Skip Sroka is the founder and principal of Sroka Design - a full service interior design firm. For over three decades, Sroka has created inspired interiors for Washington's elite. His design approach balances client tastes and lifestyles with his knowledge of design, art, and history to create interiors in harmony with their setting - ultimately expressing the client's dreams and allowing for gracious living and entertaining.
Sroka has been named one of Washington's top designers by Washingtonian, was named Home and Design Magazine's Designer of Distinction and received a National Capitol Business Ethics award as well as the John Russell Pope award for interior design.
A "Q and A" With Skip
Where do you first meet with a client?
"It depends on the project described to me on the phone or in an email. If it is new construction I ask them to bring in blueprints to the office. If it is a project where they are currently living or an existing house I will meet them there to get a better sense of them. Basically wherever we can accomplish the most."
Do clients bring in pictures?
"A picture is worth a thousand words. We find that pictures of either things they own, the property, or things the like/dislike are very informative. Not to set the project, but to give you an idea of where they may like to go."
How many projects do you accept each year? Do you oversee each project?
"It depends on the number of commitments we have in the office. We always have some projects started, some in the middle of and some we are finishing up. I estimate we usually do about 6 larger projects each year followed by 10 mid-size ones, followed by 12 follow-up or extra requests from clients. I know everything I need to know about each project in the que. I manage by doing weekly meetings on the projects with the project team to insure my vision is being carried out."
Do you work closely with architects? Do you employ an architect or a draftsman?
"We work beautifully with architects. We find our input to be of great value throughout the project and details are much easier to get right on paper before vs after a project is done. We do CAD drawings to interface with architectural drawings. All my interior designers are capable of executing drawings."
How large is your staff?
"I work with eight people. My personal assistant, two senior designers, a designer, a junior designer, an office operations manager, a bookeeper/accountant and an office coordinator."
Can you think of an example of a time you turned a design crisis around?
"Which one would you like to hear about? Last month we went to a job site and the contractor had ordered the fireplace mantle incorrectly and it didn't fit. With a move-in two weeks away we had one cast from plaster, installed and faux-ed to match the marble. Everytime you go to a construction site you are making lemonade from lemons."
How do you convince a skeptical client you're right?
"This requires truly listening to make sure there isn't an underlying issue you need to be aware of to design to. If there isn't something you need to be aware of that causes the skepticism, then you rely on your years of experience to guide you and the client to a happy result they couldn't do themselves."
Is there a room you prefer to design first? Where do you start in any given room?
"I like to start with the room that means the most to the client whatever that may be. I tend to start with the flooring but I always consider the flow of a house for harmony. I like to look at the plans and visualize how the house will come together and how the details will inter-relate."
Which cultures shaped your aesthetic?
"Everything I have been exposed to or seen or studied in my life. I have a love of architecture, new ideas and travel. I have about 6,000 books on design that I frequently consult."
Does your style have surprise elements?
"Sometimes. It depends on what's right to do. Color can be surprisingly and charmingly paired as well as textures and letals. I really like working technology into a home so it is unnoticeable."
What's a design you abhor?
How are costs handled?
"We charge hourly for all work with a higher fee when we do not supply goods and services - a lower fee when we do. All purchases are at retail less 20%."
What is the most expensive job you've ever done? What is the least expensive?
"Several millions and for someone else who was going to tear down a house to build we "whammed-bammed " it for $10,000 so they could enjoy it for a summer."
What is your minimum fee for a project?
"We work best when a project has a minimum budget of $100,000."
What is the biggest mistake clients make?
"Bringing us in after they have done it wrong. It unfortunately costs a fortune to fix things."
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Affiliations Include ASID NCIDQ and ICAA
Certified interior designer in the state of MD
Licensed interior designer in Washington, DC