The "Aha" Moment

I love to remodel. I love to design. I love to build things. I love to work with great people who are inspiring. I love the feeling when someone’s life is enhanced or made better, even in the smallest way. I love a challenge, and I love to accomplish things with limited resources. I love to see ideas come to life.

I have remodeled my own homes many times. During each endeavor I have encountered challenges that I never even dreamed of. It has been a learning experience, each and every time. It continues to grow too, as every project that comes my way has a new set of challenges to have success with.

for my own career, I have been an art director for several shelter publications in New York. This is where I cut my teeth in the design world. I have worked for The New York Times, Condé Nast Publications, and Home Magazine, and book publishers. I worked with great photographers and stylists. I developed stories with amazing editors. I translated ideas from writers into full-blown visual presentations. I learned from the Best of the Best, and learned how great style and great executions can be fulfilling and invigorating.

After New York, I moved to San Francisco and worked as a creative director for a fashion company. After finishing that stint, I started my own design company. I did catalogs, advertising, marketing, and developed product.

I have lectured on design and color theory to other professionals in the I love those “Aha” moments: when you realize it really isn’t as difficult as you thought. industry, and listened to their stories. (To see a synopsis of my take on The Power of Color, go here…you may find out that yellow really is not the best color for the kitchen). Along the way I bought, redesigned, and remodeled homes. After moving on from my own firm, I was engaged as the creative director for a retail design firm, and at the same time, continued designing homes and interiors for my own clients.

Over the past few years I have met wonderful and talented people that have joined forces with me to help build ideas. From them I have learned the ins-and-outs of remodeling and interiors, from electrical to plumbing, and from city inspectors (what do they really look for?) to code requirements.

And during each process, I filled the role of manager, designer, therapist, and color consultant. (Did you know that painting a small room a dark color actually makes it seem bigger, contrary to popular belief?) Then it hit me, if I am playing these roles, what do others do that may not have the right skill sets to do so? How to others navigate the ever changing currents of remodeling project? Can one really DIY?

If you have ever started a remodeling or redesign project, how many times have contractors asked you for a design, if you have drawings, if you have an architect, if you have gotten Title 24’s, or engineering drawings, or what are the interior finishes, and when will they arrive?

this is what I and my team do now. As far as my part in the team, I play many roles. Mainly, it is a role of “drawing up a plan”, “charting the waters”, and “getting it done”. I am an idea person, but more than that, I am also a pragmatist. I meet with people, I help defined their needs, talk about their budgets, listen to their dreams, help them identify their own style, develop sketches and plans, and bring the best people to the party to make sure everything gets done right. When I don’t know the answer to a question, someone on my team does. And my team has some really smart, and very understanding, people. If they just happen not to know the answer, which is rare, we find an expert to help. For more about who is on my team, and the areas of their expertise, go here.

Along the way the client can be as involved as they wish. If they want to go away and come back in six months with a project complete, walls painted, furniture in, and a fire blazing in the fireplace, or a dinner set for 12, we can do that. But what I really love is when a client buys into the program, gets involved, becomes impassioned with the process, and feels proud that they were a part of the journey. There is nothing more empowering than understanding the project, and nothing more satisfying than feeling like you did it, on any level, yourself.

so, if you are ready to take on a new project, or have one that has hit a roadblock, contact us. Talk to me. There isn’t any commitment for you until we decide to work together. We aren’t far. Our offices are in Burlingame, but we work all over the bay area, and especially San Francisco. You may find that you already have the tools to get it done, or you may breathe a sigh of relief that someone is there to help you through it; every step, every small success, every hiccup, and every “Aha” moment. Those are really the best, aren’t they? I love those “Aha” moments: when you realize it really isn’t as difficult as you thought.

Kevin McPhee
Kevin McPhee + Associates
(650) 387-4110