We had the pleasure of catching up with Evan Tsagaris of Prairie Interiors in Glenview to discuss what’s hot for 2016 in furniture and fabrics. Evan is know throughout the country for his trendsetting work in redesigning and reupholstering furniture from Clive Christian to Christopher Guy and has done hundreds of projects from River North to Lake Forest.  We asked this design master a couple questions and he gave us some pointers and an acronym that should always be a part of your vocabulary whenever you are looking to decorate!
Q – Evan we have seen a lot of your work lately…Evanston, Northfield and Winnetka projects that are simply inspiring. Visually we were blown away how much impact your reupholstering of furniture has on a room. Walk us through the process on how homeowners can give a new look to their home and how working with a interior designer makes a big difference in creating a new space.
A – The first step for a homeowner for any makeover is to set clear parameters and a loose budget. Is you goal to do a simple paint the walls and recover the dining room chairs or is your desire a total room makeover that would include adding furniture, changing lighting, new drapery treatments and maybe adding some millwork like crown molding?
These decisions can be made by oneself or by using a design professional. Some people think that hiring a design professional is too expensive. The truth is that the opposite is generally true when doing a more extensive project. A designer can provide focus and resources that can actually save a client money in the long run.
Q- I have learned that myself on a couple projects…I have great vision but its amazing when you bring in an outside source that is a professional in interior design what they can bring to the table in seeing a room differently. How does one go about working with you in finding furniture? We often find styles that we like but pieces are little to big for a room. Or worse off… have purchased  furniture that doesn’t quite fit in a room. What can homeowners do to safeguard against this? How custom is custom when clients design furniture with you?
A – Most clients who find themselves with a need for furniture usually find me through a recommendation or from wholesalers and retailer. One simply calls or emails me and I
usually like to go to their home to get a feel for the room and maybe take some room dimension measurements. Armed with those measures, needs of the client and a feel for the style of the client, we start to shop.. Once we find some pieces that the client loves, we take the dimensions of the items and head back to the clients home with one key item, blue painters tape.. I then mark off all items on the floor using the tape and walk the room. This step is essential to ensure proper fit. There is nothing worse than loading a room on delivery day and realizing that the pieces just don’t fit!
Sometimes, we just can’t find an “off the shelf” piece of furniture to fit a space… When that happens, we turn to custom. Most custom items are simply a size variation on a mass produced item, however, custom can me completely original in size and style and design. It is always nice to have a piece that is customized to not only your room, but also to your particular tastes. There is an infinite amount of material we have to choose from to take a piece of furniture to the next level and bring the contrast to complete a room.
Q – How much more expensive is it to do custom furniture than what is found in stores?
A – Completely custom can be pricey but copying and altering a mass produced items can actually be as little as 10% higher than off the shelf furniture. The key is, regardless of the cost, to give a client exactly what he or she wants and making sure that is fits both spatially and visually.
Q – Are your manufacturing shops local?
A – I have different partners that I work with in the creation of custom items.. When building a custom upholstered item, I send a rendering of the design along with measurements of the desired piece to my frame manufacturer in North Carolina to construct the frame which he then ships to me at my shop. That’s when we do all of our magic with the finish, which is the upholstery.. Upon completion, we deliver via white glove service..   
Q – It’s funny that you mention delivering “white glove service”. I can’t express how many times we see furniture delivered and had to ask the delivery crew to wear gloves or wash their hands as they are handling delicate or neutral colored upholstery at times. How long can one expect to create a custom couch versus reupholstering dining room chairs?
A – Reupholstery is always far quicker than custom. Recovery generally takes 2-3 weeks where custom can take 2-3 months. I am very methodical in my processes to avoid mistakes.. Clients really appreciate my attention to detail, both in quality and in service…
Q – What are the some ideas homeowners can do on a budget to make an impact in a room?
A – Trying to give a room an inexpensive facelift can be achieved with a simple acronym, PPR.
Paint, pillows and rugs are three relatively inexpensive changes that make a huge impact..
Paint is cheap and with some time and patience, one can paint a room themselves and save the labor..
Pillows and rugs can be purchased just about anywhere. I love going to Home Goods or World Market.
You don’t have to spend thousands to make you home look as if you did!