SY 005: Danielle Gundrum
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Why The Future of the Design Industry Is Color and Creating A Space That Feels Like You
On the show this time we welcome interior designer, Danielle Gundrum. Danielle is the Founder of Red Couch Interiors located in Lebanon country Pennsylvania. She has been frequently featured in Susquehanna Style Magazine and in 2014, Danielle received the prestigious, 30 Under 30 award from the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
Danielle has an interesting and holistic approach to interior design and renovation. With a background and keen eye for architecture, building and construction she helps her customers from start to finish with a project to create a space that they feel is 100% theirs.
Today, we hear how Danielle started her own business and discuss everything from the role of a designer today, forecasted color trends, how to manage social media and even her magenta kitchen. Take a listen!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Why Danielle is more than just a decorator.
- What made Danielle decide to start her own business.
- Danielle’s holistic approach to renovation.
- Danielle’s experience winning an NKBA award.
- Owning your own business in the interior design industry.
- Using social media to leverage business growth.
- Visual mapping and creating Idea Books with clients.
- The benefit of a one-hour interior consultation.
- Mixing design styles and why the future is color.
- Danielle walks us through her own home.
- Does interior design come from fashion?
- And much more!
“I just truly enjoy trying to figure out a space.” — @daniellegundrum [0:03:43.1]
“A lot of people don’t realize how many decisions are involved when undergoing a project.” — @daniellegundrum [0:07:21.3]
“A lot of people aren’t visual and so they need pictures to help them tell their story.” — @daniellegundrum [0:13:55.1]
“I want you live in a home that feel like it’s you… It has to be functional and then beautiful.” — @daniellegundrum [0:25:38.1]
“Fashion starts first and then design comes from that.” — @daniellegundrum [0:27:19.1]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Red House Interiors Website –
Red House Interiors on Facebook –
Red House Interiors Blog –
Danielle Gundrum on Twitter –
Danielle Gundrum on LinkedIn –
National Kitchen And Bath Association –
Susquehanna Style Magazine –
Read The Transcript
[0:00:05.7] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Spinning Yarns, the interior design podcast brought to you by rugknots.com, luxurious hand knotted area rugs for your home and clients. Want to offer top quality hand crafted oriental rugs to your customers? Setup your trade account now at rugknots.com/trade and get special discounts on all products.
Now, let’s talk interior design.
[0:00:28.6] SE: Welcome back to the Spinning Yarns podcast by Ohorona24.net.ua. My name is Sara Eyd, Digital Marketing Coordinator for Ohorona24.net.ua and today we are speaking to a very talented designer named Danielle Gundrum. Danielle is the Founder of Red Couch Interiors located in Lebanon country Pennsylvania, she has been frequently featured in Susquehanna Style Magazine.
In 2014, received the prestigious, 30 Under 30 award from the National Kitchen And Bath Association. Welcome Danielle, good morning.
[0:00:57.7] DG: Good morning.
[0:00:58.2] SE: Good morning. You have your Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design, is this something – interior design – something you wanted to do your entire life?
[0:01:07.2] DG: You know, it’s interesting. I think a lot of interior designers tend to have a very similar story where growing up, they would like to rearrange rooms and play around with space. My love for design came from something very similar with you know, playing with Lego and building versus you know, mostly, usually girls play with Barbie then they have the dream house and then you know, design starts from that.
I have an older brother and we had an entire room dedicated to Lego. That is where my first childhood memory is of dealing with design and then of course as I grew older and as I was given more responsibility, my mother would let me do whatever I want with my bedroom.
I specifically remember one weekend on a Friday saying, “I think I’d like to paint my room and get a new bed spread.” I think she was a little overwhelmed with that but she supported me and let me pick up the paint colors. I moved all the furniture, painted the room myself, went shopping for a bed spread and really, the love for interior design that grew from there.
Had a lot of support in high school with the local art teachers and ended up having a fantastic program through the college that I attended, which was Arcadia University in Philadelphia. I really was blessed to be able to have that education.
[0:02:46.9] SE: Yeah, that’s awesome and kind of going off the Legos. You’re not just a decorator per se, you actually do oversee renovations, remodeling, like more of the architectural side of things too?
[0:03:00.3] DG: That is correct. I consider myself more than just a decorator. Still use the term “designer” in retrospect but I help customers from start to finish with a project whether it’s a remodel job, bathroom or kitchen or you know, sometimes with living rooms, they want to remove walls to make it an open living space.
