Living La Vida Local
Photos by David Cobb
When walking through the Block 42 condominium home of her clients Gary and Janie McCurdy, interior designer Janis Bevers has two main points to make: an urban lifestyle is now not only possible but is fast becoming a choice of many Oklahomans; and it is also possible to create the space that reflects that lifestyle by using the talents of local artisans and craftspeople.
“As a local designer, I feel I have a responsibility to make a positive difference in the community,” says Bevers. “By using local craftsmen for custom furniture, I can take a hands-on approach. I can change any detail for the client, and that’s something you just can’t do with a large manufacturer. Plus, having a piece built locally reduces the environmental impact of having it shipped.”
The good news is that Oklahoma boasts a wide array of craftspeople who can build custom furnishings and accessories to the designer’s exact specifications. From trim carpenters to stonecutters to glass artisans and everything in between, making a piece locally does not mean sacrificing quality. Quite the contrary. Bevers says it’s easy for a homeowner to make the decision to “go local” – just ask your interior designer. Think it can’t be done?
“This is 90 percent locally made,” Bevers says of the furniture in the McCurdy home. “When a craftsman is chosen carefully, and the design is honest and well-executed, it will be a thing of beauty that will last forever.”
The McCurdys had lived in a traditional home in Yukon for over 20 years before opting for a more urban lifestyle in the heart of Oklahoma City. After deciding on Block 42, they called on Bevers to design the interiors of the four-level condo. Bevers – who also lives in the development – was eager to jump in with her vision of a home that is at once contemporary and inviting.
“The minute I saw the space,” Bevers says, “I knew furniture placement, the look I wanted them to have, and they were on board with everything. It was a wonderful experience.”
Going Local: A Starting Point
The homeowner’s needs are of paramount importance. Does using local artisans and craftsmen fit into the overall scope, timeline and budget of the project? If the client has an interest in seeing locally crafted furnishings, interior designer Janis Bevers recommends asking specific questions of the designer and/or builder at the front end of the process. Of course, Bevers counsels homeowners to work with a seasoned professional, examining a portfolio and checking references. Questions to ask include:
Will I be able to view the furniture at different phases as it is being built? How many weeks will it take from deposit to delivery date? Can minor changes be made without an up-charge during the production process?
With favorable responses to these general inquiries, the client can then go deeper.
For the cabinetmaker:
Will you be using solid wood? Is the wood species free of toxic chemicals? Where did the wood originate?
For the upholsterer:
Do you use solid wood for construction? Do you use eight-way, hand-tied springs and top-quality cushion inserts? What about a lifetime guarantee?
“Always get competitive bids as well,” Bevers advises. “These are all valid questions to ask. Education is your best tool!”