“Insights Into Design” is a Riggs series on local designers highlighting the process, style, and inspiration that drives impactful design. Each post will feature a local designer and their designs to gain an inside perspective into the work and imagination of their kitchen projects. This edition features the designer Valorie Spence, of Interior Design Solutions.
Tell us a little about your background. What factors contributed to you becoming a designer? How did you decide to become a designer?
A simple graph led me to design. After 18 years in the dive industry as a professional underwater photographer, master scuba instructor, and 100-ton boat Captain, Hyatt Development purchased the company assets with a non-compete clause. My career number two needed to be creative, to avoid being at the mercy of Mother Nature, to not have people’s lives in my hands daily, and to allow working from a home office with a rambunctious young son. Interior Design ticked most of the boxes in the career versus lifestyle graph. Then back to college for round two in work life.
What is your process like when you approach new projects? What would you like new clients to know about your design process?
The starting point is looking at the space for what it can be and feel like; accentuate the good bones and create compositional focal points with great lighting in the difficult spots. After that, input the clients perceived wants, needs, desires, tastes, and how they want to use the space is factored into the design solution. Variety and repetition is the focal point in every room.
How does living in the West Coast affect your design practice and your design thinking?
Hawaii has such intense light, so many blues with horizons, ocean views, pools, coastlines and the vibrant greens of the ubiquitous lush landscaping we need to design with vibrant warm colors to create balance. The casual elegant island design style fits beautifully with the beach-going, boating, golfing, outdoor Maui lifestyle.
Hawaii has such intense light, so many blues with horizons, ocean views, pools, coastlines and the vibrant greens of the ubiquitous lush landscaping we need to design with vibrant warm colors to create balance. The casual elegant island design style fits beautifully with the beach-going, boating, golfing, outdoor Maui lifestyle
Tell us about your 2015-16 Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove KDC entry. How did the addition of Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove enhance the design?
The tower columns are just wonderful to design with. The choice of sizes and formats make it very easy to incorporate variety and repetition in kitchen design. Sub-Zero’s panel integration is unparalleled in the industry which is so important in today’s open floor plans. We want to see wood in the kitchen that relates visually to the entire space and furniture throughout; not matchy-matchy, but sophisticated pairings like Koa and Macassar. Big stainless rectangles don’t contribute to the feeling of warmth, home, and hearth, that we like to bring to our interiors and exteriors. Our lifestyle is so intertwined inside and out that we like to fully integrate: indoor & outdoor kitchens, walls of pocketing glass doors and contiguous flooring for a natural unified flow—in and out. This is a vacation home for the clients, their grown children, and grandchildren. They wanted appliances to match what they had at home for familiarity and ease of use moving between their homes. They love their Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove appliances and wanted them in their vacation home as well. Tower refrigeration units hold a large volume of food products for this large multi-generational family. We located the under-counter ice maker and beverage center to let the little ones get their own drinks on the way to the lanai or pool outside without being in the cooks’ traffic flow.
If you were to give your younger self advice in regards to a career in design, what would it be?
Study constantly, travel, go to every tradeshow/market and stay current with new introductions to keep ahead of trends. See everything. Become an expert in everything regarding interiors and stay current. Cook on every appliance, touch and feel every hardware pull, plumbing fixture, check the “sit” of everything you specify so that you can speak from the heart, from experience, and be honest. That is the heart of salesmanship—not selling, but sharing the experience, the feel, and educating. Learn to be gracious and articulate. Dress and drive professionally. Work as a team with the project architect, contractor, subs and client. Be open to the synergy of working in a team, you will appreciate it when the contractor comes to a pipe, vent or drain that cannot be moved. You will have ideas, they will have ideas, and if you can share thoughts freely together, you will all be successful with clients and build great relationships including referrals. Develop and organize a design community. Competition is DIY box stores, and design/build, not other professional designers. With a design community, you can share resources, find mentors and friends, get far more reps and CEO’s to your area, increase the knowledge and professionalism of all the designers.
Tell us something fun about yourself: Any hobbies about with you are passionate? A most recent book that you finished reading? Up next on the Netflix queue?
My hobbies are Scuba diving, boating, reading (too many favorite genres to include), being a mom, a designer, baking bread’s and desserts, watching intelligent TV & movies, volunteer and community leader – giving back to the local and world community that made me successful.