Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Global Perspective in Design

 My internship is not typical since I have already worked in the field of interior design for 18 years. I work for the Pennebaker Enterprises, two brothers who are licensees of 4 Ashley Furniture Homestores in Hattiesburg, McComb, Meridian and Macon Georgia. Ashley Furniture Industries is the number one selling furniture brand in North America and the largest home furniture manufacturer in the world. They sell home furnishings and accessories through two distribution channels: independent furniture dealers and through over 500 Ashley Furniture HomeStore  Ashleys has manufacturing and distribution facilities in Wisconsin, Mississippi, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, China, and Vietnam

Since the Pennebaker Enterprises design department was started in August 2014 and is fairly new, I'm going to address the global perspective from my experiences on the sales floor as well as from the design department.  I have had our delivery center service clients in Louisiana, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. I have even served clients that live in Missouri and Arizona with design services and furniture for condos in Orange Beach Florida. In both cases I never met the clients nor saw the condo. We communicated by phone and internet and all I had was a floor plan. On commercial projects we order from vendors who probably manufacture overseas although we don't deal directly with any international business.

During the years when I worked for myself I have helped make a Hindu and Buddhist alter, designed around many cultural needs, artifacts and styles. I enjoy learning about other cultures and religions. Being in the buckle of the Bible belt my willingness do design for other regions has met me some scrutiny in the past but I believe that is narrow minded and un-Christian.

On the retail side of the store, where I worked for 2 years prior to my promotion, I have served many nationalities such as Mexican, European, Arabic, Asian and Indian. Occasionally language barriers make the process more difficult but we always find a way, sometimes their children interpret, or the bring a friend, I've even had a translator on the phone. On rare occasions we play charades to communicate the sale. Often they are, immigrants, international students at USM or even doctors that move to the local area. We offer many ways to purchase from the obvious cash, check and credit cards to interest free financing with good credit and even a no credit check financing option and layaway. We are able to offer a purchasing solution to fit anyone's needs.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Never a dull moment

On Wednesday after having my schedule clear for the rest of the week I ended up making 4 appointments for Thursday and Friday. All related to current projects... thank goodness.

My big residential project for the Martins took a turn. The homeowner need to move in by June 20th which is a real push but I'm going to give it my best shot. We still have half the house to paint and most of the flooring, all new lighting, some carpentry, appliances, stair railing etc.. Its a lot to do but I a made a schedule of the last month and if everyone shows up it is possible. Its a big enough house for people to be working in different areas.  So we will see.

Here is a picture of some progress and one of my favorite changes in the house... the balcony cat walk
 this project started out because the railing was actually a balustrade with 6" spacing on this open section and 10" spacing on the stairs. Too dangerous for the kids ages 1,3 and 7. It was also ugly I called it the upside down wedding cake

 we had some other things to do in the foyer like a wider front door, as well as speaker system and security system that needed access inside the walls. we removed the sheetock in these areas and the kitchen
I opened up all 3 of the railing space and removed the upside down wedding cake. I also raised the two side areas up, added moldings and 11" 2 piece crown.
 This is the beginnings of the new railing. absolutely stunning. I cant wait to see them installed.
This project takes up a lot of my time and Wednesday I was asked to design a pool,  pool house and outdoor kitchen as well. The homeowners said if I wasn't involved they didn't want to do it. WOW! That made me feel great.
I also have some apartments I had been working on for a rehabilitation facility. We had bid on the job in September and just this last week got the final approval with a purchase order his week. So I needed to finalized the selections of art and rugs. Luckily the furniture was still available. I sat down with the lead Doctor to select art and rugs. We wanted each apartment to have a different feel even though they all have identical furniture. She picked out a lot of different art and rugs and I told her I would group them and email them for her approval. Of course being a holiday weekend for those not in the retail or restaurant biz. I don't expect an answer until Tuesday.
I also had to submit my paint colors and granite selection for the McComb apartment club house interior. I always make a spreadsheet for this. I don't have a window so I go outside often to check my colors.

I rounded off the week by meeting with a sales associate at Sunbelt lighting for the Martin residence to finalize a few loose ends on the lighting. Most of the lights were already there but I needed to sit down and hash out a few last decisions. My first choice dining chandelier was too expensive my second choice got discontinued so I'm looking for a third. Never a dull moment!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The normal chaos

The great thing about being a designer is that everyday is different. Completely unique. You never really know exactly how your day will go. The worst thing is .... repeat the previous sentence. Sometimes I wonder how I do this and go to school.

