Stepping into the fabric library at Spencer Carlson Furniture & Design brings to life the idea that a space can truly be one of a kind.
With thousands of options, a professional designer can match colors, textures and aesthetics to complement a customer’s vision of functionality and elegance.
“We don’t do anything twice and that’s why we have such an extensive library,” said Paula Spencer, who graduated from the Bassist Institute in Portland. “It’s all individual and we are trying to create what the client sees in their eyes or what they want and so we have to have that many resources to do that. We’ve collected a lot of resources over the years.”
Spencer Carlson’s owners are proud to have been offering custom design work for 30 years.
Interior design can be considered a luxury, but combining budget-friendly options with products built to last has helped this woman-owned business in Kennewick stand the test of time.
When Spencer and Katie Carlson founded Spencer Carlson Furniture & Design in 1993, they never imagined they’d be celebrating the business they created three decades later. Much like their high-end products and designs, their vision was timeless.
“I don’t think that we looked that far down,” Spencer said. “We just wanted to get to this year and then the next and here we are.”
Their showroom has been at 413 N. Kellogg St. in Kennewick since its inception. With more than 50 years combined experience, the pair teamed up on the business when their friendship and shared passions collided.
Spencer opened her first interior design business, Design & Decor, in downtown Kennewick at age 20. Carlson’s background was in fashion before transitioning to interior design.
“When we started, everyone thought we were too high-end,” said Carlson, who studied at Sheffield School of Design. “We have struggled trying to educate people that we are affordable to anyone within reason. We don’t sell disposable furniture. We sell quality furniture. That was the stigma we had on our backs and still do. When you don’t sell quality products, you spend money on repairs and replacements.”
Their focus and attention to detail are among the reasons for their success. Just like their fabric library, they offer a variety of services that keep their clients happy and coming back for a new room or remodel.
Spencer Carlson offers interior design, remodels, flooring, lighting, decor, paint selection, custom furniture, rugs, bedding and window treatments. The team also can coordinate with other contractors to help their clients tackle a larger project.
Over the years, technology has changed, and the designers have changed the way they present designs to clients using 3D rendering programs to bring their designs to life.
“We do it all from the blueprints up,” Carlson said. “People don’t realize that. It’s funny. We’ve been here for 30 years and we’re still educating people on what we can do.”
Surviving through two economic collapses wasn’t something the business could prepare for, but it adapted and stayed loyal to the vision: affordable yet high quality.
The owners say their toughest hurdle as a business is overcoming the stigma that interior design is expensive. They said what they offer is high-end but the investment won’t break the bank and can help clients save money in the long run. Their slogan is: “Your style — your budget.”
“Give us a budget and give us a shot,” Spencer said. “That’s why you hire a professional so that you don’t make mistakes. You’ll get people that go out and buy a bunch of stuff, and it doesn’t fit or they don’t care for it, and they have to start over again. They’d be money ahead if they’d just gotten the help.”
The other piece to their success is customer service. Design speaks volumes about a person.
Spencer and Carlson say that while they are designers, their goal is to bring the client’s aesthetic to life to create a one-of-a-kind design that their client can be proud of and that stands the test of time.
Through children, life events and aging, the duo admit they don’t have the same energy they had in their 30s. They have a team of 12.
They eventually want to sell the business but have no plans of stepping away from what they’ve created just yet. The pair are mentoring the next wave of designers.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
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