SR/A Interior Design was born as the passion project of its president and CEO Sabine Roy. Early in its 15 year history, the team cultivated the commitment to client relationships and the idea that everyone involved in a project, regardless of your role, was building together. The firm maintains this close-knit culture that manifests in high quality work and intimate client relationships, yielding highly personalized boutique design tailored to each project.
In 2013, SR/A launched La Collection, a retail gallery that allows the firm to house the antiques, art and unique furnishings that it incorporates into projects. As an affirmation to it’s strong ties to the community, La Collection now showcases all original art from local artists in the DMV area. SR/A prides itself on these strong relationships with local artists and strives to serve as a community showroom for the vibrant art culture in our backyard.
With its values rooted in community, SR/A regularly hosts charity events and art receptions for our Chevy Chase/Bethesda neighborhood. In April 2018, the reception of Real Art on a Shoestring welcomed over a hundred art enthusiasts into the La Collection space to appreciate the careful curation of works by 20 participating artists. The festive energy of the evening celebrating art and community serves as another reminder for SR/A’s mission to foster relationships in everything it purses.
As we reflect on the ethos that make SR/A thrive, excitement is building for its newest event set for September 29: Art x Arts Pop-up, a community mixer that plays with a fine art-meets-martial arts theme. La Collection partners with our neighbor, Ascend Institute of Martial Arts, to bring an afternoon of mingling with art brought out galleries and displayed in an unusual, refreshing space.
Learn more about Art x Arts and we hope to see you there or at a future SR/A La Collection event!
Wondering how people have those envy-educing linen closets you see at open houses and in photographs? Let SR/A Staff Designer Abigail Youngstrom show you two ways to keep your towel racks and shelves perfectly tidy.
As designers, our responsibility is to create spaces that will enhance the quality of life for the occupants – Not as easy as it sounds. Many factors contribute to the success of this difficult equilibrium.
First and most obvious is tidiness. Another is good circulation as obstacles should not stand in the natural path, but there are many other contributors from square footage to ceiling height to lighting etc… all are important but choosing the right colors will pull an interior together and influence the mood, emotions, and comfort of the residents.
Much research has been done on the psychological influence of colors. Red, for example, is said to represent love, warmth, comfort, but also intensity, excitement, and even anger. People say that red is loud, energetic, violent and I can’t help but wonder why so many homes have a red dining room… Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple, and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.
When discussing color, one must also remember the diverse cultural interpretation of colors. In Western cultures, the color white is often associated with weddings, hospitals, and angels and is often used to convey a sense of purity, cleanliness, and peacefulness. In many Eastern cultures, however, white is symbolically linked to death and sadness. It is often a color used in funerals and other mourning rituals.
With everyone in the USA celebrating Fourth of July later this week, it is also worth pondering why red, white and blue were chosen as the patriotic colors of this country. In the words of Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774 – 1789, “White signifies purity and innocence, Red, bravery and valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief.” In my native France, the same colors – Bleu, Blanc, and Rouge – are used on the flag but with different significance. Blue and Red are the colors of Paris, and White is the color of the king. When the revolution started, the king was forced back from Versailles to the Louvre, hence the White surrounded by Red and Blue.
Color perception changes with time. Black was the color of death, menace, and evil in the Old World and early Americas but now it is fashionable, said to be calming while representing power, confidence, and maturity. As many of you know, I wear black almost exclusively because it makes me feel slimmer and stylish. My puppy girl is all black and very elegant with her strand of pearls… she is my classy canine debutante.
The perception of color is highly personal and subjective, so my advice is to play with colors while keeping your circumstances in mind. Personally, I prefer to live in a very calm environment, so my house is mostly white, trimmed with a lot of wood (organic emotion for an earth grounded girl), but I have painted the master bedroom in a super pale blue/green and the very large master bath with a variation of serene light and dark taupe to cozy up the white floor.
Remember the colors are not only on the walls. They are in the rugs, on the furniture and in the artwork. So, select with caution, bring samples home to help you visualize it all together, proceed step by step, but don’t be afraid to use colors, and only live in a vanilla room if that is your favorite color.
Sabine Roy is the President and CEO of SR/A Interior Design. Sabine and her husband, Sean Saidi, Principal at SR/A, reside in Maryland with their reclusive cat Phisy and their gregarious (and stylish) dog Margot.
