Sarah Jones Interior Design is a full-service design firm located in Lake Tahoe and Whitefish, Montana that specializes in creating timeless and livable spaces that connect with nature. Their projects include residential and commercial clients throughout the West, creating custom environments that reflect their client’s lifestyle, interests, and passions.
We sat down with founder, Sarah Jones to discuss her process, the importance of sustainability and how forming a personal connection with her clients makes for a better design experience.
— Can you tell us Sarah Jones Interior Design was conceived?
I was a fine arts and business major in college and I have a Mom who has run a successful advertising firm in San Francisco for over 40 years. I believe having these innate and honed skills as well as having a strong role model set the wheels in motion. With the left and right brain firing together the idea of running an interior design business made sense as I love fabrics and colors as much as I do spreadsheets and budgets. After an initial successful multi-year project for a golf course developer outside of Lake Tahoe, my love of the design process and the mountains solidified. Through word of mouth I was able to land additional clients that kept me in the mountain region. Sarah Jones Design just continued to grow from there. As a small shop I found the importance of close collaboration with architects and builders throughout the course of a project to be of utmost importance and continue to do work with those I first associated with when I was first starting out back in 2005.
— Tell us about your process when collaborating with your clients.
I always work with my clients one on one throughout the entirety of the project. I really enjoy getting to know them personally and building a lasting relationships as well as friendships. The personal connection enables me to gain a deeper understanding of my clients’ lifestyle and aesthetics, which help drive the direction of the design. The one-on-one meetings and collaboration time is an important and rewarding part of process. It all begins with conversations, and questions along with a review of images from magazines and online sources. This helps to achieve a better understanding of the general direction and aesthetic we will be working towards. In person meetings are imperative for the review of the design scheme, including fabric and finish selections. Some of my favorite time spent with my clients is at the design center where we will scout furniture, test the comfort of sofas and chairs, and see the details of bespoke furniture. In between meetings work continues via emailing and zoom. Being a small shop has also allowed me to accommodate my clients often very busy schedules as I have great flexibility to meet clients at their convenience often traveling wherever is most convenient to them at the time. These steps have proved to be a winning formula for forming an alliance with my clients and making the process fun and pleasurable along the way.
I believe having these innate and honed skills, as well as having a strong role model, set the wheels in motion
— What would you consider to be the most substantial change in the field of design since you opened your firm?
I think there have been two significant changes since I opened my firm in 2005. One big change has been the way design and architectural concepts are presented. The advances in technology and software has enabled firms to present extremely realistic renderings and VR tours of a conceptual home. So much more of our design work can be seen in 3-D realistic terms. This way the clients don’t have to rely on their imaginations. There was always physical finish samples, hand drawings, and visual references, but now you can virtually step inside your home before you’ve even moved any dirt. The second big change, again, with technology, has been the access to such an incredible number of interior home & furniture photos. Between sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz and various other online platforms there is a constant flow of ideas and images out there. Much more so than when tearing out pages from a magazine and flagging images in books was the main source of photo inspiration.
— How do you predict design will evolve over the next couple of decades?
I think as the environment becomes more top of mind in the future that we will be focusing on sourcing and buying more bespoke furniture from artisans who have a smaller footprint. We will also favor more locally sourced vendors rather a purchasing from large overseas manufacturers. The ability to connect and create personal relationships on a smaller scale supporting local artisans and craftspeople will become a way to fill the void created by what is lost when our noses get stuck in our phones.
— How does environmental sustainability factor into your projects?
In guiding my clients through the selection process in an industry they may not know much about, I feel it is my job to present options that are inherently environmentally responsible whenever possible. This often means seeking out and using vendors that source sustainable materials and use sustainable manufacturing practices . I also have the ability to choose manufacturers and artisans that are local to the project enabling us to reduce the negative impact of long haul transportation. I also strongly believe in sourcing high quality products that are meant to last.
— What advice would you give to those just entering the design industry today?
Learn to embrace the phrase Patience is a Virtue. Be patient, both in growing your business and with the industry. While the world of design is a large enterprise, It’s by no means a well-oiled machine. There are constant small battles we tackle daily whether it be a vendor with poor communication skills, supply chain issues, suppliers over promising and under delivering, receiving damaged goods, construction set backs—it’s an inherent part of the job. Being able to take it all in stride, adjusting and adapting as necessary, will make your time in the design industry that much more successful and rewarding.