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Area design firm on TV

CORNELIUS — A local home designer will be featured on a TV show airing on Charlotte’s WJZY-TV 46 Saturday.
The show, “Desperate Design,” will feature Jennifer Pippin with Pippin Home Designs. Pippin met the show’s host, Margi Kyle, 10 years ago.
“She emailed me the idea for the TV show and I thought it was great,” Pippin said.
Kyle, also known as “The Designing Doctor,” is thrilled about working with Pippin.
“To be the best, I have to work with the best, and Jenny Pippin is just that,” said Kyle.
Andrea Core, marketing director for Pippin Home Designs, said the first of two shows aired in November.
“While the first show profiled our office as more of a paid advertisement, the second airing this Saturday will be more of a consumer-style design show,” she said.
The home on the first show was built in 1895. It’s the building Pippin herself redesigned into her offices and studio.
“I started looking for an old house because they have so much character,” said Pippin. That’s when she found a house on sale on Catawba Avenue in Cornelius.
On Dec. 9, 2004 the sale of Pippin’s future design studio was completed. The next day, work began to renovate the home into her new location.
The work on the home’s interior and exterior was extensive.
“We replaced all the windows, put in a whole new kitchen and bathroom and remodeled the flooring,” said Pippin. “We also had to make everything handicapped accessible.”
Pippin said the home was not of a universal design — which features wider doorways and hallways and is standard in newer construction — due to its age.
She knows from personal experience the importance of universal design.
Twenty years ago, she broke her back in an accident.
“I had to live in the living room of my house for three months because the home wasn’t universally designed,” she said.
The Saturday program will feature a custom home Pippin designed for a repeat client.
“I tried to create a warm and inviting feel in the home through open design, the use of faux finishes,” said Pippin.
The lake view of the home is also emphasized during the upcoming episode of “Desperate Design.”
Views, according to Pippin, are central to design.
“A lot of your older lake homes weren’t built with the view as a consideration,” said Pippin.
Her journey with a client starts with a walk of that client’s property.
“I see what the client wants to see and what he or she doesn’t want to see,” she said.
The best view for clients is west-facing, according to Pippin.
“It’s the hottest part of the property. Because of the sun, so many people usually closes their blinds and miss what could be an incredible view,” she said.
Pippin also focuses on a home’s interior. She asks her clients what they need inside, for example, do they want a home office or are they having a parent come to live with them.
After spending about two hours taking notes from these conversations, Pippin begins sketching room designs. Then the budgeting starts.
When she starts talking money with clients, she doesn’t like the word “cost.” She prefers “investment.”
“The investment depends on the square footage and what the client wants within the living space,” said Pippin. “I can do a house for $130 per square foot or for $250 per square foot. It depends on what the client wants.”
Pippin then touts the “team concept” approach once the design is created. She likes the client to assemble a team to help create the project because the team concept saves time for the clients.
The “time” Pippin spoke of is the time it takes to complete a project.
“All of the major players from the builders to the contractors and designers are already together,” she said. “The bidding wars many people engage in traditionally adds two months to any project.”
Renovations — roughly half of her business — also work the same way as the process involved with home building.
“There are not too many available lots that are affordable, so many clients like renovating because of the lot that their home sits one,” said Pippin.
While home designing is about the view and space, there’s a lot of psychology that is also involved.
“You sometime have a husband that wants one thing and a wife that wants another. Listening is crucial to strike a balance,” said Pippin. “It’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together. You have the site plan, client’s needs and wants and the lay of the land to take into consideration.”

The show “Desperate Design” airs on WJZY-TV 46 at 8 a.m. on Saturday and is repeated again at 5 p.m. on Thursday. For more information on Pippin Home Designs, call (704) 895-0000.

From Lincolnton, take N.C. 27 to N.C. 150. Follow N.C. 150 to I-77 in Mooresville and go south. At exit 28, take a left and Pippin Home Designs is a quarter-mile on the right going towards downtown Cornelius.
by Jon Mayhew

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