At Floor Coverings International, we enjoy bringing you creative insights from designers. Today, we have an interview with Susan Abramson, designer and blogger at Toronto Designers.
Floor Coverings International: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Susan Abramson: I grew up in Montreal in a tiny 800 sq.ft. rowhouse. I shared a room with my sister but only until my brother left home and we each got our own. I was about 8 at the time. And that’s when the decorating began – not that I knew I was decorating, I just knew I wanted to move my furniture around… practically on a weekly basis! My father was a carpenter, so he would often make me things as I thought them out in my head. That was a nice bonus. And my allowance and eventual part-time pay would often be used for things I ‘really needed for my room’. This tiny house morphed for me in many ways as I found myself alone in the house at the age of 22 after losing both my parents and my older sister having moved on too. I graduated University and got a job in banking because, well, that was what you did in the 80s to make money and that little house was the perfect size for me to continue to stay in, eventually getting married, with my husband moving in. But shortly after, my husband and I found ourselves fleeing the separatists of Quebec (shame, as we loved Montreal), and we moved to Ottawa. There we stayed for 9 years in a single family home that was bigger than I could ever imagine living in (1700 sq.ft.). A stint in London England during that time, with our two young daughters in tow, I discovered that my early passion for moving furniture could in fact be considered a career and took courses in design while there. Our next and final stop was to Toronto in 1997, where my career as a designer flourished and adapted many times over. I love where I’m at now.
FCI: What do you enjoy about blogging?
SA: Blogging is a big part of my career as a designer. I get to share so much that way, and often even use it as a resource. After discovering something new or exciting I will blog about it letting all my clients and anyone else interested know. Then months or years later when I need to retrieve that information that ‘search’ box on my blog is where I go first. Not only is blogging resourceful though, it’s fun to write and tell design stories. I get personal interactions, often on twitter or Facebook, and the feedback is almost always positive. And I love to find other people’s work to showcase here because everyone has their own take on what is beautiful and what is right.
FCI: How would you describe your design style?
SA: I love all good design but I have to honestly say that my favourite is when a space feels repurposed and sentimental as it exudes creativity and eclecticism. I love to help my clients achieve this, but of late I have been designing some spaces where we are starting from scratch and that is fun too. My own home, of course, is eclectic. I have white walls (don’t most designers??), old painted furniture with some new leather sofas that sit neat and statuesque. And right now I am even using my father’s old workbench as my TV stand, old paint splotches and Kelley green paint still intact. I can almost hear him saying I’m crazy and the he would love to make me something new and clean looking. LOL.
FCI: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone planning a redesign?
SA: First – document many photos of spaces you love. Then, get design help from the get go. But remember, getting the right design help shouldn’t be about what the designer wants but rather the designer listening and giving the client what the client wants. When I go into a home I often have to remind my clients that repurposing, repainting or moving things around is often all they need, with a few choice new things to make it all feel right. And if you don’t have anything and starting from scratch, consider some older pieces from second hand shops or antique shops mixed in with the new for a lived in look that hopefully truly reflects who that person is and not some magazine copycat. One of my favourite blogs is apartmenttherapy.com. They show real homes with real people living in them and it’s not always perfect and I love that. So dream first with photos you love for inspiration, then jump in to this fabulous world of design.
FCI: Tell me about a recent project you’re especially proud of.
SA: I have many projects I am very proud of because when my client is happy, whether their home turns out to be magazine/website appropriate or not, I can say I am fulfilled. One in particular was when a client living in subsidized housing called on me to help her make her space feel nice. She just got her first full time job at the time and was determined to get her family out of government housing, but it would take time and she wanted to start living now in something nicer. That was a heartwarming challenge and my client was very grateful for the one consult we had together. On the flip side of that, I am excited about currently being involved at the beginning stages of designing a 10,000 sq. ft. home. It is a size I find hard to appreciate, but by being involved I can make a difference to what goes in and how the spaces are being used and I love that too. And the client is lovely so who am I to say what is right for whom? Good people all deserve what works best for them.
Susan can be found online at www.torontodesigners.com.