then I started a family, so I thought, ‘ok, I have to start working from home and be with my kids’. I have two daughters, so I started working out of my home. I’ve been working in interior design for 32 years and have been on my own for about 24 years.”

4) What would you say your specialty is?
“At this point in my career, my specialty would be more hospitality, restaurants, hotels and offices. But at the same time, we do residential, we do custom design homes. One thing always leads to another. In such a small community, it’s hard to specialize in one thing, because you have to be really flexible and versatile.”

5) How would you describe your design style and does that carry through to your clients?
“I prefer, an uncluttered, clean look, but in design, it depends on what the client wants. When you walk in to the room, I don’t want people to say, did Terri Scordino do this? I prefer they say, oh this really looks like so and so, and that it really reflects their personality.”

6) What would you say are some of the most common decorating mistakes people make? Do you have any advice on how to avoid or correct those mistakes?
“Not hiring a designer would be the first thing. If they even invested like an hour, two hours just to get some ideas and direction from a designer, I think they would save a lot of grief in terms of returning things or repainting things. So we’ll meet with people, just give them some direction on where to find things, that is something we do all the time.”

7) What would be your recommendation for ‘what to do first’ in a decorating project?
“I would say to start with space planning. Do up a floor plan, see what the needs are in the space, and then a lot of times clients will bring us pictures of what their tastes are, so that kind of helps the designer establish what they are looking for.”

8) What current trend do you think we’ll be tired of in five years? Is there a current trend that you love?
“I try to stay away from trends. That’s one thing when we are designing, we like to look at it and ask, ‘is it going to be timeless?’, or is this going to become dated?’ Trends are always going to date themselves. Whenever you pick something out you want to make sure that the bigger pieces, the more expensive pieces, are more simple, and a more neutral colour, so that you can change accents and accessories.”

9) Do you have a favourite colour you like to use?
“I usually like using more neutrals, and then just add a few accents in. For example, if I were to do a fuchsia sofa or something in a residential setting, I think I would be tired of it eventually. Sometimes people really love a colour, so everything is the same colour, but it can end up being too much.”

10) Do you have a dream project?
“Probably just cart blanche, to do whatever I wanted. We’ve done a lot of big projects and a lot of large custom homes…I don’t know, I think a dream project would just to have the client say, “do whatever you want, just make it beautiful.”

11) Are there any projects you have done that you are particularly proud of?
“Well, we just finished the Hilton lobby and the rooms, so I think that turned out nice, the clients were really happy with that. We did Bravo, the restaurant on Victoria. We’re proud of all of our projects really. We have a lot of small projects, just kitchens that we’ve redone in people’s homes and they’ve turned out beautiful. There’s quite a few.”

12) What’s a typical day like for you?
“In the morning we meet and review the projects that we are working on, and get updates on what’s going on. A lot of times I’m meeting with clients on site, meeting with the contractors, we have people coming in bringing us samples, suppliers bringing us new products.”

13) What’s your favourite part of your job?
“I like working with the fabrics and the colour. I would say more of my forte would be the space planning, such as in an office. People have told me that I’m good at that. So where to put furniture, moving walls around, etc. We do custom homes, so we are good at laying out a residence before it goes to the architect for the structural drawings, so I like doing that too. And meeting with people, I think that is probably the most exciting thing, because I meet a lot of different, unique people.”

You can check out the Scordino Design website at http://www.scordinodesign.com/