Design trends used to be classified by the decade. In 2019, they are referred to by the year. Next year it might even be by the month. Stephanie Schuler, store manager and interior design expert from Sterling Carpet One Floor & Home (who received her degree from the International Academy of Design and Technology out of Chicago), makes it clear that following design trends isn’t as feasible as it used to be. What might be popular now, will at some point be out of favor. Social media design staples like Pinterest and Instagram give people access to new ideas, arrangements, color styles and materials in seconds, not days. Popular home shows like those featuring the Magnolia crew display a reality—possible or not—where new ideas and new trends come to life in days, not months. “People always have different expectations than what reality will really allow for,” Schuler says. “Our job is to help them see the pros and cons of different realities.”
Led by a gifted business visionary with the ability to oversee a massive operation and the talent that makes it all work in Paula Anderson, Schuler and the entire team of designers at the Grand Forks operation have built a reputation and track record of design success that has transcended the fleeting lifespans of ever-changing trends. At times, Anderson and her team have to fight against the notion that their services, skill and offerings are too high-end for some. “We can help anyone on any budget,” Anderson says. “We enjoy every project.”
Anderson has overseen the expansion of the Sterling name across the region. In every location, she’s assembled talented designers that have proven what it takes to give people dream rooms, kitchens, bedrooms or entire spaces in a place that deals with extreme seasons, active people, pet owners and high-end design lovers alike. Most people don’t know Sterling’s design services are free. With the expansive assortment of materials in the store, the designers know how to mix products together. The store is basically a designer’s dream office.
We sat down—then walked, talked about and captured images of the impressive aisles and spaces of material displays—with the Sterling team to find out what it’s like to be a successful designer in the age of social media, how the region’s unique characteristics guide their work and, what they believe makes for a memorable space circa 2019.
Life As A Designer
Tricia Johnson, commercial department manager who specializes in lighting, flooring and sales at Sterling, says her job is more akin to life coaching. At the start of every design process, Johnson works with clients to understand what they will be using a newly designed space for. In most cases, the client answers reveal that a lifestyle option is more desired than a material or color. “We really work hard to help people see what is actually possible in their spaces,” Johnson says. “It is very rewarding.”
Johnson and Schuler both agree that being a modern-day designer means managing schedules and staying on top of the latest material choices for flooring, tile or other things. Working in a multi climate region, the team always looks to provide options that will stand-up to freeze-thaw cycles, mud tracks, moisture, heat and extreme cold. They are also used to managing projects from start to finish and working with contractors or homeowners to make sure everything stays on track. Johnson says that is one skill most clients learn to love after a project is complete. Anderson says builders always appreciate working with her team because they understand the project management aspect of a dream kitchen and what it takes on the design end to make it happen on time and on budget.
While they also look at social media for inspiration, the team has a huge array of design literature and magazines on site; and when they aren’t looking there, product vendors are always in store to give them updates on new products and design styles popular in other places.
“Commercial spaces or homes can be overwhelming to design,” Anderson says. “This store is the place for answers.” G
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PHOTOS BY: MANSTROM PHOTOGRAPHY
From Issue 3, 2019