Christina Couvillion of Davinci Interiors joins the show. We discuss the challenges of choosing homes and interior design options for clients. How lighting affects your space, and we provide some tips to help you avoid remodeling mistakes.
Troy: Welcome back to the Real Estate Insights podcast. Today I am joined by Christina again. Welcome back. This this week, this month. Christina, how's it been going?
Christina: It's been going great. It's been a busy week, but I never really complained. I, my work is fun, so even if I'm busy, it's, I'm so fortunate,
Troy: Yeah, like you either have time or money. So if you're not busy with that, then it probably means you don't have any money to do anything anyway, so
Christina: That's true.
Troy: be busy with stuff going on. And Christina, you're obviously the owner of Da Vinci in tears, so interior design is your forte, and so it'll be fun to talk about some of the things going on there.
What have kinda, how's your last week or so been in, in that?
Christina: So I, I have some interesting projects going on. We're working on a parade of homes home, which is gonna be about a 10,000 square foot showcase home that's gonna have really amazing as I like to say, Mac Daddy finishes that are just really gonna be extraordinary. . So that's fun cuz I have a lot of creative license on a project like that.
And personally, we're building out a full office for Da Vinci Interiors locally at a building called X Space in Lakeway. And so that is very exciting to, build up my design studio and also to have the.
Troy: I'm sure, especially when you get to design your own space, because then like I'm sure there are times that you go into a client's home and you're like, Ooh, we could do this and this, but if it's not what they you obviously are gonna acquiesce to what, giving your professional advice, but also what they find appealing.
Where with the space that's your own, you get to be like I get to do what I find appealing. So that's always gotta be a lot of.
Christina: That's true. Although I have to say I'm my absolute nightmare client, So whereas I could go into somebody else's home, I'm extremely decisive. I can envision what's gonna be perfect in my own. Space I, have circular loops about, is this, gonna love it in a year. It makes me more empathetic to my clients when I do my own personal
Troy: Yeah, it's you like, it's basically dec decision fatigue, right? Like you have, cause you have all the decisions available. It actually sometimes research has shown, having so many decisions makes it challenging to pick one where in a lot of cases if you can narrow that down to three or four decisions and it makes it a lot easier.
Christina: Oh indeed. Yeah. And for a client, even in the absence of me who really refines the decision process, maybe they only know this much of the products are available versus I have this whole universe of. Our products that I know about. It makes it all the more impossible, but it makes for a more like unique bespoke design because people haven't seen them before.
Troy: That, and I'm sure you have as you go through doing other people's homes or seeing different designs, just through your work and through trying to stay up to date on the market, you'll probably see a lot of different things. You're like, Ooh, that looks so cool and now you're trying to mesh like 35 different, that looks so cool.
Things that really have no business necessarily being thrown together. Like, how can I make this work? Cuz I really like.
Christina: And I had that conversation with clients all the time cuz they were like, oh, I wanna do the cool thing here and here, all in the same room. And I'm like, they can't all be rock stars. You need one rockstar and the rest need to be a really cool backup singer. We need to pick our focal points because then there are so many cool things you don't even know where to start.
And it gets lost in the noise of the design.
Troy: It makes me think of when I have clients that come in from out of town that are gonna relocate to Austin and they gener and generally wanna get as much in as possible. Cause they're only here for a short time. And so they're like, oh, we want to go see, 10 or 12 house houses on Saturday.
And I'm like, okay, we can try. But in reality, you're. Are probably gonna be done at about six. I've done this a lot. After about six, you're ready to be done, doesn't matter. And then inevitably as well, once they get done with the six, and we'll like recap and say, okay, what was some of your feedback on the different homes?
And they'll be like, ah, I really liked this one because of the kitchen and this outdoor space and the home office. And I'm like those were actually three different homes. There wasn't one home. You've now mouthed them all. And so that sounds like an amazing home, but I
Christina: Oh my goodness. Doesn't exist yet. The unicorn.
Troy: so it's interesting just how the brain works that way of it sounds great in theory, but it's not necessarily the most practical and best option
Christina: That makes sense.
Troy: for the parade of homes. Where is that located this year? I'm assuming it's still like way ish.
Christina: Actually not. So I found it very intriguing. So the Home Builder Association is gonna be doing it in New Braun's, so it's gonna be the 2024 Parade of homes. And as new Braunfels is like a hot, new sought after. Area in Texas, which I wasn't really very familiar with. But you can really get beautiful big lots and, there's a great sense of community there.
So it, it's fun for me to learn a lot more about that area and, what kind of expansions going on in and around Austin.
Troy: Yeah. It's one of those, it's a city that's being like, halfway distant to, probably a little closer to San Antonio, but halfway distant between San Antonio and Austin allows people I've had clients that have had, family kind of both areas and oh, that's a great, maybe a great place to live so that we can be a little more equidistant.
