Freda Howard Interiors LLC in Princeton Offers Full Range of Design Solutions
SUPERIOR SOLUTIONS: “We are a client-based interior design practice, providing cutting-edge solutions for interior design dilemmas. We provide constant, clear communication of the design process every step of the way.” Freda Howard of Freda Howard Interiors LLC looks forward to helping clients with her design expertise. (Photo by Frank Digiovanni).
By Jean Stratton
Dealing with dreams and making them come true is Freda Howard’s business. Taking someone’s vision and creating a new design that reflects what was only an ephemeral hope and turning it into reality is a very special skill.
“Enjoyment of the space is the goal,” she points out. The design must work for the client and reflect their way of life.”
Owner of Freda Howard Interiors LLC at 195 Nassau Street, Howard was interested in design at an early age. Growing up, she enjoyed trying out color combinations and new furniture arrangements.
“I was interested in design as a young girl,” she recalls. “I liked color and seeing how things could be put together and arranged. Also, my mother sewed, and made draperies, and I learned from her.”
Howard’s background of travel and exposure to different cultures and ways of life enhanced her design sense, as she experienced many styles of design and architecture.
Born in Liberia, she lived on three continents before ultimately settling in Princeton. She studied small business economics at Stockholms Universitet in Sweden, and later earned a degree in economics from Rutgers.
Her background also includes operating a gift business and working for a home furnishings company.
“I was selling furniture for the company, and I loved it!” she says with a smile. “After six months, based on my sales, the owner asked me to start going to clients’ homes to help them with design, figure out the home situation, help with window treatments, carpet, etc. I was able to visualize how it could look.”
After six and a half years with the company, Howard decided that design was clearly in her future, and she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where she earned two interior design degrees and also an Architectural Color Specialist Certificate.
She opened her own design firm in 2005, initially from her home, and then opened a studio on Witherspoon Street. She moved to her current Nassau Street location earlier this year.
Howard’s work is primarily residential and focuses on a full range of services, including architectural drawings, kitchen and bath designs and remodeling, color combinations and painting, custom and reupholstered furniture, window treatments, lighting, floor and wall coverings, and artwork.
“I offer my clients educated solutions. I consider myself a problem-solver,” she explains. “I provide clients choices, convenience, knowledge, speed, and pleasure, backed by education and experience. We work with you through every phase to ensure the smooth completion of your project with the intention of keeping your project on budget and within code.”
Initially, Howard talks with a prospective client on the phone, then goes to the residence to discuss the project.
“It’s very important for the designer to go to the client’s home and see how they live,” she points out. “It’s important to learn about their lifestyle. Are there kids, pets? Interestingly, 90 percent of my clients have animals. They are really part of the family, and people often provide special places in the home for the pet.”
After determining the clients hopes and needs for the project and their budget, Howard presents design option sketches, and, as the process moves forward, selects furniture, fixtures, equipment, and so on.
“Once all the vendors and contractors have been selected and the project is underway, we administer the process to assure conformance with design intent and address any issues as they arise,” she explains.
In addition to being a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Howard is a registered New Jersey licensed contractor, and is qualified to oversee the entire project.
She emphasizes that a comfort level and trust between the client and designer is crucial. “We can be together a long time, and the project can actually be a discovery process for the client.”
Her projects are all sizes, she notes. “The work can be very eclectic. I can do one room or an entire hose. One project I had involved changing every single light fixture.”
An understanding of lighting is important for a designer, she adds. “As a designer, in addition to visual skills and aptitude, creativity, and enjoyment of people, you have to know about lighting. I had two semesters of lighting at FIT.”
Home offices are in demand these days, especially as more people stay home during COVID, she says. “I’ve recently been working on a home office that was formerly a small bedroom. I use every bit of space available.”
Flexibility and versatility are important too, she adds. “For example, take the case of an accent wall, which could include paint or wall paper. My job is to take the client’s wish for the wall, and interpret it so they can see a different vision. I like to come up with unexpected ways to do things.
“In one project with a bathroom, it would have been too expensive for the client’s budget to redo the entire bathroom, so how would we solve this problem? We put paper on the upper third of the wall, then put in molding, and finally painted the bottom with one of the colors in the wallpaper. It turned out to have a great look, and the client was thrilled!”
Hopes and Wishes
Howard strongly emphasizes that the designer is there to help clients fulfill their hopes and wishes. “Sometimes,” she points out, “people worry that they might be judged by a designer. That is never the case. The designer wants to express what the client wants, with the help of the designer’s
experience and expertise.”
Projects can range in price from $4,500 to $300,000 with everything in between, she notes. Fees are usually paid in three installments, with 50 percent at the beginning, another payment in the middle of the project, and one at the end.
In addition, some clients opt to have work done on large projects over time, which can be more convenient for their budget. They may start with one room, move onto the kitchen later, and so on.
Howard reports that in-law suites, adapting the space for older parents to move into, are popular today.
In addition, making the home ADA (American Disability Act) accessible, with ramps, wider doorways, etc., is another part of her work, and she is enthusiastic about all aspects of her job — its variety and challenges.
She is also pleased that COVID has not had a big impact on her projects. “It has really not interrupted things. We are all very careful, wear masks, etc. And also, many things can be done virtually now. You can design on the computer.
“This is very rewarding work, and I am happy to have so many clients. We are scheduled into 2021. I am looking forward to expanding into more and different projects, including more heavily into construction. I love what I do!”
For further information, call (609) 977-7843 or visit the website at www.fredahoward.design.