Category: Business

Afternoon, friends!  We’ve been busy around here.  Etch has been dabbling in a bit of Event Design over the last few months.  Considering one of the core principles of our design business is being a hands-on collaborative creative studio, we love the opportunity to provide thoughtful aesthetics and styling for events.  It’s a fulfilling medium for us, and I couldn’t wait to share a few pictures from a recent High Tea we designed for a client in Northern Virginia.




Event design is much like transforming the spacial experiences in resident and commercial locations, but its development is for a temporary experience, customizing the way people relate to a space for a one-time or short-term event.




The flow of the pathways around the tables, the scale and proportion of the flower arrangements and pennants, and catering the impact of the chosen decor and styling with the location and function of the attractions are just a few of the considerations that can turn a mediocre party into an amazing event.




This High Tea boasted a beautifully styled Sweet Bar, featuring cupcakes from Cupcake Heaven in Haymarket, Virginia, Macarons, and personalized tea-themed sugar cookies.  We created custom banners, tea labels, favor tags, and cupcake liners with Green Cherry Factory, and I did the hand-lettering work myself.  With my background in Fine Art, Etch always looks for any opportunity to provide custom, one-of-a-kind artistic creations, and it’s those special little touches that fuel our passion for this stuff!




We layered colors, patterns, and textures much like we do in our Interior Design work, and had an absolute blast incorporating all the vintage inspired pretty details!




We enjoyed designing and styling this event for the lovely bride-to-be, and had a fabulous time collaborating with her mother and sister to create an event that reflected the bride’s classic and refined style.  If you have any projects, art openings, auctions, or corporate functions you think would be a perfect fit for Etch, definitely give us a call, we’d love to help you create an unforgettable special event!

Enjoy your weekend!


“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare’s famous line so poetically articulated that names are meaningless; a thing is what it is, regardless of what it is called. A beautiful and romantic notion, but in truth, a simple name can make a difference in what services a company is allowed to provide. In the world of interior environments, a common misconception is the improper use of the terms Interior Designer versus Interior Decorator. Although the two professions stem from the same beginning and often overlap in function, they are not exactly the same.


Interior Design is a blend of art and a technical understanding of people’s behavior to create environments that are functional, beautiful and enhance the health, life safety and welfare of the public. The profession is holistic – considering lighting, acoustics, building materials, indoor air quality, structural systems, plumbing systems, electrical requirements, building codes, accessibility, culture, art, history, furniture, details and wall partition layout to translate the story of the inhabitants into a built representation.


Interior Decorating is the art of furnishing and ornamenting spaces with beautiful and fashionable things. A decorator is not responsible for the layout or construction of the space, but focuses solely on color, textiles, textures, furniture and accessories in an environment that reflect the style and personality of the users. A Decorator may also select lighting, though most often the fixture is chosen based on its aesthetic quality and not necessarily by what lumens, color, lamp type or architectural detailing is required for the use of the space.


In most states, the term “Interior Designer” is protected by state laws that restrict the use of the title or even the practice of the profession to licensed and certified individuals. Oftentimes the protected title is a nuanced form, such as in Virginia, only licensed professionals can call themselves “Certified Interior Designers”, but the title Interior Designer may still be used freely. In order to become certified, an individual must receive a 4-year Bachelors degree in Interior Design from a CIDA-accredited University, work 3,520 hours under a qualified employer and pass the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) examination. Continuing Education Units are also required yearly or bi-yearly to maintain the license or certification.


Although Kate and I can perform what are considered more traditionally decorative functions in certain phases of our projects, as a Certified Interior Designer, Etch is also able to provide a wider level of service. My qualifications allow us to draw full construction drawings for interior build-outs, considering all building codes and accessibility guidelines; coordinate with Engineers on plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems; communicate with General Contractors and sub-contractors during the entire building process; work directly with artisans, craftsmen, fabricators and upholsterers for custom cabinetry, furniture and architectural details; specify lighting, materials, furniture and equipment that are appropriate for the function of a space and safety of the users, and calculate rentable square footage versus usable square footage for tenant leasing. In the District of Columbia, we can also stamp, sign and permit interior construction drawings.


As a collaborative creative studio, we find appreciation and beauty in many levels of a project. We love opportunities to create poetically poignant moments within spaces: a simple textured throw blanket paired with a comfortable chair, a reimagining of a workspace to enhance productivity, or articulating the acoustic needs of a user with the appropriate wall, floor and ceiling finishes and partition detailing. We treat all phases of a project with a great deal of thought, creativity and appreciation, endeavoring to create spaces that are beautiful, smart and inspiring.



