BY ELISABETH ANDREWS
In the year since it opened at 3333 S. Walnut, ETC for the Home has been gaining a reputation for the variety and sheer volume of furniture and home accessories within its 17,000 square feet of retail space. Above this bounty of browsing potential, however, there’s another level of the business dedicated to helping people navigate the possibilities of home design.
The ETC Design Center, located on the second floor of the building, houses Architectural & Landscape Designer Dennis Kemp, Interior Designer Jenna Miller, and Window Treatment & Upholstery Specialist Pam Gordon. With three design professionals, says Kemp, “we can take the client from the initial conception of the home all the way to the interior finishing.”
Kemp handles custom residential design, including new construction, remodels, and landscape design; Miller advises on selection and placement of furniture and décor; and Gordon works on all types of fabric projects, such as reupholstery and custom bedding, in addition to “any kind of window treatment out there including draperies, blinds, and window tinting,” she says.
While each of the designers has individual projects ranging from duvet covers to in-ground pools, the group also works as a team to tackle multifaceted design missions. For example, Gordon recently visited a client’s home to discuss a reupholstery project. Kemp came along to consult on removing a wall. Miller will follow up with the client after the remodel to consider furniture groupings in the restructured space.
The cost of such consultation often is far less than what clients expect, Miller says. She stresses that for whole-room projects, design services actually save money by providing package discounts and ensuring fit and satisfaction. “People ask, ‘How can I afford a designer?’ But the real question is how you can afford not to work with a designer?” she asks.
Kemp points out that the South Walnut showroom and ETC’s warehouse on Bloomington’s west side give the team an unusual service advantage. “We have physical samples that you can feel and touch and sit in,” he says. “Having access to all that inventory sets us apart.”
Working above the showroom provides another perk for the designers: the chance to stay in touch with clients who return to shop at the store. The setup “is a really nice integration,” says Kemp. “It creates more of an ongoing relationship.”