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Developer's Client Story

"Together we created a beautiful reflection of us."

Several years ago I found myself living in a large new home in the rolling Hills of Connecticut. it was beautiful and light filled and big. While the house was beautiful, there were many dated features and the former owners had left a very distinct design stamp that was not what I had in mind. Both my husband and I were very busy with work, two children, a lot of travel and the stuff of life. I had a sense of what I liked in design when I saw it, but was not at all certain where to begin in creating that “look” I wanted. It was daunting to say the least. My father was an engineer and architect, building two homes while raising a family of six. I was not looking forward to the familiar disruption that was going to inevitably follow. I was uncomfortable in starting. Where to begin?

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I can say that my encounter with Joanne Riley early on at that point in my life was a true godsend. I immediately fell in love with her positive and upbeat energy. I loved the work she shared with me in her portfolio of previously completed design work. She set up a meeting for the following week to meet with both my husband and me. I could not understand why he would have to be involved except peripherally. Joanne did not state it at the time, but I know now that she wanted to be sure that he would have input and she would gauge the extent that he wanted to collaborate with us. Knowing that he grew up in very traditional house and I in a contemporary, I was fraught with concern that we were already creating obstacles that needn’t be. But I was wrong.


The process of designing a life can be a joyful process of creating and self examination if you are willing to trust the process. My type A personality was oblivious to the subtle but lasting lessons about to occur.

We defined the scope of the project and divided the work into phases. Living and entertaining spaces first and then kitchen and finally master bath. Much to my surprise (or chagrin?), Rocky enjoyed the creative side of the process. Mediation is a skill that not everyone possesses. Gratefully Joanne brought her skills to bear. She addressed our respective need to be heard and proposed solutions that we were both happy about. She listens to words spoken and dreams unspoken. To this day, I feel Joanne is responsible for Rocky’s love of all things lighting. But also today, I have come to respect his sense of color and we love to collaborate on design projects. That is no small course correction for a business or a relationship.

We trusted Joanne and her team and left for a few weeks while she oversaw the completion of the project. It was so satisfying to come home to our previously imagined creation sans the frustration of living through the challenge of major renovations. No need to deal with contractors and schedules; last minute issues and decisions. Together we created a beautiful reflection of us. It was no longer a house, but our home.

I now feel very comfortable in the design arena. However it remains a three way collaborative effort. We went on to design projects in two more homes and in two large residential and commercial real estate projects. I have learned a lot about design through those projects. Knowing Joanne has our back when we run into design obstacles or sourcing has been invaluable. Removing ego while at the same time elevating expectations is also a gift Joanne brought to the collaboration table. She pushed us to dream outside the box and dare to ask “why not?”. We now have a design sense that is authentically ours.

"It was no longer a house, but our home."

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