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Five Tips To Running A Family Business that Actually Work!

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Five Tips To Running A Family Business that Actually Work!

Good-Space-Family-Business

When people hear that Good Space Plans Online is owned by Dwaina Sprague and Molly Sprague, a mother-daughter business, we often get asked if the dynamics actually work. We can understand the trepidation from others! Lots of family-businesses are balancing acts between professional and personal boundaries. Yet here we are, 9 years later, and still enjoying each other’s company with a business that is growing ever stronger.

The truth is there are many misconceptions to what actually happens in a family business. And if you’ve been considering partnering with a family member, then we are here to tell you it can be a very fulfilling and advantageous experience. However, be aware that issues and disagreements are bound to creep up and in order to mitigate those problems we offer five tips to maintain harmony.

And if you find these tips helpful then consider coming to our FREE event February 13, “I Came, I Saw, I Conquered” teamed with Pinkhaus, where we’ll discuss how to run a family owned business. 

The Good Space Plans Team:

Dwaina Sprague 

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Dwaina first began Good Space in 2005 after sending the last of her four children off to university. She had been operating her interior design practice, “Under One Roof Interiors” from her home and was ready to venture out into a brick and mortar studio in Gastown. In 2014, she decided to make Good Space Plans Online with the mission to connect people to a world of interior design through e-design technology that’s more approachable, accessible, collaborative and fun.

Molly Sprague

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Molly joined the company after graduating from Saint Francis Xavier University in 2011. Shortly after, she left her job of working with children to work with her mother in the family biz. Since then, she and Dwaina have been nurturing Good Space Plans Online into an online interior design service that’s more approachable, accessible, collaborative and fun for homeowners.

 

Five Ways We Make Family Business Work

Molly and Dwaina are the first to admit that running a business with family is not always seamless, but they make it work by following these five business practices below. They also proudly follow the principals of progressive feminist business models, such as interdependence, embodying values, and socially conscious marketing. Their proudest accomplishment to date is their constant support of Covenant House Vancouver. 

Read on to learn the 5 key business practices Dwaina and Molly use as both business partners and family members. 

  1. 1. Trust and Communication

Dwaina explains the most important first step in working in a family business is establishing trust and communication. To do that there needs to be firm boundaries set for everyone’s success. For example, clearly defined roles of whom to report to is important. Set work hours are also crucial to make sure only work-related tasks are being completed and communicated. 

Dwaina believes non-judgmental communication can be practiced through ground rules from the start. However, she also jokes that you will mess these up enough times to see what works and what doesn’t – and that is all worth the effort.

  1. 2. Minimize Gossip and Complaints

Dwaina also highlights that she and Molly try to minimize complaining or gossiping to one another.  She acknowledges that sometimes the urge to complain can be too strong to resist, and that makes this rule always a work in progress. However, they know the discipline they are practicing adds boundaries and professionalism to their family life and business life. 

  1. 3. Find Balance

Molly says her experience working in a family business is something she’s grateful for every day. She is especially proud of the balance she and her mom have found with each other. Open communication about when to focus on work and when to enjoy family time is important for balance. She says that it is not always easy to admit your limits, but it has made their work environment feel much much more enjoyable. 

For them something as simple as jumping out of their work day to go for a walk together can establish balance in the day. Finding those moments to talk about their day-to-day events and their personal life gives them much needed family time. 

  1. 4. Be Open To Change 

Although we’ve stated defined roles as important, they don’t always work in the ways you expect. Molly says this is why it’s important to be open to change. 

There’s much wisdom to be shared when you bring in past and present lessons to inform visions of the future. Making time to discuss new concepts and recommendations allows your business to be open to new ideas. While still respecting each other’s boundaries. 

When you accept what is, it creates more space for creativity, which then translates to more productive and innovative work. This requires open communication at all times. 

  1. 5. Make Room for Fun

Molly says the best part of working in a family business is the fun she and her mom get to have together. Going to events are ways they let loose and learn something new. Finding ways to bring fun to their office is important for them too. Molly can’t deny they are big snackers. So every meeting has to have some version of a delicious snack. I mean, what doesn’t go well with hummus and a fun work environment?! 

