By Susan E. Campbell
East Elm Interiors is dedicated to the proposition that all people should come home to decor they love.
Chris Liberty and Shelly Walker are award-winning interior designers who brought together their talents and qualities into a creative partnership in 2007. The two women had worked together in the past and then each gone into business for herself.
When the time was right they combined their energies and launched East Elm Interiors. Today, the firm occupies an office space at 62 Church St. in Saratoga Springs. And while it took years and reams of paperwork to obtain, in mid-2012 East Elm Interiors earned the coveted designation as a certified woman-owned business.
Liberty is more artsy and Walker is more business, but both are creative, they said. Liberty studied interior design at Russell Sage College and specializes in custom window treatments. Walker studied at the Interior Design Institute in California and also earned a degree in accounting.
“I’m a junkie for new construction and building,” said Liberty. “If Walker could spend her day in the fabric store, she’d love it.”
The partners refer to themselves as specialty designers. There is nothing “cookie cutter” about their approach, Walker said, which is why their talents appeal to higher-end clients seeking a customized look that makes them feel truly at home.
“We try to impart our knowledge and skills on each project while keeping our client’s vision and budget as the focal point,” Liberty said.
So besides having a trained eye for color and the talent to put textures and designs and styles together in ways that pop, the owners of East Elm Ineriors have superior listening skills.
“A client may be ready for a change but not know what they really want,” Liberty said. “Or they think they know what they want but, after we have listened for a while, we discover that they’re really not sure.”
When a couple cannot agree or have disparate tastes, Walker and Liberty create a design that suits them both.
“We never try to force our personal style on anyone,” Walker said.
One gentleman hired East Elm Interiors to redecorate a master bedroom while the couple was away as a surprise for his wife. Their daughter was enlisted to learn more about her mother’s taste under the guise of a school project.
“She loved Cape Cod, and we picked a lovely blue for the walls and a carpet that looks like pebbles, and she was thrilled with it,” Liberty said. “In fact, she cried.”
Walker and Liberty are not competing for position in a male dominated industry. In fact, both said very few men were enrolled in their design courses in college. Their big challenge is “wearing all hats.”
“We get involved in interior design and home staging projects and don’t have time to give our attention to marketing,” Liberty said. “Then when things get slow and we wonder why, it is because we haven’t been marketing.”
Recognizing they can’t do it all, the partners recently hired a marketing firm.
Liberty and Walker are available at their Church Street office by appointment, since their projects take them “all over the place” or they are “out selecting granite or tile,” Walker said.
East Elm Interiors has won awards for entries in the Saratoga Builders Association Showcase of Homes and the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association Parade of Homes. To take a tour of Walker and Liberty’s custom designed living spaces, kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, visit www.eastelminteriors.com.
Photo Courtesy of East Elm Interiors