Design is unlike math and science. There is not one formula, one right answer, or one way to solve a problem. Working through a design challenge is by no means a linear progression, and critiques and teamwork are critical. The creative process is difficult to describe but essential to experience. As designers, we create, and therefore, we learn by doing—be it in a classroom or at an internship.
Like many students studying interior architecture, I understand the technical skills necessary to be an interior designer. We learn the software, understand codes, build our models, and challenge ourselves to make decisions that reinforce our concept. We know that design impacts the life, safety, and wellbeing of others. However, we rarely have opportunities to work on real-world projects. After graduation, adjusting from hypothetical to real applications can be intimidating. We remember the stages of design, the classification of materials, and the different types of construction documents, but we have not yet practiced them outside of the academic setting.
For these reasons and more, internships are imperative. Though we may not realize it, we learn so much through observation. By interning, we see design concepts evolve from conceptual drawings into three-dimensional spaces. In school, students present a final project and move onto the next one. We are not able to experience the phase of construction. In the real world, a “final” presentation is not really the end, and construction may not begin for a couple of years. Furthermore, firms do not just work on one project at a time. Instead, they juggle several simultaneously—all of which are likely in different stages of design or construction. Interns begin to understand the pace at which people must design in a professional setting. Perhaps it took a couple of days to select finishes for a school project, but in a real work environment we must make decisions more efficiently. Since design firms function as a team, everyone must submit their contributions on time so that the project can move forward. If possible, no one wants to be responsible for a project falling behind its deadline. After all, time is money. This is essential to understand upon entering the workplace after graduation.
Having been an intern at SR/A Interior Design for several months, I appreciate the benefits of an internship first hand. Due to its size, I have gotten to interact with everyone on the team and observe the true collaborative nature of design. When I am assigned a task, someone explains what I am doing and why. I am always learning something new. Every week, representatives visit the office and present their products. I took a materials course in school, but these meetings—in addition to working in the firm’s design library—greatly enhanced my understanding of materiality. In fact, many of the finishes that I selected for my graduate thesis were discovered while interning. SR/A also has a gallery filled with local art, and it has been great to see how a design firm is passionate about all aspects of design—be it the amenity spaces in their multi-family projects or displays throughout the gallery.
Now that I am wrapping up my graduate studies, I cannot imagine preparing to enter the design field without this internship experience. Supplementing your education with real-world applications from people interested in your training/development is imperative. DC is such a great design community, and I am excited to have gotten to work with such an amazing team at SR/A!
Jessica Whitehurst is a Design Intern at SR/A. She is graduating later this month with an M.F.A in Interior Architecture + Design from George Washington University.
In being a part of Real Art on a Shoestring from the beginning stages, it was an incredible experience to watch the art collection and event all come to fruition. Lights were hitting each piece of art just right, there was a constant buzz and chatter of guests admiring each piece, and the room radiated with a festive spirit as we all appreciated original, affordable art together.
Real Art on a Shoestring was my first event since being with SR/A, and I witnessed over a hundred art enthusiasts join the SR/A staff and 20 participating artists for this opening reception at SR/A La Collection. Since the SR/A team always loves a party, we also took this occasion to celebrate the firm’s 15-year anniversary – Real Art on a Shoestring was a celebratory evening on all fronts.
To keep guests entertained, we added an interactive element to this event. We hung a large event sign in the middle of a moveable wall and entwined invisible fishing line all around the sign. When guests arrived, they were given a brightly-colored shoelace to hang anywhere, in any fashion, on the wall. The idea behind this element was to signify how art should be about community, fun, and creativity. The wall, now overlaid with multi-colored shoelaces, stands tall in our gallery as a real work of art representing community collaboration.
Along with watching the shoestring wall flourish as the night went on, I also enjoyed meeting and mingling with a lot of the artists showcasing their artwork. Sue Fierston – a painter and print-maker who “walks the line between realism and abstraction” – was definitely one of my personal favorites. It was as if she was painting a picture right in front of me while I listened to her detail the inspiration she experienced from Yosemite National Park. Another notable favorite of mine, displaying her art at La Collection, was Stefanie Stark. Stefanie’s paintings were a mixture of abstract painted florals and whimsical colors that emulated spring, light, and hope. After talking with her about her collection, she noted her hopes were for viewers to get “lost” in her paintings as much as she does. After standing and admiring her largest piece, “Watching Flowers in the Rain,” it was as if I was taken back to my childhood days, spending time with my parents, planting flowers in the garden, and listening to them instruct me not to overwater them (as I tended to do) – a semi-comical, yet special memory I have. Another showcased artist, Fabiano Amin, was a high-spirited and enthusiastic element to the event. His abstract pieces were displayed on one of the front walls in the gallery, and they were definitely catching guests’ attention as they entered the gallery.