Dwaina and Molly both love being cozy in their office, so they buy slippers for each team member working there. Lap blankets, cozy scarves, anything to be cozy is key!

When Dwaina and Molly can incorporate fun ways to connect with each other in the workspace, they really see how their working relationship shines. 

I Came I Saw I Conquered

 

Both Dwaina and Molly had their veni, vidi, vici moments when they decided to run a business together. They came together to plan their dreams of running an interior design company that puts you, the client, first. They saw the challenges that could happen from working together as a family. And they conquered those challenges through their honesty, boundaries, and having fun together. 

If you want to know more about how they make running a family business work then listen to Dwaina and Molly speak and answer questions at Pinkhaus’s I Came, I Saw, I Conquered event

They will be joined by other successful business women Desirée Dupuis and Jenifer Wright. Desirée Dupuis is the director of Ruben’s Shoes Society, a non-profit group that has sent 80,000 pairs of shoes around the world. Jenifer Wright, the General Manager of Westwood Plateau Golf, and has benefited greatly from the 10+ years of hospitality and golf industry knowledge.

The event is FREE so register to claim your spot. All happening February 13, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM PST, 1126 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam. We can’t wait to see you there! 

How E-Design Can Save You Money and Time

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Yes, E-design CAN save you money and time.

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Source: West Coast Comfort

A common question we get asked is “Why should I choose e-design?”

Well, have you ever bought a new piece of furniture, then discovered it didn’t fit in your building elevator? Have you ever brought home a new decor item, then realized it didn’t match your room at all? Have you ever spent thousands of dollars on new flooring or countertops that didn’t actually serve your needs?

The truth is, online interior design can save you a lot of time by sourcing the material for your space. It can especially also save you money by providing you with the best design options for your home AND your wallet. This is all at a fraction of the cost of full-service interior design. It’s why more and more people are choosing e-design to help make their dream home become a reality. 

But isn’t it less costly to just DIY?

You can definitely do-it-yourself if you have an eye for detail or you’re planning to add one or two new pieces to your home. For many though, choosing the right furniture, paint, carpet, etc. can be overwhelming, and without the proper guidance, a DIY approach becomes very expensive as was found by this Globe and Mail reader here.  

For those who are transitioning into a larger home or smaller home, having a new space means an opportunity to create the home YOU imagined when first buying your house or condominium. 

Interior Designers come with the skill and experience to make sure that your vision lines up with your budget. Good Space Plans packages come with a set price, meaning there won’t be any additional fees crept in. Additionally, Good Space Plans offers a money back guarantee if you choose to cancel your Good Space Plan before our first designer meeting.

The concern over cost was definitely something our clients Brian and Greg worried about when they wanted to update their cozy condo. 

“One thing that surprised us is I think we had a misconception that interior design was for the super-rich. Turns out, it was an affordable interior design option, we could fit it into our budget, and they were willing to take on a small job.” – Brian and Greg

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They are correct!

Too many projects can linger and go unfinished without an expert hand to guide you. Above all, this guiding hand does not have a choke-hold on your creativity. Together, we collaborate on the space and you see your vision come to life.

No time to dilly-dally.

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Source: Unsplash

Online interior designers know how to make a plan as efficient and time effective as possible. You will save not only money with e-design but also time. 

E-design allows you to save time because you’re not worrying about the little things like what supplier will provide the best value for your buck. After getting on boarded into the Good Space Plans Online proprietary system, learning more about you and understanding the dimensions of your space, the Good Space team will address the function, surfaces, light & goods and provide you with a comprehensive Interior Design plan.  

Depending on the scope of the work, from the time you begin your first creative session with our Good Space Designers, to the final delivered design plan, our process can be as quick as 30 days. 

We Collaborate with You in the Design Process.

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Source: Unsplash

Our clients are creative and inspired people who put their hearts and souls into their projects. If you’re a creative type who wants to add your own flair to your space, then e-design is the perfect way to help your vision blossom. 

Our past clients Kar-Lai and Terry wanted a home that spoke to their personality and interests. Good Space Plans provided them with a questionnaire to learn more about them. 

