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Interior Design and Bringing Out Your Personal Style: An Interview with Mia Rao of Mia Rao Design

By Mia Rao

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a full service interior design firm founded in 2001. Our primary focus is on residential with some varied commercial experience. We are based in the exciting Grand Ave Design District in the city. We have ongoing projects in Chicagoland, Wisconsin, Michigan and on the west coast. We work on projects with a more décor related focus-color scheme, furniture, window treatments etc. We also have experience with new build and rehab work, kitchens and bathrooms. Our capabilities run the full spectrum within the interior and we enjoy working in styles from modern to traditional.

What are some important things for people to consider before they start a home design or remodeling project?

When building a new home or starting a remodeling project, think about the mood and overall style you want to create. It is also important to keep an open mind as far as ideas people may not have thought of before. Hiring a design professional should open up unique opportunities. Also, an open mind is helpful because things change along the way and in the field throughout the course of a project. Keep in mind a budget drives the entire project and should be considered before commencing. Time frame is also critical. From there, it is important to consider the function of the home; people should evaluate how they want to live in the space. Remember, remodeling or new home building should be viewed as an adventure!

Can you briefly explain how you help clients discover their own personal style?

I find that many people don't know how to define their personal style, so I always start by asking leading questions. I inquire about their general style preferences and the feel they want to create within the space. I look at any clues within the home (when available) to help me draw clues. I even consider what a person is wearing for color and style preferences. I find it helpful for people to find a couple images of interiors from magazines or online sources that inspire them and let me know why they are attracted to a certain design. I also ask about lifestyle, for example if the people like to entertain or cook, if they have children or pets.

When people have a good idea of their own style, how can they use that to guide their design choices?

When people have a good idea of their own style, it definitely helps drive the overall direction. It is helpful when people know what they want while still keeping an open mind. As a Designer, I always question things and push people a little out of their comfort zone while always considering their style preferences. Often times, people have a style that develops throughout the design and discovery process to further define their aesthetic in a deeper way. By the end of a project, our clients have often times coined a unique definition for their style beyond just "modern" or "traditional". We like to break those typical barriers of design description.

What is one of the biggest challenges that homeowners face when it comes to interior design and how do you help them solve this?

People are always surprised at how much things cost. I think sometimes expectations of the bottom line are not sufficient. As a result, I try to guide people realistically from the beginning. I like to be honest about the cost to the best of my ability. Sometimes, when budget is not flexible, we will create the grand design scheme and phase-in purchases based on priorities. This allows the client's to have the full "look" we are trying to create. It can take longer in this case, but it can be worth it to achieve the best result down the line.

What advice do you have to help someone who knows what they like when they see it but doesn't feel like they can recreate it in their own home?

When people know what they like but feel they cannot create it, do not be afraid to hire a design professional. Most, not all, Designers are willing to work with an individual's style and ideas. I see it as a collaboration! Also, Designers can save people time and money in the long run by implementing things the right way the first time. So often I see people try to do things on their own and make mistakes that are costly. However, for some people, they have a passion and knack for design and are capable of designing on their own. In which case, searching online for sources and inspiration can help. Houzz.com is a great way for people to establish ideas and create Ideabooks to help decipher a vision.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

You can contact us about your next project by emailing info@miaraodesign.com or calling 312-850-4841. Please visit our website at www.miaraodesign.com.

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