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How to Work With Our Interior Designers

When most people hire an interior designer, they think mainly of aesthetics: wall colors, window treatments, pillow patterns. However, those are only the finishing touches; just one part of what an interior designer offers to the whole process.

At Tongue & Groove, the interior designers go beyond cosmetic concerns to ensure that your space feels harmonious, from its floor plan and architectural envelope to the last nailhead, light fixture, and piece of art.

The designers help you to save money by allocating resources wisely, preventing potential design mistakes, and increasing creative thinking by bringing solutions to the table that you may not have otherwise considered.

Here are some tips from our design team on how best to work with them.

1. Put together inspiration images to communicate the concept of what you want before your initial meeting

Gather images that speak to what you like. You can start an account on Pinterest or a Houzz account to organize your favorite photos online. Also, pick out examples of images that you don’t like, as this can be equally helpful. You can also cut out pictures from magazines and compile them in a folder to go over with your designer.

2. Be open to discuss your budget range and total cost ceiling

By doing so, your designer can guide you on ways to economize and to splurge where it has the most significant impact.

3. Prepare for your initial consultation

It’s essential to have all household members present at the initial meeting. Having everyone’s input from the beginning helps to avoid potential conflicts or misunderstandings later on. Make sure you review the conceptual images you have compiled so you can talk about the specifics of what you want. It is essential to have realistic expectations. Don’t expect all design dilemmas to be resolved at the first meeting. You will need to give the design process time to evolve. Some designers come into a project and instantly know what they would do, while others like to ponder the options over a drawing. It is important for you to know and discuss what items are a ‘must stay’ or ‘cannot change’ in your project.

4. Remember, you must not keep your ideas to yourself.

Communication is key to getting what you want. Interior designers don’t know what you want until you tell them.

If you feel you should mention something, please do! The more information they have, the better able the designer is to provide the end product you desire.

5. Don’t believe what you see on TV or believe that it is reality.

What happens in TV land stays there, it’s not reality. You cannot renovate a bathroom from top to bottom with only $5,000! Design + Build teams aren’t trying to ‘swindle you’; we are trying to gather information from you on what finish level you expect. Then, the designer will give you a realistic budget to work with that relates to what you want as an end result for your newly renovated space or new home design.

6. Don’t dismiss a design idea without letting us tell you why we went in that direction

You have gone through the rigorous process of selecting a design + build team, so try to trust them because they are your team. If you start dismissing design ideas and plans without an open discussion, frustration can build for both parties. Keep in mind that your designer can visualize the completed project, and veering from a design plan can lead to a less than desirable outcome.

Of course, if the decision doesn’t feel right after you have given it time and discussion, then it can be changed. But for the most part, let the designer do their magic. You will probably be very pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

7. Don’t expect things to move at a hurried pace.

Designers don’t run at superhero speed, although they may try. Good design takes time. There are 1000’s of decisions to make and many ‘moving parts’ to consider when designing any home or space. And, when you decide to spend any amount of money on improving your area, take enough time, slow down, and ensure you have covered all the bases and have reviewed all options that make sense.

The important thing is that the relationship with your interior design team must feel right.

Remember, we are YOUR team!

Stephanie Schauer – Operations Manager 

After living in Wisconsin for most of her life, Stephanie decided it was time for a change in scenery and packed up her things to move south to the coast of Wilmington, NC with her daughter and many beloved animals. She has over 7 years of experience in the construction and management arena, having successfully managed a flooring store in Wisconsin and a local Wilmington studio prior to managing operations at T&G. Stephanie‘s primary goal is to provide the optimal support to her clients and team members in order to create satisfaction and success through our Mission. When managing to have free time on her hands, she spends it exploring new places, helping others and always finding ways to leave things better than she found them.

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Mark Batson – Owner/Visionary

Wilmington native, Mark Batson, studied at UNCW. He earned his BA in History, which is the study of the past and how it relates to people. Relating to people is what the business of custom home building is all about. Mark applies lessons from his past experiences and intuitively guides his clients through the design/build process to create something special. He sees his purpose being to help families imagine how their lives could be, actualized into real environments, improving their lives through better living. Winner of multiple awards and recognition, including 2017 NAHB Custom Home Builder of the Year Award Finalist, Mark has found that cultivating long-term relationships with both clients and colleagues is the true reward.

As leader, Mark’s role is to instill a sensibility about how things should be done. He believes in having a warrior’s spirit, a servant’s heart, and a fun-loving atmosphere. His promise to the client is to never compromise quality or coolness. Mark lives in Wrightsville Beach with his family of five, where his young children keep him busy. Occasionally, he’ll get opportunities for fun, like flying, surfing, spearfishing and other water sports. Overall, he wants to leave a legacy that has a positive impact on himself, his family, and his community.

