Designer Series: A Colorful Q&A with John-William Interiors’ Dennis N. Myers
- How did you get your start? I started on the trade show floor and did a lot of projects with designers. I’ve owned my own interior design business. I’ve been at it for 36 years and joined John-William Interiors a year ago. I moved from Kansas City and I love Austin. It’s kind of quirky and different, yet fun. It fits my design style perfectly.
- What do you consider your specialty? With every client I meet, I make it a point to talk a lot about their tastes. I’ve found that there’s a color palette in everyone. And I work with them to bring out the colors that match their lifestyle.I’ve used some of the strangest color combinations and they always end up working, as long as it’s kept upbeat. Austin has a contemporary vibe, which means something very different here than in the Midwest. Tastes are more transitional here, so extremes with color are accepted. Color scares a lot of people. But I’ve used purples and pinks in my homes with great success. I’ve sold five of my own homes and they all had these bold color schemes. My last home sold in 16 hours. I have a client whom I’ve worked with for over 25 years and we’ve re-done her entire house in bright contemporary colors. And she’s thrilled with it. We’re finishing the last floor in spring and we’re going to submit our work to Architectural Digest. But that doesn’t mean colors always have to be that bold and bright. I had a client whose home had wonderful contemporary art on white walls. I simply repainted the white walls with a subtle soft hue and it changed everything.
- Do you have a particular design philosophy? I have to know my clients. It’s a personality thing. My clients won’t do interior design without me because they know that I understand their tastes better than they do. I sometimes talk people out of buying things because of this. Also, I tend to put in little quirks. I turn rugs, and twist them, and put things on diagonal lines. And the world we live in is not black and white, so let’s put in some color and have a lot of fun.
- What’s your favorite thing about being a designer? The creativity. I enjoy being able to go into a house and consult with clients whose thoughts are so different than my own, then to combine ideas and make them work. It’s not easy at times, but it’s always rewarding. For example, I worked with a couple to redesign their downtown apartment. We moved beyond their comfort zone as far as some of the colors and design theme. What I presented was much different than what they were used to. But in the end it all came together and they just love it. Seeing my clients grinning from ear to ear, there’s nothing better.
- How does good design help people in their working/living spaces? It makes them happy every time they’re in their professionally designed environment. People’s homes are where they spend most of their lives, so when they’re overjoyed with the design of it they’re going to entertain more because they proud of their new space. Their guests catch on to this vibe, too. I get a lot of referrals this way.
- What are your favorite types of interior design projects? I love to get in on the ground floor, so to speak. I just talked to a couple recently who were eight months out from building a home. I told them to please bring in their plans. Because I was able to see the layout, I was able to recommend important tweaks, like repositioning a few electrical outlets or moving a wall a half-inch. These kinds of changes seem relatively small but they make a big difference. I would tell anyone in such a situation to work with a designer at that stage. I also love to work on remodeling. It’s fun to transition houses from old and out of date to fun and contemporary. But I’ll tackle any project – none are too large or too small. Even if someone is simply interested in buying a chair, I’ll go their homes and assess what design would work perfectly for their needs.
- How do you typically begin an interior design project? I find out what stage my clients are in – where they’re at in the design phase. Are they set on a particular theme? Do they have pieces selected? What is the scope of their project? Or do they just want ideas? If they have no ideas in mind, I’ll guide them along. Sometimes it helps to find designs and styles in magazines, then create files of what they like – a collection of images, thoughts and ideas. Years ago I had a client who was dead set on what she wanted. Because we got along so well I felt very comfortable telling her that I thought she would not be pleased with her idea. And in the end I was right. She had me re-do everything based on my recommendations. It’s all about being up-front and honest with all of my clients. It builds trust, which is imperative.
- Explain the importance of being a good listener and communicator. It’s critical. You pick up a lot just by listening. And you can’t communicate well when you don’t listen to what your clients are trying to tell you. Along with honesty, being a good listener is one of the top traits of any great designer.
- What sets John-William Interiors apart? Sometimes people think we’re just a furniture store but we’re so much more. While John-William Interiors carries some of the best lines you’ll find anywhere, it’s the experience, diversity and passion of the designers here that really sets us apart.