Episode 10 – RedBird ReDesign Advice & Tips for Home Buyers
This is Listen Up Home Buyers. The only podcast offering Home Buying Advice and Tips from True Buyer Agents and now here’s your host, Victoria Ray Henderson.
Victoria Ray Henderson 00:10
My next guest on Listen Up Home Buyers is the owner and principle designer for Red Bird Redesign. I’m so happy that you’ve taken time to talk to us. Welcome Colleen Quinn.
Colleen Quinn 00:20
Thank you so much. Hi, Victoria. Happy to be here.
Victoria Ray Henderson 00:23
Oh, I’m so glad to have you. But just for everyone’s background knowledge, we are in the middle of the pandemic and Colleen and I have met before talked about the fact that so many new Home Buyers will often need, basically help redesigning or remodeling their home and I just wanted to bring you on so that you could give us a background, who you are, how you go about helping people? Go ahead and give us a little background about you.
Colleen Quinn 00:49
Yes. I’d be happy to. Well, by training, actually, I’m an urban planner. But I have always done design and creative things on the side. I opened my business about almost nine years ago and it really just took off and I think we offer a little bit of a unique set of services for home owners who– That allows a little bit more flexibility and control over their own budget. We specialize in residential design and I like to think of it as really building a partnership with the home owners and having a really nice balance of function as well as aesthetics.
Typically, we would work with someone wanting either to just refresh a room like a dining room, living room, bedroom or someone who really wants to do a little bit more renovation. If it’s a room design, we would typically talk to them about their style, budget, who uses the space? How they use the room? And then we would put together a design package for them with guidance on everything. Size of new seating, artwork, lamps, and then really lay it out for them so they can make purchases and set up the room on their own schedule and at their own pace.
Victoria Ray Henderson 02:19
I know that you are located physically in the Greater Washington DC area.
Colleen Quinn 02:24
Victoria Ray Henderson 02:24
But would you be able to provide services to anybody who came across your website and needed help, anyone in the country?
Colleen Quinn 02:32
At this point, we have moved all of our services to virtual for obvious reasons. We are trying to keep everyone safe and work from home. Most of our work even before the pandemic was done virtually other than that initial meeting to look at the home and tour and take measurements, we would then go off on our own and do design, put all the work together and then we would meet a second time with clients. Now, we have moved all those to virtual video meetings and we’ve really done been doing a lot of work over video and I think the measuring is the only part that is tricky for people but we have a guide and over video, we often walk with people through a room so that we know we’re getting an accurate measurement.
Victoria Ray Henderson 03:25
They’re the ones who are doing the measuring when you do the virtual. OK, I’m going to back up and start with my first thought when you told me of your background being an urban planner, why did you open up your redesigned company?
Colleen Quinn 03:38
Yes. Well, I mean I’ve always done design on the side. I have– I took a lot of art classes, graphic design classes, I went to school at Mass College of Art for a while and while I love planning and I miss it, family demands and really wanting to be a small business owner prompted me to start the company. I wanted to have that experience. I have a wide range of background in business and marketing and sales and I just thought it was a really good blend of my skills.
Victoria Ray Henderson 04:14
Yes and you clearly- Just from when we’ve chatted before you clearly are in control of your time and when you have children, I think a nine to five or usually eight to six is almost impossible.
Colleen Quinn 04:27
It is. Yes. I have three kids and they are very close in age so they came one right after the other and it was difficult to maintain a demanding job in the city. I part of the reason for opening my doors was to have a little bit more flexibility over my schedule and now i’m able– I do– I work a lot of hours but I’m able to set the hours and I do work a lot of nights and weekends but it fits for being able to be home in the afternoon for the kids when they get.
Victoria Ray Henderson 05:00
No, that’s perfect. That’s perfect. Walk me through again, when you first decided to do this, what did you do first? Did you created your website?
Colleen Quinn 05:08
Yes. I started just doing a little bit of research and looking at the market, looking at competitors, what people needed and I really found a bit of a gap in terms of services for home owners who wanted their homes to look nice but didn’t necessarily want to spend $300 on an accent pillow because they had small kids, a dog, or they didn’t have a full budget where they wanted to just hand over a large sum of money to someone and have the room done for them. They’ve wanted to be part of the process and have a little bit more control over their budget. The first thing I did was really networking. I reached out to friends and people that I knew in my community that might need some help and I started by just taking on really small projects. Actually, before I quit, before I left my planning job.
Victoria Ray Henderson 06:03
Oh, my goodness.
Colleen Quinn 06:04
Night. Just to see– Just to test it and see if there was a market for it.
Victoria Ray Henderson 06:08
Colleen Quinn 06:10
And then once I really had a great response from people and that there was really a need for this mid level design. I then came up with a name, created my website, got a logo, and then just opened the doors.
Victoria Ray Henderson 06:29
Wonderful. Yes. If I were to come to you and say, Hey, I have X amount of dollars for a budget to redo my family room. I could come to you with maybe the couches I wanted, or my original couch maybe I wanted to keep in, maybe I have my own ideas and some of my own furniture. How do you incorporate all of that into your design?