Sustainability. It’s obviously not the first time the word was used in a design blog and you’ll hear it again from us (maybe even a few times this month – can I get a what-what for an Earth Day inspired month!). Acting sustainably was quickly translated by some into a design trend when it was coined by the term “green design”. However, sustainability is not a trend; it’s not a practice that should be followed only by some, but by everyone. The true principle behind being sustainable is reduced to one simple notion: we all must be good stewards of our environment.
As business owners, our burden on the environment exponentially increased. We now have an influx of important business documents, project specific storage and the need for Etch personnel meetings. Combining all of the general business functions with the fact that our profession is part of the architecture and building industry only means our responsibility is that much greater. Of course as artists and designers, we love the feeling of tangible items and value their place, but we also understand when to sacrifice the hand-held and depend on digital resources to help limit our environmental impact.
Documents are an obvious necessity. We have official Etch organization docs, contract proposals, invoices and tax certificates. I’ve worked in offices where every piece of information was printed out and housed in project files, but not only is the redundancy overwhelming, it’s a huge waste. Aside from the handful of hardcopy certificates we’ve received in the mail, we tend to keep documents to their softcopy version and house them on our computers, shared cloud servers like Google Drive or Dropbox and backed up on external hard drives. We send all of our proposals and invoices to clients via email, which also helps speed up the process. Historically, fully executing even an emailed contract required the wasteful step of printing, signing and then scanning, only to result in an unnecessary hardcopy document with no purpose but to increase the to-be-shredded pile. To eliminate this painful step, we’ve been using SignNow. SignNow actually sends documents out for you to as many signers as you need with simple signing boxes in the document. You can insert a digital signature file or use your finger to trace your signature right from your phone. I also recently learned that Apple’s Preview program on my Mac was just as digital signature friendly. You can insert a signature by using the computer’s camera to capture your John Hancock. All in all I probably spent 3 minutes finalizing a contract last week and that was only because I was trying to make my signature not look like it was written by a child. #perfectsignatureenvy
Project specific storage is another area prone to excess paper use. Our necessary hand-held tools are hardcopy building plans, concept sketches and fabrics/finish samples, but we try to keep the remainder of our project data digitally based. Finishes and fabrics obviously need to be viewed in several different lighting situations and cannot be tainted by the limitations of a computer screen. Thankfully we usually have a clear idea of the colorway we are leaning towards in a project, so we often only order a small handful of samples after we’ve narrowed down from the on-screen swatches. Once we are finished using the samples, we store them in our finish library for future reference. Pinterest is fabulous for gathering project specifications. We typically upload the exact web link for an item, like a piece of furniture or artwork, instead of using the Pinterest search tool. Most projects start out as secret boards and then we usually make them public once our design development phase is over. Flickr is also our current go-to for “before” project photo storage. A free account gives you 2TB of photo storage, which provides mobility to view something in or out of the office.
My favorite digital processes we frequently use are FaceTime “meetings” and messaging. Our business was practically founded on messaging – any relevant (and sometimes not so relevant) ideas that inspired us were typed on our phones. I love how integrated it is into our lives, since we basically share ideas as soon as they come to us. We both have the clear understanding that immediate responses are not necessary, since messaging acts more as our sounding board and if something is urgent, we dial instead. We obviously love actual face-to-face interaction, but we often conduct Etch business meetings with FaceTime. It’s a nice way to reduce the amount of driving we both need to do and it’s a much more efficient use of our time. We can hold meetings at any point in the day (last weekend our Etch meeting was from 8:30-11:30pm and there may or may not have been sweatpants and wine involved).
In general, I feel like being efficient with any resource and using only what you need is an important sustainable practice that is easy to implement. Whether it’s paper, unnecessary finish samples, gasoline in our cars or our time, choosing to use less and staying mindful of the impact of our actions is a necessary business and life practice for everyone.
Check out these two projects completed by students at Rural Studio in Alabama. Rural Studio is an off-campus design-build studio of Auburn University predicated on the philosophy that all people deserve good design. The students design and build projects for the community in the Black Belt region of West Alabama using the principles of reusing, recycling and remaking. The first project is called Glass Chapel and it’s a transportation stop/community pavilion clad in old car windows. The second project, Yancy Tire Chapel, is built from old housing wood and used tires that are packed with dirt, held together with rebar and stuccoed. I had the privilege of being able to visit Rural Studio with a handful of my classmates for a long-weekend during college and help one of the student teams with the build part of their project. The community’s pride in the homes and buildings Rural Studio created was amazing and the best part is they were able to make these extraordinary spaces with very little. It’s probably the epitome of making more with less.
– Kari

Image Credits: 1. VIA 2. VIA

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