I started out Monday morning by going to breakdown my table from the tea. No ones dishes and flatware had been washed so I had to pack up dirty, dried up, crusty plates and silverware. (Frustrating and gross) On the good side I helped raise money to support breast cancer patients in the pine belt and I got my card and brochure in the hands of 440 women. 

When I made it to the office at 1:30 after unloading my car at home, my boss needed me to work on the Claiborne PO's. We conference called with the designer in Texas to verify what furniture to order.

My 3 oclock appointment called to move it to 3:30. She is phase one of a home renovation that we have been planning for months. We are taking in a 3 car garage and adding 2 bedrooms and bath for their two girls. Sheetrocking had just finished so I measured for her flooring, shower tile and picked out paint colors. After the girls move phase 2 is kitchen, dining and new front entry. We are changing how you enter the home. One of the girls rooms is going to be a large laundry room and the other 2 guest rooms will become one with a large walk in closet for their son who is in college. Phase 3 is adding a workout room and sun room/ porch off the back for the pool. We are also redesigning
the exterior entry roofline. This is an ongoing project but is moving smoothly so far.

Tuesday I selected flooring and finishes for a new veterinary clinic. A sub called me on my Martin job and I went straight there to meet him. Finally got lunch at 1:30 and completed my PO's for the Claiborne. Later I went to Provision living to measure and work on specifying furniture for a small apartment sample apartment. The living space is 8'9 x10'7 and is open to the bed room that is only slightly larger. They are very cute with nice colors and carpet. But a very difficult layout. (Oh you architects really need a designer to help you) The space could be so much easier to use with a few changes. If I put a love seat on the solid wall like they drew I have no where for the TV because the coax is in the middle of that wall the other coax is on the wall where the headboard has to go HUH??? Anyway I cant change that but I will add some art lamps, towels and a cute shower curtain to add some warmth. I'm hoping I can put up a window treatment too.

On the 20th I begin my invoicing for any invoices outstanding or client bills for design time. If I get it collected by the end of the month I get it on my next months commission statement. Last month with final projects in crazy mode, I forgot to put that someone had paid their invoice on my commission sheet and now I wont get paid on it for 2 weeks. UGH! My 1K+ mistake. I will get it but now I have to wait.

No more official appointments for the rest of the week but I have tons of things to do. I'm sure that will change... it always does.

Monday, May 18, 2015

And so it begins...

Welcome to my summer internship blog. I already work for Pennebaker Enterprises in furniture sales and design as I complete my degree at USM. I work directly under the brother owners of the company Bo and Adam Pennebaker. They own four Ashley furniture stores and also sell other brands of residential and commercial furniture through their other endeavors. In August of 2014 they offered me a new position created as they expand their sales and client services in new directions.

My internship starts in the middle of several projects that I have been working on in various stages. There are also other projects that come into the mix and are completed in a shorter amount of time.

Some of my larger ongoing projects are:

Martin Residence- major home reconstruction/ remodel 5000 sf- we are finally painting but the carpenters are behind so subs are stacked on top of each other working. I visit this job daily. I am in charge of everything from design to managing subs. It has been a challenge.

River Park Apartment Complex in McComb- I have been involved in selecting all interior and exterior finishes. In addition I am furnishing the clubhouse and one apartment with furniture, art and accessories.

The Claiborne- a multi phase retirement community- There are apartments, assisted living and full care. I am working with a designer in Texas named Linda Youngblood who was hired by the developer to specify all products and finishes.

In addition to working on all these this week,  I supervised the installation of nine apartments of furniture in Ellisville for a Property management company that rents them to Halliburton, for groups that come to train for a two month class. We had a tight deadline to meet and it was down to the wire and had to reselect some furniture to complete it in time. Some products were not on our delivery truck and I spent much of the day tracking down the products location to ensure we completed the job as promised.

I spent Friday setting up a table for a charity event. I was once on the gala committee for the Pink
Ribbon Fund, when I went back to school I did not have the time to devote to them. A few months ago they asked if I could contribute by designing and furnishing everything a table for the Downton Abbey themed tea. Although it was a week after finals I managed to pull it off working on it some during the semester but mostly during this last week. My table was Library inspired with synopsis of books written during the 1920's