Who is a good Referral Partner? by Emily Loker

Over the past few months we’ve been narrowing down who our ideal referral partners would be - businesses who have the same clients as we do.  As a commercial interior design studio, we want to serve businesses to design their retail spaces, restaurants, and offices. 

One group of ideal referral partners are commercial real estate professionals. These people sell and lease commercial spaces to our ideal clients, and, in most cases, work with interior designers to produce feasibility studies to show clients how the space could look, often recommending interior designers to those companies once they actually get the space. Why not extend the experience you offer your clients by referring them to a qualified interior design studio, such as CAKE, so they are not left scrambling once they sign the lease or purchase agreement?

Other ideal referral partners are contractors! We always work with contractors who specialize in interior fit-outs, as our services go hand-in-hand in providing a seamless experience for our clients. We love these teams because they are specialized in implementing what we do best.

Are you a commercial real estate professional or a contractor who specializes in interior fit-outs? Call or email us so we can connect!

Trade Pricing - Let's Share the Benefit! by Emily Loker

The elements of any interior space that are most interacted with by the end users tend to be the furniture, finishes, and lighting.  

These components are carefully selected by us to ensure they are not only functionally appropriate, but they also align with the desired atmosphere.

As an interior design studio, we rarely pay retail when ordering these items.  We typically pay 20 to 50% below retail pricing for everything.  We also have resources and suppliers that are not available to the general public which offer us even better pricing.

We take pride in being open and honest when we conduct business, and this extends to purchasing.  Where other designers may charge full retail pricing and keep the markup difference, we share the discount with our clients, so the client can further appreciate the value in working with CAKE.   

If you are a business who wants to renovate but is overwhelmed by how much it may cost to replace your furniture or finishes, we can help with solidifying a more desirable cost without sacrificing functionality or aesthetics. 

Sustainability by Emily Loker

My two-year-old son is currently obsessed with trash. He always needs to look in each of the bins before and after going to daycare, and he gets excited when he puts the trash in its proper bin without our help. This past weekend, we finally set up a rolling composter and three rain barrels, so that we could make a smaller footprint on the environment.

Linking this to our business, the environment plays a large factor in what we do – whether it be utilizing the natural sunlight in areas, selecting LEDs elsewhere; specifying FSC certified wood for construction or millwork, and sourcing rapidly renewable, recycled, or reused materials for finishes, furniture, or special features. 

All of these things that are considered during the design process that seem somewhat granola-y, don’t necessarily affect how the space will look in the end. Most suppliers now have sustainable options, or have even positioned their products to be better environmental choices right from the beginning. They’re just added benefits of how any space can easily be built and operate more sustainably.

Renderings, anyone? by Emily Loker

Not everybody can see a space come together from a black-and-white plan or even a full set of architectural drawings.  It’s a skill that some people have, but most develop over time with extensive training.  A good example of this is new-build housing developments.  It is often that the price jumps once the house is built because it can be difficult to agree on an investment like that without being able to physically see the space.  Once it’s built, there is more interest because there is no more mystery to it.

This is consistent with the commercial spaces that we design. Including 3D renderings as part of the presentation gets the buy-in from often multiple stakeholders far easier than without including them.  Depending on the level of rendering that is requested, we can provide conceptual views to get the general design direction across, or we can go to the extent of photo-real renderings and even virtual reality walk-thrus, for those who are more particular about the final product.   

If you or a business you know require an interior design that includes renderings to help understand how the space will look in the end, CAKE Interior Design offers this service.  Please feel free to contact us to set up a consultation.   

The Value of Interior Design by Emily Loker

We have all tried to do something we’re not necessarily trained to do to either save money or because of the resources available that make it seem so easy.  Filing your taxes is a good example with all of the e-file companies out there.  Inevitably, you get a notice of assessment where you end up owing money that you did not account for EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

Pinterest, HGTV, and “a friend with a good eye for design” are all things that undervalue the quality and amount of work that interior designers do.  These are excellent starting-off points, but interior designers find creative design solutions for interior environments while supporting the health, safety, and well-being of occupants while enhancing their quality of life and support their business goals. As Registered Interior Designers, we spend years (4+) studying this and only this, adhere to strict guidelines of professional practice, and have ongoing education requirements for as long as we call ourselves Interior Designers.

As professionals, we will save you money while eliminating the frustration (and expense) of DIY-gone-wrong, ordering the wrong lighting, furnishings not fitting, and everything else you don’t see on HGTV. We do it right from the beginning so you don’t have to worry about it.

If you, yourself, or if you know someone who has fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole searching for ideas for a remodel, I would love to set up a consultation to understand and narrow down all elements of the big picture, to provide creative design solutions that enhance their quality of life at home or work.

Roll-Outs by Emily Loker

Most of us have bread-and-butter business – clients who engage us in services that doesn’t exactly light a fire within us, but the task is generally straightforward and provides us with relatively low-stress or, let’s face it, consistent business.

Our bread-and-butter projects are roll-outs.  These are chain retail or restaurant projects, like your H&M or McDonald’s, where all stores have consistent pre-determined design elements and functionality, and need to be “rolled out” into new and remodel locations.  It’s the creation of construction and permit drawings of a tried-and-true design.  Instead of re-creating the wheel, it’s an affordable way to open a store quickly without having to re-design each element for each location.  

Sometimes these projects are a sweet relief in an otherwise hectic work year. Consistency is key to a smooth roll-out and a happy client!

International Clients by Emily Loker

I have a client who engaged in my design services for her 2000s.f. law office five years ago in Toronto.  Three years later, she sold her practice and moved to the US. It was wonderful to hear that she wanted my interior design services once more, after buying a 6000s.f. home in NJ in need of a huge overhaul. 

Aside from an initial site visit and periodic meetings during construction, the majority of the work that I perform is done in my office, including the permit and construction drawings, and selecting furniture and finishes. Even the design presentations can be done remotely, thanks to programs like Zoom or GoToMeeting. While international projects operate slightly differently, in that I often require a local architect to manage permit drawings, I maintain the same level of quality and thoroughness as I do for local projects.