All the way down to new construction. One of my first big jobs was a new custom home build with a fantastic builder in Lancaster. I worked with my clients, starting with the floor plan and space planning is actually one of my specialties and I just truly enjoy trying to figure out a space.
Making it functional and having everything that the client really wants in the space, they can share the room size and it’s the right size. Then going from there, working alongside the builder and helping to manage the project. It’s a lot more than just decorating, picking out accessories and moving furniture but it really – I really care about the construction science of it all.
I think that’s what makes me stand out from some other designers. Before I went out on my own, I was in the industry on the wholesale side. For almost eight years, I could see the other side of the table with what contractors and builders were working with and that really led me to the direction that I took my business.
[0:04:37.2] SE: Yeah, that’s awesome that you kind of have a holistic approach to it. You’re overseeing and understand a lot of different aspects of it which is probably really helpful and you said you’ve worked for other companies before.
When did you decide to kind of go out and start Red Couch Interiors and just kind of go out on your own?
[0:04:55.7] DG: Yeah, I started out working for custom home builder, my very first year out of college and unfortunately, that was right at the beginning of the big recession in 2008. I didn’t last there very long, it was the very beginning of the recession and found myself needing to find another job and ended up with one of our vendors that we had worked with. Selling kitchen and bath supplies.
It was an overall plumbing and HVAC wholesaler. From there, I worked there like I said about eight years. I recognized that when customers would come in, if their builder would send them in, with their contractor would that they were already overwhelmed with the whole process.
Typically with plumbing supplies, it’s one of the last things that they select and by that time, they’re typically over budget which can then cause your job schedule to be delayed and creates a very stressful environment. I can really see a niche that builders and contractors might be valuable, as somebody to walk their customers through the entire process of a remodel or new build.
Because typically, someone may build one house in their lifetime or may do one or two larger scale remodel projects, in their lifetime. I really like to partner up with the builder and contractor to ease everything with their customer and with the builder as well. If I become that liaison and I can walk the client through the entire process.
It’s just a more smooth and enjoyable experience and that’s really the goal of what any builder, contractor or designer is looking for. To make sure that the customer is happy with the end result and they got there without a lot of stress, you know, and made sure that it was smooth sailing.
[0:07:08.9] SE: Right. I think a lot of people don’t realize, redoing a room or a house, it sounds so fun. You know, you watch all the HDTV shows and it seems like all fun and light and then they get to the reality of it and it is a pretty stressful process.
[0:07:21.3] DG: Yes, a lot of people don’t realize how many selections that they actually have to make, how many decisions there are that is involved when undergoing a project. Even for a smaller remodel project and that’s sort of why I had decided to go out on my own.
I was doing some work on the side and then my husband, you know, kind of nudged me and said, “Hey, I think maybe you should see where this goes.” I was still working full time for about five years and running my business, Red Couch Interiors part time after work and on weekend because I thought to myself, I really wanted to see if my business could grow organically. If it could grow organically then I knew that there was a need in my community for it.
Then I would proceed to taking Red Couch Interiors full time. I feel so blest to have been able to do that because my business has grown organically and the phone does continue to ring.
[0:08:29.4] SE: That’s awesome. I see in 2014, you were named one of the 30 Under 30 designers from the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Were you still doing red Couch Interior part time when you got that award?
[0:08:42.9] DG: I was, yes. I received that award through the National Kitchen and Bath Association, it was an amazing experience. I was working in the kitchen and bath industry specifically at that time and it really is there to emphasize form up and coming designers and young professionals within the kitchen and bath industry.
I was very honored to have been received that award with the other 29 recipients back in 2014 and then every year since, we get to see the next class you know? Of the NKBA 30 Under 30 and it really is a great networking experienced with all of the vendors thought he NKBA that are you know, that are members throughout the association but also, it’s encouraging to meet other driven, young professionals that really do see value in having integrity and going after your dreams.
A lot of the 30 Under 30 alum are their own business owners and that’s how they, had also received those awards. It’s a great mentoring program as well and soundboard really for everyone involved to ask questions, you know, get feedback and has been an overall great experience. I definitely encourage anybody within the kitchen and bath industry.
You don’t have to be a member of NKBA to get involved but it’s definitely a life-changing experience.
[0:10:30.8] SE: That sounds great, that sounds like amazing and so now you are fully out on your own, what is it? Light? Kind of being your own boss now.
