EYE FOR DESIGN
“People are so interesting,” begins designer Joan Wasson, “The types of homes I’ve worked on vary from suburban colonials, Chicago bungalows and new construction from blueprints to high rise condos or cottages in northern Michigan. All are as interesting and expressive as their occupants.”
Wasson has worked as a Design Consultant with Toms Price in Wheaton for the past 23 years. Her career began when she was hired out of college as a Fashion Coordinator at Carson Pirie Scott on State Street. After three years Joan married and relocated to Milwaukee. The Fashion Director at Carson’s recommended Joan as a candidate for the Fashion Director position at Gimbel’s Midwest, an 11 store division of Gimbel’s New York. She got the job and travelled both to domestic and European Fashion Markets in Paris, London and Milan to research and forecast fashion trends. Joan learned her love for fabric, textures and color through that experience. After seven years she left Gimbel's to stay at home with her newborn. A friend in Real Estate then enlisted her help in rearranging and accessorizing a property she was marketing and as Joan describes this is when “the Interior Design bug began.”
“I love fabric, texture and accessories. These interests evolved to applying that same love of fashion to the home.”
It wasn’t long before Joan began interior design consulting with clients in Milwaukee until her husband was transferred back to Chicago.
“Friends really can help us,” continues Wasson, who had another friend who started a design business on the North Shore that enlisted her help. The pair collaborated on interior design consulting while Joan continued to freelance for Carson’s for large events and shows.
As her children were heading to college, Joan wanted to further her expertise in the interior design business. A designer friend who worked for Toms Price in Wheaton encouraged her to apply and she was hired in 1996. At Toms Price, Joan has built a clientele and credits 30% of her business as repeat customers from connections and word of mouth.
“People and styles change over the years and clients are returning because they want a change. When they are pleased, we see their children come in for help. I remember them coming into the store with their parents when they were younger.”
At Toms Price, designers visit manufacturers to see where furniture is created, gain knowledge on construction and design so the difference in quality can be conveyed to the customer.
“It’s a very exciting time at Toms Price in Wheaton with the renovation of the showroom in progress; new colors and furniture are continually arriving. It’s fun to see the transformation!” added Wasson.
While the Wheaton Toms Price store is undergoing a complete renovation, all four Toms Price locations recently introduced T. Price Interiors. T. Price Interiors offers inspirational design appealing to shoppers seeking a completely custom look who want to leverage the benefits of working with an interior designer like Joan Wasson.
Wasson details the process of working with a designer as coordinated and time-saving.
“A designer can prevent costly mistakes made relating to size, scale and fabrics suited to the space. We ask ‘How are you using this room?’ Then we help select furniture and fabrics to make that happen. We ultimately save time and are able to put things together and weave a thread throughout the home.”
Typically the customer makes the initial contact coming into Toms Price to see what they like and a connection is made. Trust and confidence is established and appointments are made to see their space, take measurements and visualize what works best with the layout.
“It’s especially nice to start the process with a rug and then select fabrics that work with that rug as the base and build from there. However, it doesn’t always work out that way, and that’s okay.” she added. “Another plus is that all Toms Price sales associates are designers.”
Joan Wasson describes her best day at work is when clients return to the store to review what you planned for them and they love the ideas presented.
“You feel great being able to get to the core of what they want.”
She recalls one of her most unusual days was when she had a customer who was interested in a Stickley recliner for his sailboat cabin. He loved the recliner and wanted it to be comfortable. He would come in periodically and spend an hour reading a book while relaxing on the recliner. He then purchased the recliner and was very pleased.
“Ultimately having people happy with what I do for them is important to me. I understand it’s not necessarily what I like but what they want that makes them feel good in their surroundings. You have to be a good listener; that is key to getting them what they want.”
Since 1908, Toms Price has provided quality furniture throughout Chicagoland and remains the oldest furniture store in the Chicago area. Today, Toms Price remains family-owned and is in its fourth generation having evolved to a design firm within a furniture store. All sales associates are designers in the four Toms Price stores and the Outlet Store and are ready to help you create your dream space. Toms Price stores are located in:
Wheaton, 303 E. Front St. (630) 668-7878
Lincolnshire, 725 Milwaukee Ave (847) 478-1900
Skokie (20 minutes from downtown Chicago) 4999 Old Orchard Center (847) 675-9400
South Barrington at the Arboretum 100 W. Higgins, J-40 (847) 783-1500
Bloomingdale Outlet, 279 Madsen Drive (630) 529-7600
Along with furniture from over fifty top manufacturers, Toms Price buyers travel worldwide to find unique and exclusive products. Toms Price also provides interior design services for projects of all sizes.