living space

Living Your Dream in the Perfectly Designed Home

“There’s no place like home” is a famous phrase that embodies everything a home is meant to be: family, comfort, security, and love. All of those emotions are impacted by elements such as color, texture, lighting, and structure. To ensure your home provides everything you need, it’s important to work with an experienced professional designer who is able to understand your lifestyle and create a space that fulfills your dreams.

For nearly 60 years, Interiors Joan & Associates has been creating beautiful, functional spaces. Joan Sorensen started the business in Fremont, NE, in the upper level of the building in which her husband had his liquor business. She later expanded to a three-story Victorian building that had a rich history as a private residence, a funeral home, and a hospital. In fact, Sorensen was born there while it was a hospital in the 1930s. Sorensen’s granddaughter, and one of the company’s current co-owners, Kris Patton, has vivid memories from her childhood of visiting her grandmother at the studio and asking her if she could make an appointment with her to mix and match fabric and wallpaper.

Over the years, the company steadily grew. Sorensen opened her first location in Omaha in 1985, primarily so she’d have a place to change clothes to attend American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) events. When Nancy Pesavento and Diane Gernstein purchased the company, they opened a location in Lincoln in 2003 and consolidated the Fremont and Omaha staff under one roof in 2009 at its current office and showroom off 132nd & West Dodge Road. Then in 2019, Sorensen retired, and Patton, together with Lindi Janulewicz, purchased the company from Pesavento and Gernstein.

The biggest change that Interiors Joan & Associates has seen over its long history is how the scope of projects has become so much more technical and detailed—gone are the days of simply hanging wallpaper and draperies, as are hand-drawn blueprints and sketched designs. Having a team of highly trained and talented professional designers enables the company to take on a variety and depth of projects. Now 16 strong between the Omaha and Lincoln locations, each designer is not only ASID affiliated, but also award-winning. “They’ve completed schooling, continuing education, attend conferences, and are always engaged and keeping up with the industry,” Janulewicz said. In fact, their senior designers have hundreds of combined years of experience.

A strong team is what makes a successful business, and the support staff at Interiors Joan & Associates enables the designers to focus on their projects, take on more clients, and grow. “The success to our entire strategy is offering a high level of professionalism, which can only be done by letting everyone do what they do best,” Janulewicz said. Camaraderie between designers has also been critical to growth. Designers collaborate, share ideas, and even partner on projects.

Not only do the designers have reliable support but they have an extensive pool of resources at their fingertips. Unlike some design firms, Interiors Joan & Associates has relationships with more than 100 vendors they can purchase from directly. “Our size and buying power keep us competitive,” Patton said. Their designers go to market so they can see the products and trends and then bring them back to their showroom, which serves as a retail store open to the public, whether you work with a designer or not. “Our inventory constantly changes and everything in the showroom is for sale, both in Omaha and Lincoln,” Patton added.

Supporting the community is part of the company’s passion as well. They regularly donate design services and products from their showrooms to a variety of local non-profit fundraising silent auctions. The company also hosts and participates in local events that benefit a wide variety of non-profit organizations. “We believe in giving back to the people and community who have given us so much, and we believe in supporting our staff members’ passions by engaging in the organizations and missions they care about,” Janulewicz said.

For those who think hiring an interior designer is only beneficial for large projects, such as new home construction or remodels, Patton emphasized that no job is too small—they are happy to work with clients on just furniture and accessories as well. But if you are planning a larger project, it’s ideal to bring in a designer from the beginning. “We try to help spend your dollar wisely, and you can do it in stages to make it affordable. We always want to help someone make important design decisions before it’s too late.”

Every design consultation involves a bit of psychology as the designer gathers information about a client—their family makeup (children, pets, etc.), lifestyle (work from home or not), and what’s important to them (where they relax, entertain, etc.). It’s a deeper dive into the client’s world, and Patton pointed out, sometimes what a client says they want is different than what they really need. But trusting the designer is key to making a client’s real vision come true. There is even an option for those who just want a little direction. Originally developed in response to the pandemic, Interiors Joan & Associates now offers a “Design on Demand” model—such as a floor plan or a mood board. The level of assistance is tiered and all available online.

As the company continues to grow, it has added younger designers who can work with the next generation of clients and help them with each stage of life. “We have designed clients’ first homes, their vacation homes, their retirement homes, and even their children’s homes,” Patton said. “Personal style evolves as we age. People often lean toward trends, but then life influences your style, whether that’s from travel, lifestyle, or other family members. It’s all about the courage to have the home you want and knowing how to use the expertise to get you there.”

More stories like this one can be found at our Cover Story.

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