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Aaron Trudo – Architectural Associate, AIA

Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, Aaron specializes in innovative and creative design solutions for residential projects. He earned his Master of Architecture degree from the North Carolina State University College of Design and has an extensive background in residential design. He is also a licensed general contractor with years of experience in construction management. With a multi-faceted background in architecture, art, design, craft and construction, he is uniquely equipped to think outside the parameters of his discipline allowing for diverse and innovative design solutions. Aaron’s expertise in residential design is not limited to a particular style, but rather he seeks to collaboratively work with our clients to understand their needs and design in a manner that is reflective of the type of project they desire. Aaron’s process is driven not by style, but by an early analysis and interpretation of our client’s needs through careful consideration of the site and program, exploration of space, materials and creative ways to meet the budget. He searches to develop clear, distinguished work informed by the craft of construction, sustainability, culture and technology. It is Aaron’s belief that every project is unique, thus each design response should be diverse, and a reflection of the clients involved. In his free time outside the office, Aaron enjoys traveling, hiking, researching motorcycles and spending time at the beach.

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Bridgett Mazer – Interior Designer, ASID

Bridgett brings her creative and nationally award-winning design expertise to Tongue & Groove, guiding our clients through making selections for their project. She brings inspiration and life to a space through timeless design, modern concepts and immaculate details. Her design philosophy fits in perfectly with the T&G team, as she promises to never compromise details or lifestyle when bringing concepts to life through quality and thoughtful selection choices.

With over 14 years as an interior design expert, Bridgett boasts an Interior Design Associate Degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree from UNCW in Education with a Minor in Psychology. She is a member of ASID and CCASID and represents over 100 furniture, lighting, window treatments and accessory lines – equivalent to the same buying power as a retail store. Bridgett has been the head designer for several homeowners, communities and clubhouses.

When Bridgett is taking a break from designing luxury homes, she is spending time with her husband and two children at Wrightsville Beach.

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Kelsey Talis – Interior Designer, ASID

Kelsey Talis is a multi-talented, eminently creative and nationally published interior designer with over eight years of experience in the New York, Philadelphia, South Florida and North Carolina areas. She is motivated by her love for design as well as her ability to coordinate, oversee and complete high-caliber projects. Kelsey attended Drexel University where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the dually accredited (CIDA, NASAD) program. Prior to joining the Tongue & Groove team, Kelsey spent over five years in Naples, Florida where she designed and managed numerous high-end residential projects. Kelsey’s education and vast experience have enhanced her ability to set realistic projections, manifest trust, and empathy, construct lasting client relationships, and ultimately exceed expectations by turning design visions into reality.

As a passionate creative and allied ASID professional, Kelsey has a constant desire to enhance her knowledge and skillset in the realm of innovative design, construction and project management. This enthusiasm allows her to view projects from various relevant perspectives and greatly augments her design dexterity.

Outside the office, you can find Kelsey on the water. Whether it be fishing, boating, wakeskating, paddleboarding or running her dog, Pompano, on the many islands surrounding Wrightsville Beach.

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Greg Davis – 3D Artist

25 years ago, Greg decided to move to Wilmington from Fair Hill, Maryland because of the good surf and ideal weather. Since then, Greg opened his own successful architectural visualization and drafting firm. Specializing in 3D modeling and photo-realistic renderings of both residential and commercial exteriors and interiors, Greg loves to give clients the opportunity to see what hasn’t been built yet and consequently provide them with the confidence that they will love their new home! In Greg’s free time, he likes to spend time with his three daughters, cook, play guitar, scuba dive, and spearfish.

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Micah Peterson – 3D Artist

Micah is a 3D modeler and drafter who works with Tongue & Groove Design+Build and helps our clients visualize what their homes and lives can and will look like in the near future. He heard it described once as getting to be an “Imagination Assistant”, and he has run with that ideology ever since. Micah has been an artist since early childhood, and always sought ways to practice his craft with his hobbies, art classes, and in architectural school.

He has always had a passion for creating visual pieces that people fall in love with. Plus, growing up in Wilmington with all of its beautiful beaches, homes, and traditional art, there’s never been a lack of applicable inspiration. As he was in the midst of completing his Architectural Engineering degree at Cape Fear, Micah had the opportunity to take part in an internship on The Big Island of Hawaii, where he got to help in designing and drafting a new multimedia complex as well as the future dormitories and apartments for the University of The Nations campus in Kona, HI.

Also, during his collegiate studies, Micah had the opportunity to lead a design team in creating a virtual reality exhibit for the North Carolina History Museums. That exhibit now allows visitors to experience and walk around in a recently discovered archeological dig site as it would have looked in the 1500s. Additionally, he has previously worked for Paramounte Engineering as a drafter for residential civil design projects. When Micah isn’t designing our client’s dreams, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons. He looks forward to activities that get him outside and on or near the water, especially surfing right around the corner from our office at Wrightsville Beach.

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Anna Rudolph – Director of Marketing & PR

Anna brings her wide-eyed perspective to Tongue & Groove Design+Build along with avid support for her beloved alma mater, the University of Louisville. Anna has ten years of experience as a marketing/pr consultant and an account executive for an award-winning South Florida agency as well as holding the position of marketing manager for one of South Florida’s premier restaurant groups. With a keen interest in social trends, digital advertising and unique marketing strategies Anna ensures Tongue & Groove’s digital presence is prominent and ever evolving.

