When you’re spending millions to create a one-of-a-kind home that rivals Hollywood stars, shouldn’t that also include a full red carpet experience?
Trisha Isabey, the award-winning designer, creative director, and lead designer behind Kelowna, BC-based Isabey Interiors, certainly thinks so.
Since launching her design-build company in 2013, Isabey has revolutionized the project-by-project luxury home construction and renovation market with her novel approach. Coming from the investment world, he modeled his business after a brokerage firm. Designers are paid a portion of the fees they charge, and just as brokers develop specialized portfolios, each member of their team focuses on their particular specialty.
The result is a collaborative atmosphere that goes beyond design and eliminates unnecessary delays. When a client walks in the door, a lead designer is assigned, but other team members are brought in as needed to help with anything from millwork drawings, elevations, and renderings, to floor plans, finishes, and styling. Its unique side-by-side design process means someone could be working on construction drawings at the same time someone else selects materials, while another team member starts rendering and a fourth works on furniture and fixtures.
After signing a contract, clients can literally walk away and trust that their project is in good hands.
“We’re the easy button,” says Isabey, noting that they also move customers around, organize their shelves and even stock the fridge when a project is done. “Luxury has been defined as materials, finishes and cost, but luxury is not really that. My luxury is to come home and that my home is not a manufacturing project.
That is not to say that the houses themselves are not magnificent. As it turns out, Isabey’s collaborative business model has an added bonus: It inspires her 39-member, mostly female team to always bring their A-game, pushing high-end luxury design to a new level throughout the valley. Okanagan.
“When you’re sitting across a table with a large group of designers who are the best in their field, it would be embarrassing to bring your B-game,” says Isabey, noting that the chemistry between the team is so strong that they feel like family. “We have rules about a lot of different things, but the most important rule is that the ego stays in the parking lot,” she says.
In recent years, Isabey has evolved its model to include home products and construction services, as well as design. In 2020, it launched a furniture and décor division called Furnish to source company-recommended brands from more than 200 companies, and last year it launched Isabey Home, completing its first three builds with its first builder partners earlier this year.
“I suspect that Isabey Home will be the majority of my business in two to three years,” says Isabey.
“Instead of focusing on construction, our builders focus on design,” he adds. “Many times if a design is too difficult to execute, a builder doesn’t want to do it and will find many reasons why, while our builders will find a way to do it.”
Owner Shannon Tymchyshyn of Kelowna worked with Isabey Interiors designer Raquel Millikin to build her Okanagan lifestyle dream home in 2020, when her family decided to move back to BC after nine years in Seattle. What could have been a long and heartbreaking process, when Tymchyshyn suddenly found herself “stuck in Seattle” for six months at the start of the pandemic, was instead a seamless and fun experience that she wouldn’t hesitate to do again. , she says.
“It had to be my eyes, my ears and everything. She really had to trust them to get the look she wanted,” says Tymchyshyn, admitting that they even helped her with her propensity to be indecisive and decisive. “I could look at a 300-page book full of lights and completely lose myself in the process…Instead, I was given three or four options and I was able to make decisions right away.”
She found that the team really honed in on how her family wanted to live, turning the main floor into an adult sanctuary while giving her three teenage children control of the downstairs and upstairs. From the moment you enter your grand foyer, framed by a spectacular view of the lake, to the moment you slip under the covers in your relaxing floral wallpapered master bedroom at night, there is nothing I would change.
“They went above and beyond given the circumstances we were in,” says Tymchyshyn, who notes that he didn’t have a negative experience throughout the process. “Honestly, it could have been a disaster, but instead it made me want to build again.”
Protecting clients from problems that arise during construction or renovation projects is part of the luxury experience Isabey Interiors strives to provide. “It’s been a very interesting ‘build’ to see this team come together,” says Isabey. “I’m very glad that I didn’t know how to build a design company when I started in this business, because I think what we’ve built is far superior.”