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Design Direction: Clients' interests make projects special

| Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, 8:55 p.m.
Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC
Bradd Celidonia
Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC
A bathroom designed by Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC
Bradd Celidonia
A bathroom designed by Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC
A kitchen designed by Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC
Craig Thompson
A kitchen designed by Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC
A kitchen designed by Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC
Craig Thompson
A kitchen designed by Natalia Dragunova, owner of Notion LLC

In today's fast-paced world, Natalia Dragunova's goal is to create environments where her clients can slow down and unwind.

“I pride myself on creating spaces that are unique to each one of my clients without repetition of ideas,” says the owner of Notion, a full-service interior-design company, based in Green Tree, specializing in kitchen and bath concepts.

The combination of historical influence and modern lifestyle Dragunova experienced growing up in Europe shaped her taste and thought process in designing for style, practicality and functionality.

Today, her personal aesthetic is about simplicity and originality.

“Design should be clean, simple and functional,” she says.

Question: What questions do you ask clients to get to know exactly what they're looking for and what will work best for their design needs?

Answer: Typically, the first meeting can last a while. During this time, I meet with the client at their home to see the space and ask the standard questions about wants vs. needs, likes, dislikes, budget, etc. While all this information is valuable, in the end, it's through conversation and getting to know my clients on a personal level that really drives the direction of my design. It's the personal interactions that show me who they really are, and through the building of this relationship, I begin to fully understand the depth of my clients' interest to create a truly unique space that reflects them as individuals. People are not cookie cutters, and neither are my designs.

Q: What are your top five tips for anyone thinking about taking on a bath or kitchen remodeling project?

A: 1. Allow yourself plenty of time. From the first meeting through the finished product can take upward of a year.

2. Be flexible. There are times that some things will not go according to plan. Even if an unforeseen obstacle occurs, a good designer can turn these roadblocks into a positive. In the end, it will all work out.

3. Be serious and realistic about your budget.

4. Be honest with your opinions and trust your designer.

5. Have fun and enjoy yourself. You are hiring a designer to make it easier and less stressful.

Q: Just looking at your portfolio, it seems like you enjoy incorporating natural elements into a modern design. Is that a trend you're seeing more of lately?

A: With people leading busy lives, a goal is to make their lives less cluttered. In many cases, this tends to tie into a modern design scheme. I do like using natural materials for the innate beauty they have within them, each material containing their own personalities. From the grains in wood to the veins and texture in stone, each piece helps to shape the design.

Q: Do you pay attention to trends or is it better to avoid being too influenced by these?

A: Constantly being aware of trends is part of my job. However, to be a unique designer and true to myself and clients, I want to push myself to give them a timeless concept that isn't going to fade with the passing trends. This is not to be confused by the utilization of current technologies and products. Design is constantly evolving, and in this profession, you must continually educate yourself with the newest materials and products available to be cutting-edge.

Q: Describe a favorite job you've done — what made it so special for you and the client?

A: It would be hard to choose a favorite out of the numerous jobs I have completed, because every one of the jobs had unique elements that were exciting to work on. One of the most unique jobs I had was when the client asked to be surprised by the end product and gave me complete freedom on the design. Having passion and excitement about each project and seeing the client understand my vision creates a shared enjoyment. Ultimately, what makes each job special is the relationship that is built with each client which can last for many years.

What makes the job special is the client. It's not so much the design, as I am proud of each of my designs. It's the relationship that is built which makes the job special. The exciting part of a job is when I come up with an outlandish idea and the client trusts me to run with it, even if they don't totally understand it. One of the interesting things about my job is that I can still have an imagination like a child and develop it into a tangible product for adults.

Rachel Weaver is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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