August 28, 2018
When Lauren and Wendy Nolan-Seller began remodeling their Philadelphia area
home in 2010, they had no idea that in less than two years they would be
operating their own interior design and home staging company.
“It really came from watching HGTV,” admits Lauren Nolan-Seller, who, with her spouse, Wendy, co-founded Trust the Vision Décor in Bucks County in 2012. It started when friends and family saw the couple’s house being transformed, and they offered to hire the women to rethink their own interiors.
“People started coming around and saying they would pay to have us consult,” Lauren says.
At that point, the couple, who are interracial and share two children, was excited about the opportunities, but neither of them had any formal education in design. It inspired Lauren to attend the Interior Design Institute to focus on the company’s creative efforts, while Wendy became the brains behind the day-to-day business.
During the past six years, the firm has expanded to include clients
throughout the suburbs, city and South Jersey. In 2015, they were ranked
among Houzz.com’s “Best of” list as one of the most influential interior
design teams in the world. They also donate their time to Habitat for Humanity.
The duo recently renovated Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler’s new Center City condo. Lauren took what she calls a “client-centered” approach to making a house a home for the busy pro-baseballer.
“A lot of what you see on TV is designers with defined style and people who love that style,” she says.
“But our clients have their style and we try to bring that style to fruition.”
She describes her own style as “transitional,” one that incorporates hard surfaces and clean lines with more traditional fabrics and curves.
“We’re not afraid of color,” Lauren says.
“One question we ask clients is how they want to connect with their spaces.”
She says that design has a lot to do with function and beauty, but also how people exist within a space and really use it. When they first got the call from Kapler’s business rep, they knew it would be important to meet one-on-one with the busy Phillies manager.
“He was just moving in and we wanted to get a sense of his style. He basically wanted a place where he could unwind, listen to his music, things that would be able to keep him calm off the field," she says.
The space now exemplifies everything the busy Phillies manager wanted – a place he could relax, entertain and enjoy his music. A bar with custom shelving even houses a few choice spirits, while a wardrobe hides electronics from plain view.
“He really liked the element of strength,” says Lauren, “for a more
masculine-leaning style. Our goal was to have the space finished before he
left for spring training,” which gave she and her team less than three
months to complete the ambitious project.
In addition, the pair also renovated Kathy Romano's kitchen, from "The Preston & Steve Show" on 93.3 WMMR.
About two years ago, the women launched their own Aspiring Designers training program that’s fast becoming the newest arm of their business. The online program, which educates emerging designers about how to open shop, has attracted about a dozen students around the country since it started.
“When you go to school for interior design,” Lauren admits, “you come out not knowing how to run a business.”
But since a lot of designers ultimately want to operate their own firms, there are challenges in getting more practical processes set up.
Lauren and Wendy teach designers the nuts and bolts of setting up a small business based on how they’ve built their own company. It’s all boiled down to an eight-week course built on systems they already have in place, and that they claim really do work.
The great thing is we give everyone a head start. We give them the exact tracking system we’ve created.”
The first designer who signed up for the academy has since been chosen as an outstanding designer in her home state of North Carolina.
“When we met this woman,” Lauren says, “she had a great aesthetic, but went out of business. Now she’s riding high.”
Another designer they worked with was recently profiled in a lifestyle magazine in Houston where her interiors are very much in demand.
“People sometimes underestimate how hard it will be to launch a new business,” says Lauren.
“The great thing is we give everyone a head start. We give them the exact tracking system we’ve created.”
They also pass along professional lessons they’ve learned along the way, like the time a client confessed that they were instrumental in helping repair family relationships simply by making people feel happier in their home.
“These people reconnected in ways that they didn’t anticipate,” says Lauren.
“When we design for our clients what we try to do is think about more than a pretty space. We think about where people will be their best selves.”