“The only thing that we asked them to design around was my grand piano. It’s a nice brown colour, it’s a bit of an older look and my parents bought it for me when I was five. When we first saw the Good Space Plan we were blown away. We were impressed by the amount of work and effort it took to put it together” – Kar-Lai 

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Source: Kar-Lai and Terry

With the help of e-design now Kar-Lai and Terry have a space that complements and features their most prized possession.  

A picture perfect home cannot compare to a home you can truly call your own. By using our e-design services you can be proud knowing you had a big part to play in designing your dream space. This is because e-design puts YOU as the focus of attention. Everything works around you first.

What makes Good Space Different from other E-Design companies?

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Good Space Plan’s founders Dwaina and Molly Sprague

So you may be asking what about other e-design companies? Natt Garun of The Verge created a detailed review of some popular e-design services around the web. He explains the problem most of these companies run into is that they use trial and error to find what works in a space, which can be costly and time-consuming. Good Space Plans is not like that. 

Our designers along with the support of Dwaina and Molly created Good Space Plans knowing that technology cannot replace human touch. With Good Space Plans Online you are talking to people directly and have one-to-one meetings with your designer. They can customize the design to your space’s specifications. We are so confident in the Good Space e-design process, there is a money back guarantee for your initial deposit in the beginning Inform phase of the process. There will be no shots taken in the dark with Good Space Plans.

So now are you ready to save your money and time with E-design?

At a fraction of the price of regular interior design, Good Space Plan’s e-design saves you money. With e-design you get more say in your budget and how fast or slow you want to implement the design. This means you can pace yourself and your wallet when life tends to pop up and shift all the time.

Founder and principal designer Dwaina Sprague created Good Space in 2007 with the intention to make interior design less of a luxury service and more accessible. Since then Good Space Plans has been credited as one of North America’s leading e-design services. With e-design we provide the best value, save time, and help ideas come to life with our clients.

Have more questions?

If you have more questions about e-design then check our FAQs page where we answer questions like what a Good Space Plan includes and does not include, payment processes, and many others you may have. 

5 Expert tips for Designing Small Spaces

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Ready for some great news? Buying furniture and designing your small spaces is now easier than ever! More and more people are embracing apartment living. The home decor industry has answered our cries with so many great ideas to help you with designing small spaces.

Here are our 5 expert tips for designing small spaces in your home:

Tip #1: Extendable Dining Tables

 

Formal dining rooms are not as popular anymore, especially in smaller homes. But it’s also hard to host a larger dinner party in an apartment around a 4 person table. This is why we recommend extendable dining tables so you can keep it small for everyday use, and extend it for the company.

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a new concept. It’s been around for ages, but it’s still worth mentioning because they’ve made some significant design upgrades to make them much more convenient and functional. 

You may have remembered digging around in closets and under the bed for those heavy wood “leafs” to extend your dining room table. Somehow we always left it to the last minute (or was that just us)? Today, dining tables come with convenient leaf storage under the table. Now you always know, assuming you put it away properly, where that leaf is. 

Tip #2: Versatile Chairs

When designing small spaces, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. This is why we recommend choosing chairs that can be used at the dining table, your desk, and even as extra seating in the living room. This way you can easily move your chairs around where you need them. 

We also recommend when choosing chairs for smaller spaces, to choose ones with lower backs. This will keep them from taking up too much visual space in your room.

The style and design of the chair are also important when you plan to repurpose your chairs around your home. Choose a more natural design so it fits easily with any room decor. Also, if you plan to move them frequently, avoid ones that are too bulky or heavy as they’ll be a pain in your back, literally, to move around. Keep in mind that even if a chair looks trendy in the showroom or in the magazine, it doesn’t mean it’s a great option for your home. 

Remember, chairs don’t have to be huge to be comfortable.

Tip #3: Side Tables

Even in small spaces you’re gonna want somewhere to put your drink down or place a snack bowl or a good book (if you can put a good book down). When designing small spaces, consider where people would put their drink down when they sit and make sure there is a suitable side table for each seat. 

