Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Gail Claridge, of Gail Claridge Designs in Westlake Village, CA. As one of the first women to get a contractor’s license, Gail has been helping people improve their homes for most of her adult life. Talking to Gail made me realize how important it is to seize opportunities as they arise, whether it’s making a smooth business deal or setting off an antique to its best advantage.Gail is nothing if not practical when she gives advice about adding antiques to your home décor. She is quick to point out that if an item will clash, you shouldn’t buy it. Here are some of her other gems of wisdom:
When you begin collecting antiques, ask questions. The dealer will be able to tell you the history of item. Then all you have to do is take it home and spruce it up.
If the item will clash with your existing décor, don’t buy it. A good piece can stand on it’s own.
To make a special piece more prominent, use three-layers of lighting to make it stand out: ceiling spots, chandelier and a lamp.
When working directly with vendors and craftsmen, like ADG, make sure:
- How long they’ve been in business and do they have a good track record?
- Do they stand behind their product?
- Will they give you things on approval so that you can try them out?
- Service is everything; work with person, not a company.
Ever entrepreneurial, Gail went on to tell me about her upcoming design center, which will be the only one between Los Angeles and San Francisco, located in Westlake Village. After getting tired of renting storage space for her backlog, she bought a warehouse and decided to sell pieces from there at a discount. She asked other designers to join her and they also sell their backlog at discounted prices. Now, she is planning to create a design center so that designers can share books and supplies and samples in one convenient location.Gail finished our talk by saying that no matter how old you are, when it comes to hiring designers you are, “ buying ideas, not items and you always have that.”