ORGANIZED BY DESIGN

by ALAENA HOSTETTER / photography by MATT SILK

AS ANYONE WHO’S FLIPPED THROUGH an interior design magazine already knows, there are many talented interior designers in the market to choose from, all with great vision and beautiful samples to woo potential clients. What sets apart CHD Interiors from the competition is the fact that clients and builders can count on the well-oiled machine to deliver massive design projects—each containing literally thousands of moving parts— in an organized fashion.

For one of its new-build projects, CHD Interiors was responsible for hand selecting more than 3,000 individual items, including tile, fabric, trims, lighting and interior finishes, as well as every piece of furniture, artwork and accessory that decorates the house.

“When there are that many items, you’ve got to have a robust staff,” says Lance Griffith, principal of CHD Interiors. That includes a couple of people writing up the orders, two more people tracking the orders and six people receiving it. “Good design is about more than a good designer—it’s about whether their team can pull together the good design,” he says.

Having all their “ducks in a row,” as Griffith puts it, is not only convenient for the builder, it translates to cost-effectiveness for the client. “We’re similarly priced to any other design firm, but the real savings comes in not holding up the builder, because we give them the paint schedule two weeks before they need it and have all the tile delivered to the job site on time, so they’re not ever waiting,” he says. “Architects, builders and customers appreciate that.”

CHD has the staff to keep its operations running like clockwork. Between its satellite office in Charlotte, North Carolina, and two retail locations in Mount Pleasant and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, CHD counts nearly 30 staffers; among them are eight talented designers who share 100 years of design experience between them. Griffith says he would entrust each of them with any high-profile design job that crosses his desk. “Some of our current employees have been with us for 15 years, and several have retired after being with us for 20 years,” says Griffith of his 43-year-old business, which he and his mother began in Murrells Inlet in 1977. “We have great people working for us, and that’s what makes things run so smoothly.”

CHD’s staffers are not only responsible for sourcing and tracking thousands of items from nearly 2,000 vendors that it contracts on a regular basis, the design firm also dreams up custom designs for showstopping one-of-a-kind pieces.

For a circa-1970s classic-contemporary beachside abode, Griffith drew up plans for ultra-sleek glass wall dividers with built-in shelving and custom furniture, including a combined ottoman and coffee table. “We get to be very out of the box with this design,” Griffith says. “It’s going to be very slick, with rectilinear shapes and shiny surfaces.”

Another high-profile design job required a special sort of dining table for its massive dining room. “We found an 18th-century Italian pedestal table that’s 12 feet long by 4 feet wide, but we couldn’t buy it for the client because the table alone cost over $100,000,” Griffith explains.

CHD contracted one of its preferred workshops in England to reproduce the design in antique Italian walnut, along with a credenza modeled after an 18th-century Florentine piece.

“We have craftsmen that can build anything for us, which allows us to give our clients truly custom work,” Griffith explains. “The reproductions are so good, you’d have to examine it closely to know it wasn’t antique.” The reproduced pieces will offset authentic antique console tables and mirrors in the foyer.

“We identified some antique pieces in Europe that we’re bringing in for the project,” Griffith says. In fact, CHD takes yearly antiques buying trips overseas to countries like England, Belgium, Italy and France and returns with a shipping container full of beautiful items that are displayed in its showrooms and pulled for specific projects.

CHD gets some of the best industry discounts in the business because it does such an intense volume of sales with the thousands of vendors it contracts.

Granted, if there is ever a mistake or something gets broken in transit, CHD’s stellar relationships with its vendors and craftsmen means that the snafu is fixed promptly. “Our back end for paying and interacting with our suppliers is as seamless as the customer-facing end, so they respect us,” Griffith explains. “We’re going to fix any issue with them before it becomes a real problem.”

This translates to CHD’s customer relationships as well. Griffith’s customer service philosophy is succinctly summed up when he assures clients, “Don’t sweat it; we’ll
take care of it immediately.”

Alaena Hostetter is a content strategist, editor and journalist
who writes about art, design, culture, music, entertainment
and food.