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Livin' in Style: Charity B. of Elan Interiors, LLC

Buchika's most recent work included decorating the interior Hotel Skylar in Syracuse, NY.
Buchika's most recent work included decorating the interior Hotel Skylar in Syracuse, NY.

Livin' in Style is a series that profiles local interior designers, crafters, and DIY enthusiasts. This week's post features experienced interior designer Charity Swanson Buchika, founder of Elan Interiors, LLC. If you're considering being a interior designer or just want some sound advice on how to decorate your home on any budget, keep reading.

Charity B., Founder of Elan Interiors, LLC

You hold an interior design degree from Marymount College, NCIDQ certification, ASID membership and over 15 years of experience. What made you want to become an interior designer?

My parents were antique dealers when I was very young and they brought me to antique shows with them. Later my dad had an antique shop. As I got older was always moving my bedroom around and decorating my doll house and redecorating it. When I was probably a teenager, my father built a really fantastic house with lots of really interesting details and that seems to be the time I really started my interest in the whole decorating/design process.

You’ve designed in different areas throughout the United States. What brought you to the Syracuse area? How did Elan Interiors come about?

We moved back here mainly for family. When we moved back, I had worked with other designers and had decided that it was time that I tried it on my own.

What advice would you give to an aspiring interior designer? What would you have told yourself 15 years ago?

Get experience anyway you can by working for someone. It is not all that glamorous.

Your most recent commercial project is Hotel Skylar. What are some differences (pro & cons) between residential and commercial projects?

Commercial is much more cut and dry and there is not so much emotion entangled with it from the owners. With commercial it is on such a larger scale you really can have fun with doing custom designs.

Residential is a lot of problem solving and gearing a design for that particular person or family. The fabrics and furniture are really fun to work with--there is such a variety out there to choose.

What is one of the hardest task you completed? What did you learn from it?

I think completing the Hotel Skyler project. It was really challenging dealing with all the LEED guidelines that were really complex at the time. It really took a while to wade through all the information and to make sure that the information was correct. It really was a challenge taking that information and finding a company that could produce a look that I need for my design.

Wow. The design process is very time consuming. How do you stay motivated?

It is really hard to stay motivated but getting out and about and looking for inspiration really helps. For me, that is usually me getting outside into nature or traveling.

How do you measure the success of your projects?

I usually measure the success of a project when someone seeks me out to tell me how much they appreciate the design or if they have me back to do additional work.

What are some design tricks?

Pick your paint color last and start from the floor up.

What are your favorite stores and sites you use to purchase items for projects?

There are many, Serena and Lily has great art.

What are some tips you would give people who want to live in style but have a limited budget and smaller places?
Buy the best quality that you can afford and buy what you really love and makes you happy.

What is the most over-the-top or “interesting” requested you received?

Can’t think of one right now.

What was the most fulfilling moment you had when completing a project?

I think when we opened the doors at Hotel Skyler.

What are some current interior designer trends you like?

I am seeing more color and also vintage style floral prints seem to be coming back.

What is quickest way to transform a room? What are some great colors to use?

The best way to transform a room is by accessories--usually anything that will give a pop of colors.

How to instantly make a smaller and/or boring place more interesting?

Add some accessories with color or accent wall.

What is the best design advice you ever received?

Tak[e] a look at the axis of everything.

You can see more of Charity's commercial and residential work on her site:

This article was originally published on It has been republished with permission of the author who is also the curator the site.

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