Thursday, March 4, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The showroom and conference area are looking awesome. Things have progressed a bit slower due to the weather we have been experiencing but the end is in sight. I can't wait to reveal the final pictures in the coming weeks...
Monday, March 1, 2010
~This article ran in the Register-Herald as a Sunday feature on Dana. It was a great article and will give you some insight as to who she is and the story of her business~
~By Bev Davis Register-Herald Senior Editor
BECKLEY — Dana Blankenship’s philosophy of life is simple: “Do what you love, and the rest falls into place.”“I really believe that. I love what I do, so it doesn’t seem like work to me, even though it requires a lot of hours and a lot of thought, but when you enjoy doing something, the time flies by. Loving what you do also helps you have a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in what you do,” Blankenship said.Born and reared in Paris, Ill., the owner and principal designer of Chateaux Interiors in Beckley once thought she would like to be a teacher.
During her high school and college years, however, Blankenship developed an interest in design.While earning her degree in journalism at Indiana State University, Blankenship’s flair for design started in her dorm room. “People loved what I did with my room, and friends started asking me to help them design theirs. Then friends with apartments and homes starting asking me for help. The more I did, the more interested I became in design. I read and studied everything I could find about design, and still do.
I’m just fascinated with the whole field,” she said.She met Chuck Blankenship in Indiana and moved to West Virginia following their marriage. Soon, family members and friends here were asking for her help in making their homes more attractive.“I think you either have an eye for design or not. Although it’s important to study elements of design, you have to be able to see each opportunity to create a design that’s unique for that situation,” she said.Blankenship began doing design work out of her home and was later part of Sarah Jessica Interiors.
In April 2002, she opened First Impressions in Beckley.“Over time, that business evolved into Chateaux Interiors, a southern West Virginia premier interior design firm,” Blankenship said.“Chateaux” is the French word for castle. Blankenship believes in the old saying, “One’s home should be one’s castle.”“Home is more than a house or a place to live. It’s your sanctuary away from the outside world where you and your family can be together in a comfortable, attractive environment.
It’s far more than furnishings and art on the wall, and yet those things make a home uniquely yours,” she said.Time and experience have taught her to think “outside the box” when she approaches a new design challenge.“You have to know some rules of design, but you have to know how to work around those rules and not allow them to inhibit the design process,” she said. “They provide a framework that can help you avoid making some huge mistakes, but you have to learn how to take some leeway in order to get a design that works best for your client.”When it’s all said and done, Blankenship’s design career is an extension of her initial interest in teaching.“In a way, what I do involves teaching. I’m helping clients to understand design terms and concepts and helping them to make the most of what they have.
Teaching is a lot about learning, and one of the things I love most about design is that I’m learning all the time. There’s always something new and different, and that keeps me interested and growing personally and professionally.”A people person by nature, Blankenship loves the one-on-one relationships she develops with clients. “In order to do a job for someone, I have to spend some time getting to know them and learning what their tastes and color preferences and design needs are. It’s important, especially with families, that redoing a room or an area of a home be something that makes everyone feel at home and enjoy that space more,” she said.Understanding a client’s personality, career, hobbies and interests all comes into play when helping them with a design project, Blankenship said.“My goal when I’m finished with a design is that it will reflect the people who live there. Knowing more about who they are and how they live helps me do that. In the process of finding all that out, I really get to know clients, and I love that about this job. When I’m finished with a project, I’ve made new friends.”The whole creative process that goes into a design project frames the heart of how this designer spends her days.“I love the way a client and I can start with some simple ideas and how the project just takes on a life of its own.
I may look at a space and have a vague idea of what would make it more attractive or more functional — depending on what the client wants — and, as I began to sketch ideas and look at fabrics and colors, it’s like a whole new set of ideas open up. One leads to another, and before we know it, the whole space has taken on a life of its own.”The most fulfilling part of Blankenship’s job comes with that moment when a client sees the finished job — and loves it.“When they see the transformation with their own eyes and I can see the joy in their face, there’s just no high like that,” she said. “I can tell by the look on someone’s face if I have done what they wanted and that they are happy with the results.
That’s the energy that fuels what I do, pleasing the client and seeing that joy they have and knowing they will enjoy that space for a long time to come.”Because her work requires so much time and thought, Blankenship often finds herself walking a tightrope, trying to balance home, family and a career that involves clients locally and throughout the state.“Running a business has a practical side to it that’s also time-consuming, and I have to be careful that I don’t become so involved in the business that I lose track of other priorities, like spending time with my family. I’m very blessed to have friends who help me out and to have a family that’s very supportive,” she said.
Last year, she hired marketing director and assistant designer David Trump III, which has made things a bit easier.“David has a good eye for design, and he loves learning about the business. He’s been a great help in getting the word out about what we do, and it’s really helpful to be able to bounce ideas off one another and to get his perspective about a job we’re working on.”
The flexibility of her career helps, but Blankenship still has to make a conscious effort to keep her priorities in line.“The business has now tapped into the Greenbrier market. The West Virginia Living show house was an exciting project, but as the business grows, I have to consistently learn to pace myself so everything gets done, but without sacrificing time with my family and doing other things that are important to me.