The way Bette Levin tells the story, it is a match made in heaven.
After several disappointing attempts to find a designer to help transform the
town home she and her husband recently purchased, Levin decided to track down a
designer she had consulted on her previous home many years before.
When they finally connected, it was like renewing an old friendship.
"Your environment should nurture
you," says designer Ron Godshalk. "Color is an important part of a person's
life, but many people are afraid of color. Everything today is 32 shades of
"You have to feel first and foremost that the designer 'gets' you," says Levin,
who was introduced to designer Ron Godshalk, ASID, through a friend. Some of the
designers Levin had met with before were more concerned with presenting their
ideas than understanding what was important to her. Godshalk was different.
"From the very beginning I felt that he was looking out for my best interests,"
she says. "It was a very caring process."
For Godshalk, it's all about doing design right. "The first thing I ask clients
is about how they live. That's where the design process begins." Lifestyle
preferences affect not only choices about use of space, furniture and materials
but environmental considerations like lighting and color.
"Your environment should nurture you," says Godshalk. "Color is an important
part of a person's life, but many people are afraid of color. Everything today
is 32 shades of beige."
To create a nurturing home, Godshalk begins with basics. Even though he is doing
the interiors, he thinks in terms of designing a total environment, taking into
consideration the look of the building and the landscaping. He then focuses on
the walls, floors and colors. Only afterwards does he consider the furniture.
"If you set the stage right, the furniture can be incidental," he explains.
Nonetheless, furniture plays an important role in how a room feels.
"A lot of
homes are overly furnished and not very comfortable," Godshalk contends.
"Comfortable furniture and good lighting are essential. Fabric makes a room feel
cozy. I have upholstered pieces made to order so that the scale is right for the
He also likes interesting window treatments, but points out it's
important to find a good shop that can do the work well. The care that Godshalk
gives his clients and puts into his designs is an integral part of the nurturing
environments he creates.
The Levins had a fixed budget to work with. Based on
his conversations with them, Godshalk created a multi-year plan and addressed
priorities like the living room, bedrooms and kitchen first. "He spent our money
in a way that made the house livable for us when we moved in," says Levin. "He
made lots of practical decisions that I never would have thought of. Everything
was here and just perfect. It made us feel very taken care of."
Godshalk views his designs as living things that change over time as lifestyles
change and more pieces of the design are put into place.
"I often work with clients over a five- year period, going back periodically to
add something new or make adjustments. Sometimes clients try to get ahead of
themselves and do more than they have the budget for. I will say no when I have
"There is not a day that goes by that I don't look around and actively love our
home," says Levin. "My husband, too. We so appreciate what Ron has done for us."
For a free guide on how to select and work with an interior designer, "Designing
Your Space," visit the ASID Web site at www.asid.org or send an e-mail request
to firstname.lastname@example.org. To locate a qualified interior designer in your community,
check out the free ASID Referral Service at www.asid.org.
Courtesy of ARA Content