Friends and design cohorts since their children were at Midland School together, Louise Sullivan and Dana Franchella finally got around to launching a business together.
By Robin Jovanovich
Friends and design cohorts since their children were at Midland School together, Louise Sullivan and Dana Franchella finally got around to launching a business together. They’d been helping other Rye moms whose homes needed a refresher course for years. Their business card reads LD Staging and Design, but they could have named it Stylish Women Who Just Want to Have Fun.
Meeting with the duo at Franchella’s Pine Lane home last week was tea and comedy. I sipped while they talked easily about requests they’d received, assignments they’d landed, tight schedules, and missions accomplished. Sullivan and Franchella both have large families and their organizational skills are way above average, which is more and more important in a world where everybody wants their project to be done tomorrow.
Most of the projects they do involve staging a home “with a buyer’s eye in mind,” said Louise. “Style has changed dramatically and it’s important to keep incorporating new things,” added Dana.
While they both have high-end taste, they have picked up more than a few accessories for clients at Target and Home Goods and furniture from Ikea — “which when you’ve moved beyond you can give to your kids,” said Louise, who has four sons.
Staging requires imagination, empathy, and speed in many cases (when a homeowner decides now is the time to sell and their realtor has given their client a to-do list before the open house).
“Many people put their home on the market before they know where they are going,” observed Louise. “So they’re not always sure what furniture and furnishings they should part with.”
And there are always those family pieces — not all of them Antiques Roadshow quality — that people want to hold on to for sentimental reasons.
“We don’t push those people,” said Dana.
Staging, unless you’re doing it for Hollywood, isa personal business and Louise and Dana approach each job with care.
“Lots of times, we have easy fixes,” said Louise. “We start at the front door, but not everyone wants to start there.”
Dana stressed that some people just have too many things in a space, on the shelves. “Often, we can make a big improvement by just changing the picture frames.”
And if a client is ready to go through their books and donate a few to a good cause, just call Louise, who runs the Children’s Collective Book Drive, which is gearing up this month.
Not only are the pair good designers, they’re first-rate movers. After an initial consult, for which they charge an hourly rate, the duo come up with an action plan, which often involves some heavy lifting. Dana and Louise appreciate a client’s budget and the furnishings collected over the years, so if a piece of furniture can be moved rather than relegated to a dumpster, they roll up their sleeves.
Equipped with a prized resource directory, they can also recommend a good electrician to add more lights in the master bedroom closet, an expert to re-grout the bathroom tile and marble, a seamstress to alter the window treatments (Sewing Sensations in Port Chester), and a painter to refresh the living room walls with something other than old Navajo White.
“We can redo a house in a week,” said Louise and Dana, rolling their eyes and laughing.
In the end, “We love meeting new people and reinventing rooms, and we work well with realtors, many of whom are friends.”
The one time they may have upset a realtor is when a client liked the staging so well that she decided to stay.