Designers We Love | House of Funk
House of Funk is a full service and luxury online interior design firm specializing in soulful, authentic design. Founder, Sandra Funk, is an inspired designer who brings clients’ dreams to reality by reflecting their personalities and style into the spaces. Sandra tells us more about her design process and running her business.
Q&A WITH SANDRA OF HOUSE OF FUNK
How did you get started with interior design?
“My degree is in finance. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to travel, so I worked for Accenture as a business consultant after college. I then got involved in web usability design, all the rage in the early 2000s. I was taking design classes at Parsons because there weren’t classes devoted to web usability yet, and just fell in love with design.
I found amazing mentors at the firms I worked in, both large and small. These confident and successful entrepreneurs paved the way for me to go out on my own.
Thirteen years later, and we have completed projects in New York, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey. We have offices in both New York and New Jersey, and a luxury online interior design service to complement our classic full-service design offering.”
Where do you find inspiration for your projects or general style?
“I always seek out the soul, grit and emotion in each project. If you look closely at the details, those elements are always there. Real, natural finishes make each piece interesting; authenticity is first and foremost to me in design, and one of the biggest tenets of my firm.”
What types of spaces do you specialize in/enjoy working on the most?
“Our superpower is reconfiguring master suites to make sleeping spaces intimate and just big enough to be comfortable, bathrooms that feel like an oasis, and as much closet space as we can muster after that.”
What’s a favorite project you’ve done? What made it so special?
“I have to fall in love with each and every project in order to be able to design them. It’s the “getting happy with it” stage, a line borrowed from one of my favorite movies, Something’s Gotta Give. It’s when the truth of the space becomes apparent and I can’t work on anything else until I capture the essence of that design.
One of my favorite projects is a home I designed in Glen Ridge, NJ. I collaborated with the clients on the design of the kitchen, powder room, and basement. One of the foremost reasons that it’s a favorite project is the amazing clients. The clients are a brilliant lawyer and an accomplished architect. What could have been quite intimidating, was actually an amazing experience. We had wonderful meetings-of-the-minds over strong coffee on Sunday mornings throughout the project.
In addition to the renovations, I placed over 100 pieces of art throughout the home. That, of course, was a highlight for me. To curate and display that much art that had been collected over generations was pure joy.”
How do you describe your style?
“Clean-lined traditional—based on soul, grit, and emotion.”
What advice would you give to someone starting a design business?
“Don’t reinvent the wheel. Simple, simple advice, but so important for creative entrepreneurs. Save your creativity for your interiors. Get help setting up your systems, or go work for someone to learn these systems.”
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
“A mentor of mine, Susan Fredman, always looked for “missed design opportunities” when reviewing my work. That sticks with me. Where could I take it up a notch? Make it special? Exceed.”
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
“House of Funk is my happy place. Where we never rope in our clients’ dreams. If we can sketch it, we can build it. Design is all about the mix. Creating interest and balance with light and dark, clean lines and rich finishes, feminine and masculine. I like my interiors to have grit, age, and soul. If the architecture has all that age and soul, we ensure that our renovation does not strip it away. If it does not, like in a new build, we make sure to infuse the project with pieces and finishes that bring in those elements.”
What’s the hardest part about owning your own business?
“Being an entrepreneur takes daily courage. It doesn’t only take courage when you launch or hire your first employee or sign a long-term lease. It takes courage every single day. Courage to say ‘I’m on my own, I’m going to make it work. We’re going to make numbers this month. We’re going to put ourselves out there.’ That’s every-single-day courage.”
What do you wish you would have known before you jumped in and started your design business?
“The business administration aspects of running a business take up a lot of time and requires knowledge about subjects I was not previously versed on (insurance, state-mandated laws, HR policies, etc.)”
What’s next for you? Any exciting projects coming up?
“On February 24, 2019, I'll be at the Design Influencers Conference in Atlanta. I'm co-hosting a talk with Nicole Heymer on How to Use Your Blog to Attract LOCAL Clients and Increase Your Bottom Line. It's going to be a hot ticket!”
How has your business grown/evolved over time with 2 locations and both full service interior design and online design?
“House of Funk has completed projects in New York, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey. We have offices in both New York and New Jersey, and a luxury online interior design service to complement our classic full-service design offering. Our luxury online interior design service has been in operation for about two years, and continues to grow and shift as we learn what the market demands.”
Social media is all the craze in today’s world. How do you manage social media/promoting your work? What tips do you have for others trying to grow their social presence?
“Hire a fantastic web developer and branding specialist to keep your game on point and push you to stay current with digital trends and demands. Hire a great PR/marketing team (either freelance or in-house) to keep up with the day-to-day demands. You cannot do it all.”
What’s something that you find yourself spending too much time on?
“Emails...it’s so easy to get sucked in by your inbox. I’ve started delegating client responses to my team, when applicable, and I set aside a chunk of time each day for emails. Then I log out and focus on my daily to-dos.”
What made you get involved with online design?
“It feels natural that all that can move online, will. I wanted to be in on that. I order lunch online, buy groceries online, book doctor appointments online, purchase clothing and shoes online...If my preference is to work this way, many others, especially the next generation, will feel the same way.
Our online interior design is not a matchmaker program, but rather our actual team executing thoughtful and meaningful design—just all online. As a long-term goal, I want to put my effort in building the online interior design pipeline. I love the idea of not being location specific in the long run. Being able to do amazing work from anywhere. Online interior design is a great filler of the pipeline to flush out the full-service design jobs.”
How do you set boundaries between work time and free time?
“Early on in the process, I communicate to my clients that I typically don’t work weeknights and weekends as that is family time. I also request that conversations be kept to in-person meetings or emails.”
What would you say is the most common decorating mistake that clients make?
“Stopping short before the final layer of art and accessories (it makes such a huge difference!)”
HOUSE OF FUNKS’ HANDPICKED ART & ACCESSORIES COLLECTION:
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Do you have a favorite color to work with on design projects? No—each project gets a fresh eye when it comes to color.
What’s your dream vacation? Morocco
What’s your guilty pleasure? Red wine and a great cheese plate
An app you can’t live without? Asana!
What is your favorite time of day? 10pm. My whole house is asleep, so this is when I sit down with a glass of wine and my laptop, and allow my creativity to run free.
What’s your favorite design set from movies/television? The Hamptons house from Something’s Gotta Give
Favorite hobbies/activities outside of design? Yoga, meditation, dancing, traveling
What’s an item you can’t leave home without? Lip gloss
What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn? To really speak French fluently
What do you do to relax? Take a hot shower and “soak in the cleanness,” as I jokingly refer to the time post-shower when I decompress in my bathrobe.