[0:10:39.2] DG: Yeah, it’s amazing. A lot of people, you know, think that every day I’m just out and about with clients and customers and shopping and decorating and it is a lot of that. I like the flexible schedule that it gives me, for instance, I’m able to do this podcast with you this morning and you know, I have a client appointment this afternoon.
This evening I have a networking with a local chamber. Having that flexible schedule is probably one of the biggest benefits of owning your own business but don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of hard work.
You know, I used to think that I worked a lot when I was working full time for another company. I’m working twice as hard with my own business because you’re not only the interior designer, you’re the accountant, you’re the customer service representative, you’re the marketing agent and you’re also in sales.
Running a business, you know, you have to wear many hats but I’ll tell you, if you do have the passion and drive for it and you love what you do, you have to love it, then you will succeed.
[0:11:52.5] SE: Speaking of wearing many hats and kind of you know, having to have your hands in everything as far as running a business. Our last guest we had on, Kelly Ellis last week from House Hunters Renovation and she talks a lot about social media.
How when she started in interior design, Pinterest wasn’t a thing, Houzz wasn’t a thing and it’s kind of really changed the landscape for a lot of interior designers. Have you seen that in just being your own business owner as having to grow in social media and online?
[0:12:25.1] DG: Yeah, most definitely, social media has come such a long way from even when I had started working back in 2008. You know, Facebook was around but it wasn’t really what it was today. There’s now Facebook for Business, which of course is a free service and should be taken advantage off by any business owner.
There should be no reason why all businesses shouldn’t be – they should all have a Facebook page for that very reason. I feel that the thing with social media that I recognize is that I can’t do it all because of wearing many hats. But the best advice I was given regarding social media is that pick one or two that you can really focus on and give that your all and build that how you can.
Personally, with interiors, Facebook for Business was my first one. It’s the first thing that I ever started and I have definitely gotten jobs from Facebook. It’s amazing. Some big jobs, my very first custom build, you know? The house of over 4,000 square feet was from Facebook and the second one that Red Couch Interiors is involved in is Houzz.
That is one of the most beneficial, social media platforms that I have used that my customers have used. It really helps your clients visualize what they’re trying to accomplish because a lot of people aren’t visual and so they need pictures to help them tell their story.
You know, as an interior designer, one of my skills is to be able to visualize a space without actually seeing it, you know? That’s what designers have as a talent. But, when you have homeowner trying to explain what their vision is, it’s so much easier with pictures.
Houzz provides that fantastic platform so that homeowners can create an account and again, it’s all free to coach and not have an account, you know, you’re definitely missing out. But homeowners can create an account and it’s kind of like Facebook where you create photo albums, you can save pictures and create different photo albums. Say one for the kitchen remodel and one for the bathroom and one for the living room.
Then, if you’re hooked up with a builder or contractor or interior designer, you can share those albums, they’re called Idea Books. We share those Idea Books with your respective contractor designer, then you can collaborate together through the social media on your likes and your dislikes and then the designer then can start adding pictures to their client’s Idea Book.
For instance, I was working on a job with a customer and we were trying to figure out just the biggest issue I think with clients is trying to identify their design style. The best way is you know, is to look at pictures first and say, “I like this.” This feels good and when customers can comment on those pictures and pin point exactly what they like about the picture.
That helps the interior designer figure out the direction and vision and design style of their client and makes them a better designer for it. Yeah, and the customer ends up with what they truly dreamed about.
[0:16:03.5] ANNOUNCER: You’re listening to Spinning Yarns, the interior design podcast brought to you by Rugknots.com. If you’re an interior designer, looking to grow your business by offering discounted hand knotted rugs to your clients so that your trade account today at rugknots.com/trade and get exclusive discounts on all our high-quality rugs.
[0:16:24.9] SE: What advice do you have for people who maybe can’t afford a designer, maybe they’re on Houzz regularly or Pinterest and see a bunch of stuff they like. How do you – what advice do you have for just the average person who is not using a designer to just pull a space together and figure out where to get inspiration from, where to pin point what they like and what they want?
[0:16:44.5] DG: Yeah, I will say this, I don’t necessarily agree that there are people that can’t afford a designer. Sometimes I tell customers that all you need is a one hour interior design consultation, one time and it will change the way that you see your space.
