Love Where You Live: An Interview With Designer Emily Foxley
We sat down to talk with up-and-coming local designer Emily Foxley. Her travel-inspired, historically-integrative style poise her as a style maker in the Yalecrest area and beyond.
Q. How would you describe your style?
A. I would consider my style fairly classic, but I love to mix in something unexpected to keep it fresh and transitional. Your home says a lot about you—your interests, how you like to live— and for me, it’s the place I love to welcome family and friends. Creating the perfect space can be a bit of a balancing act. Whether I’m designing a home for a client, or myself, I want to create spaces that are elegant but inviting, comfortable but not sloppy, clean but not stark, formal without feeling stuffy, all the while being classic but also chic.
Q. What would you say is the biggest influence on your style right now?
A. There isn’t one specific person or thing that inspires my personal style per se, but traveling throughout the world has definitely contributed to my personal style and the way I decorate. Your home is a place where you can curate a space that is uniquely yours, so I try to avoid ordinary and predictable. My favorite things have a story and purpose.
Q. What do you think is the biggest misperception people have about hiring a designer?
A. Hiring a designer doesn’t need to cost a fortune, and a good designer will be worth their weight in gold! Spending even a handful of hours with a designer when starting a home-design project, remodel, or new construction can really pay off in the long run. They can save you time spinning your wheels, offer great advice and feedback, help you narrow down your priorities, and most designers have access to trade exclusive products and/or discounts set up with local and online shops.
Q. What kind of budgets are you used to dealing with?
A. Anything, really! I’m a firm believer in setting realistic expectations based on the client’s budget. As a designer, it’s important to me to respect a client’s budget and be conscious of how it’s being used. Sometimes as a designer you have to get creative to get the biggest impact without going over budget. Being deliberate about where you spend money is how you provide the highest quality end product without sacrificing good design.
Q. What advice do you give to clients?
A. Be patient—a house is not intended to be furnished overnight. Live in a space, get a feel for it, and tackle one room, or project, at a time. For starters, it’s expensive! Equally important, it’s where you live so your home should feel like you!
Be smart about where you spend your money—if you’re doing a remodel or new construction, make sure you think through the flow and layout of the new space. While most things are never really permanent, think about finishes that are expensive to change, i.e. windows, exterior doors, cabinets, flooring, door profile, etc. Things like paint and hardware, even light fixtures, can be changed over time, but the bones of the house should be classic and evolve as you evolve. Like fashion, there will always be home trends—for those items, I look at places like Target or Home Goods. Someplace where I can find something I may have for a season, but wouldn’t feel bad donating next year, if I changed my mind.
Invest in quality—if you’re building or remodeling, do things right once so you’re not repairing or replacing poor-quality work later because of cut corners. Do some due diligence before you begin and find a contractor with a strong reputation. Talk to their other clients about their experience, and look at their other job sites to see if they’re clean and well managed. Ultimately, pick a contractor that you feel confident instilling trust in.
Have a sense of humor—remodels and design projects can get stressful. No matter how well you plan ahead, there are always factors that you can’t predict or control. Knowing that there may be some stressful moments and not losing sight of the bigger picture will make the process more enjoyable.
Q. You’ve done a few remodels in the Yalecrest area, some with Northstar Builders, Stevens General Contractors, Juab Builders, and a few others. Now you’re in the planning phase of a home remodel on Yalecrest Ave. under your own brand, E.F. & Co. What is it about the area that keeps bringing you back?
A. The charm of the neighborhood: the big sycamores, wide streets, walkability—kids outside on bikes, gelato at Emigration, sandwiches at Caputo’s. It has all the quintessential elements of a true neighborhood. You couldn’t pick a better place to live whether you’re single or raising a family. I love walking my dog and noticing all of the interesting architectural details. I can walk by the same house one hundred times and notice something new. You just can’t beat the history of the structures and the stories behind them.
Q. What’s the difference between working with a builder and a client?
A. I really enjoy working with builders on spec homes. Typically, decision making is fairly streamlined and the projects tend to move a little faster. As a designer, it is also rewarding to design a house from start to finish and see your vision come to life.
Clients bring their own ideas and wish lists to the table so as a designer its my job to make the end result what they envisioned, within their budget, and something that reflects their personality and inpidual style. Sometimes it’s problem solving, other times I’m a sounding board (“I really love this, but will I hate it in three years?!?), or they may not have the time or know where to go or even how to start a project.
Q. When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
A. I have always loved design for as long as I can remember. In college, I chose practicality over passion. I majored in Political Science and then got a Masters in Business with a marketing emphasis. I worked as a Marketing Executive and adjunct professor for several years, gaining invaluable experience. I was able to put my organizational and communication skills to proper use, all while honing in on my budgetary skills. I really enjoyed working with the people around me, but in the end, it wasn’t fulfilling. I was doing a lot of friends and family design work on the side. It seemed more and more people kept asking me for their help. I came to a crossroads where I knew it was now or never. I thought, worst-case scenario I try and fail.
As things often do when there’s real passion and hard work driving, things started to work themselves out. I had an amazing opportunity to work in house with Northstar Builders learning the ins and outs of construction—the process, decision-making timelines, and how to source materials, etc. Ultimately, I wanted to focus on building my own brand, so I’ve founded my own boutique design firm, E.F. & Co, and I’m really enjoying my projects and watching my business grow.
Q. There are a lot of designers out there. What is your niche?
A. No matter how beautiful a space may be, if it’s not functional I haven’t done my job well. I love to work with clients to maximize functionality to determine best use of space. That is why I love remodels and new construction projects because you really have an opportunity to make a large impact, especially when you’re working with a small space. It can be challenging to get a floor plan just right, but with some vision and ingenuity its possible! I also have a love affair with finishes, cabinetry, hardware, windows, gables, dormers, any interior or exterior finish really.
I also like to think my business education, corporate background, and organizational strengths really come into play. Dependability and follow through are critically important as a designer, I feel like I bring both to the table.
For more information on Emily and E.F. & Co. visit www.emilyfoxley.com