BELLINGHAM, WA — For Tirzah Woods, diversity is the key to success.
Indeed, as principal and owner of Woods Design Studio, based here, she brings a diverse background in both architecture and design to her work, and that diversity is reflected both in her client mix and the variety of projects her firm handles.
With nearly a decade’s worth of architectural experience as well as a FIDER (Foundation for Interior Design Education) accredited degree, IIDA credentials and NCIDQ certification, she is comfortable serving as a consultant for other design professionals or taking the lead on residential kitchen and bath designs. Woods believes her background gives her an edge in that she can design with a “big picture” outlook, whether working directly with the client or as part of a team.
Woods explains: “Our design firm’s client might be an architect, developer or homeowner, depending on the project and at what phase we are brought in. If it’s a new construction project, then we’re usually part of the design team, along with the architects and engineers. If it’s a remodel, then we’re usually working with just the client.”
She continues: “My experience gives me the fundamental understanding of building structure and construction methods, which ultimately allows me to design interior solutions that synthesize the clients’ and architects’ design goals, which, at times, may or may not be the same.”
This type of diverse background also aids with another important element for her clients: budgetary concerns.
“Many clients come to us with the idea they want to update their existing kitchen or master suite, and once we analyze their goals and existing plans, it may become apparent that walls will need to be eliminated, moved or expanded in order to accommodate those new goals. Since we can provide those drafting services, the client doesn’t have to incur the additional expense and coordination of another design professional,” she explains.
Indeed, Woods points out that the firm has not pigeonholed itself with its scope of design services – which can limit a firm’s prospects. As a result, it is not unusual for the firm to work on projects as diverse as residential kitchens and baths, condominiums or commercial interiors such as offices and restaurants.
She elaborates: “We bring a high level of creativity to our projects because we know how to design for a wide range of projects. Since we’re used to working with a variety of products and materials, we’re never really ‘out of our element.’”
Soup to Nuts
Whether serving in a consulting or complementary role to an architect or as the lead designer, Woods is intent on providing clients with everything they may need during the design process.
She explains: “On every project, large or small, we first clearly define and establish the client’s goals, needs and objectives.
As the project progresses, we review that criteria often to make sure those objectives are all being met.”
To that end, she cites space planning, lighting and material selection as areas in which the firm truly excels.
“We will always analyze the flow and efficiency of all the adjacent spaces because they are interconnected with important flow requirements, functions or sight lines, and every decision has a ripple effect into other rooms which needs to be addressed,” she says.
She continues: “Lighting, both natural and artificial, is critical in every successful interior. Even the most beautiful casework, materials and finishes can be dull or lost if they are not properly lit. We provide lighting plans and specifications for every project.”
She also points out that the firm is “truly unlimited in our materials and finish selections because we are not aligned with any particular fixture, cabinet or material distributor. So, it doesn’t matter if our clients have a budget for custom lines or Ikea, we can help them make finish, fixture and appliance selections that are within their budget.”
Design and Conquer
Another key to the firm’s success, says Woods, is the customized approach toward each project.
“No two kitchens are alike,” she offers. “There is a such a high level of detail and decision making involved in each layout, and every client is so different in their likes, dislikes, cooking methods and entertaining styles. For that reason, it is critically important that we listen carefully and present solutions that will work from a practical standpoint before delving into materials and finishes.”
To highlight this point, she recalls a recent kitchen design she created for a condo complex that had unique requirements. Specifically, it had to be user friendly, low maintenance and ADA compliant, but still accommodate either large or small parties and catering space.
“The style and aesthetic needed to feel like an extension of their home without feeling industrial or utilitarian,” she says.
Likewise, she notes that her firm excels at creating master baths, particularly when incorporating design elements such as privacy, view, ease of maintenance and budgetary issues, among others.
She concludes: “We believe our success is largely because we consistently meet and exceed our client’s goals, needs and objectives in a timely manner and at a reasonable price point.”
A Private Showing
To best highlight the personalized and custom design touches that the firm offers its clients, Woods chose a ground floor setting in a high profile location for the cozy, 850-sq.-ft. Woods Design Studio showroom.
“The storefront allows us to make a direct connection with the community we live and design in,” she offers, adding that this also helps sustain the word-of-mouth business and referrals from architects and builders that the firm relies so heavily on.
Inside, the showroom features three workstations, a small conference area and a resource library for clients to peruse, she adds.
“Much of our casework tends to be custom because of an abundance of excellent woodworking craftsmen in this area,” she points out.
Indeed, Woods concludes that, despite her city’s remote location and small population, her firm’s business model has generated enough buzz that it will be receiving national exposure as part of a coffee table book due out by the end of this year.