I tell customers that it is invaluable for me to come into your house for 60 minutes. I will talk your ear off for 60 minutes, write down all these notes, create a summary and email it to them so that I have it and within that, we create a plan of what they want to do and even sort of a schedule of how they want it completed. Like what’s the most important task? We’ll start with phase one.
You know, it might be living room furniture, you know, phase two could be change all the lighting. You know, we make it really accessible for the specific client. You know, and their specific budget and their timeframe. You know, you don’t always have to hire a designer and then have them follow you throughout the job.
There are a ton of DIYers out there and I think it is fantastic but sometimes it’s hard to sort of hone in everything that you want to do and create a direction. An interior designer can help you do that with just a one-hour consultation and it is very affordable.
That’s what I would say. Of course, Houzz and Pinterest are going to give you those ideas of what you want to do to create, if you want to start with like small little projects but I do find that a lot of homeowners are a little apprehensive when it comes to making certain changes.
Because they obviously want to make the changes that they like but a lot of them are conscious about the fact that they may end up selling their home. So they obviously want to look at their resell value if it’s going to be worth it and if they’re going to get their return on investment.
Bringing an interior designer in can help you make those specific decisions so then you can carry out the project on your own.
[0:18:57.7] SE: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because I think some people don’t always realize that’s an option. They think it’s someone that has to be their – through the entire process and it gets really expensive but no, that’s definitely good advice even just to do a one time sit down, it sounds like it can provide a lot of insight to a space, which is awesome.
Also with Pinterest and Houzz, it can almost be overwhelming because you might see a million different things you love and not know how to put it together. Yeah, definitely having the guidance of a professional in there to just kind of help you focus and pin point what you want.
That’s definitely really good advice. Shifting gears, a little bit here, what kind of design trends or motifs are you most excited about nowadays?
[0:19:43.0] DG: I was looking at a future color forecast yesterday with one of my vendors and she was so excited to show me this article in a magazine and the future color trends forecast is showing so much more color than the standard neutrals. You know, your whites, your beiges, your topes and greys on the wall and through furniture. So I am really excited to see color sort of being brought back into the home. I am not saying that your greys and your beiges and your whites don’t have their place and they do and the same thing with color. Not everybody is confident enough to throw a magenta on their wall. As personally I did in my kitchen.
I am excited to see the color coming back into design. Something that I recognized that is a trend is that there used to be rules for interior design and now, it looks like everybody is throwing them out the window and then just designing however they want. It tends to be a little more eclectic. They’re mixing up styles with contemporary and traditional and I’m actually loving it. I love throwing a really contemporary I would say dining room table, with some traditional chairs.
There’s just something really interesting and dramatic about it. So along with the color coming back in there’s just this mix of styles and rooms are starting to look really fun because that’s really what it’s all about. Interior design is supposed to be fun. When you walk into this space, it’s supposed to feel warm and welcoming and fun and bring you happiness. So I personally think that color is a great way to do that and then mixing design styles is a great way to do that as well.
[0:22:00.3] SE: I love that and definitely, you’re right about mixing design styles and just becoming more eclectic. You know we sell oriental rugs, a lot of them are very traditional and there was probably a time when most of the people that have our types of rugs were just putting them in maybe formal dining rooms or very traditional living rooms. Now we’re seeing a mix match of using shabby chick rooms with our rugs or even just a Moroccan shag rug in a living room, or a bedroom.
It is definitely fun and people are really taking creative freedom which is I love personally. So you said your kitchen is magenta?
[0:22:36.4] DG: It is but my husband and I bought our first house about four years ago and we lived in a rental before that and so we weren’t allowed to paint the walls any color. It had to be neutral of course, that’s standard for rentals and my husband said, “I really like some color” and I said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Because I can do color.” So the kitchen has some beautiful hardwood oak kitchen cabinets. I know a lot of people cringe sometimes with oak cabinets.
But when they are made well and they’re solid wood, they are absolutely beautiful. So I am trying to pull out the orange undertone in my oak cabinets and I have to do a deep dark magenta color. You know designers use phrases like magenta and everybody walks in and says “It’s pink,” you know? But it’s not Barbie pink or a pastel pink. I mean it’s a darker deeper magenta and it does have a little bit of a purple underneath to it as well.
But it really makes my cabinets pop because we’re not going to be replacing them you know? So of course as a designer I did an inventory of my house. We are not going to live here forever. Is it worth replacing the cabinets but because they’re solid wood, there’s no reason to do it there in great shape, the kitchen is very functional so we’re going to keep them. So how do you emphasize them so that they stand out and really look beautiful so that’s what we did in the kitchen is the magenta. Surprisingly, I did something out of the norm of the current trend in appliances.
