Lauren Nolan-Sellers is owner of Trust the Vision Decor, where she seeks to reflect her clients in the spaces she creates.
Sue Knecht has owned her Bensalem colonial-style home for 30 years, but never felt like the decor reflected who she was.
The maroon leather sofa and green walls darkened the family room. The choppy design of the 2,000-square-foot house didn’t leave much space in one room for her children and grandchildren to gather on special occasions. And she rarely used her small formal living room.
“I just couldn’t make it work on my own,” said Knecht, who called in reinforcements earlier this year to overhaul the space.
She started by knocking down a wall to create a larger space, then hired Lower Makefield designer Lauren Nolan-Sellers to fill it.
Knecht heard that Nolan-Sellers’ business, Trust the Vision Decor, would work to customize her living space to what she wanted — even if she didn’t exactly know what that was at the time. Her work began with a few questions about colors, pets, style and function. Knecht, for example, expressed a desire for an industrial feel, but liked the look and warmth of distressed wood. And instead of traditional dark colors, she wanted light blue to set the tone for her new space. Her husband Michael Knecht wanted to make sure her vision made room for a 55-inch TV and speakers to give him surround sound.
“We go out of our way to create a space that our clients truly see themselves reflected in,” said Nolan-Sellers, who sees design as an investment in family and relationships. “It’s not just about the surface.”
Nolan-Sellers said that many designers want to leave their own influence on space; she doesn’t. “We look at the clients, what they want and what they need functionally,” she said.
When designing, she advises people to evaluate the space and its contents carefully. “Ask yourself, are there things you want to mask or highlight,” she said. “Figure out what pieces you want to keep or what you can part with. Then move on to the layout, who are the primary users and what do you do in the space. That all dictates how you design it.”
To start with the Knecht’s home, Nolan-Sellers sent several emails with products for the Knechts to review and internet links to make purchases. Based on their tastes, she pointed them to a distressed wooden dining room table, coffee table and picture frames, which are now all displayed in open rooms that flow into one another on the first floor. Square canvas paintings of a flowering dogwood tree against a pale blue sky hang above the couch in the living room, accenting the room’s white, silver and blue colors. And the TV that Michael wanted is attached to the sky blue wall above an electric fireplace, created with mock stone that reflects the neutral blend of the wooden furniture.
Upon the completion of the room, Knecht said she felt like she was walking into a dream.
“When it came to the reveal, I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” said Knecht, who loved the shimmering blue curtains that brightened the room. “It doesn’t feel real that it looks as good as it does, and yet it’s so comfortable — not stuffy or too formal.”
Nolan-Sellers, who has designed homes and spaces for high- and low-budget projects, said her goal is more social than ascetic. In fact, one Florida homeowner hired her to design a space through Nolan-Sellers’ e-design service. Based on measurements and pictures, Nolan-Sellers selected furniture, products and paint for the space, which she never physically visited, she said. Usually, she designs space for residential homes across the Philadelphia area and New Jersey and recently completed a project at Phillies manager Gabe Kapler’s Philadelphia condo and WMMR personality Kathy Romano’s dining room.
A big source of pride is a bedroom that she designed that brought a couple closer together.
“She told me the room was instrumental in saving the marriage — an oasis to connect,” she said. “They felt it gave them a source of tranquility and repair. See, it’s not just the surface.”