Interior designer Lynne Forde Breyer talks about design trends, working with builders and why she never turns down a referral.
PB: What’s the latest thing in finishes you’ve seen?
LFB: Leather flooring. It’s very high-end, it’s fabulous, and it will last for 100 years.
How does it wear?
Have you ever had a really expensive leather purse that you carry for years and it gets that patina and that soft suppleness, it wears wonderfully, and the scratches become part of its allure? That’s what a leather floor will do.
What else is new and innovative?
Honestly, I’m not seeing much new and innovative. That’s why I’m excited to hear about these faucets from Delta Faucet and Hansgrohe. As for surfaces, I’m just designing them on my own because I’m not finding product that makes me go wow. That’s why I started using rolled steel a couple of years ago, and it’s just now finding its way into the mainstream.
Cork flooring has been around for ages, but these days it’s different. Old cork flooring had only one or two colors and that corky smell that came from treating it. Now they’re patterned, striated, mottled — the new cork floors are completely different.
What one area of the house needs the most attention, design-wise?
What’s the biggest thing in the house? Surfaces: floors, walls, ceilings, countertops. It’s like the skin on your body — all your surfaces are part of the real estate. They are so important because there’s so much of it, and it’s so permanent. Once you’ve done them — and they’re the most expensive part of the house, too — your clients don’t typically go back and redo them because something new came along. They just lament that they don’t have the latest and it wasn’t there when they wanted it.
Do builders disagree on anything you specify for clients?
For the longest time when I was doing rolled steel on surfaces, they thought I was nuts because they thought it was going to rust and pit. So there was a lot of resistance to that, but I’ve been doing it for years now. Mostly they come back to me when I take a product that was meant for one application and use it in a different application.
Do you work with just high-end clients?
No, I’m a very flexible designer. I learned this early in my career. I’m doing a kitchen in a house right now with a very small budget. The house would probably sell for $110,000. It’s a very small kitchen, but this young man called me after he was referred to me, and I never turn a referral down.
Early in my career, I went to see a client who had a very small house and just wanted to do two small windows. She said that nobody would come out and do a job with just two windows. I felt so bad for her that I went.
You know what? That woman ended up being married to a big rep at Chevrolet who happened to know the owner of all the Chevrolet franchises in Arizona! She referred me, and I got so much huge business off of that tiny little referral. It was a lesson I never forgot.
I know that this young man with his very first house will be my client forever, and he will refer me. I absolutely guarantee it.
Lynne Forde Breyer Interior Design is located in Scottsdale, Ariz. Breyer also is the national president of the International Furnishings and Design Association.