Though the art sales from Real Art on a Shoestring made it a successful evening for our artists, the energy during this art opening alone made it a triumphant occasion that I am elated to have been a part of. It was a remarkable experience to have all of the puzzle-pieces come together for Real Art on a Shoestring, and I am very excited for the next event at La Collection. For now, I will enjoy and appreciate my workspace being so immersed in these inspiring art collections that will be on display through Summer 2018.
Madeline Owens is a Marketing Intern at SR/A Interior Design. She graduates later this month with a B.S. in Marketing and Supply Chain from the Smith School of Business at University of Maryland – College Park.
Recently I went through some kitchen remodeling pictures, and the experience was eye-opening, to say the least. As with all changes, it was difficult to deal with at times yet exciting to see the transformation.
My existing kitchen was tight and inefficient (hence the desire to remodel). It lacked countertop space, the refrigerator was in the middle of the room, and the finishes were just dated. My wife and I had this idea to remove a wall and open the space as well as bring our home into the 21st Century with an open floor plan. We hunkered down and developed a plan to make our kitchen desires come true. We found some great back splash ideas for our kitchen at https://floform.com/choosing-backsplash-counter/. Click here to get some more.
Our first need was to hire a contractor, or we thought. We called a few teams, had them walk through our house with us, and requested quotes. We were super excited to believe we were making progress. A week or two later the bids were coming back, and they were all over the place. The fee range was from $30,000 to well over $75,000 for our kitchen! We could not fathom why there was such a discrepancy in their bids. The only thing we could think of was the contractors were not understanding the scope.
With that, I developed a set of drawings (plans and elevations) to make sure the second round of contractors were all bidding on the same information. That ended up being very beneficial as the next set of bids came in within a twenty percent (20%) fee range.
Upon selecting our contractor, we picked out our cabinetry, countertops, and determined our start date. It was exciting!
December 18, finally arrived and there was electricity in the air that morning. The contractor arrived and final talks about the game plan were expressed and demolition commenced. Capital Recycling will be the ones doing the demolition. It was weird, but I was sad to see them start removing all the appliances and dismantling the cabinetry. I just recall thinking, I can’t wait to get home and see the progress one day brings.
When I returned that evening, the cabinetry, appliances, and drop ceiling were out. The kitchen already seemed so much larger. They poked a hole in the ceiling at the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and, thankfully, it was not a bearing wall and could easily be removed.
After the initial excitement, the renovations turned into daily stress. I will say, I have never missed a kitchen sink so badly before in my life. Once you do the dishes in a bathtub for a month, a kitchen sink is amazing.
In addition to missing a kitchen sink, each day you are out of a functioning kitchen the headache builds just a little. Some of the days it seems that nothing is happening, and you don’t see the progress the plumber, electrician and crew are making. All of the behind the scene work such as rough plumbing (visit WhittonPlumbing.com for more) and electrical just don’t give the work justice and I would just panic.
About three weeks in they came to measure for the countertops and I just didn’t see it. Stressing and hoping the kitchen would come together was getting to me. But three days later when they installed the cabinetry and the countertops you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Wow, it starts to make a difference.
Our renovation ended up taking about six weeks. Some of that was due to some coordination issues, appliance deliveries, and just because. But, since we have our kitchen back, it is all a distant memory.
I love our new kitchen! The finish upgrades, additional storage space, and openness give it a better feel than the previous layout. A welcome renovation of our home.
To close out, I will state some advice I learned from this experience. A renovation doesn’t have to take twice as long and cost twice as much. Ours was on budget (including our contingencies) and delivered a little behind only because of a damaged dishwasher. I will say, plan, plan, and plan. Once I developed our design and presented it to the contractor, it made the process a bit smoother. We were able to discuss contingencies for unknowns that the plans brought into question and a strategy in the event worst-case scenarios occurred. Be patient and remember to breathe.
Lyle Ganz is an Associate with SR/A Interior Design. He has been practicing architectural interior design in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area since late 2000. He currently is furthering his studies at the University of Maryland University College.
You hear it again and again – Join a professional organization! Attend a networking event! In your head you’re thinking, but I’m not looking for a new job, why should I spend my precious free time networking and exchanging business cards?