A small coffee table in the middle of a family room can provide a good spot for beverages, but also consider adding smaller narrow side tables next to chairs where it isn’t as easy to put a drink down. If you are tight on space, consider nesting side tables so you can store them when you don’t have extra company over.

Tip #4: Let in the Light!

 

You can easily and inexpensively make your small rooms look much bigger with a few lighting tricks. 

  • Open the blinds: Brighter spaces help make a room feel so much bigger and come with so many added health benefits. Natural light is known to increase endorphins and serotonin and help to balance your hormones. When you get enough natural light during the day you are more likely to sleep better at night. We also know that the sun boosts your energy too so open those curtains and let in the light!
  • Paint it light: When painting your small spaces, consider using lighter paint colours. Dark colours will make a room appear smaller. If you are compelled to paint a darker more bold colour, consider doing it as an accent wall instead. 
  • Add functional lighting: Consider how you will be using each area of the room. If it’s an area you will be working at a computer or reading a book, consider a smaller reading lamp on the table or attached to the wall. If it’s an area you simply pass through (like a hallway or foyer) look for more general lighting options like pot lights and lamps to light the space. In the bathrooms, you’ll want lighting directed over the sink and counter area most. 

Hang a mirror: A large mirror in the room bounces the light around better, making your space appear larger. Also, the right mirror can make the room look 2x as big as you see a “second” room in the reflection. 

Tip #5: Sneaky Storage

Storage is often one of the biggest struggles our clients in smaller homes and apartments have. To avoid cluttered rooms, we need storage options. But when your room is small, we can’t always put in big bulky storage cabinets (they become an eyesore).Instead, we suggest looking for sneaky ways to store your stuff out of sight. For example, some furniture comes with hidden storage. It’s common to find beds and sofas with large storage spaces underneath.  Also, look for storage that can be hung on a wall or behind a door. Over-the-door hangers are great for shoes and closet items. Floating side tables affixed to the walls (ie without feet touching the ground) also help make the room feel less cluttered while still providing a functional space to store belongings.

What if your space already has great storage closets? You can maximize these spaces by investing in a closet storage system or clear bins that can be stacked to maximize your space and control clutter and mess.

What’s next for your home?

Source: Good Space Plans Online Seymour Street

There are so many products and design secrets you can use to make any small space more functional and feel larger. Above all the tips, it’s important to practice mindfulness about what you are bringing into your home.  We know how exciting it can be to walk through a furniture store or flip through the latest seasonal catalogue. You may feel compelled to buy up the whole store, without thinking of how it will actually work or be used in your home.

Before you buy a piece of furniture:

  • Make sure it’s something that will physically fit in your home (measure and measure again to be sure)
  • Consider its style with the rest of the theme in your home (you probably don’t want your home to look like a mismatched thrift store)
  • Is it something that will be used often, and if not, can it be folded away or stored easily (think the dining tables and nesting side tables), and 
  • Is it something that’s comfortable to use. If it’s not comfortable to sit on or use as intended it will end up going unused and wasting precious space.

Of course, having a professional interior designer help you with this is the best idea! An interior designer will work with you, taking your ideas and making them real by creating a plan for you.  

If you want to start designing your plan right now, check out the custom designing small space packages we have for you.

Good Space Interior Design Travels the Sunshine Coast

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picture by vancouver online interior designer of sunset on sunshine coastI love spending time on the Sunshine Coast. We’re lucky to live in a province with so much natural beauty and space. I’m in constant awe and inspiration when I’m there. The freshness in the air, the endless expanse of the coast, the silence. All these things help inspire my interior design firm when I come back to the bustling city. 

My partner’s family has a cabin there. I have had the opportunity to go up every year for the past 6 years. We try to make it our annual routine to get out; each time I do, I explore something new. As an interior design firm owner I love exploring all the distinctive shops and restaurants as well as other natural sights. Check out our top 5 favourite things to do on the sunshine coast below.

beautiful interior designed sushi bar on sunshine coast

Courtesy of Sushi Bar Nagomi

1. Grab sushi at Sushi Bar Nagomi

This is the sweetest little sushi bar in Gibsons, with a fabulous layout and exceptional sushi. Being right on the coast makes sure that everything is fresh and all made in house. The owners are so lovely as well. The name, Nagomi 和味 has 2 meanings: The Japanese Kanji letters stand for authentic taste and its pronunciation means cozy and peaceful. This fits this sushi bar perfectly! Not to mention the interior design is stunning and so comfortable. 