And then it's also as. San Antonio and Austin basically become one long corridor of a city right now. Hasn't quite happened yet, new Braunfels is still convenient for a lot of people, but it still feels like its own city where like when I first moved to Austin, Georgetown was its own city, and that's not really the case anymore.
Like you don't, as you're on 35, you don't really ever leave the city as you're going from. Georgetown. And there's that benefit, you say lot size, some less expensive homes than if you're trying to live in Dripping Springs or Lakeway specifically too. So it's definitely attracting a lot of people
Christina: Oh, absolutely.
Troy: with the parade of homes.
I know we talked a little bit off camera, but you were mentioning that unfortunately it's not an unlimited budget, but you do get the opportunity to. , potentially do some things that you wouldn't do traditionally in a home. Are there any kind of specific any specific items or things that you know, again, are more gonna be for fun and for show that maybe you wouldn't recommend someone traditionally do in their home?
Christina: Oh gosh. , that's a really good question. I, where I pause is that I always like to push people's envelope and challenge them in a, from a design perspective. So one of the things that I'm really excited about doing is that we're gonna. Book match some slab. So it's almost like they're the mirror image of one another.
So the design from one slab then continues on the other, and that's gonna be a focal wall in our kitchen. And we're also doing some effects like that on some fireplaces. So it just is, this extraordinary natural feature that you really get to highlight. Creates a unique piece of art that I'm really excited about.
And then some of the lighting effects that we're doing I, I think I mentioned this to you before, I look at lighting as illuminated art throughout a space and we're really doing some unusual fixtures and also creates a, it features the architectural. Of a home with kind of ambient lighting as well.
So a lot of clients won't go all out and do the uplighting and the down lighting and things on timer so that throughout the day you really experienced the house in different ways. And you and I were talking about this a wee
Troy: was just gonna say like we were just DMing a couple a week or so ago because I had found out some information that again, using an interior designer knew we're like, oh yeah, that's old hat for me. But relatively new stuff that kind about lights. lighting that kind of, again, shifts throughout the day to help as we're spending more and more time in our homes, helps get you up and percolating in the morning and then through dimming itself throughout the day helps rest and relax you as you get closer to nut to nighttime.
And so I think that's again, a really cool idea in a way that technology is, can be super beneficial to just. with your help people with their daily activit.
Christina: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. The I'm diving more and more into the psychology of how my designs. Clients on a daily basis, and even in my own home where some rooms are activated, but, some rooms like my bedroom are very quiet because at the end of the day, I just need to relax and calm down and quiet my brain and, get a good night's sleep.
So it's fun exploring that journey with clients too. How do they wanna feel in their.
Troy: right? It's something that, it's not uncommon to hear people talk about get off your phone, 30 minutes before you want to go to bed so you're not, your mind can rest and relax or do you know, different meditation kind of stuff. But I think a lot of people don't necessarily then, Translate that also to how their home and how their rooms are and how that can affect them as well too.
Because while not maybe the same level of stimuli as your phone provides you, there are definitely still outside forces that are gonna be impacting your abil, your ability to rest and relax for a lot of people.
Christina: Oh, absolutely.
Troy: with the, it was interesting in talking to someone else about those, the lighting elements that some people, some of the people who have liked them, want them more for the color aspect of them, which is not something, when I saw the different colors right, like the purples and stuff, I was kinda like, eh, not so much for me, but I know that's becoming bigger with with gaming and with like movie, movie theaters and
Christina: All right.
Troy: the lighting be a part of the movie experience since nowadays, most of us have pretty good sized TVs in our homes, and you can watch movies without, without leaving the comfort of our own couches. Is that something in some of your designs as well too?
Christina: It's interesting that you say that cause I have this really cool three-dimensional white wave wall in my home and it's, probably about. 18 feet tall, and so oftentimes I, I have l e d lights that kind of wash up and down it, and so sometimes I will change the color I'll change it to, a blue color or sometimes like a light pink going on purple and it just changes the mood and the tone of the room.
I tried red, but that's like much too activated for me. I can't do it , it's hard. That's a hard one for me to get clients to embrace. Cuz it's very, for me it's very South Beach Miami, cool and fabulous. You feel like you're in a chill lounge or something. . So I guess I should push clients to, to do that
Troy: It's not the Texas West Coast vibe.
Troy: is what most mates are kinda from, it's mostly the East coast vibe. That way. You
Christina: Oh, sorry. I was gonna say I found these lights at it was either Lowe's or Home Depot. These solar lights that are flood lights for your home. And so I got a whole bunch of them that are like a really pretty blue color. So even on the exterior to add a little bit of color in your lights, really streaming across the elevation of your home, that makes a lovely difference too.
