Page 11

Loudoun Business | PAGE 11

AUGUST 2012

Interior Decorator Ensures ‘It’s DONE’ For Clients By Lindsey Brookbank, Staff Writer Growing up, Chantal Gibson’s house was always decorated with the trendiest furniture and accessories, as her mother extracted styles from the fashion sphere, where she was a buyer and designer. “‘Cool’ is the word for it. Every friend of mine would say, ‘Gosh, your house is so cool. I love it.’ It was just beautiful,” Gibson said. “It had beautiful furniture, Moroccan pieces of pottery, the TV set with the big red square box, the red circle chairs—really contemporary. For the '70s, '80s and '90s, [my mother] changed it all the time. It had every year’s look.” Since she was a young girl, Gibson— who has a French, Moroccan heritage and calls herself a “mutt”—has been designing and decorating rooms, with her mother’s “magic touch” flowing through her veins. But Gibson didn’t decide to pursue the decorating industry professionally until last year. For 12 years, Gibson served as an executive assistant at AOL before being laid off. During that time—15 years—she was also a professional organizer, while selling jewelry on the side. When she lost her primary job, things changed. “At that point, I decided to take a risk and do what I love all the way,” she said. In March 2011, Gibson, an Ashburn resident, launched It’s DONE, a business focusing on five aspects: organizing, color and paint, staging, interior design and accessorizing. Gibson enters clients’ lives and gets things done, mainly to improve the functionality and appearance of their homes. When Gibson is hired to organize a space, she gets rid of items that clutter her client’s life, while placing necessary items in proper spots. “I am trying to get everybody to have more time, save money, be healthier and have less stress in their life by organizing each room in their house or office,” she said. “I motivate people to get rid of things. People need their hands held, but I am really sensitive to their things, and I don’t want to get rid of everything. I just want to make things more clear and open.” Choosing paint colors, however, is Gibson’s favorite pursuit. “It’s the cheapest way to change your house and have that wow factor,” she said. “It increases the value of your home, it is healthier because there is less dust and it is just fun.” Her clients’ homes often include stark white walls, and they are unsure of what color to paint them. “I help them pick the colors that fit their personality and make it a happier, warmer place to be,” Gibson added. Gibson also stages people’s homes, in hopes that they will sell quickly. “I either help them or give them guidance on what they need

to do to get their house ready for the sale,” she said.“Thingsareveryemotionalduringthattime period, and I like to give them that comfort.” Andrea McSorley, a Realtor for Long & Foster, heard about It’s DONE through a friend of a friend—her clients now utilize Gibson’s staging and organizing services before putting their homes up for sale. “She walks them through and holds their handsastheygothroughtheprocess—purging, gettingridofthings,”McSorleysaid.“Myclients absolutely love her. They get very attached to herbecauseshedoesreallyhelpthememotionally plan for a sale…and keep everyone focused on the end goal.” Gibson’sstagingabilitieshaveprovenquite successful, in McSorley's opinion. “Most of the houses she stages go right off the market. She has a great track record,” she said. “Most clients end up using her when they move. They call her when they are on the other side, after they get into their new house.” As an interior designer, Gibson typically helps people pick out furniture for new homes or old rooms in need of uplifting. “I give them ideas,shopforthemorgoshoppingwiththem,” she said. Gibson can even help clients simply move around their current furniture for a fresh change. Lastly,Gibsonaccessorizespeople’shomes, giving them personality. “I will go shopping for you—you can give me a budget or not—and I will pick a bunch of things to accessorize a room,” she said. “You can take what you like and what you don’t like, and I will go back and return things.” She will also make use of existing accessories.Forexample,shelikestorevampblankwalls with groupings of family photos. People can take advantage of one, some or all of Gibson’s talents. Janis Swain, an Ashburn resident,recentlyhiredGibsontoreorganizeher entire home. Throughout the process, they are working together to redecorate, as well. So far, the venture has been going well, Swain said. “I will quote my daughter—she is 13. She saidworkingwithChantalis‘magical,’”shesaid. “I consider myself a very organized person, and Chantal has put me to shame, and she is just—not in a mean way—very much a task master. She is not chit chatting with me, she is utilizing my time very efficiently.” Indeed, Gibson has made a big difference in Swain’s life over a short time period. “We have been living in this house for 11 years, and we have four kids, a dog, and both my husband and I work full time, so it has been eyeopening for me to see the black hole we have been living in that I didn’t even realize,” Swain said. “I thought I was organized, but I had really let that go because of life.” During their time together, Gibson and Swain haven’t just formed a professional relationship, but also a personal bond. Swain said Gibson is already on the guest list for an annual partyshethrows.Anditisn’tunusualforGibson to gain such a connection with her clients. “Most people I work with I become friends

Before & After It's DONE designer Chantal Gibson transformed this kitchen seating area with simple additions, creating a warmer and more inviting space for the homeowner,

“I help them pick the colors that fit their personality and make it a happier, warmer place to be." ~ Chantal Gibson

with,” Gibson said. “I get emotionally involved with their family, and I am very, very conscientious of their feelings. I am not one of those people who come in and say, ‘Get rid of it, it is hideous.’ I want to work with you. I want to make things nice, but the way you want it and the way you like it.” Channeling her background, Gibson has a contemporary, European-type style when it comes to her personal decorating taste. However, she works with clients who bear various styles—traditional, international, contemporary and more. “I just work with what the person’s style is,” she said. Gibson charges clients based on an hourly rate, which she would not disclose but said was a reasonable amount. Depending on the heftiness of a project, she may cut clients a deal if she is spending large chunks of time working with them.Regardless,shestressedthatshe’saquick worker and doesn’t waste clients’ time. “I don’t mess around. I am in to do a good job, and then I’m out,” she said. Typically, Gibson stays within a 30-mile

radiusofAshburntodobusiness.Shewilltravel tonearbyplacessuchasTysons,McLean,Vienna, Oakton, Leesburg and Purcellville. As of now, Gibson mainly works on her own, unless she needs help with an extreme organization job. However, with business picking up—Gibson said she is constantly working, evenonweekends—shemayhireanassistantin the future to handle billing and marketing. She hasalsoconsideredemployingsomeonetohelp with organization jobs. “But I will probably always be doing my own interior design and accessorizing because that’s my thing, and I love it,” she said. “It’s new and exciting and very busy, so I am taking it one day at a time.”

Loudoun Business August 202  

The August 2012 issue of Loudoun Business

Loudoun Business August 202  

The August 2012 issue of Loudoun Business