We added black appliances with the magenta and it is striking. It looks really good. That was actually my husband push there. He’s said I really like a black refrigerator and all I could think was, “Really?” you know? All I could see is this big black box that is sitting in our kitchen and now I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. So when you walk through our kitchen it’s open to the dining room and then we have a fairly larger case opening to the living room.
The living room is a teal color. It’s a blue green and it’s bright. All of the colors as far as the hue are bright colors when you think of a color. I like the color in there because sometimes one wall will look blue and one will look green and even at the same time of day. So we did do a grey in the hallway to try to pull everything together but even our hall bathroom on the second floor is a bright orange. My husband was in the military in the United States Marine Corp.
So his office is the military green, now that’s not necessarily a bright color but to be honest and I say this to my clients as well, I want you live in a home that feel like it’s you. So even if there is a space that might not match the rest, it’s really okay. So our home definitely reflects our personality and that’s really what I try to get across with my customers. You see all the beautiful rooms and magazines and they are, they are absolutely gorgeous and I do create them as well.
But I also want you to be able to live in your space. I don’t want you to be afraid to sit on the couch or move in accessory. It has to be functional and then beautiful. So I really, really try to emphasize that.
[0:26:20.3] SE: Right, that’s certainly important. You have to feel comfortable in your own home and your home sounds so much fun. I’m so jealous. I love pinks and magentas. Have you heard of the term, they’re calling it “Millennial Pink” now? The really light pale pink?
[0:26:34.1] DG: Oh I have not heard that. That sounds interesting.
[0:26:38.7] SE: I think it’s so funny. I see it when I’m shopping online for clothes, it will say Millennial Pink. That’s what they are calling it now because I guess a lot of younger people love pale pink and it’s really funny to me.
[0:26:50.3] DG: I remember when Pantone did that color trend. I think it was last year when it was. It reminded me originally of pink and blue but there were different off shades of that. That was a very general term but I remember walking into a retail clothing store and those were the only two colors of clothing that they had were the Pantone colors of the year and it’s very true. Another designer actually from the NKBA 30 Under 30 had told me that if you don’t think that interior design comes from fashion, then you are not in the right industry.
And fashion starts first and then design comes from that. So if you want to be a fashion forward designer, look at the runway. So it just really hit that nail on the head where your Pantone Color Of The Year for design streamed from the fashion industry. When I walked right into that retail store it was amazing.
[0:27:54.6] SE: Right, just the creative artistic industry as a whole is so holistic and there’s so much overlap. One of my first taste of the interior design industry, I interned at Red Book Magazine in their home décor. I was an editorial intern but it was under their home décor editor. I remember I would walk past the fashion closet and they would get all of their samples from designers and we would get all our samples from the Nate Berkus’s of the world and people sending us stuff from their upcoming collections.
I just remember seeing dresses, like “That looks a lot like our duvet cover we just got in.” Or “That looks a lot like our ends that we just saw.” There’s so much overlap and people don’t realize it but it is kind of fashion for your house, if you think about it.
[0:28:39.0] DG: It is, that is exactly right. Yep.
[0:28:41.9] SE: Awesome. So where can people find out more about you online?
[0:28:45.5] DG: Yeah, so Red Couch Interiors has a website. It’s . If you want to sign up to receive our blogs, there is a tab that you can just add your email address and anytime we put out a new blog, you will receive that. It’s all about design trends, a little bit getting to know Red Couch Interiors and how it started. A little bit about maybe the history of interior design, some educational information and also blogs about projects that were completed.
We do some fun before and after pictures, they’re fantastic. So the website is a great place to start and then from there you can check us out on Facebook. Just look under Red Couch Interiors, we’ll be the first one to pop up and on Houzz.
[0:29:39.5] SE: Okay, great. Well it was a pleasure speaking to you and thank you so much for doing this.
[0:29:44.4] DG: Yeah, thank you Sarah.
[0:29:46.0] SE: Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:29:47.9] ANNOUNCER: You’ve been listening to Spinning Yarns, the interior design podcast brought to you by Ohorona24.net.ua.com, suppliers of the finest quality oriental rugs. To open your trade account today, simply visit Ohorona24.net.ua.com/trade.
Until next time, thanks for listening.