Frequently Asked Questions

What type of residential clients/projects do you work with?

We work on a range of projects, from full-service renovations and custom new builds to color consultations and styling. Each type of project is unique and is treated as such:
– When we work on renovations and full-service design projects, we partner with homeowners to assist with everything from obtaining quotes from tradespeople, all the way through to completion. We guide clients through a three-phase design process to ensure an enlightening and enjoyable experience.
– If a client is building a new home, we are brought in at the beginning of the build process to help form a vision and make critical decisions, saving the client and builder money and energy. Throughout the entire project, we act as a liaison between builder and client to help both parties translate ideas and make better decisions.
– For clients who want to create their space themselves, but just need the help of a designer to get it started, we offer consultations and DIY design services.

What type of commercial projects do you work on?

When it comes to commercial interior design, we offer three main types of services: full-service interior design, hourly consulting and styling.
– We work on commercial interior decorating, renovations and build-outs, partnering with businesses and building owners to design the space, procure all items, and manage the interior aspects of a project to completion.
– Companies also hire us on a consulting basis to provide design services on an as-need basis.
– Lastly, we partner with photographers to provide styling services to their clients, both for commercial and residential photo shoots.

I don’t know whether I need a Designer or Decorator. What is the difference?

If you need to alter the colors, finishes and soft textiles (like pillows, drapes, etc.) in a space and do not need any structural changes, then you likely need decorating services. This could include paint, wall treatments, window coverings, new lighting and even new flooring. If you might need/want to make structural changes to a room, including moving or altering walls, ceilings, installing complex lighting, adding windows or doors, then you should hire an interior designer.
At Gem and Clay, we handle both types of services. We enjoy the decor and styling aspects of projects, and we LOVE designing the interior architecture of a space.

What is involved in styling?

When we style a space, we bring in products (usually a combination of new, vintage and antique pieces) to your space and thoughtfully compose areas and vignettes that work specifically in your unique home. We always do an on-site meeting beforehand, taking measurements and pictures and dreaming with you a little to form a vision for the space. Then, after styling day, we leave you with the items for 48 hours, and anything you don’t want, we return to pick them up.

What does the process for working with you look like?

Depending on the service, the steps from start to completion can vary, however, all services follow the same general format: Identification, Development and Execution. Any project we do involves in-depth discovery at the beginning, comprehensive design development in the middle, and meticulous execution to ensure each client is pleased with the end result. Many of our other services derive their processes from this core, three-phase (10-step) design process. To learn more, visit our process page or for questions more specific to your project, reach out to us at info@gemandclay.com.

Will you work within my budget?

Yes, we love budgets, actually. However, we want to make sure your budget can realistically accomplish your design goals. If you’re like the 90 percent of our clients who don’t know what their budget should be, we can help. During our first phase, we have intentional conversations about budget and we establish realistic expectations for what your budget range should be. Then, in the second phase, we further refine those numbers to help you establish a budget that is rooted in real products and actual services needed.

Can I use my existing furniture?

Often times, we can, indeed, use some of your existing goods if we think it can fit with the design. We love using furniture and objects that are special to you because it only deepens the aesthetic and gives a room more soul. We discuss what items to incorporate into the design very early on in the process. We also offer the option to re-upholster or refinish an item if it’s something you really want to keep, but are open to changing.

How long does a project typically take?

This part varies greatly, depending on the scale/complexity of a project and the client’s availability. After our first phone call, and before project opening, we give you a general estimate on timeline. This, of course, cannot be set in stone (especially the execution phase) due to the many tradespeople and vendors that need to be coordinated over the course of any given project. However, we do our best to provide realistic timeline estimates for the parts within our control, and for the rest, we are very good at communicating the status of all tasks that are in the works.

How involved do I need to be in the process?

You’re busy…we definitely get that, so we work as efficiently as possible, especially when it involves you. When you hire us for full-service design, your involvement can typically be limited to providing us with answers to our questionnaire in the beginning, participating in a select number of in-person meetings during the Identification and Development phases, and then may require your presence during some site visits, depending on how complex the renovation and what trades are involved. The only other thing we require of you is open communication and feedback throughout the process.

Do you work outside of Ohio?

Currently, most of our clients are in Ohio, but we travel for full-service design of second homes and commercial photo shoots. Travel rates apply for projects outside a 40 mile radius of Cleveland or Akron. Give us a call if you have a property or a shoot location you’d like to discuss.

What are your design fees?

For full-service design, we charge a flat fee for design work up to the design presentation, and then once we have a complete design and a full picture, we give clients a separate proposal for the cost to execute that design to completion. This gives clients a much more accurate view of what is involved and where they are investing their money. When it comes to actual numbers, since there are so many factors to consider such as square footage, what furniture you own/need, what subcontractors will be involved (i.e. carpenters, electricians, flooring installers), which pieces do you want custom, how far will we be traveling, it is virtually impossible to accurately estimate design and project management costs before we get to know the scope of the project. We are happy to answer any pricing questions after our phone call and site visit.

Consultations and photo styling are quoted on a project-by-project basis, based on time and travel. Please call us to talk about your project or to schedule a meeting.

What makes a project successful?

– Clear communication. A picture is worth a thousand words. Inspiration images on Pinterest and Houzz are super helpful in communicating what you want to us. Also, carve out enough time to thoughtfully answer some of those initial questions that we ask in the questionnaire and in our meetings. The more we know you up front, the better your end result will be. We love to listen, so tell us all the things.

– Responsiveness. Throughout the project, we are doing the heavy lifting, so to speak, but a project moves forward swiftly if decisions can be made quickly and there is a smooth flow between our questions and your feedback. This is the collaborative part that can make a project really great.

– Trust. We understand how hard it is to entrust your environment to someone else. However, you hired us for a reason, and everything truly does run smoother if you trust our capable hands and artistic eyes.

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