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Designers offer virtual home makeovers

Published 4:50 pm, Tuesday, March 1, 2011

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  • Jody Peters, left, and Shannon Manchester work in the Design Serendipity Interiors office which opened in January in Westport. Photo: Stephanie Paulino, Contributed Photo / Westport News
    Jody Peters, left, and Shannon Manchester work in the Design Serendipity Interiors office which opened in January in Westport. Photo: Stephanie Paulino, Contributed Photo

 

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Making their clients feel at home in their own houses by reflecting their lifestyle and personality is what the owners of a new interior design firm, Design Serendipity Interiors, describe as "ultimate happiness" for those seeking their decorating expertise.

Creating spaces that are "personal, joyful, practical and livable" are the objectives for Shannon Manchester and Jody Peters, a design pair that met three years ago and forged a close bond while their children were all attending Greens Farms Nursery School.

For a year, the two tossed around the idea of starting a business, combining Manchester's technical background in design and Peters' roots in fashion.

In January, Design Serendipity Interiors was born with the opening of an office at 599 Riverside Ave. Suite 7 in Westport, overlooking the Saugatuck River. The business offers decorating services for commercial and residential projects.

"The meaning of the word turned into a reality for us," Peters said. "It was so serendipitous that we are where we are right now."

The biggest start-up cost for the design duo was rent for the Saugatuck office, Manchester said. They do not have inventory or employees, and work via their two laptops.

Manchester, an interior designer for the last five years, said her business survived on client referrals. In today's economy, however, decorators need to be far more creative than in the past, she said.

With a service the pair call "Design Delivery," clients need only take the dimensions of a room, answer questions about their design preferences and send photos of the space. Manchester and Peters then create a bound color book with a floor plan and shopping list.

"You're bringing the designer into your home theoretically," Peters said. "We're designing a space for you but you get to do it on your own terms, your own timing."

The opening price point for the book is $275. Traditional interior design services, including organizing, rearranging, staging, event styling and personal shopping are priced depending on the extent of the project and the client's budget.

Current residential client Kim Cerbone, of Stamford, has been working with Manchester since October and with Peters since the firm's opening.

Cerbone, a mother of three, said the designers have been "accommodating and affordable" while working with her full-time schedule on a 5-room project.

The decorators' design aesthetic for residential projects as defined by Peters is "Palm Beach meets Nantucket," which fits in with Cerbone's lifestyle.

"It's very clean, crisp and colorful with a nautical flare," Cerbone said. "I love it; we're boat people."

Using their blog, www.designserendipityinteriors.com, Peters and Manchester share more than they would through a traditional portfolio by showing off their personal taste, which is inspired by local living and modern touches, Peters said.

"So you have very traditional New England bones and then you've got these poppy, fun, whimsical splashes of color," Peters said.

Drawing inspiration from their surroundings and local resources, the pair has made connections with community retailers in an effort to boost local businesses.

"We do definitely work with national retailers, in terms of where we pull from our resources, but it's not as personable," Peters said.

Nancy Joseph, owner of LCR Westport, which sells home décor items, described the designers as "energetic, young and very creative."

"The economy has changed the market so much," said Joseph, who has been in business for the last 18 years. "To see such a fresh look on things is nice."