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Did Drapery Make a Comeback?

Posted on January 12th, 2014 by admin

jan_2014_blog_postI think it was the 80’s that pushed drapery into a coma for the next 20 years. A sudden overdose of balloon valances, ruffles and horrible floral prints closed the door on drapery for the next 20 years.

Fast forward to 2014 and where’s drapery hanging today?

Let’s start in Vegas. Every hotel has used forms of drapery to show luxury at it’s finest. The Aria hotel features layers of motorized sheers and black out drapery, which magically open as you walk through your hotel door. The Wynn hotel uses whimsical fabrics and embellishments on every corner of their casinos floor to create an Alice in Wonderland effect.

How about France? Drapery is everywhere in France but most impressively Marie Antoinette’s drapery still hangs 220 years later in the Palace of Versailles.

Last year at Fresh Design over half of our clients requested some form of drapery. We designed a wall of modern grey sheers to divide two spaces in a Chances Casino. One client fell in love with some shabby chic roman shades for her guest room. Another client was wowed by gorgeous velvet drapery that hung 12 feet high in her Living Room.

Clients are starting to notice that drapery is an essential part of design. The fabric selection and custom tailoring can define a room’s entire style. Drapery adds the finishing touch that brings the whole room together.

Who’s selling you your blinds?

Posted on July 25th, 2012 by admin

Thief-Falls-Off-Ladder-300x172I had to start selling blinds somewhere and what better place to learn the trade than to work for a large box store. I can still remember the 30-minute training video that I watched and the encyclopedia instruction manual that I never read. To be honest, I was shocked that they had even hired me, I had no experience at all, there wasn’t a face to face interview in fact I was hired by the American head office via phone interview.

Well needless to say it was a rocky first year. The scary part I wasn’t alone. There was a team of us misfits so the customers not only had to deal with me but the installer assigned to me was probably going to fall of his ladder.

Here was the daily protocol:

Customer calls in to have a ‘designer’ sent out to provide free consult. Designer comes stumbling through door. Designer is there to close the sale and will try to find a product that you are comfortable with buying instantly. Designer drives away with your signature never to be seen again.

The truth is I felt horrible doing this. I was never required to follow up with customers and I never once saw what the products looked like in the house or whether the customer was happy with them. Not to mention the paper work trail. My order went through a lot of hands. It was similar to the game of telephone where you whisper one thing in a persons ear and by the time the last person says it you’ve got a completely different story.

Three years into it I quit. I took a design course, scouted the lower mainland for the top installers and opened up my own Independent company in attempt to compete against the giant box stores.

Fast-forward ten years later here I am still in the shadow of the giants but I’m winning. I give my customers the best customer service they have ever seen. I know what price point to be at in order to compete with the box stores. I also have a lot of experience. In fact not to brag but I’ve gone from Rookie to Specialist. Hunter Douglas nominated me to specialize in motorized blinds and run several Showcase stores.

The best part is that my customers are going to a have a fantastic experience buying from a Canadian business that is giving the American box stores a run for there money.

The Tinfoil Trick

Posted on July 19th, 2012 by admin

foilThe tinfoil trick is a timeless classic and one of my favourite sights to see. I can’t help it but when I drive by a house and notice this I always slow down and point yelling, “Look they taped tinfoil to their living room window!” I’m excited to see that people are trying to fight solar heat gain by using the same material that they wrap their potatoes in before throwing them on the BBQ. I’m also thinking of how cozy this must feel from the inside of the house, it’s probably similar to living in a space ship and who doesn’t love star trek?

While tinfoil is a fantastic option I do have a few other solutions. At work I love to pull out my lab coat and walk my clients through my exciting version of Energy Efficiency Window Treatments 101. Once I start in with the R-values, U-factors, SHGC ratings I’m usually the only one awake in the room so I’ve learnt to keep it simple.

1. Heat is attracted to cold; that’s why in the summer the sun shines through your windows turning your house into a greenhouse.

2. In the winter it’s the opposite the window glass creates heat loss because it’s bringing the chill inside.

There are two good solutions:

1. Insulation: Similar to the pink itchy fiberglass in your walls that keep the heat in or out there are blinds that are constructed to create a barrier that either traps the heat or cold. In blind terms we call it a honeycomb or cellular shaped blind and the more layers the better.

2. Daylighting: Several window treatments diffuse light reducing the glare and improving the intensity of the light. A lot of these window coverings are sheer enough to allow you to enjoy your view through them even when they are lowered.