So if I can't convince it to do it inside, maybe
Troy: A little bit outside, and that's like saying that's one of those things that's relatively. , inexpensive
Christina: right. Oh,
Troy: much easier change than suddenly, than the, than deciding to do a slightly different color paint in your house to change
Christina: Yeah, it's less committal for sure. And more friendly to the.
Troy: Definitely. On the parade of homes, you mentioned that it's for 2024 and for these homes they are gonna be, they're brand new construction, so they're built from the ground up. But is there. a time that's best to start reaching out to an interior designer if it's something that you're, thinking about just remodeling instead of building from scratch.
But thinking about, Hey, I want to remodel my home. Either, again, obviously some people d if it's old enough home, might take it down to the studs. Others, less, less extensive on the remodel. But hopeful. , it's hopefully they're reaching out before they've already demoed the kitchen themselves.
But when you know what is Yeah, exactly. But is there kinda a good sweet spot for kind of first making contact and letting and running ideas by an interior designer?
Christina: For me it's ideal as soon as they, a client knows that they want to endeavor on a remodel or new build to get a designer in the process as early as possible because, we have so much experience in value engineering a project to say, let's do. Extraordinary tile on this wall, but then we could, do something little bit more budget friendly on the other, so that way we can help guide the clients, what is gonna be the realistic budget for this project.
Because they'll say, okay, this is the budget that I have in mind. And, oftentimes it isn't realistic because, as like people are looking at houses
Troy: the budget and what they see on Pinterest and
Quite in, in line with each
Christina: And you're like, and then there are taxes that you need to pay and insurance. Same thing with me.
I'm like, you need to put another eight and a half percent on that, on that budget. Just, just for taxes. Plus two, like we'll help them navigate with whatever contractor what are the good questions that you should be asking? , do they have a good project management piece?
Because the more organized you are, the more efficient you're gonna be with your budget. And, we really excel at that. I mentioned before, spreadsheets and the sauna boards are part of our love language here at Da Vinci Interiors. Because it makes it a. A much easier process for me and my team, but also for my clients because they see a clear path.
Yeah, if the, they could get in sooner than later with an interior designer it, even though they're investing in the design fees, they're actually gonna be saving a lot. And how we help them navigate through their,
Troy: Sure. And it's it gives 'em the opportunity. I'm sure there have been times when people have come to you and then had to significantly alter what they were doing just because once they, once they realize it from a budget standpoint or once they found out what they could get done, hey one of the things that. Is, seems interesting to me is right, if we're, I had a client not that long ago that bought a home that wanted to take the flooring that was in one part of the home and extend it to another part, but there, that flooring pretty much wasn't available anymore.
Christina: All right.
Troy: and so like understanding things of, that just because you want to do something in stages, are you gonna have all of that product and is it gonna really flow the same way if you do it in over the course of a couple? , smaller remodels versus one larger remodel.
Christina: Yeah. And that's interesting cuz we've had a couple experiences with that up lately where even the same product. Could be a different dye lot, so it could be the exact same product, but, it's wood. It's a natural product. This wood is a little bit yellower than the last lot of wood that came out of the lumber yard.
Yeah, having that continuity is hard. Oh, excuse me, my
Christina: allergies are kicking out.
Troy: If you have all that stuff up front, then maybe sometimes you could be like, Hey, let's, instead of, if it's two separate rooms, it may not be a big enough difference. If it's really an office in a living room, that may be. You far enough apart that it's really not noticeable.
But if it's in one, if it's a continuous area, then if you have all that stuff up ahead of time, you can maybe be like let's mix the two can. Is there a way maybe we can mix the two together to create a more seamless pa, seamless pattern or seamless Flow that way versus have one, have it look like, have it look like we're in the shade over here.
And slowly the sun over here, you're gonna have to, you're gonna have to get the expensive lighting just so you can light it differently. So it looks like it all
Christina: That's true.
Troy: as, one thing.
Christina: Oh, goodness.
Christina: No. Go there. You.
Troy: I was gonna say is are there any of the design trends that you're starting to see that you maybe question how long they're really gonna last?
It again, to me it seems cool, but also a little odd of how long, the minimalist, style kind of lasted of having very, muted tones, whites, grays, that kind of stuff like that. I'm like that, that. A number of years, and it seemed like it was a big thing for quite a while.
And now as we're seeing some changes to that, there are some things for me personally that I'm eh, I don't really know if that's gonna be around in two years or so. Are there any things you see that might, that you feel might be a little more trendy? Instead of really styl.
Christina: I'm really curious about the new wallpaper C craze. Cause wallpaper was a big thing years ago and you get some dimension, you get some funky patterns and color saturation. And it's a big investment cuz not only do you have to get the wallpaper and installer, but then you also have to prep the walls cuz most people's walls are not perfectly.
Troy: I have some pstd from being a kid, having to scrape four layers of wallpaper in a really old house. Just paint this wallpaper right over it versus actually prepping it.
