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BEHIND THE SCENES | It Takes a Village


You really never know where the next project might come from. Two years ago we got a female Aussie Shepard puppy that we named Camper. As someone who has never had a dog, the first year was overwhelming, but it did have it's bright spots. One of the best perks is the new set of friends I have developed from our time at the dog park.


In Spring 2023, a referral from one of these new friends brought a fun project our way. The couple scheduled their discovery call using our automated system and completed our short pre-call questionnaire. On the day of the call, they proceeded to explain their project and unique situation. I was talking to the daughter and son-in-law of the couple we would be designing for. They explained that her parents were selling their house in Steveston and had already purchased a new 2200 square foot rancher at Monterra in Boundary Bay. The unit needed a renovation and they were calling us to help.


This was an unusual situation on many fronts and maybe a project of which we might be a little wary. We were brought into the project last, some decisions had been made, and the timeline for her parents to move in was tight. We would need to work very quickly to provide information and direction for the trades to meet the schedule. Rushing the design process is not ideal. It can lead to mistakes, oversights and rushed decisions.


They went on to explain that her parents had worked hard their whole lives and the "kids" wanted to give them a home they could only dream of. Yes, I was coming in late and the timeline was tight but there was something about the story that captured my heart.


Full speed ahead!

We arranged to meet at the site to review the space. They wanted Alter to provide both a fixtures and finishes package and a furniture package. The changes to the layout had already been determined and a cabinet designer hired. I love designing kitchens so this was a little disappointing, however, I would get to select the finishes.


While touring the home and discussing the design, the daughter showed me some inspiration images she had organized on her phone. I knew it was the project for me. We quickly developed a scope of work and got the contracts signed and out of the way.


The daughter and granddaughter worked with Mom to complete all of our relevant questionnaires and supply as many inspiration images as they could find. Gathering all of this information is a critical step in our process. It allows us to get to know our clients likes, dislikes, requirements, and overall aesthetic. After analyzing all of the information provided, concept design boards were created.and presented. We nailed the look and moved onto sourcing all the fixtures and finishes.


Curve ball!

During a site meeting with the full team, it became clear that the cabinet designer was not giving them what they wanted. On our drive back to the studio we received a call from the kids asking us to take over the millwork design. We were excited but also stressed! We were going to have to design fast and we wouldn't be working with our normal supplier.


As soon as I was back in the studio, I started drawing. We were able to start sharing drawings and 3D images of the kitchen within a few days. Then we drew the ensuite vanity, the pantry, family room built-ins and a custom office, complete with filing cabinets, storage cabinets and desk. There were some long nights but it was all worth it.


At the same time, we still had to keep the fixture and finish selections moving. We use an online interior design software program to run our business and mange client projects. It's an all encompassing program that can manage virtually every aspect of a project.


As we made selections for each space, we would load them into their project for review. It's our practice to provide a few options for each item that offer both cost and design ranges. The software allows clients to accept or reject selections. The daughter would review all the options with her Mom and we would remove any rejected items.


Once we had all the finishes selected and culled, we met with her parents to make final selections and ensure they were happy. When finalized, all the details were passed onto the contractor for purchasing and installation. At the same time, we were providing detailed drawings to the millwork supplier to ensure all the custom cabinetry was completed on time.


Not done yet...

Now onto the furnishings. Another whirlwind of activity to ensure that everything would be available for the move in date. We sent Mom and daughter to a selection of trade only showrooms to view pieces in person and make sure they were happy with comfort. With foundation pieces selected, we chose fabrics and filled in the gaps with some retail items. Understanding that the house would be filled with grandchildren and many adult guests, we made sure to specify performance fabrics on all the custom made sofas and chairs. With the help of my amazing partner, Alyson, we managed to arrange for 95% of the pieces to arrive on time.


There is always a delay, right?

About 6 weeks from the move in date, the project was shut down by the Strata for a month. While the homeowners scrambled to find temporary accommodations, we scrambled to reschedule all the furnishing deliveries. Thankfully both situations were resolved. The one item that did not survive the delay were the cabinets. The supplier was ready to install on the original date. When it was pushed by more than a month, they had to stretch out the installation with the homeowners moving in before they were complete.


The reveal(s)

The kids wanted the full reveal experience for their parents so as the new move in date neared, they were not allowed to visit the site. The result was everything you could hope for, tears of joy and astonishment that this was their new home (even with a few missing pieces). It was beyond their dreams. 


Once everything was completely installed we arranged for photography and styled the home. When the homeowners came home after the photoshoot, they were again brought to tears of joy. The colour and texture that styling provides was really on show in this home.


Collaborating with mother and daughter, we created a gorgeous cohesive design fit for a home near the ocean. Not only did we end up with a beautiful project in our portfolio, we have gained new friends. The people we get to work with truly are our greatest joy.


From our clients

"After demolition had begun on a renovation for my aging parent’s new home, it became clear that my husband & I, along with the contractor, were insufficiently qualified to properly capture their wants and needs. We needed help with the design & decor, and after interviewing a number of designers, we were concerned that no professionals would understand what we needed either. Then, through a mutual friend, we found Mikki. Upon meeting her, we quickly gained the confidence that we could leave nearly all of the design elements in her very capable hands, and we were grateful she agreed to step in. When the dust settled on the project, not only did my parents have their needs exceeded, but the final result was more beautiful, comfortable, and liveable than we had ever envisioned. My parents are now living in a style & luxury that they never even dreamed could be available to them. There is no way that, left to our own devices, we could’ve realized the results that Mikki has created for their space. Mikki brought value to the project that, quite honestly, we never knew was possible. We will use Alter Design Studio again, and we will do so with the confidence that she will deliver a result that we could never achieve on our own. Thank you, Mikki"


A few before pictures


View the full project HERE

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