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Buzz words 
Experts translate the meanings behind interior design concepts



Decorating a home can be an intimidating proposition, and if you donít know the lingo, it can be downright confusing.

Like any profession, there are certain watch words within the interior design profession that arenít necessarily easily identifiable to outsiders. We asked four Milwaukee-area interior designers to interpret a handful of buzz words within the industry in an effort to demystify the experience.

The participants are:

Abigail Klode, Abigail Klode Interiors, Thiensville

Design Philosophy: A home cannot be truly beautiful unless it functions in harmony with who we really are. I believe it is important for people not to be intimidated by the buzz words used within the interior design industry. Think of them as simply a tool to describe.

William Koehnlein, Collaborative Design, Waukesha

Design Philosophy: I believe interior design can enhance your life; as a designer I focus on what the customer wants. A room can feel like walking into fresh air (even) when you have been inside all day. Your senses can feel comforted and refreshed with good interior design.

Valerie Lange, Delafield Design Gallery, Delafield

Design Philosophy: To make a home/room "comfortably elegant." I feel that by combining all of the "buzz words" below is the way to achieve comfortable elegance.

Greg Ross, Ross Interiors, Milwaukee

Design Philosophy: Customer loyalty is based on creating great rapport with your client. If you donít build trust, youíre done.

Selective Indulgence

AK: It means using luxurious materials judiciously.

VL: I feel that "selective indulgence" is that "must have" item for the room. It can be the piece that has seasonal flare or it can be something special or unique that accessorizes your whole project. For example, the room can be complete with a new sofa that came with pillows, but that fantastic accent pillow with the right contrasting texture, color or pattern is just the right finishing touch.

GR: My attempt with each of my clients is to create a space that sparks emotion. From colors to fabrics to layout, itís important to make sure the design appeals to each member of the household.


AK: It means remaining true to yourself, and not being concerned with the opinions of others. Whether it be an orange crystal chandelier or your grandmotherís favorite chair, surround yourself with what brings you happiness.

WK: It means to create an authentic space that is true to you. That may mean your past or what gives you peace. For some they prefer art pieces, for others it is the touch or feel of an environment.

VL: It is being genuine and original. When used in design itís a compliment to the designerís workmanship and shows their creativity in each design.

GR: When dealing with my clients, itís essential to be authentic, real and most importantly honest. Truthfulness builds rapport and trust, the two most important aspects of a design job.


AK: It means realizing that you have used a solution to a design problem you have faced before.

WK: How the environment feels, that is the experience. It is the first impact and each nuance after that. When walking into a space what do you notice first and each thing after that. The experience can bring someone comfort and also enlighten them to the artful environment around them.


WK: It is the natural flow of the environment. How does the space function? How many steps are there to commonly used things? How many turns are made? What is used most often and how is it used?

VL: Organic means natural. In design, the term natural can go into a multitude of facets. Natural can start with the furniture manufacturer and its craftsmanship, layout of a room, the paint selection or even just a certain look to a room the client is desiring. There needs to be special attention to the use of the word organic because organic in the truest sense involves all of the elements that make up the final product.


AK: People often confuse energy with bright colors and bold statements when really itís any feeling an entire space emits.

WK: How does the environment make you feel? After several hours of being in a space do you feel like staying or are you anxious to move on? How the space functions is critical about its energy. A dining room should have a particular energy vs. a transaction counter at a store.

VL: Design energy is a feeling that you get from the space. Given the right energy it creates a comfortable, relaxed feeling. Designers can use this "energy" and achieve the feel of the room desired. This same "energy" will literally be transferred to the client.

GR: Upbeat, positive and a knowledgeable attitude is essential in creating a space with a positive energy. Whether the space is serene, energetic or functional, design needs to focus around the clientsí needs. m