Courtesy of Sunshine Coast Olive OIl

2. Stock up on olive oils at Sunshine Coast Olive Oil

A local favourite in Gibsons, this store has some of the most beautiful kinds of vinegar and oils ever. They let you sample everything and they offer so many fantastic recipes. My favourite would have to be the Lime Olive Oil and the face cream they make is heavenly. If you can’t make the trip, they also order online and do a wonderful job of shipping it safely to you. 

3. Next stop, the Elfinstone Rock and Gem shop in Roberts Creek.

I love this shop. They have some of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry and stones all made from local stones and gems. They also have a massive geode on display that gets used for festivals. It is so large the owner mentioned that it damaged an axel of the vehicle just transporting it! They also have crystal bowls and metal drums for you to try out. I highly recommend checking them out. 

 

4. Next, Sunshine Coast Wood Expo

We try to time our trips in September so we can all go to the Sunshine Coast Wood Expo in Sechelt. This is always the highlight of our trip. The artists every year just keep getting better and better. There is so much variety and beauty in everything that is created. My favourite part is hearing how each artist collects and gathers the wood they use in a sustainable way. They have some fantastic stories. If you can make it to the coast in September, you should make a trip to Sechelt for the wood Expo.

5. Finish up at Sunstone Gems & Jewelry shop in Sechelt

My recent passion has been making beaded stone bracelets and necklaces. This year I came across the Sunstone Gems & Jewelry shop in Sechelt. This store had some of the most well-curated beads and stones I have seen. Their price point is fantastic and you will leave with some beautiful pieces. 

Conclusion:

I believe that as city dwellers it’s important to take time away from the hustle and bustle and center yourself in nature’s bliss. The people of the sunshine coast are kind and steady people who have a deep sense of community with each other. It’s these qualities that I try to bring to our wonderful clients of Good Space Plans Online. If you would like to read more about enjoying nature in style, check out our glamping blog here

A Design filled day in Hudson Yards, NYC.

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AhhNew York City…“The city that never sleeps”. This may sound like a cliché, but it’s true. There’s always something to do, see, or eat at all times of the day! After four days in this bustling city, I did feel a tad exhausted, but also completely in love with this dazzling place. Hudson Yards especially. 

For any design lovers checking out the city, I strongly suggest spending a day in Hudson Yards and make sure to check out the following:

The Vessel

new-york-the-vesselHead down to Hudson Yards and check out the new Vessel, an interactive building that is intended to be climbed. It’s a feat of impressive engineering. Staircases circle around a centre point allowing one to climb to the top and offers remarkable views of the city. Make sure to bring your walking shoes.

Mercado Little Spain

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After all that climbing, it’s time to hydrate and grab a quick snack for both your eyes and taste buds. Down below in a beautifully designed Spanish market, full of the freshest Spanish treats.  Here you can find bars, restaurants and unique kiosks in both design and taste! Churros, ice cream, hams, cheeses from all around the world. You can find it all. Yum!
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Highland Park

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After you grabbed a bite to eat, take a walk down highland park and keep your eyes peeled for all the beautiful architecture that surrounds the city. The path stretches from Hudson Yards to the Whitney Museum in the south. It is a beautiful 2.5km walk with stunning views of the city! The path used to be a train rack and has been converted to a beautifully maintained garden and walking path.
Tip: Try to go when it’s not too sunny as this path is loved by all
With NYC being beautiful all times of the year and having so much design inspiration to offer, it’s good to find one place chock-full of design goodies. I highly recommend Hudson Yards as a go-to for all your design inspiration. It’s a shame that I couldn’t squeeze every bit of New York in four days, but this weekend has just made me more enthused for my next trip back.