Back to the tinfoil… all blinds have been scientifically rated on a scale and believe it or not the blind that tops the chart has tinfoil in it! Well maybe not Reynold’s aluminum wrap we actually call the material ‘Mylar’ but essentially it’s a foil like material that sits inside some honeycomb blinds. These blinds rate the highest and can stop 50% of the heat or cold however they also cut all of the light in a room, perfect for your media room but I’m not sure if that’s the right effect for hosting an afternoon tea in the kitchen. This is where the tinfoil theory get’s interesting. The same honeycomb blind without the tinfoil lining will bring in loads of light and stop 45% of the heat and cold. So the tinfoil that cuts the light is really only 5% of the equation. The true solution is in the shape of the blind.

In the end, save the tinfoil for the BBQ and embrace the science behind great window coverings that not only fulfill function but add some great style to your home. And if your missing the star trek ambience you can always upgrade your blinds to power. Press the button on your Platinum remote and it’s Beam me up Scotty.

Home Depot

Posted on July 18th, 2012 by admin

brwindow-blinds2-224x300When Home Depot started popping up across the lower mainland I couldn’t help but to feel a bit nervous. I wasn’t sure how my Independent business could compete with the giant box store. However, several years later I’ve learnt that Home Depots not the enemy at all and here’s why.

Home Depot brought in the “cut down isle”. The concept of the cut down isle is that customers can go in with measurements and a friendly staff member in an orange apron would cut down the blind to the desired width. The customer would walk away with the blinds in hand and happily go home and install them.

This concept was terrifying for anyone in my industry because Home Depot was able to instantly satisfy customer’s need for blinds and at a lower price than I could offer. However, my phone continued to ring and I actually started finding myself at a series of appointments with customers who had experienced the cut down isle first hand. So everything I learnt about these blinds were from the customers themselves. Here’s what they said and here’s what I saw:

1. The cut down isle faux wood blinds are actually white plastic slats.

2. Plastic is heavy. If these blinds are over a certain height you cant pull them up.

3. When you try to pull them up and the cord breaks the blind is garbage. Unfortunately there aren’t replacement parts for any of the blinds mechanisms so broken blinds end up the landfill.

4. The blinds are made at a certain height and width so they are always too long. Customers are expected to take the slats out of the bottom when they get home. I learnt for wives that 90% of husbands cant figure out how to do this and so the slats end up staying there forever.

5. The blinds are also all made wider that you may need them so there are a lot of ladders. Ladders connect the slats and give the blind support but they also block your view.

Here’s what I can offer against the giant box store.

1. The faux wood blinds I carry aren’t made from plastic. Instead they are made from polymer and wood dust, which makes the blind lighter to pull up.

2. If the blinds break they have a lifetime warranty.

3. I send professional installers to measure so that all of the blinds are custom fit.

4. Because the blinds are custom made they have half as many ladders which means a much better view through.

5. The blinds that I sell a slightly more expensive. The cut down isle blind that is $170 will cost you $238 for a custom Hunter Douglas blind.

In the end the great thing about my big competitor is that it’s really no secret about the quality. They aren’t trying to pass these blinds off as anything more than what they are. The blinds are cheap, literally. So the question is how often do you want to shop for blinds every year or once every fifteen years?

Summer Fever

Posted on July 11th, 2012 by admin

It finally stopped raining in Vancouver. Everyday with sunshine is a celebration. The dark clouds have finally been lifted and everyone seems to have an extra bounce in their step.

I also notice a totally different client calling. This client is suffering in their house because the sunshine has brought the heat barrelling in their windows full blast. They want solutions that will soothe them from the summer heat without turning their home into a black hole.

Of course I have solutions for them. I carry honeycomb blinds that will stop 50% of the heat from coming in. However stop right there………google how many days of sunshine does the west coast get? Year around its less than 25% and the other 75% of the time we are engulfed by low grey skys.

So do honeycomb blinds make sense in the region that we live in?

Personally I want a blind that brings in the most light for the 75% of the year that its grey. I also want a blind that I can see through so that I can enjoy the beautiful greenbelt that I live on. I also have neighbours so I wanted a blind that gave me a little bit of privacy.

That being said I have different needs than others. Each and every home has different things to consider. Do you have a view of the ocean? Do you have nosy neighbours? Do you live on a top floor apartment? Do you have a South facing window?