Christina: I am curious to see, I hope it lasts a long time because it really adds such a
Troy: it's a lot more, it's a lot more unique than just like a painted
That'll, yeah, that, that say, that'll be an interesting one and that one. and the same token felt like it was gone for way longer than a lot of other ones, right? As we're starting to see warmer colors come back, that, they weren't gone for that long, even though we've had this more kind of white and minimalistic look for a while.
But like wallpaper, again, aside from really doing it as a kid, like it, it feels like for most of the last 20 plus years, if not more, that it's really. On the fringes of stuff. And now it's coming back. So it's, to me, that one's a kind of surprising, one of how long it was left into the drawing table.
Christina: Yeah. And so what's interesting too is that because it wasn't trending for so many years, there are very few really good quality wallpaper installers cuz it's just not a skill set, a skillset set that people were embracing cuz it wasn't a sought after. Fields to, to study. You're lucky if you find a really good wallpaper at installer where, in a month it's not gonna be, falling down off your walls.
Troy: Yeah. Which again, with the cost of some of the wallpapers out there is definitely not
Christina: Oh gosh,
Troy: you definitely do not want to. Skimp on the installation of any product, quite frankly. But on something like that, for sure, cuz it's not some, like once, once you've done that, if it's not installed properly, you're not really recovering that material to reinstall it at all.
Troy: One of the things that I, in seeing how the real estate market has been adapting and changing, one of the things that I feel like we will see for the. Few years at least, is people probably staying in their homes for a little bit longer periods of time than maybe they would've there might've been reasons for a growing family, for downsizing that they would've potentially tried to, move to a different home within their neighborhood.
But because of interest rates and how low most people's interest rates are in their homes, if they have an interest rate at all, that. are gonna be hesitant to want to, especially in the up upsides, cuz usually you're buying a more expensive house. But they might be a little hesitant to want to go to that bigger house and now have go from a loan that was at 3% to a loan that's at 6% or more anytime soon.
And so are there with people potentially staying in their homes maybe a little bit longer, are there any kind of things you could recommend or that you would think about that would help make that home as it's maybe starting to feel a little. Smaller because of the growing, because of the kids getting bigger and just the more stuff we tend to accumulate.
But are there ways that people could maybe improve their living space without having to go, full on remodel that you're familiar with?
Christina: For me it actually it, it actually starts with organizing and editing your home because people, if people are feeling closed in, at their, in their homes, having too many pillows or accessories or too many pieces of art just, makes you feel closed in. So to really take a editing eye and look around and say, you.
Do I have, it's do I have one too many, necklaces on this morning and it's distracting. You need to go around your home with a, a scalpel and say, okay, really, where can I edit? Or, such an easy way to refresh your room is to change out the.
And, maybe get take a whole bunch of pieces of art and just get one big focal piece of art. And that's just such a simple way to change the personality and tone of your room. I would say it starts with organizing, editing and they're even companies now that they specialize.
of organizing our home and e even for me I go to the Container store and my O C D is so happy because, they, I could organize anything with their stuff, so thousand dollars later I, I'm like walking outta the container store, but I, I come home and it brings me joy.
For me, if my home is not chaotic, then I feel a, a greater sense of calm in.
Troy: No and like I say, if part of the reason that you're feeling a little bit overwhelmed is you know how long you've been there and the stuff you've accumulated. As a real estate agent, when someone's finally ready to sell, they usually have way too much stuff in their home to make it look great, to make it look great for someone else to move in.
And sometimes it's, we do a, we can do a great job of finding new things, right? If you enjoy bargain ho bargain shopping, going to the consignment store and finding different things that are really cool. But we have. oftentimes have a much harder time letting go of stuff. And the longer you live in a place, the more you tend to just accumulate.
And so be, like I say, being able to take that scalpel and let some things go to is a good way to give a, get a refresh and make the space a little bit better.
Christina: And one thing I'll tell a client, if they're really hard pressed to, get rid of it. I'll say, okay, put it in your closet and you're gonna, you're allowed, three things on this console. Every six months, you're allowed to shop in your closet and, pull out three, three of the things in the closet, but only three could go in the console.
The other things need to go back in the closet. So at least that way they could still appreciate the, their beloved items. But
Troy: Yeah. Instead of just thinking of it as like your seasonal items, like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, be like, Hey, if I can, I have enough stuff that I can just rotate my own things out and keep it looking fresh and new while not being as cluttered as having all six of those things
Troy: same shelf.
That's an awesome idea. Cool. It seems like a phenomenal tip to lead people with here while we get back to the fun days of actually, doing the real estate and doing the interior design work. I appreciate
Christina: thank you so much. I always love chatting with
Troy: No, it's always a great time. I appreciate it as well. Hope you have a wonderful day.
Christina: Great. Thanks everyone. Bye.
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