For this edition of More Than Chairs, we interviewed Liz Toombs from PDR Interiors. We discussed her introduction to the design world, favorite projects, creative inspiration, and more.
Please share a brief overview of PDR Interiors.
We are a small firm located in Kentucky. The team is spread across Lexington and Louisville. Our niche market is women’s Greek houses on college campuses. Additionally, we work with residential clients. I started the company in 2009 after working for another firm that closed down following the recession.
How did you find yourself in the design world? Please share more about your education and background.
I have loved design since I was a kid. I always credit my grandad’s role as a realtor to being what sparked my interest in homes and the way people use them. Honestly, though, creativity runs in my genes. My mom was a wonderful seamstress and could make anything from scratch while my dad is very artistic and good at woodworking. I inherited neither of those skills but can certainly dream up the plans. I majored in merchandising, apparel and textiles in college and went on to become a Certified Interior Decorator afterward.
How do you generally approach your projects? What is your design process?
I approach my projects with a collaborative mindset. I love the work we do, and I like getting to work alongside the client and infuse their preferences into the design. My team’s process always begins with a lot of questions. The questions cover a lot of topics: deadline, budget, client needs/wants/preferences, and anything else that we think of along the way. We are fortunate to have a lot of repeat clients, so the more we work together the fewer questions we have to ask because we innately understand each other. That is true for both our Greek clients and our residential ones.
After the info-gathering phase, we make the necessary selections and present them to the client. Upon approval, everything is ordered and we oversee installation.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’m old school and still read a lot of home magazines. I have subscriptions so I get them sent to me monthly. Nothing can replace the experience of thumbing through a magazine and ripping out pages with photos that inspire me. I also try to pay attention to the world around me and notice what textures/colors etc I see. I love to analyze hotels, restaurants and other spaces I am in to see what they’ve done to create their ambiance. I geek out over things like that!
For an elaborate project, what is a rough timeline from start to finish? What are some of the phases and milestones you enjoy?
When I think of an elaborate project I think of a major remodel or new construction. My team can be on those types of projects for 1.5 to 2 years easily. I love when we get all the finishes chosen and have a backdrop to build off of for our furniture selections. The absolute BEST phase is installation. That’s when we get to see everything being loaded into the house and watch our vision come to life. I call it my personal Christmas. Every installation reminds me why I do what I do. The client’s face upon revealing the updated space to them is priceless!
What are some of your most memorable projects over the years? What makes them stand out in your mind?
I tend to remember the projects that presented the most challenges. Those are the ones that are very rewarding when everything comes together in the end. They feel like a big win.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a smooth project, too.
Who are your ideal clients and why?
Our ideal clients are people who are collaborative with us. They let us dig into the details of what they need and then trust us to create the desired space for them.
What are you most proud of in your work?
I am proud of the many spaces we have created across the country. We keep a map in the office with pins in every city where we’ve had projects. It makes me smile to look at it and watch the number of pins increase over time. It reminds me that we have the opportunity to touch so many people’s lives.