ATLANTA, GA—Bonnie Settle, Allied ASID, believes that good partners make for better results. She’s proving it as principal designer for Cornerstone Design, which is making a name for itself in the southeastern U.S. market.
While many firms “talk the talk” when it comes to partnerships, Cornerstone Design truly walks the walk, partnering not only with clients, but with contractors and other allied professionals, product vendors and the community at large.
For example, the firm participates in annual contests that benefit the Junior League Tour of Homes as well as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which allows local designers to show off their design ingenuity in a palatial showhouse located the high-end Atlanta market. Participating designers compete to create different rooms in the home, with the best designs chosen by a panel of judges.
Ticket sales to the showhouse go to support the orchestra, but the publicity is also a big boost to Cornerstone Design, according to Cornerstone’s president Yvonne Amon. For Amon, it’s a way to partner with the community in supporting the arts, while spreading the word about the firm’s design work and mission.
The company also believes in partnering with its vendors, creating unique designs that illustrate creative product applications.
In fact, Cornerstone’s designs have won regional and national awards in Decorá’s design competition. The firm recently took the top prize for its work in a penthouse unit in Atlanta. The winning entry juxtaposed Decorá cabinetry, high-end Viking appliances and striking granite set against a two-story window that revealed a breathtaking view of the Atlanta skyline.
Settle believes, as well, that an important key to success in the kitchen and bath market involves partnering with the best local contractors.
“In this industry it’s good to put yourself with people who specialize,” Amon says. “By partnering up with them, your clients end up with a good design, a good product and [an installation that makes the most of both of these things].”
“We want to work hand in hand to create a great product,” she explains.
Many of the firm’s collaborations are formed in the usual ways, Amon notes. Sometimes the architect will refer contractors to Cornerstone, or Cornerstone will discuss working with a particular builder with the prospective client. “It works both ways,” she says.
But regardless of who institutes these partnerships, the ability to work well as a team is essential to creating successful projects, she maintains.
“A bad contractor can ruin a project,” she states, explaining that cost shouldn’t matter when it comes to quality of the work.
“Everyone’s home is important, not just the ones with millions in the bank,” she states. “Design in the smaller homes is vital because it affects a family’s living space, it affects their comfort level.
“We work hand in hand with our clients through project management to ensure the success of their project.”
This type of partnership, Settle notes, sets the firm apart from area competitors. And partnering with the right manufacturers only adds to the firm’s appeal.
“We’re really unique. We’re about design, and we really have a unique product,” Settle notes. “We do full-service design; we’re not limited and we have lots of people to refer work to. We manage all of our projects on the job sites, from the drawing to sales and installation to the final service call.
“We’re knowledgeable and we’re not about fluff,” she adds of the firm, which has been in business since 2000.
The key to success, she believes, is good relations with the clients. “Good communication is what matters. The devil is in the details, and you have to follow up. You have to know what the client wants.”
Amon has known and worked with Settle for many years. The firm caters to the upper end of the local market, and she notes that these clients require the best appliances and high quality finishes. The two have worked hand-in-hand on numerous projects over the years.