It’s all in the family.
Sharing a keen interest in interior design, siblings James and Wendy cite their father – who works in the industry – to have sparked their passion for spaces since young.
“Watching him at work and observing how things come together really captivated us. And it was what pushed us to set up our own design firm”, Wendy explains.
Forming Charlotte's Carpentry last year, the two have come a long way from their youthful aspirations. Working closely with clients for over 8 years soon led to a realisation - that interior design wasn't just about dreaming out fancy spaces. For the everyday homeowner, it was also about accessibility – and practicality.
With a joint aim of bringing quality workmanship and designs at an affordable price, Charlotte’s Carpentry has since developed a solid presence through word-of-mouth in lighting quick time. Proving that putting their homeowners (and later friends) first definitely pays off, we speak to the duo about their roots, developments and tips for new renovators.
Qanvast: Why the name ‘Charlotte’s Carpentry’?
Wendy (W): We wanted something different from the usual ‘Interior Design’ or ‘Studio’ names. The name ‘Charlotte’ was taken from the book ‘Charlotte’s Web’. We thought it sounded nice, and randomly decided to stick with it!
W: Likewise, we wanted to break away from the generic interior firm names, and thought that ‘Carpentry’ sort of summed up what we were doing and also highlighted the fact that we specialized in carpentry works. It also felt less formal and approachable – which was what we wanted homeowners to feel when working with us.
Q: What makes Charlotte’s Carpentry stand out from other firms?
James (J): The fact that we put service and our homeowners first. For us, it’s always about understanding the client, putting ourselves in their shoes and empathizing with their needs. It could be trying to achieve the style they like or helping to design a home that looks great, but still keeps within the budget. Because, our goal is to ultimately help them create a sense of belonging and comfort from a space.
J: In fact, some of our clients have turned into close friends and collaborators. For instance, one homeowner whom we’ve worked on his house previously is now our accountant! We also appreciate all the reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations previous customers have made for us; good feedback is stronger than any mere fact or comparison.
Q: How do you constantly come up with different designs for clients? Is there a design process that both of you follow when drawing up a design?
J: I wouldn’t say that it’s a fixed process that we do. Often, inspiration strikes at the most random times and places! It's an occupational instinct – I’m always searching for new ideas.
J: However, we do plan out a design, starting from the bigger picture to the smaller details. First, we’d start off by settling the general layout of the space, then the floors and wall finishes, the built-in carpentry and finally, down to the finer elements like furniture and soft furnishings.
Q: What’s the most fulfilling thing about being an interior designer?
W: The feeling that we are able to help people create their dream homes, and seeing how happy they are with the end result will never grow old. It’s also reassuring when our clients go beyond their means to recommend us to their friends and family.
Q: What was the most memorable project done, and why?
W: It’d definitely had to be my own home’s renovation. Besides being personally invested in it – from selecting the type of style to the actual renovation – it was also the first project we’d ever done under Charlotte’s Carpentry. It was a beginning and milestone of sorts.
Q: Is it easier to work with a sibling? Do both of you often agree or disagree about things?
W: Definitely the former. We often have the same opinion and mindset – maybe it’s because we understand each other too well! However, we do have different interior styles that we like. I prefer more modern, contemporary looks, while James leans towards more of a Scandinavian/Industrial aesthetic.
Q: What are some popular trends you see homeowners asking for these days?
J: It depends on the individual’s habits and lifestyles. Even so, walk-in wardrobes (for the ladies) are popular in recent times. And most homeowners will ask for the classics – something easy to clean, maintain and simple. Plus, something with a lot of hidden storage spaces, considering how today’s new BTOs are significantly smaller.
Q: Any advice for new homeowners renovating soon?
J: Getting an ID that you can ‘click’ with is really important, because communication will be an important aspect throughout your entire renovation. You’ll need to be comfortable with speaking out your mind about ideas, decisions or problems along the way – to help your renovation progress more smoothly.
Q: In summary, homeowners come to Charlotte’s Carpentry for...
W: A strong portfolio of projects, positive reviews, a willingness to help and an in-depth understanding of each client, plus responsiveness to queries.