Debbie Lowrey, Lowrey Design Group owner and principal designer, was tapped to design a model home at Villa Venezia, a prestigious enclave within Myrtle Beach’s Grande Dunes development. She in turn, tapped Chaddock for much of the home’s furniture. In today’s blog, Chaddock caught up with Debbie to learn more about this project and model home design business.
CHADDOCK: Your expertise is residential design. How did you get into furnishing real estate models?
DEBBIE: It is a very natural segue in a resort market like ours. Myrtle Beach and environs are big real estate markets for second and retirement homes. Developers know beautifully furnished models literally sell their properties.
CHADDOCK: How does this fit into your business model?
DEBBIE: It’s important for two reasons. First, furnishing models can be a significant source of revenue. The developers are purchasing turnkey design services and furniture. Secondly, it’s a chance for us to showcase our work. My models are dream homes. Individuals shopping for real estate see the calibre of our work and creativity. It’s great advertising.
CHADDOCK: This project is beautiful. Tell us about it.
DEBBIE: Well, thank you. Two of the most outstanding rooms in the 5,683 square-foot home are really Chaddock showcases. I started with the Newport Sofa in the living room. I love the undulating shape and the wood trim detail. The square Otto Cocktail Table is an intentional juxtaposition to the curvaceous sofa.
CHADDOCK: And it all comes together so beautifully.
DEBBIE: The iridescent green-blue color palette brings everything together. It’s color that unifies a design plan, and lets a designer pair different styles and shapes with amazing and harmonious effect.
CHADDOCK: Do you have a favorite room in the home?
DEBBIE: That’s such an unfair question. I love the entire space. But for me, the master bedroom is move-in ready. I specified Larry Laslo’s Match Point Bed for its strong proportions, and mixed and matched bedside tables. The New Wave Chest really stands out. The Avalon Dresser completes the room. And, of course, the aquatic green-blue palette prevails throughout.
CHADDOCK: Is it challenging to design a home when you don’t have a real client whose lifestyle drives the design?
DEBBIE: Make no mistake, I have a client. I invent the client! To breathe life into a room, a designer must have a sense of the people who will inhabit the space. Otherwise, the designer is rudderless. I dream up the whole story. My “homeowners” for this project are successful and adventurous New Yorkers. They are transitioning into retirement. They’ve flourished in a dark, dramatic urban landscape, but are now ready to begin anew, and lighten things up. They expect visitors, grandchildren and a vibrant social life. They want a home that can support all their dreams and plans.
CHADDOCK: Tell us more about your “real” client.
DEBBIE: Ah, the developer! This developer knows my work. The firm trusts me to make good design decisions and manage the project to a tee. Budget is absolutely critical to the developer. Design and product fees are all part of the P&L, and they are tight. There is no room for fudge.
CHADDOCK: Any tips on balancing high design expectations with a fixed budget?
DEBBIE: First, engage your vendors. My Chaddock rep, Missy Mowery, is invaluable on projects like these. She knows I want to use Chaddock. She helps me create a design plan that fulfills creative and budget expectations.
CHADDOCK: You’re a model home pro with 12 years of experience. Any advice for design firms thinking of pursuing model home design?
DEBBIE: Yes, I’m always happy to share my experience. First, be sure your left-brain project management skills are topnotch. Model home deadlines are hard and fast, and any budget overages impact your profitability. Secondly, come to the project with creative confidence based on experience. Model homes are not for beginners. And lastly, call Chaddock! It’s great to have partners that are invested in your success.