By Susan E. Campbell
ABN Design Inc. brings a triad of skill sets to interior decoration and renovation that fills a gap as few design firms can.
Over her 20-year career, owner AnnBritt Newey, ASID, has worked at a leading art deco gallery, outfitted high-end townhomes with antiques and fine art pieces, and collaborated with contractors and vendors for the architectural arm of a luxury interior designer. She has learned to speak fluently the languages of architects, contractors and designers.
This unique vocabulary gives her the tools to provide greater integration between traditional interior design and the architectural process, which is the goal and hallmark of her full-service interior design consultation firm.
“I never set out to be an entrepreneur,” said Newey. “ABN Design is a product of evolution, although switching gears could be challenging at times.”
Newey goes into a project understanding the basis of construction and the structures she can design within. Her client may be thinking of removing a wall, adding ceiling height, or putting down heavy flooring.
“These elements all play a part in the beginning of the project,” she said. “Contractors usually build the house, spend the majority of the budget, then bring the interior designer in.”
But if communication is lacking early in the engineering or construction phases, the result may ultimately fall short of client expectations. Newey gave an example.
“The symmetry of the windows from the exterior may look good, but maybe a window belongs somewhere else to serve the clients objectives,” she said. “The favored antique sideboard won’t fit in the dining room if the window is too low.”
This is what Newey calls “the gray area” among architecture and interior design.
“The designer knows where the architect is coming from,” she said, but the architect may not have a full sense of the overall design scheme and it’s impact. So Newey takes on the role of bridging the gap.
Newey asks questions like: What is the experience you wish to have? What is the color flow and the feel of the space? Can this project be done on time and on budget? She secures client approvals for the final design layout, mood and color scheme, and furniture placement. Here her process takes a non-traditional departure.
“Will the overhead lights make sense where they are located? Are the floor outlets in the right place based on furniture placement,“ she said. “And are there enough kitchen outlets for all of the owners accoutrements?”
Her process is therefore proactive, communicating with the client and managing the construction side so that the architect and contractor have exactly what they need. After client approvals, materials are procured and Newey is responsible for keeping orders on track. Following the installation phase, She makes “final touches with accessories and creates the ‘wow’ factor.” The client will see the finished space all at once.
“The end goal is a beautiful, curated space that integrates with the architecture of the home and reflects the client’s personality and use for the space,” she said.
It is a process that worked effectively for the owners of Putnam Place, a downtown Saratoga Springs venue for concerts, weddings and receptions, fundraisers, and private parties.
“The goal was to re-imagine the interior and exterior experience at Putnam Place and create a beautiful and functional venue to serve everybody who appreciates music,” said Newey.
Her success with this project has led to a large commercial office redesign on Broadway as well as smaller residential projects, she said.
Newey does not define success in terms of money, but by the satisfaction she feels about her projects.
“Did I capture what the client wants? Did I learn something new? Am I happy with the end result?” she said.
ABN Design is in the certification process as a Women Owned Business Enterprise, which Newey said will provide more opportunities for contract work, education, and networking. She said mentorship is important and would be open to mentoring others.
Her advice to others starting out in business is, “hire a knowledgeable and patient accountant who will be a key player on your team. Stick through the hard times. There may be moments of self-doubt, but don’t let yourself get off track. Pursue your dreams.”
Her family is from Saratoga and Newey left when she entered college. She returned from New York City with her husband last year to set up shop at 112 Spring St. in Saratoga Springs.
Her website is www.abndesigninc.com.