Colleen Quinn 06:54
Yes. Well, we are happy we don’t require people to start with a blank slate. We’re happy to work in pieces that you love or things that are your favorite. We will absolutely walk through and talk about those items and make sure that they’re a fit for the room and they’re not constraining the design in any way. Sometimes people need help editing out and deciding which pieces are worth hanging onto and using and maybe which ones in some time would be worth replacing.
Victoria Ray Henderson 07:25
You do a little Marie Kondo?
Colleen Quinn 07:27
Victoria Ray Henderson 07:29
I would think that would be– That to me would be the most challenging part, telling people that maybe something doesn’t fit.
Colleen Quinn 07:36
I usually say to everybody, you’re hiring us for our design expertise and we do try to push the envelope a little bit and even with our design, we always say, this design that we create a really lovely design board like they do on HGTV. We always push it just a little bit knowing that people will pull back a little. I always say, this is your house, I’m going to give you my advice and from my point of view, what would look the best and function the best but you are the ones who live here and we want the home to be comfortable and fit the person who’s living there.
We are very open minded and not rigid in our design and that way and I think that makes people feel a lot more comfortable having us come in and make recommendations and we understand a range of budgets, we also help people understand or think through where are the best places to spend the money. If they have a limited budget, we usually say, let’s spend it on this sofa and an area rug and then we can bargain shop for some of those other smaller pieces that are don’t get as much heavy use. We will talk to people also about the best way to use their money and that goes for renovations as well.
Victoria Ray Henderson 08:49
It reminds me of when target. I don’t know how many years ago it was, they brought in these designers and these designers started making really cool looking toasters, really great pillow.
Colleen Quinn 08:59
Victoria Ray Henderson 09:00
And I can– I don’t know how many times I said, I can’t believe I just bought bedroom curtains at Target and I love them.
Colleen Quinn 09:07
Victoria Ray Henderson 09:07
But they had really nice things for a good price and this isn’t an ad for target by the way, everybody. It could be any store.
Colleen Quinn 09:15
No, but we do source things from Target. I think that’s the only thing because people are buying their own items and we are not making purchases for clients and we’re not marking things up. We– If somebody has a certain amount that they’re trying to stick with and budget, then we’ll spend a little more again on some of those key pieces and then we’ll do accessories from Target or way fair or home goods and try and really just use people’s budgets in the smartest way.
Victoria Ray Henderson 09:32
How do you..
Colleen Quinn 09:44
Target has great pillows and lamps.
Victoria Ray Henderson 09:46
Oh, I know. We always sourced lamps from Target.
Colleen Quinn 09:50
Victoria Ray Henderson 09:50
How do you make your money in this business?
Yes. I mean, we’re basically consultants. We are– We provide people with a firm quote today. Design the specific space or spaces that they are interested in. In an initial meeting, we would talk to them everything they need and we would tailor an estimate for them and they’re just paying for our time, they’re paying for our expertise, and our professional design work.
Victoria Ray Henderson 10:17
One thing we haven’t talked much about is you’ve mentioned remodeling, do you team up with contractors? And if somebody is not in the Greater Washington, DC area, would you be able to help them with that kind of project?
Colleen Quinn 10:29
We do. Yes, we do a lot of kitchens and bathrooms and we do have a contracting partner that we work very closely with but we also work with any contractors that a client might want to use and we’ve done some remote renovations, it’s definitely a little bit more challenging because we have our retailers and sources for materials here basically. But I think that we would be able to translate that to any place in the country. We work with tile stores that are nationwide. We would be able to get. Right now we’re able to contact our sales folks at various tile stores and have samples of tile that we’ve picked sent directly to clients.
Victoria Ray Henderson 11:20
Oh, that’s great.
Colleen Quinn 11:21
Touch free warehouse and delivered right to their doorstep. We’re still able to work through tile choices and counter choices and paint. We can also send paint eight by 11, paint chips to people directly from Benjamin Moore.
Victoria Ray Henderson 11:37
Oh, I love that.
Colleen Quinn 11:38
It has been really helpful. Yes. People can see all of the materials together. I think one of the best things for us has been helping new home owners set up and realize that the vision that they have for their new house and those have been some of our most gratifying projects because a client is often a new home owner, overwhelmed by having to move and deal with. Maybe there’s some improvements in the home that needs to be done before getting there and they don’t know what furniture that they own now will fit into the new house and it’s because it’s very comprehensive and we can come in and help that process and help them feel that they’re in much more control and not as overwhelmed with that whole stage of their life which is a big deal and we’ve really loved working with new home owners and making sure that the house lives up to everything that they dreamed when they bought it.
Victoria Ray Henderson 12:39
Colleen Quinn, owner and principal designer with Red Bird Redesign. I really appreciate you coming on the show and for those of you who want to know more about Colleen, go to redbirdredesign.com. Thank you so much for joining me.
Colleen Quinn 12:52
Thank you. Thanks for having me. I had a great time.
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