First Impression Designs
Established in 1994, British Columbia-based First Impression Designs prides itself on being able to create spaces that work best for its clients. The company has a broad client background and is capable of working on everything from kitchens, bathrooms, living spaces and model homes to commercial projects, custom millwork, window treatments, murals and exteriors.
Led by CEO and principal Shannon Haerdi, who has a degree in interior design and is National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certified, First Impression Designs’ associates have years of professional experience. The company specializes in high-end residential, retail and small commercial design. Most of the company’s work has taken place in British Columbia, although it has ventured into Washington state.
“Our focus has been residential design with a small percentage of retail and commercial design,” Haerdi says. “We do a lot of renovations and new home construction, and we specialize in model homes for builders. We currently have five builders that we do model homes for.”
The company is capable of providing complete working drawings that include floor plans, elevations, reflected ceiling, electrical and plumbing plans drawn on AutoCAD.
“We do a lot on AutoCAD, but now people want more visual aids and to see spaces in 3-D, so we’ve invested in that,” Haerdi says.
In addition, the company oversees projects from design to completion, providing services that can include obtaining building permits and hiring and overseeing trades. The company is adept at working within clients’ specific budgets while designing the appropriate living or work environment.
First Impression offers space-planning services designed to meet client criteria and interior color and exterior specifications. The company has a deep understanding of how to enhance spaces using unique art, accessories, custom window treatments, designer furniture and custom millwork. It offers in-home consultations that include redesigning the complete space or upgrading existing client’s decor.
The firm also has been involved in designing the backyard living spaces for many client homes, as well as for a number of model homes. These features include pergolas, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces and water features. The company works closely with the landscapers to achieve a specific look to suit the building lot and client needs.
Keeping up with the latest trends is critical for First Impression Designs. Haerdi says she is seeing more demand for things like quartz and solid surface countertops. She says many people are also looking for green materials and energy efficient products and solutions
“We’re also working to find cost effective, new and fresh ideas for flooring for our builders and clients,” she says. “Lighting is key, too. We are always on the hunt for beautiful lighting alternatives that look expensive and amazing but don’t cost a fortune.”
Above and Beyond
Although there was a downturn in the new build market in recent years, First Impression Designs has managed to see steady work thanks to its diversification. Being able to work on model homes, renovations and residential design helped the company stay busy.
The company also held fast to its commitment to building relationships with builders, realtors and homeowners. This goes a long way toward helping the company develop positive word of mouth and repeat-business opportunities.
“If a client asks for something, we bend over backwards to find what they need or give them an alternative,” Haerdi says. “We want each client to feel special and like they are the only one. Relationships with our clients are key to our business.”
Down the road, First Impression Designs would like to branch out a little bit more. Haerdi says there is room for the company to expand its presence into loft spaces, downtown commercial spaces and multi-unit towers.
“We would like to do more work in the downtown Vancouver area and expand our client base,” Haerdi says.
Over the next six months to a year, First Impression Designs looks forward to developing future opportunities with existing and new clients.
“Every client is unique to us and we love that our work is very diversified and customized to suit each client,” Haerdi concludes.