Creating Your Dream House
Sam Gentili of gg fynds
Your new creative best friend
Sam Gentili makes friends fast. She attributes her outgoing personality to her childhood spent moving frequently due to her father’s job. With this quality, Sam is able to form lasting relationships with her clients and create home designs that fit their needs and personalities. When asked what she likes most about her job she said, “I like getting to know the people.”
People are sure to remember Sam. The outspoken mother of six lived in Cary for 18 years before moving briefly to Indiana in 2003. Though she had already started gg fynds there, she and her husband, Gene, knew McHenry County was home, and they moved back, this time to Woodstock.
Sam’s studio on Spring Street in Cary is a reflection of her personal style. “My style is adventurous,” she said. Her studio is a collection of finds from all over brought together with careful attention. Huge glass doors lean against a wall with keys hanging behind. A traditional sofa sits between two mismatched, modern side tables. She likes to bring things together that wouldn’t naturally go.
She encourages homeowners to do the same. “You can put pieces together that don’t match,” she said. “Get new and used pieces, or get what you can now, and add more later. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Paint a wall, and you can paint over it if you need to.”
“Most people have great taste but just don’t have the time to decorate,” she said. “It’s all about creating a natural flow, making a room look like everything belongs.” Sam suggests people buy things they love to get an acquired look. “Take advantage of resale shops,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to buy damaged furniture. There are great repair shops in the area. Custom pieces are reasonably priced. Just know your limits. Garage sales are also great sources for bargains.”
Frequenting flea markets, Sam tries to remember to bring a list to save money. “I get paid for shopping,” she jokes. Sometimes, however, she can’t stick to it. Months after finishing a project for a client, she found a miniature violin that would be perfect to place on the client’s piano. Knowing the client would either fall in love with the piece or take it out of consideration and throw it in a closet, Sam bought it for only $2. The client ended up loving the instrument and couldn’t believe Sam had remembered her.
Sam remembers all her clients, calling them her friends. She says personality makes her job. She is amazed at the appreciation people show for her work. While working for a client who is a doctor, she realized that it’s just a talent, and everyone has one. Sam mentioned to the client that her granddaughter’s feet were turning inward, and her daughter was taking her to a specialist. The client threw up her hands in protest, explaining the natural occurrence and assuring Sam things would be OK. “My passion to design is like her passion for health,” Sam said.
Sam’s passion seems to be paying off. With a laundry list of clients based on referrals, this friendly, creative woman is sure to bring plenty of smiles into the homes of her clients.
Custom fabrics create new looks
George and Pamela Mueller met when Pamela walked into George’s family’s store as a fabric representative. The pair married, and not only combined families, but businesses as well. Pamela’s drapery expertise and George’s furniture upholstering make Mueller Interiors a one-stop shop for custom home furnishings.
Mueller Interiors, located on Route 14 in Crystal Lake, is a creative workshop, specializing in custom furniture and window treatments as well as slipcovers and fabric. Pamela and George can create anything a client needs. If a client sees something in a furniture showroom or magazine, but it’s not quite right for their space, the Muellers can make it. They are there to give their clients what they want. “People’s tastes can’t be found in stores,” George said. “There’s something special and more personal about getting a one-of-a-kind piece made especially for you.”
Mueller Interiors can even modify existing pieces. A vintage sofa covered in green vinyl can have a whole new life after it’s re- upholstered.
Pamela works with clients to create their ideal home and makes certain their vision will work in their room. “Certain spaces call out for something, whether it be a valance or a custom-sized couch,” she said.
The Muellers try their best to get their clients what they want. When asked what the strangest request they had ever had was, Pamela said, “A few years ago, a woman came in looking for a frog fabric to make a bedspread. We tried, but there was nothing like that out there.” Today, this customer may have more luck. Pamela explains that the green movement has brought more natural elements into fabrics and design.
People still love bright colors, though. Pamela warns homeowners who design on their own to pay close attention to rooms adjacent to one another and ensure that colors do not clash. “Don’t be afraid to consult a professional to coordinate furniture pieces,” she said. “It is not as costly as most people think.”
To homeowners looking to remodel, Pamela says, “Do the room you are in the most. Make it to where it is most comfortable to you.” She also warns that there is a misconception that a living room must be expensive.
She says most people hardly go in their living rooms, so they should invest in quality pieces for rooms where they spend the most time. “Don’t skimp on your family room furniture, which will get the most wear and tear, so you can buy an expensive couch no one uses,” she said.
Pamela also advises people to rethink buying a huge home that looks great on the outside but lacks on the inside. “Paying less attention to the exterior means you can enjoy a beautiful interior and surround yourself with things that represent you and your family,” she said.
The Muellers built their own dream home three years ago. Pamela says her home has clean lines and a transitional style, but who knows if it will stay that way. “I like to change things a lot,” she said. George nodded in agreement at this, letting out a chuckle. These two are definitely in the right business.
Designs By Maida
Urban designer, local studio
Maida Korte opened her Chicago studio 19 years ago. After the last of her four daughters was born, Maida started doing interior design work out of her home for her friends. Today, Maida maintains her Chicago studio as well as a store and studio on the Woodstock Square.
Two years ago, the city-dwelling Maida was convinced by her country-loving husband to move to Woodstock. She relented, refusing to live farther than two blocks from a Starbucks. Ironically, the couple found a 105-year-old Victorian just blocks from the Woodstock Square, not far from her favorite coffee shop and new business.
Maida hopes her shop and studio will bring the design market of the city to McHenry County. “People here love their homes just as much as those in the city,” she said. “People do more entertaining here, and it’s important that their homes function.” Now, people don’t have to go far to find designs and expert advice to make their house a home.
Maida makes it clear that she is an interior designer, not an interior decorator. She explains that a decorator selects colors, fabrics and decorations for a room, while a designer is trained, skilled and licensed to both decorate and design. She calls herself a project manager. A designer coordinates with contractors, electricians, plumbers and others to get the job done. Without these experts, her design would only be an unexecuted idea.
To get these ideas, Maida works closely with clients. When meeting clients for the first time, she makes sure everyone is on the same page. She explains her full-service operation, what the clients should expect from her and the process and the costs involved. Next, Maida listens closely to her clients, compiling information about what they need and want. She takes into consideration things such as children, entertaining and the client’s likes and dislikes. Then, it’s off to work. She puts together a design and works with her team to create a presentation for the client. She says it is very important that the client see her vision. After several meetings in her studio and the client’s home, the real work begins.
For homeowners, working with a designer like Maida makes their lives much easier. If there are problems with any aspect of the project, Maida is the go-to person. She stays in close communication with her clients throughout the entire process and makes necessary changes along the way until the client is satisfied.
Maida loves making people’s homes a place where they can relax and be comfortable. Her favorite rooms to design are the ones most personal to a homeowner. She especially enjoys kitchen and great room combinations, calling them the hub of the home because that is where a family spends most of their time.
She also likes to design home entrances, whether it is a side door or grand foyer. “I think people should enter their home every day and say, ‘I love my home,’” she said. With her eclectic style and high enthusiasm, Maida creates homes that work for her client’s daily lives while maintaining the timeless beauty found in McHenry County.