Design Partnership Yields Relationship-Driven Success Story

WILLISTON PARK, NY — In the mathematical universe, one plus one equals two, but the principals of Margali & Flynn Designs Ltd. know that math in the design universe often yields different results. For instance, when the right partners team up and share their contacts, design ideas and passions, one plus one can equal a lot more than two.

At least that’s what happened for company partners Christine Raineri and Kerith Flynn, who recently merged separate businesses with the belief that the whole could and would be greater than the sum of its parts. Ranieri explains: “Together, we bring a special blend of personality and talent to every job – it is a formula that works to afford our clients a variety of ideas and solutions to each design challenge.”

Joint Effort
The two women only teamed up to open this new firm last spring, but this isn’t the first time they have worked together. A chance encounter some 10 years ago led the two women to collaborate on numerous projects over the past decade. After a while, they did the math…and realized a full-time partnership could multiply their success.

In opening the new firm, they pooled industry contacts culled from their previous individual design firms – Kerith Flynn Designs and Margali Designs, respectively – into a single, virtual design database.

And, recognizing the value of good relationships with other industry professionals, they partnered with Mary Cacciatore from Freeport, NY-based Chapin Cabinetmaker, Inc. She serves as the firm’s cabinet designer, and supplies the company’s custom cabinet line.

“Having three women working together on all projects blends the best of everyone’s talents, and creates a checks-and-balances system that ensures the highest quality result for the client,” she explains.

One of the greatest advantages to the partnership, they believe, is the ability to offer more comprehensive services. “As a full-service firm, we are involved in helping clients select a qualified contractor, and are available to be on site for any questions that may arise during the construction process,” notes Ranieri: Having the depth of skills and contacts also allows the team to handle difficult projects, Ranier believes. For instance, she cites a recent project that offered a number of challenges which were able to be addressed largely because of the breadth of skills and services her firm was able to offer. “We were able to save the existing cabinetry, and, by rearranging and adding new molding and cornices and paint, we brought the cabinetry and the kitchen back to life. We also replaced the appliances and added new countertops, which created a totally new space at a fraction of the cost,” she says.

She adds that such success stories are paying off, and recently started earning the firm invitations to take part in holiday tours as well as to decorate the butler’s pantry for the “Mansions and Millionaires,” showcase held late last year on Long Island.

Flynn also sees the partnership paying strong dividends. “It becomes a symbiotic relationship that works for us, the tradespeople, and most importantly, the client.” She further notes, “Our relationships with tradespeople also benefits the client by making the whole process less stressful.”

Design Diversity
The women also credit their diverse personal and professional backgrounds for the firm’s quick success, notes Flynn. For instance, Flynn notes that she specializes in finishes and fixtures, while Ranieri taps her gourmet cooking skills to help enhance clients’ experience.

And because of their varied backgrounds, the firm can cater a very broad clientele.

“Our clientele consists mainly of residential homes in the Long Island and Manhattan areas. However, we also recently completed the Paris Match Restaurant in New York City, as well as a law firm,” Ranieri says.

She adds, “Whatever the project, we work hard to ensure that our designs fit into the overall scheme of the house [or office].”

Homeward Bound
Flynn believes that, in many ways, the firm’s 1,200-sq.-ft. showroom acts as another, silent partner for the firm. She explains: “Our new showroom gives us room to comfortably consult with our clients, discuss designs and layouts, and make material selections.”

But the design process actually begins in the client’s home, Flynn notes. “When a client decides to remodel, we start by visiting the home to get a feel for the job. Once we know the scope of the work, Mary, Christine and I meet and come up with layouts. At the next appointment – which is at the showroom – the client will be given a few designs, and as a group our team will decide which layout will work best,” she says.

At this point, the design team discusses such issues, as storage, appliances and utility spaces – and makes any changes/additions to the design, as needed.

She continues: “Next, we look at a variety of samples and photographs and select color and door style. Once we make the cabinet decisions, we’re able to go out in the field and select tile, hard surfaces and fixtures.”

Ranieri adds: “Doing a renovation can be a scary undertaking, and we’re here to make the experience exciting. Our goal is to make the clients feel like the space is theirs, while at the same time creating a very functional room. It’s important that the new space reflect the owner. After all the time and effort involved in remodeling, the client needs to be overjoyed with the result.”

Indeed, “when everyone collaborates successfully, the new space is a beautiful reflection of the customer – and the designers,” she adds.

Supply AND Demand
According to Flynn, offering a diverse selection of product and services enables the firm to accommodate client requests.

“We have access to custom cabinetry, which allows us to do complete kitchens and bathrooms, entertainment centers and custom fireplace surrounds. We also do a stock line, which caters to a different price point with a custom look,” Flynn explains.

She continues: “We also provide every kind of flooring, fixture, lighting, countertop and, last, but not least, furniture. So, many times, we find ourselves advising on how to reconfigure space, without major expansion.”

Spreading the Word
“Until recently, our firm had been purely a word-of-mouth business,” Flynn says. However, the firm has recently expanded into some community activities such as participating in the Designer’s Showcase on Long Island, which earned the firm additional leads and write-ups in local newspapers.

“We were pleased [with the results of that] because as the ‘new kids on the block’ at the showcase, we received many nods of approval from the renowned designers in the field,” remarks Flynn.

But, in the end, it’s about client satisfaction. “We think our success comes from the enjoyment [we get] from the work, the partnerships and our clients,” Flynn concludes.

Margali & Flynn Designers, Inc. At a Glance

Location: Williston Park, NY
Principals: Christine Ranieri and Kerith Flynn, co-owners and parters; Mary Cacciatore, associate.
Showrooms: 1,200 sq. ft.
Hours of Operation: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Monday through Friday, by appointment only.
Product Lines Carried: Custom cabinetry from Chapin Cabinetmaker, Inc.
Design Specialties: Designing both contemporary and traditional rooms that fit seamlessly into the character and design of a client’s home.
Business Philosophy: “Our goal is to keep the client happy, and do our best to facilitate the design and implementation of the new space while keeping the experience enjoyable for the client.”