Get to know Design House in this month’s Designer and Showroom Spotlight. From design inspiration to her take on trends, owner and principal designer, Connie LeFevre discusses all things design and Design House.
Design House, showroom 115
Your name and role in the showroom
Connie LeFevre, ASID, RID / Design House Inc. & Fabric House
Can you give some background on Design House?
Design House Inc. began as an interior design studio in 1975. After practicing in one location for several years, four of my peer designers decided to build our own building, but practice independently. This was great for a while, but we began to outgrow the space and go in different directions, so we sold our building. Meantime, I had been looking for more unique product for my clients, and after ending up with a warehouse full of treasures, it was time to add the showroom. Design House, the showroom, opened in 2002 in a small space at what is now the Houston Design Center. It was enlarged a couple of times, and then in 2011, Fabric House was opened at the Houston Design Center.
What makes Design House unique?
People, products, and service. We have talented, experienced people to service our customers and help them create the best job possible. We consider ourselves a member of their team, and an extension of their staff. And to do that, we curate and edit selections constantly to bring in the latest introductions of products we believe to be worthy of showing.
What is your design philosophy?
I truly believe that design is central to solving our problems and improving the way we live and work. Interior design affects comfort, function, health, and safety; and our solutions for the lighting, acoustics, space planning, organization and storage, scale, accommodation of special needs, building code compliance, and of course aesthetics, is the value we bring to a project. Our goal, and reward, is to make peoples’ lives easier, more enjoyable, less stressful, and more efficient, whether residential or commercial. Of course, the client has responsibilities also. The award-winning projects are always the ones with clients who are team players, who trust your ideas and commitment, and communicate well.
What has inspired you recently?
Inspiration is to be found everywhere as long as you are open to it, and sometimes it can be found in the most unexpected places. Travel has traditionally been an important inspiration to most, but that has been limited lately. I know on one trip to Europe, I returned with hundreds of photos of all the wonderful doors I saw. Nature is a major influence also. I fell in love with an animal at the zoo recently – an okapi. He is truly a work of art, and I want to include him in some custom furniture. I was also inspired by a moldy leather box that was a Harvey victim. While it was sad to lose it, the algae and colors were really pretty. I took a photo of it and had it enlarged and transferred to a canvas — I love my Harvey art!
“Our goal, and reward, is to make peoples’ lives easier, more enjoyable, less stressful, and more efficient, whether residential or commercial.”
What is your favorite design trend right now?
I strongly believe in designing for ideas and not trends, and I always say that you should “trend lightly” because I really do not like to promote trends. They are temporarily decided by others, and they are not necessarily what make your space personalized. They are an interesting snapshot of what is going on in the world, and therefore what is more readily available in the marketplace.
What has been the most unique design challenge you have faced?
Projects where you have good teamwork between you and the client are always more exciting and unique because they are open to new ideas, you have a good exchange of options, and you know their lifestyle so well. For one of those clients, we designed a round meditation room where the floors, ceiling, and seating were poured clay over radiant heated floors that were sealed and waxed. For another project for that client, there was to be a meat processing room on a hunting ranch, which we designed in all custom stainless steel so that the whole room could be washed down with a hose; and I remember standing in the walk-in refrigerator determining how to hang the meat. The projects with clients who are open to explore, give you challenges, and trust you to look for the best solutions for them, are almost always award winners.
What is your favorite product in Design House right now?
This is a little like asking who is your favorite child, grandchild, or friend. Since we edit and curate our selections, the products are all meaningful and thoughtful to us. Yes, sometimes something comes in even more spectacular than we envisioned, and we are particularly proud of it. We do sprinkle in some vintage pieces which can be very unique and unexpected. So the mix makes it hard to settle on one thing that would be my favorite, and since we sell off the floor, the items change often and that favorite piece might be different from one day to another.
What is something you want someone coming into the Design House showroom to know?
I would want them to know how proud I am of the people who are here to help them; that we have a thoughtful selection of products for them to peruse; and that if we don’t have a piece they are looking for on the floor, we will find it for them. We are passionate about this business, and we always welcome not only their visits but their input – good or constructive.
Is there any Design House or Fabric House news you want to share?
We have now launched our e-commerce, where customers can shop 24/7 from an ever-growing selection and quantity of products.
Design House is having a “Made in America” promotion on all in-stock and special-order Sherrill Brand Furniture, which includes Sherrill, Sherrill Occasional, Lillian August for Hickory White, Hickory White, Motioncraft, and Mr. and Mrs. Howard.
We are pleased to now be the showroom for Robert Allen. You can look for their new furniture line soon, while their fabrics are already being shown at Fabric House.