As a marketing strategist, Anna meticulously caters to our brand to capitalize on unique marketing opportunities. She specializes in crafting campaigns that provide multi-channel marketing strategies, all while guiding our brand to a strategically sound future. Brands Anna has had the privilege of working with include: iPic Entertainment, BurgerFi, Rapoport’s Restaurant Group, Siemens Group Realty, PGA National, and over a dozen South Florida hotels, commercial/residential developments, bars, restaurants, and non-profits. When Anna isn’t dreaming up the next big marketing strategy, you’ll find her boating around Wrightsville Beach with her family.

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Abby Nenichka – Operations Assistant

Abby has a proven track record of operational support, in addition to interior design coordination, management, and training. She has a strong ability to streamline processes, maximize efficiency, and foster professional relationships within organizations. Abby’s philosophy centers around what role she can play in helping others find solutions. She is committed to excellence in service. She predicts needs and always practices personal accountability in the workplace. She finds enjoyment in helping people and organizations become successful. When you visit our office, you will most likely be greeted by Abby. She is on our front line when it comes to getting questions answered and logistics in order. She enjoys tackling the administration that keeps our business running smoothly. Abby is currently in her final semester at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in International Business.

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Michelle Emett – Client Liaison

Born in Utah, Michelle brings her strong communication skills and broad-reaching real estate knowledge to every transaction. With unparalleled enthusiasm and boundless energy—Michelle pursues the highest goals for herself, her team, and our clients. Michelle’s expertise extends beyond properties, rates, and appraisals to making authentic, human connections. She recognizes that our clients need more than customer service; they need an advocate, someone who is fully invested in their goals and uses their knowledge as a tool to help them achieve exceptional results.

For Michelle, a successful business endeavor is not just a profitable one; it’s one in which she can rest assured she provided our clients with the best service possible while setting the stage for a partnership that long outlasts the closing of a project. Michelle has coordinated real estate transactions in some of Wilmington’s most exclusive neighborhoods and communities and is known for consistently providing exceptional communication throughout the process. In her free time outside the office, Michelle enjoys spending time with her family of five, exploring the Wilmington area and supporting local and national non-profit organizations.

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Rita Fischer – Accountant

Rita earned her Accounting degree at Temple University Fox School of Business in Philadelphia, PA. She received her CPA license in New Jersey and Washington, working for KPMG in Princeton, NJ, and at Boeing in Seattle, WA. Rita moved back to the East coast to Wilmington, NC, and is enjoying the beaches and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. She has over 30 years of service-oriented teamwork experience with strong organizational and analytical skills. Rita and her husband enjoy spending time with their grown children in Boston and Seattle.

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Mitch Hug – Project Supervisor

Mitch grew up in a small town in east central, Indiana and moved to Charlottesville, Virginia shortly after high school where he began a career in music. Continuing to pursue his passion, he started a family and took many more opportunities across the country. Along his journey, he decided to broaden his creativity and craftsmanship into the custom construction field. It all began with the position at a custom cabinet and mill shop in Philadelphia which triggered his new passion and curiosity to learn more. Mitch spent 8 years learning all aspects of cabinet making and finishes before he started working as a remodeling carpenter for the next 3 years. In Fall of 2016 he took the opportunity to move to Wilmington, NC and join the team at Tongue & Groove where he has been successfully managing not only projects, but also client relationships.

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Jim Wright – Project Supervisor

Jim Wright holds over 20 years of professional experience in the construction industry having worked for major global brands like Chanel and the American Red Cross. After graduating from State College and the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology’s carpentry and building program in 1991, Jim made his way south to Wilmington. He quickly became immersed in the exciting entertainment business, as a prop designer for Screen Gems Studios.

After several years in the film industry, Jim later went on to run his own business specializing in interior trim for high-end custom homes until 2007. He was later offered an opportunity he couldn’t pass up, working for Chanel, building window displays all over the world. After many years of multifaceted experience in construction, project management, and the trades as a trim carpenter, Jim has a wealth of experience and knowledge with which he applies to his position as Project Supervisor at Tongue & Groove. He takes pride in his work and goes by the belief that if a project is done right the first time, it won’t have to be done again. He believes his work in the film industry has taught him that anything is possible. If you can imagine it, he can build it!

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Employee Name – Employee Job Title

Jim Wright holds over 20 years of professional experience in the construction industry having worked for major global brands like Chanel and the American Red Cross. After graduating from State College and the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology’s carpentry and building program in 1991, Jim made his way south to Wilmington. He quickly became immersed in the exciting entertainment business, as a prop designer for Screen Gems Studios.

After several years in the film industry, Jim later went on to run his own business specializing in interior trim for high-end custom homes until 2007. He was later offered an opportunity he couldn’t pass up, working for Chanel, building window displays all over the world. After many years of multifaceted experience in construction, project management, and the trades as a trim carpenter, Jim has a wealth of experience and knowledge with which he applies to his position as Project Supervisor at Tongue & Groove. He takes pride in his work and goes by the belief that if a project is done right the first time, it won’t have to be done again. He believes his work in the film industry has taught him that anything is possible. If you can imagine it, he can build it!

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