Market shift forces D’Alessio to design new strategies

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Christine D’Alessio started her interior design business 31 years ago. Much of her business these days is remodeling projects, rather than staging homes to be sold.

Interior designer Christine D’Alessio has a deep-seeded belief that every “thing” matters.

There is no one thing or item in a room that should be thoughtlessly left as clutter. Every element of a space should contribute to a feeling, mood or sense of comfort.

She has operated according to that philosophy since he founded D’Alessio Interiors in Colorado Springs 31 years ago.

While the philosophy might be the same, business has changed.

Five years ago during the real estate boom, she and her many contractors concentrated on staging homes for sale and helping new home buyers design their future dream spaces.

Today, like many in the construction and real estate fields, D’Alessio has shifted her focus to offering services to people who opt to stay in their current house instead of purchase a new one.

Decisions like that are becoming more common.

El Paso County permits for new home construction dropped by 55 percent since their peak in 2006, according to data from Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. During the same period, permits for residential alterations, remodeling projects, have increased almost 37 percent.

D’Alessio always had a love for beautiful design and eye for interior decorating. She grew up with a passion for art and dance and eventually left behind a career as a teacher to build her design business.

She guides clients through the full process of building a home, redesigning and remodeling old homes, rearranging furniture and using what the client already owns to freshen up existing spaces and staging houses for quick sales. She also does consulting work on an hourly basis and works on about 150 projects a year.

“Lately, I’ve been doing more remodel work than staging for real estate,” D’Alessio said. “And I have more of the bigger projects and fewer of the small ones.”

As the real estate market has slowed, D’Alessio’s business has remained steady. She’s just doing different kinds of work as she’s found many of her older clients don’t want to sell in this market but feel bored by the homes they’ve occupied for decades and want to liven them up.

Rich and Donna Peach exemplify D’Alessio’s evolution. They bought a new home six years ago after 25 years in their previous house. They hired D’Alessio to stage their home for sale then and had her help them build a new one in Monument. D’Alessio guided them on every aspect of the new home’s design. The floor plan was already set, but D’Alessio had a say in everything else from the outside color to the material on the countertops, the flooring, the paint on the walls and the tile in the bathrooms.

“Everything you see in here, I did,” D’Alessio said as she admired a stone wall accented with swooping iron light fixtures in the Peach’s dining room.

“But it’s really about enhancing what she wants,” D’Alessio said. “She wanted something special. She wanted that cozy very warm feeling in here. Donna is a very elegant woman.”

The stone wall, along with every metallic decoration from the light fixtures down to the candlesticks, deer sculptures and the metal buttons accenting the faux-finished walls, tie the home together and make one room flow seamlessly into the next.

The furniture in the Peach’s sitting room looks like it belongs there.

There’s a reason for that. D’Alessio helped them pick out the furnishings six years ago. She charges an hourly rate to help clients shop and find the right pieces. And then, as a certified visual coordinator, D’Alessio arranges the furniture to compliment the natural architecture of the home.

Designing the interior of the Peach’s new Monument home was a big undertaking six year ago.

“It was a lot of what I call ‘eye doctor,’” D’Alessio said. “I would show them one thing and then another and they would have to make quick decisions about which they liked better,”

When the Peaches initially signed on with D’Alessio, they did a lot — almost the entire upstairs living area. But they didn’t have the money to do everything at once.

So now, six years later, D’Alessio is doing for the Peaches what she is doing for most of her clients — helping them with a remodel.

It’s not a deep-down remodel. Most of the house is already “perfect.” But the bathroom wasn’t everything the Peaches wanted. They knew it wasn’t ideal when they moved in, but the years gave them a chance to find out exactly what they did want. They have a bigger shower and separate tub, a beautifully designed “throne room” for the toilet, and warm-colored tile that ties into the window treatments in the master bedroom and faux finished walls in the living room and kitchen.

“Not all of my clients can afford to do a whole house,” D’Alessio said. “I work with people on all kinds of budgets.”

One of her favorite jobs is a simple rearrangement of existing furnishings in a space. She reorganized a woman’s furnishings and decorations about eight years ago.

Donna Peach couldn’t believe how amazing her friend’s house looked. When it came time to sell her place two years later, she remembered to ask the friend for D’Alessio’s number.

“I love what I do,” she said. “I get to be creative.”