Rearranging your home – the professional way

Trio owners, from left, Julie Lucido, Susan Steele and Beth

By Kristen Munson
Since September, three women from Morgan Hill have been rifling
through area homes, removing paintings from the walls, trinkets
from the cupboards, rearranging furniture
– and then leaving.
By Kristen Munson

Since September, three women from Morgan Hill have been rifling through area homes, removing paintings from the walls, trinkets from the cupboards, rearranging furniture – and then leaving.

They belong to Trio, a redecorating service that takes recycling to another level – by using the material homeowners already have.

The company is composed of long-time friends Julie Lucido, Beth Rodrigues and Susan Steele. Last year, during a trip to San Francisco, the women devised a plan to start Trio.

“We wanted to be able to design, make money, and be home in time for our kids,” said Lucido. “And then be done with it,” finished Rodrigues, who, for the past decade, has worked as an interior designer. She liked the idea of finishing a project in one day, rather than taking months to complete a project.

Redesign is not new in the field of interior design, just more visible thanks to television shows like the Discovery Channel’s “Trading Spaces” or “Surprise By Design.” The idea is simple: Recycle what you own. That old coffee table may look new when placed in a different room, in a different color.

“People don’t always need all new things,” said Lucido gesturing at the family room of their most recent home invasion. “Look at all her stuff. It’s beautiful. It’s just not placed right.” The client is a return customer who originally hired Trio before Christmas to prepare her home for a holiday party. “It took twice as long as we thought, but came out twice as nice. That’s why we’re back,” said Rodrigues.

Trio’s clientele ranges from individuals trying to selling their homes to those who feel they just need a change. “Sometimes it’s just they enter their home and feel stress,” Lucido said. Trio’s here to alleviate it.

While many clients often ask them to purchase new items, Trio prefers waiting until after they’ve remodeled the room to see if the client still feels he or she need it.

“We won’t (buy) unless it’s really great quality,” Rodrigues said pointing to the 3-foot-tall floral arrangement in the foyer. “We drove four hours to get that. We’re very cost-conscious.”

Trio operates in a one-two punch. After an initial one-hour consultation with the client, the women explore the space, gathering ideas, becoming familiar with the environment. During this phase, homeowners choose paint colors and Trio receives a budget if additional purchases are necessary.

The next step involves the client’s evacuation of the home so the women can go to work. Walls are stripped of decorations, resulting in a clean slate for them to operate.

Paintings and prints rest in piles along the hallways. Excess decorations are spread in an area the three “shop” from later for materials. Strewn about are bird cages and clocks of varying sizes, silver candelabras, plants, a chess set and telescope, linen dolls and figurines, and other unidentifiable objects.

“We are known for digging through drawers and cupboards,” Lucido said. “You can’t really be shy about it, because we do rifle – with permission.”

Old treasures are rediscovered, and placed in the shop for possible use.

The process is “a lot of trial and error, with a little bit of bickering,” Steele admitted.

They move all the furniture themselves, which they consider the heaviest and most important part. After shifting the family room couches and tables they stand back to judge.

“I don’t like it,” Steele says.

They reassemble the room. Again and again. Finally once a comfortable arrangement is found, Steele remembers that a coveted “TV-watching chair” must be facing another direction. The moving ballet begins again – turning and shifting, lifting and placing.

While the idea is about creating balance within the home, they also require a balance within the group. Lucido is in charge of the little things.

She is the last to leave a room, and can be heard quietly collecting items from the cupboards. Rodrigues notices details – murmuring “too much blue here” or “no, not fabric on fabric” or “that gold is throwing me off” between rooms.

Steele is feisty and quick to size up a room. She notices a clock in the kitchen. She doesn’t approve of its placement. Rodrigues agrees – the color is wrong.

They promptly remove it from the wall. Each has an opinion, and each offers it. No one takes offense – there isn’t time. They have one day to alter the space.

And while recycling is an important aspect of their redesigns, not all items make the final cut. Anything unused is placed in boxes in the garage. “There’s no need to show everything,” Steele said.

For Lucido the best part of their work is the client’s initial reaction. “People are so appreciative. This is (their) home. Something they may have been meaning to do for years, we can fix in one day.”

Because each room varies in size and specific needs, there is no fixed rate. However, moderate room alterations involving heavy lifting will run between $300 and $400. Trio visits 30 houses each month and is looking to expand by remodeling stores and restaurants.

After placing a painting over a table in the dining room, Rodrigues asks, “Doesn’t that look nice?”

Steele steps back, squinting, “No. My vote is no.”

Lucido scrunches her nose and shakes her head, and three pairs of arms and legs are set in motion.

Trio can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (408) 921-1485.

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