News Flash – there are TONS of reasons professional organizations are worthwhile! But in the essence of time, here are my top four…
Typically, professional organizations will hold their events in a variety of locations to try to appeal to members located in different neighborhoods or areas of the city. If you are a person who loves to try out new restaurants, breweries, hotel bars, or whatever the venue this is great news for you! At each event you get to check out a new hot spot in town without having to make any reservations or plans on your own.
3. Keeping in Touch
You’re thinking, isn’t this networking? The answer is no. I’m not talking about making new connections here, I’m talking about keeping old ones. It’s no secret the design industry in DC is a small one. You really don’t know how many people you already know in the industry until you attend an event. I’m constantly running into past co-workers, former professors and industry acquaintances. Professional organization events are a great way to keep up with these people on the fringes of your social circle. If you are nervous about not knowing anyone at a professional networking event, don’t be. Odds are you’ll know someone else there before you walk in the door.
2. Committing to Your Industry (and company!)
“Hi, I’m so and so and I work at so and so company.” Making the effort to stay involved in a professional organization isn’t just a benefit to you but also your company. Every name tag with your company name on it or contact list with your company email is free advertising for your company. An employer appreciates seeing that you are not only committing to being deeper involved in your industry, but that your effort is reflecting positively on the company as well and who knows where that might lead?
1. Growing Your Professional (and Life) Skills
Professional organizations are completely volunteer run. Do you think those awesome events, wacky fundraisers and packed trade shows plan themselves? Let me tell you, they don’t. Joining a committee is an easy way to kill two birds with one stone – 1) you automatically meet people in the organization and 2) you get to brush up on those rusty event planning, fundraising or other life skills you haven’t used in awhile. Professional organizations need help putting together outreach campaigns, connecting with students, planning events, and lots more. Each organization is always looking for volunteers! Contributing a couple hours a month to a committee is completely worth the benefit and who knows what skill (be it professional, life or leadership) you’ll develop?
Jennie Carman is a Certified Interior Designer & Brand Coordinator at SR/A. She served as Director of Programming for the NEWH DC Chapter in 2016, and has been an active member of the organization since 2014.
If you know the SR/A team, it’s no secret that many of us are animal lovers. On any given day it’s possible to see one of the staff’s dogs in the office keeping watch over our desks, greeting gallery customers, and patrolling the kitchen during lunch time. That’s why it’s no surprise that when we choose to give back to the community, one of our first instincts is to help animals. On September 23, SR/A held our second annual adoption event and fundraiser at La Collection in partnership with City Dogs Rescue.
Though we typically hold several events at La Collection throughout the year, the dog adoption event is my personal favorite. La Collection comes alive with energy as adoptable dogs literally take over the gallery. Most love the attention, belly rubs, and ear scratches they get from customers and passers-by, while those that are little shy, as some rescue dogs are, can easily find a quiet spot in the gallery where they can settle down to watch the show. At our 2016 event, all the dogs present were adopted within a couple of weeks after the event, and we’re happy to report that it looks like several of the dogs this year also met their forever families at the event.
This year, SR/A organized a silent auction as part of the event. I’m pleased to say we raised over $600 for City Dogs Rescue, over double the amount raised at the 2016 event. This would not have been possible without the generous sponsors who donated goods and services for the silent auction:
- Ascend Institute of Martial Arts
- Olde Towne Pet Resort
- Orvis of Bethesda
- Academy Dog Training by Heywood
- Veterinary Holistic Care
- ReetMomma on Etsy
- Frame Avenue
- Sabine Roy
- Nadine Singh
- Cori Steadman
Giving back to the community is part of our firm culture. As much as we love dogs, SR/A is proud to have supported other animal organization in the past, such as earlier this year when our team participated in Design for Felines with the DC Humane Rescue Alliance. However, City Dogs is an organization close to our hearts here at SR/A. My fiancé and I adopted our dog Lander from City Dogs in 2015 and our principals, Sabine and Sean, adopted their dog Margot in 2016. Here are Lander and Margot sporting their “alumni” bandannas at this year’s event.
If you’d like to learn more about City Dogs Rescue, please check out their website: www.citydogsrescuedc.org. And, be sure to keep your eye out for the date of our Third Annual Adoption Event next fall!
Jennie Carman is an Interior Designer at SR/A Interior Design. She earned her MFA in Interior Design from The George Washington University in 2014 and previously spent several years in the event planning industry before moving into a career in interior design.