So when I mix all of those needs with the weather that we deal with each year and I still do find some clients who will benefit from honeycomb blinds. However, my advice to everyone is consider the weather year around and choose window coverings that make the most sense year around and also buy a second place in Phoenix.

The Smart House

Posted on July 4th, 2012 by admin

houseAs a designer I get a chance to go into a lot of interesting houses. From shacks to mansions I’m never really sure what house that I will roll up to. However, a West Vancouver address usually promises to impress and last week my jaw hit the floor as I entered the most interesting home yet. My clients said that it was the “house of the future” at Expo 1967; which is an exciting thought to process. What were architects expecting in 1967?

Well the house featured three elements that every West coast Contemporary home has: concrete, glass and wood beams. It was also built in a shape that would keep the main level warm in the winter without using electricity. I found the house to have an ultra modern feel however it was missing probably the biggest defining factor of the last fifteen years: technology.

In my profession technology has transformed the entire way that I think about the home. My clients want it all, electric blinds, solar sensors and home automation systems. During a recent consultation with a client he asked us if we could program the blinds to close while lights in the media room dimmed, all while he simply turned the television on. That was easy, we even programed the light in the kitchen and bathroom to turn on when he paused his movie. We are prepared for everything. In fact we even have an APP for that.

The fantastic part about this technology revolution is that electric blinds have become completely affordable. While most expect that this experience is saved for only the super wealthy its quite the opposite in fact the cost of adding a motor to a new blind has gone from thousands to hundreds of dollars in the last two years.

While you may think may think that electric blinds are for lazy people I only ask when is the last time you got up to change the channel? Even the window covering industry has added the ‘smart theme’ into our everyday life. We have smart phones and smart houses, which are all ways that technology simplifies our life.

So while Expo 1967’s House of the Future missed the mark of technology I can’t help to wonder what will the house of 2055 include? Well I know one thing for sure. In my future all blinds will be electric.

Drive Into the Future

Posted on May 27th, 2012 by admin

Prius_v_Black-300x109Your living room is my Showroom.My goal is not only to entertain you but hopefully find the right window coverings for your space. I’m a designer/window covering specialist and I provide in home consultations. My number one product to promote is a blind that will stop 50 % of the heat and cold from coming through your windows. The amazing part is it’s not a sales pitch; its science, these blinds are energy efficient and they really do work.

However, when the consult is over I jump into my gas guzzling SUV and drive away. My vehicle is my mobile office squeezed into an overloaded trunk but lets face it I might as well be driving a tank because I’m spending about a thousand dollars a month on gas. I can think of a lot of ways to spend a thousand dollars but burning it up in fuel every month is starting to make me nauseous. I decide to explore my options.

I look to taxi drivers in Vancouver and see what every single one of them has resorted to: the controversial Toyota Prius. I apprehensively agree to go have a look at one but I already have 3 main reasons that it won’t work.

  1. Not enough space.
  2. Super nerdy.
  3. Turtle slow.

I walk into the dealership and circle the Prius. It still has that geeky feel about it but with a luxury price tag. I’m ready to leave but not soon enough as I see Toyota’s sales guy of the year, Ken, coming my way.

First, Ken pointed to a completely different looking car in the showroom the Prius V and he said 3 things that catch my attention.

  • Gas: 4.6L/100Km;
  • 50% more trunk space than the original Prius;
  • and yes it comes in leather (actually its faux leather but it looks and feels luxurious).

Ken and I take the anti car for a test drive. At one point Ken makes me stand outside the car with the engine running and asks me to listen to the hum that the car is making. “What’s that noise?” I ask him. “That’s the future.” answers Ken. A few hours later I drive away in my new Pruis V.

Ken was right, a month later I feel like I have finally moved into the future. I spent $160 on gas this month. Yes, I have to leave 5 minutes earlier than I use to so that I can drive my car efficiently but really in the end I’m much more relaxed than I used to be. I know that the car cost a bit more upfront but quite honestly I feel like I’m driving a Mercedes. Toyota has pumped every single luxury in this little car.

  • (Faux) Leather heated seats,
  • a back up camera,
  • a navigation system,
  • a great stereo,
  • crystal clear Bluetooth phone,
  • voice commands,
  • a USB port,
  • solar panels,
  • and to top it off it has an electric engine.

I’m a modern day Knight Rider.

Back in your living room……I can show you blinds that will change the way you think about window coverings. Blinds that cost a bit more up front but they will save you money in the future. Not only that but I can show you a platinum solar energy sensor and hand you a remote control. Are you ready to press the button and listen to the future?


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