Equal parts form and function. An emphasis on architectural elements as well as ornate beauty. These are the meanings behind interior design firm Pillar & Peacock’s name, and it is perfectly fitting for their philosophy toward designing homes that has caught the attention of many in their southern market.
For this installment of Creative Conversations, Pillar & Peacock’s co-founders and Principal Designers Adrianne Bugg and Brandeis Short told us all about the serendipitous start to their business in 2011, the success they’ve seen since, and how Design Manager has helped them take things to new levels.
ISLAND BUNGALOW – EXUMA, BAHAMAS
An Upward Trajectory
Interior design was a second calling for Adrianne, who had an established career in finance before co-founding Pillar & Peacock. She worked with Brandeis’ husband, and actually enlisted Brandeis for help with redesigning her home. Around the same time as this project, Adrianne felt the urge to do something else with her life.
“I had an epiphany while we were working on redesigning my home and decided this is what I wanted to do,” she says. “I thought about going back to school, then at the same time Brandeis left her firm and was looking to start her own business. We were working together on my house in the summer and by November, we had an LLC to start Pillar & Peacock.”
When they started the firm they both lived in Richmond, Va., but now, with Adrianne residing in Alabama and Brandeis in Tennessee, they now run three offices across the Southeast with 11 full-time employees.
And Covid-19 hasn’t slowed their growth either. In fact, it’s had a positive influence on their business according to Adrianne, who says the increased amount of time people are spending in their homes has made them make their spaces a priority.
“Back in March when all of this hit, Brandeis and I kind of looked at each other and said ‘Well OK, we’ll be fine, we’ll cruise through this.’ We got some great projects before all of this hit but we really didn’t know how our clients were going to feel: Would they want to hold? It’s really been crazy how busy we are.”
PRIVATE RESIDENCE – FLORENCE, AL
The Pillar & Peacock ladies pride themselves on being chameleons of design, shying away from a signature look and instead, adapting to their clients’ styles
They’ve done designs that are more modern and some that are more traditional but, overall, they strive to keep everything looking very clean and classic. One defining characteristic though?
“We’re not afraid of color or pattern,” says Brandeis. “Not to say that we can’t do all-white spaces – we definitely can, and have – but we like color and pattern.”
When asked what their favorite room to design in a house is, the ladies have two answers. First is the kitchen.
“It’s the heart of the house,” Brandeis explains. “When we’re doing a whole home we usually start in the kitchen because it’s the core of the home where you gather with family and friends. While there aren’t as many furniture choices or fabric choices for the kitchen, you can go from there into the living room and really pump it up.”
Another favorite? Owners’ suites.
“While you’re really digging into who the client is and how they want to use the public spaces of their home, you also learn how they want their private spaces to feel,” Adrianne explains. “That’s really rewarding – your bedroom is your haven, so it’s great when you can give that to someone.”
WATERFRONT RESIDENCE – KILMARNOCK, VA
How Design Manager Helps
With Pillar & Peacock’s sustained growth over the last nine years, Design Manager appealed to Adrianne and Brandeis as a highly functional tool for their expanding firm. Going from four to 11 full-time employees over the last few years, with more people logging more time, more purchasing going through the company, and more bookkeeping work that needed to happen, the ladies made the switch over to Design Manager in January.
Brittiany Dubose, Pillar & Peacock’s bookkeeper, says the program’s ability to get down to the item level was one of its most appealing aspects.
“As a bookkeeper, it’s so important to analyze what products we’re ordering and what’s most profitable; that’s the most glorious thing about Design Manager to me – you can get right down to the nitty gritty and see what’s affecting your profitability and adjust things accordingly, which we’ve done in several instances.” That includes analyzing where employee time is going, to where funds are being spent, and even where the firm could save money. For all of this and more, Design Manager has provided valuable insights that have helped guide the owners’ decisions.
Brittiany says the team uses every aspect of the program to run their business – “every single dollar, moment, and thing that goes on at Pillar & Peacock really does happen in Design Manager” – and its in-depth reporting is what truly sets it apart from the competition.
“Design Manager really does show you a 360 of every single dollar that goes in and out of your business, and that has been key,” Brittiany says.