trade tales | Dec 11, 2020 |
9 designers on how they make the holidays special for clients

With the holiday season in full swing, we asked nine interior designers—Ahmad AbouZanat, Ria Beckford, Susan Ferrier, Lisa Gilmore, J.P. Horton, Gary Inman, Mallory Mathison Glenn, Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski and Maureen Stevens—how they make this time of year special for their clients.

J.P. Horton
J.P. HortonCourtesy of J.P. Horton

Be thoughtful
“I build such close relationships with clients while I am working on their homes that I feel it is only appropriate to give them a gift. Usually, the gift is something I have picked up while antiquing that goes with the design of their house. For example, a few years ago, I gave a client an antique crewel work tablecloth that happened to be embroidered with the same colors that I used throughout their home. They use it in their dining room to this very day. I gave another client a blue-and-white Mottahedeh fruit bowl because they have a large blue-and-white porcelain collection that we had incorporated into the design scheme.” —J.P. Horton, J.P. Horton Interior Design, Charleston, South Carolina

Ria Beckford
Ria BeckfordCourtesy of Ria Beckford

Holiday spirit
“I like to send handwritten holiday cards to active projects as well as small thoughtful gifts, like a holiday mug with a hot cocoa kit. We also send out a holiday email newsletter to our past clients with helpful information such as a holiday gift guide or holiday decor inspiration and where to purchase. I love spreading holiday cheer and continuing to develop longstanding relationships with my clients.” —Ria Beckford, Ria Beckford Studios, Orlando, Florida

Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski
Tiffany Leigh PiotrowskiCourtesy of Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski

Pay it forward
“In lieu of giving our clients holiday gifts, we send each a personal card wishing them a happy holiday season and letting them know that we've made a donation to SickKids hospital in Canada in their honor. We think that giving back this way is what the season is all about. We also like to send cards to past clients to keep us top of mind [for future] projects. For any full-home client projects, we also offer Christmas decorating services so that their seasonal decor complements their newly renovated home!” —Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski, Tiffany Leigh Design, Toronto

Ahmad AbouZanat
Ahmad AbouZanatCourtesy of Ahmad AbouZanat

Party time
“I mail out personalized holiday cards to both active and previous clients. One tradition that unfortunately won’t carry over to this year, due to COVID, is our Christmas Sing-Along party with live music. I extend the invitation to clients, other designers and trade partners I worked with on projects each year. These parties are such a fun icebreaker, especially when clients can mingle with a vendor they worked with. Once social gatherings are safe again, this tradition is definitely coming back.” —Ahmad AbouZanat, Project AZ, New York

Lisa Gilmore
Lisa GilmoreCourtesy of Lisa Gilmore

Shop local
“I am a huge advocate for supporting local businesses, so I always try to incorporate that into the holidays and in expressing our gratitude to clients. Last year, I decided to host a gratitude party at a local wine and cheese bar for our current clients to meet, mingle and enjoy lovely bites at a local restaurant. I planned to continue that tradition for years to come; however, COVID has made that less than appealing. This year, for our current client list, I commissioned a local artist to make a fun holiday card in addition to crafted holiday spirits gift baskets, created by a local bar. All of our clients (current and past) get a holiday card, and I also make a donation to Savvy Giving by Design.” —Lisa Gilmore, Lisa Gilmore Design, St. Petersburg, Florida

Maureen Stevens
Maureen StevensCourtesy of Maureen Stevens

Personalize it
“We send holiday gifts to active clients and inactive ones that were recently completed. We make gifts as personal as possible—like for a recent kitchen renovation, we are sending a monogrammed apron—gift-wrapping them ourselves with a handwritten message. If it's a local client, we even hand-deliver them.” —Maureen Stevens, Maureen Stevens Design, New Orleans

Gary Inman
Gary InmanCourtesy of Gary Inman

Look toward the future
“The holidays are a great time to show appreciation, and we always send our clients a gift that speaks to their interests or taste. Perhaps a favorite bottle of wine, an aged cognac, or a specialty food that they love. For others we provide a spa treatment or dinner at their favorite restaurant. We try to make it an experiential gift that reminds them of our gratitude as they enjoy the gift with their family. This year, we have shared books on beautiful travel destinations, as all our clients share our passion to, once again, visit our favorite cities and countries around the world—an aspiration for the future that we can share and dream about.” —Gary Inman, Gary Inman Interior Design, Richmond, Virginia

Mallory Mathison Glenn
Mallory Mathison GlennCourtesy of Mallory Mathison Glenn

Heirloom quality
“In years past, we have given design-related coffee table books and had the author personalize to each client, which is a great way to help clients grow their design library. This year, instead, we will be giving handmade marbled cache pots from Rebecca Gardner’s store Houses & Parties with a live paperwhite. The cache pot can be used for years to come.” —Mallory Mathison Glenn, Mallory Mathison Inc., Atlanta

Susan Ferrier
Susan FerrierCourtesy of Susan Ferrier

Make it special
“Over the last few years, I have worked with makers on pieces custom-designed for my clients who love the beautiful and unique. I try to think of and commission items that are not available in the general marketplace, for some small-batch excellence! That feels especially worthwhile this year, when so many small businesses can use our support. If you can share something thoughtful with your clients and colleagues that also supports a local artisan or small business, then it’s a win for everyone.” —Susan Ferrier, Susan Ferrier Interiors, Atlanta

Homepage photo: A project by Susan Ferrier | Photo by Erica George Dines

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.