Interview with Brooke Haven: Design on a Budget | Sound Shore Moms of Westchester

Tell us about your design philosophy!
Home design and décor doesn’t have to be expensive, overwhelming or intimidating! I design for real people, real homes and real budgets. I understand how a room needs to work based on your life and your budget. Sometimes, the smallest changes can make a big impact! Creating the feeling you want and the function you need – that’s what turns a home into a haven.

When people think of design, they tend to think of high-end design. How did you come to focus on affordable design?
Home is a feeling that shouldn’t depend on where we live or how big a budget we have. I’ve never had enormous budgets for renovations and decorating, but I always wanted to love my home. So, I got creative, learned how to shop, where to splurge, where to save and how to create the “look for less.”

Where are some of your favorite places to score deals on home decor?
I shop where you shop. I stalk stores like Homegoods, Target, Amazon, World Market, Wayfair and surprisingly, even Home Depot! Some of my most exciting finds have come from flea markets, thrift stores and some treasures I even picked up on the curb!

At the big-time stores, I’m always looking for discounts and sales so you don’t have to. I love saving you money.

We live in such a good area for gorgeous estate sales, garage sales and scoring stuff on Facebook Marketplace, where I usually score meaningful pieces or items to add character to a client’s space. I recommend keeping a list on your phone of things you’re in the market for, including the dimensions. This way, you can remind yourself what you need before you start shopping to avoid buyer’s remorse!

Was there a particular person or moment that you would attribute your passion for design to?
My first renovation was thanks to tropical storm Irene flooding the entire first floor of the first home I owned. It was a full gut, including flood mitigation, new kitchen, new flooring, electrical, hvac, insulation,mold remediation, etc. I had to stay within the amount of the insurance payment for all the renovations, which meant making every dollar stretch as far as possible.

After the shock of the flood and the damage, I enjoyed the renovation, which included key elements into the renovation to help reduce flooding issues in the future. This made me feel safe in the house again. Looking back, I think this is when the idea of Brooke Haven was born, but I didn’t even know it at the time.

The design process can be intimidating and stressful. What do you want clients who work with you to know?
When I ask about a renovation or makeover budget, people typically freeze, so instead of asking a client for their budget, I start with an example. If you were shopping for a car, are you looking for a Ferrari or a Honda? Or somewhere in between? Putting it into these terms helps so we can make the money part less intimidating. Whether it’s $500, $5000 or $50,000, we’ll make a plan that works for you and your budget.

Do you have a favorite area of the home to design for?
I love working on any space. Kitchens are truly satisfying because they’re so important to a home. I love styling coffee tables, shelves and mantles. Outdoor spaces have become a thing people hire me for, which is so cool. Baby nurseries are always special for me.

But, I think my absolute favorite space to do is a powder room. Since they are usually small and contained spaces, they can be a great way to magnify your existing style or step outside your comfort zone. Dramatic color, bold wallpaper, tiling the ceiling, statement lighting…all of it seems less scary and more fun for a powder room!

What are some things you think are worth splurging on? What are some things you think are worth saving on?
Understanding where to splurge and where to save is so important in stretching a budget. I usually recommend creating a base with good quality, yet affordable pieces that are neutral. This gives a foundation of long-term items that won’t bore you over time. Color, texture and character can be added with budget-friendly accessories, art and décor items. These are easy and affordable to change with the seasons or when inspiration strikes.

What sparked your love for design?
My previous careers taught me so much about design and decor. Before Brooke Haven, I was very fortunate to work for some iconic companies: Virgin Atlantic Airways, Christian Dior, Swarovski, Diageo… and I traveled the world as the Director of Communications for the Women’s Tennis Association. I learned a lot about design by being immersed in prestige brands, merchandising retail stores, seeing world class hotels and learning how design impacts the customer experience.

What is the most rewarding part of the design process for you?
When I start working with a new client, they’re always surprised by how many questions I ask. From the start, I try to really dig into how you live and the things you love most about your home. The key for me is to understand how you’re currently using the space and how you want to use the space. My whole objective is to create flow, function and feeling just for you. Sometimes it takes a minute to really peel back the layers and get to the heart of what home means for you. For me, that’s when the real work begins and I can create a plan that helps you love your home even more. Creating that feeling for my clients, that’s why I love my job.

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