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Inside The World Of Interior Design With Margarita Bravo

A huge welcome to my next interior design guest, Margarita Bravo. As an avid traveler and former industrial engineer (more on that below), Margarita is a distinguished interior designer in Denver and owner of boutique studio MARGARITA BRAVO. Margarita’s designs are known for their artistic mid-century modern flair. Ranging from bright and vibrant to sleek and neutral, her choice of tailored lines and textured materials add a timeless elegance to today's modern design.

girard-place-living-room-interior-designImage Source : MARGARITA BRAVO

So, as a designer, decorator, remodeler, and furniture curator, I am super excited to be given the opportunity to discuss everything design with Margarita. We will cover topics on her bold career move to design challenges, design trends, and of course, design tips!

So, without further ado, please welcome Margarita Bravo!


Thanks so much for joining me, Margarita. I am thankful that I have this opportunity to interview you! Your designs are undoubtedly beautiful and have a unique modern warmth to them that can be really hard to capture. However, before we get into interior design, I would love to hear more on your previous work.

Originally you were working as an industrial engineer. How did you make the transition to interior designer, and do you continue to do any engineering work at all? Is your experience in engineering ever used in your design process?

Margarita: Great question! I went to engineering school as I always appreciated engineered solutions to problems.

My transition into interior design happened naturally as I became involved in several home remodeling projects with friends and family and other projects of my own. Every one of these early projects involved an engineer or an engineered solution of some sort. I then started to connect the dots and finally decided to formalize my passion for interior design and make it a way of living. I find interior design as the best way to connect my engineering background with my creativity.

Today, I do not do any industrial engineering work per se. I, however, find it interesting that my engineering skills can be transferred onto my interior design thought process. From conducting an architectural review, to making calculations, to drawing in AutoCAD, I see myself applying similar concepts I learned during engineering school.

My service offering is one that also includes remodeling and renovations. Having an engineering background gives me the advantage to deal with problems and come up with practical solutions. I manage a construction crew as well. My engineering background gives me the required credibility to deal with the construction aspect of my projects. Whether the topic is related to project management or I am dealing with a structural issue in the early phase of the project design, I normally use some of my skills as engineer to ultimately leave clients with the interior design they always dreamt of.

st.paul-home-kitchen-interior-designImage Source : MARGARITA BRAVO

Q: I love the emphasis on "engineered solutions." This way of thinking seems quite complementary to your artistic and creative side. Can you discuss a common design challenge you see people deal with most? (such as choosing a cohesive style or integrating functionality). And what are some of your pragmatic solutions to those challenges?

Margarita: Clients can find it difficult to translate their ideas into a physical project. To articulate exactly how one envisions a space and how one sees the final product is not easy and I see clients struggling with this. My job is to bring the client’s idea into reality, keeping all the relevant aspects in place (personality, style, functionality and cost). I facilitate this process by asking lots of right questions, listening to their thoughts and desires, and by conducting an intake process where we go through images so I can learn what they like or dislike about them. A cup of coffee, or maybe two, certainly helps getting to know my client better. Taking a client to my favorite showroom or having them visit with a former client can also assist in calibrating expectations and narrowing their focus.

Additionally, I see clients having a hard time making a final decision. Clients get overwhelmed with too many options. My job is to facilitate their decision making process by narrowing choices that reflect their personality and give them exactly what they are expecting.

Managing expectations throughout an interior design process can be challenging. The cure for it or the best approach is having an open, honest and direct conversation with clients so it helps all stakeholders navigate through the process pretty much on the same page. While this may sound pretty trivial, you would be surprised how assumptions can be made and this can lead to potential disconnects. Being upfront is the way to go so clients know exactly where they are and what to expect each step of the way. I tend to over communicate during my projects. My clients appreciate my approach.

observatory-park-basement-open-space-barImage Source : MARGARITA BRAVO

Q: Great answer! I'm sure managing expectations can be quite the gray area. I love how you even introduce current clients to past clients! That must work wonders in giving them a clearer understanding of their role as the client and calm any nerves.

Speaking of clients, what are a few exciting projects you're working on right now, and how do they differ from past projects?

Margarita: I have started my third commercial project this year and I am very excited about it. These types of projects have set budgets and hard deadlines where there is little room for error. This third project came as a referral from the previous ones which I welcomed. Talking to the CEO of a company definitely is not the same as having a conversation with a couple who want to build and decorate their home. It takes a lot of preparation and planning before going into execution mode.

girard-place-home-dining-room-designImage Source : MARGARITA BRAVO

Q: Wow, sounds like a strong contrast - but excited to see your new project when it's complete! As someone who does both residential and commercial design, what do you believe is most widely misunderstood about the interior design industry?

Margarita: People contract interior designers so they can get the best discounts from showrooms. I believe our value add goes well beyond a discount. A truly valuable interior design process - from concept to execution to final outcome is one that takes an immense amount creativity and collaboration that will save clients time and money while leaving them with a space of their own that they will appreciate for days to come.

Q: Yes, very true. You can have the beautiful furniture but creating a cohesive design is a whole other ballpark. However, as we're on the topic of showrooms and such … I'm dying to know a few of your design trend predictions for 2018/2019? And, which trends are you ready to say goodbye to?

Margarita: I envision simple shapes and metal furniture standing out more going forward. Simple, yet elegant designs will be more common in modern interiors. Ceramic, glass, unique metal pieces along with glossy tile designs will bring elegant finishes to open well lit spaces.

Palettes where grey tends to be overused, or even those monochromatic styles, will fade away and make room for warmer beige and brown-ish colors.

observatory-park-livingroom-sofa-designImage Source : MARGARITA BRAVO

Q: Yeah, I've definitely started to see those earthy browns take over! Can't wait to see more of these warmer hues.

Okay, last interior design tip I'll sneak in: In design, which item(s) do you prefer to splurge on and which items do you prefer to save on?

Margarita: I would rather spend more money on big furniture pieces, lighting, wallpaper and art. These elements bring out the personality of the space, highlighting the statement the client wants to make. They also tend to hold and increase the creative value of the project.

I would prefer to save on small accent pieces and accessories. These items could be more trendy and they can be easily replaced down the road.

Q: Perfect! I think people will really appreciate that piece of advice.

And to finish up the interview, this last question is for those looking to hire a designer. Clients are always curious about how pricing works in the interior design industry. How do you establish your design fees so that expectations are clear from the beginning?

Margarita: This too is a great question. During my first intake call with my potential client we talk about their scope of work, timelines, expectations and their budget. During this call we talk about my design process, availability and my design fees. This initial intake call determines if there is a good match for all parties involved.

My design and/or project management fee is a function of the nature of the project and scope of work. I charge clients a fixed design fee based on the estimated amount of hours to be spent on a project from start to finish.

observatory-park-master-bathroom-designImage Source : MARGARITA BRAVO

Angelica: That sounds like a reassuring approach for clients to stay on budget. Thank you for explaining your process so clearly and eloquently… I understand how it can be hard to put prices into words as each project differ in size, amount of work, and etc.

Thanks again so much for letting me pick your brain! It was an honor getting to know your design history, how you work with clients, as well as design advice for all of us to practice/keep in mind!

I hope you have a beautiful Christmas and I can’t wait to see your projects in 2018!

If you're interested in learning more about Margarita Bravo, you can find out all about her current projects, past projects, services, and more all on her website https://www.margaritabravo.com/