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Get Help Decorating Your Home: An Interview with Heather Alton

By Heather Alton

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

I have approximately 15 years experience and I specialize in completed redesigns and renovations of existing homes and also work with new construction.

New England Design Elements is owned by Vinewood development (David Marcello) and New England Design Elements is the result of David and I working together for over 10 years on many projects. My passion and obsession with renovation paired well with his amazing ability to construct custom homes to a level which is evident that he also shares the same passion as myself.

What is a common misconception that people have about interior design?

That it is only 'Decorating' and 'color selecting'. The decor and color selecting is a part of the design process, however there is much more to designing the space in addition to selecting colors and fabrics. There are so many components in a space that require attention... I focus on "hard" surfaces before I can move on to the "soft" surfaces with a client. i.e. Flooring, lighting, Textures of walls, Fireplaces, windows and of course the kitchen and bath areas.

How should someone who wants professional help decorating their house start the process?

The first thing is to identify what and why you are looking to change/improve. The most obvious reason is usually that the space is now "outdated". But this also lends to an opportunity to improve the space to "work" for you. In addition to the aesthetic qualities what can we do to make the space "function better". The next step is to factor what your budget can allow for the area(s) involved. The budget is the determining factor of the scope of the project and the outcome. But also keeping in mind where the home is located and the style of the home. For example: if you over improve an area where other homes are not equivalent in quality and design, you may run into problems when you are trying to sell. This also applies to not improving enough. A quick fix makeover will not always yield the results as a well done completed space. Selling your home is a reason to update, however, most homeowners do not want to invest a large amount if they are placing it on the market. Most clients we work with are designing for themselves and their lifestyle.

What is the most common room that people want to redecorate/redesign?

The Kitchen and Bath areas but we often will complete adjacent rooms at the same time.

What are the basic elements of a complete room design?

It depends on the room of course, but we start with the "function" of the room initially. Is this a bedroom, living space, Kitchen or bathroom?

From there we will address the Room layout, lighting, flooring, architectural details, and then of course the finishes; furniture, window treatments, decor

How are the interior design fee and budget typically set?

That can vary depending on the scope of work involved. We have set fees for designing kitchen and bath areas. These typically will start around $900.00 for a kitchen and similar for a bathroom and will go up from there. Often times we are designing multiple spaces simultaneously and we can offer combined room pricing. We also have several levels of design options available to clients looking for an hourly design fee beginning at $65.00 per hour.

The function of the room will depend on the level of investment.

Kitchens can run from approximately $40,000.00 to $150,000.00 keeping in mind we are including "everything" in our designs and proposals unless a client has their own professional they are working with.

Bathrooms: budgeting depends on the type of bathroom and the size: From a $10,000.00 powder room to a $65,000.00 master bathroom with separate custom steam shower and a pedestal soaking tub ..Master bathrooms will start at approximately 30K . Main bathrooms will typically run less than a master bathroom. Most clients add the extra "luxury" into a master bathroom.

Living and bedroom areas are dependent on the quality and finishes. An entire redone living room if we were including a fireplace remodel, flooring and lighting can start around $20K

Bedrooms start around 10K

Budgeting for a kitchen and bathroom should be thought out in its entirety. The "finishes" on those spaces are crucial to the finished project and must be included in the overall budget including the "functioning" aspects such as the plumbing fixtures and lighting.

What is one of the most common regrets homeowners have when it comes to interior design choices?

Thats a tough one because we don't usually see clients that regret their actual selections.... the biggest regret I have heard from homeowners is usually not including additional rooms to renovate at the same time or if they deliberately leave out specific details due to budgeting constrictions.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

Our showroom is located @ Route 102 (103 Nashua Road) Londonderry, NH


we are also on facebook and featured on Houzz and have won best of Houzz 2 years in a row.

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