Designer Series: The Fine Art of Interior Design with John-William’s Eleanor Scott
Eleanor Scott is not keen on self-promotion. Soft-spoken yet confident and decisive, she would rather let her work do the talking. However, she was more than happy to discuss her lifelong love of the arts and about her experiences as a professional designer at John-William Interiors.
- How did you get your start as an interior design professional? I’ve was born and raised in San Antonio because my father was in the military and was stationed here. However, my mother grew up in Italy and I was fortunate enough to live with my aunts and cousins while attending the University of Rome to study the arts. It’s there that I found my love of period pieces, or “pure antiques,” as I call them. I returned to San Antonio and started working with antiques dealers, then a friend recommended me to work at Juanita Ford. I joined John-William Interiors in 2004, 13 years ago.
- What, if any, would you consider your specialty? I don’t have a particular specialty – I try to know as much as I can about all styles – but I will say that I still get excited when I walk into a house and see antiques. My studies and subsequent love of the arts helped me appreciate the beauty, elegance and versatility of antiques.
- Do you have a particular design philosophy? It’s all about knowing what to sell to whom. That is, understanding each individual client’s needs, desires and goals. Over the years it becomes natural to quickly understand a client’s personality and then balance what they want with what they truly need. As far as genres or styles, I work the gamut from contemporary to traditional. I feel comfortable with it all and I open my mind to the possibilities.
- What’s your favorite thing about being a designer? Seeing it all come together. But there are real rewards in the process itself. It’s a real high-point for me, working through all of subtleties, nuances, and in the end seeing the process come to fruition. And, as most designers will state, doing larger projects – entire rooms or homes – is especially exciting.
- How does good design help people in their working/living spaces? Many of my clients are very happy to see their favorite pieces with new pieces that I introduce to their home. So, quite often my goal is to provide fresh, new ideas with pieces they already have. In fact, many of my clients see me when it’s time to update a room or their home.
- What are your favorite types of projects? Designing a complete home interior provides the type of control I love. There’s nothing quite like being able to design room-to-room, which allows me to think about how to create a complete look with the right transitions, color flow and pieces. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a huge project. One of my favorite projects recently was actually a very modest home. The client visited our store and said she was looking for sofas. I ended up designing her living and dining rooms and they turned out lovely. She keeps texting me about how walking into the rooms makes her smile. Knowing that you’re making someone happy every day is heartwarming.
- Do you adhere to a process? I usually begin by evaluating who and what’s involved. When I evaluate I try to find out what my clients really want. I read body language and take verbal cues, although by now this is not something I do consciously. After all of these years it comes naturally to me. My clients are often repeat clients and referrals. They know my potential, they know my process, they understand what’s involved, and they feel comfortable working with me.
- What top questions do you ask your clients when you begin a project? I ask a lot of questions but beyond the typical starting ones (what are you looking to accomplish? What colors do currently use?), the questions become specific to each individual’s needs and desires. Most people are not sure about what they want, which is why I’m here. For instance, they’ll shop for a chair but don’t consider how it should function in relation to the space they have planned for it. Being inquisitive is simply part of the process. In the long run my clients appreciate that I’m asking the right questions, making good use of our time together, and that I know what I’m doing.
- What are the top three traits to being a successful interior designer? First, know your client. You have to know what they’re really after. Second is to understand their budget because it does no good to present ideas that are wildly out of their price range. Third, know your product. You can be an incredible designer but if you don’t know how to present ideas you’ll never succeed. You have to know your stuff but also how to present what you know in a way that relates to each person.
- In your opinion, what sets John-William Interiors apart? We sell fine furnishings but our forte is design. What we have in our stores is the palette. But the most important part is that we also have the artists.