Lori Carroll & Associates
Lori Carroll & Associates engages its clients early in the process to create high-end homes
that speak to individual style.
By Tim O’Connor
People are more mindful of their dollars in this post-recession world; less extravagant with their expenditures than they used to be. In the home building market, that has led to fewer of the mega mansions of the 2000’s, however, clients are still looking for the quality and luxury lifestyle, albeit a more modest size. They want what they want, but maybe not on such a grand scale, interior designer Lori Carroll says. The homes might not be as large, but Carroll in finding ways to make the detailing every bit as impressive.
Carroll has been in the design business for more than 35 years. She began her career working in a local furniture store while attending the interior design program at the University of Arizona. After graduating, Carroll started her own interior design business. She partnered with two associates for more than a dozen years before venturing out on her own, becoming president and sole owner of Lori Carroll & Associates in 2000.
The company specializes in high-end interior design for residential and commercial projects, sometimes even working with a few of Tucson’s exclusive resorts. Most of Carroll’s design projects originate and remain in Tucson, however, she ventures beyond Arizona to California, Colorado and northern Mexico. Carroll is personally involved in every job, large or small, and typically works on 15-20 projects at any given time. Custom built homes can take two to four years to develop and see through to completion, Carroll says, depending on the size. Most range from 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, but the company has worked on some as large 15,000 square feet.
Excelling in Design
Carroll’s style has evolved throughout her 35-year career as her approach to understanding how a homes’ design elements will best fit a client’s lifestyle has heightened. As time goes on, Carroll finds herself more fully utilizing the level of detail in each home to make it come to life. With the client’s input, she has mastered how to bring materials and color together to create wonderful and exciting environments to live in. The landscapes of the region have also been hugely influential in her work. “Living in the Southwest, certainly we have a little bit different environment,” she says. “I like to incorporate the natural textural beauty around and play off of that.”
The company’s work continually garners accolades from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). In 2016, Lori Carroll & Associates was awarded first place in the powder room and kitchen categories at the NKBA Design Competition, and took home third place honors for powder room and large bath. The first place Kitchen of the Year was designed for a couple that had worked with Lori Carroll & Associates before and was building their ultimate dream home in Tucson, a contemporary house with a lot of attention to detail and a large master suite. “The interesting challenge was they wanted a very functional home, easy to maintain, with a clean, contemporary style and a little bit of warmth. In the very end they were absolutely thrilled with the outcome,” Carroll says.
On every project, Carroll’s goal is create a design that fits the client’s personality and matches their lifestyle. A two-year design process may seem long, but it allows her to fully understand the homeowner and the way they live. “It’s very important because it definitely allows me to create environments that are special to them and reflects who they are,” Carroll explains.
To ensure that process works, Carroll engages the client early in the design process by including them in fundamental decision-making. As a trusted advisor, Lori and her clients often tour local showrooms, sharing the experience of selecting plumbing fixtures, viewing tile and countertop options and deciding on lighting fixtures and other products that will complement everyday life.
The most successful projects are the ones where a perceptive client also pays close attention to the details, Carroll says. Such was the case on a recent home she designed. “[The homeowners] were great communicators and able to articulate what their likes and dislikes were. Having that connection between designer and client was key in creating beautiful, awe-inspiring spaces that were special to them.”
The other part of this design equation is the architects, builders and vendors Lori Carroll & Associates works with. The company begins working out the building details with a project’s architect and contractor right from the beginning to ensure each specification is covered. The homeowner then signs off on all design decisions. Carroll says making sure everyone knows what to expect avoids disappointments or problems down the line. “Don’t leave anything to the imagination,” she says. “If you do, something won’t be right.”
When choosing the design elements that will ultimately define a home, Carroll seeks out vendors, craftsmen and manufacturers who are equally creative, have exemplary business sense and are quick to follow up on details. Some of those suppliers have been loyally contributing to her finished homes for more than 25 years. “If I find someone and we have a great working relationship I continue to work with them,” she says.
Carroll cultivates similarly long-lasting relationships in her staff. “We’ve been blessed to do a variety of projects,” she says. “But I think one of the elements I’m most proud of is the team environment here.” The nurturing and supportive culture at Lori Carroll & Associates not only results in a great work environment but ends up benefiting the client as well. “I love working as a team”, Carroll says. “The results are a highly successful experience for our clients because we motivate each other to always accomplish more.” Carroll says that commitment to excellence is why the company has become a prominent name in the Tucson community.
No matter how much planning takes place, custom homebuilding always comes with surprises. Materials might run short or a supplier will discontinue the rug that would have tied the room together. When that happens, Carroll says she and her staff are quick to come up with solutions. “Providing outstanding customer service with little or no hassle for the client is imperative to success” she explains. “It’s not always about great design; it’s about partnering with our clients and seeing them through the process.”