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Understanding the Interior Design Process: An Interview with Mona Ross Berman of Mona Ross Berman Interiors

By Mona Ross Berman

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

I established Mona Ross Berman Interiors in 2004 as a full service design firm. Most of our projects have a construction component to them - whether it's a complete gut renovation of a house or updating kitchens and bathrooms. We also furnish homes completely, including everything from furniture, window treatments, wall and floor coverings, built-ins, and art and accessories. Our clients often ask us to help conceive exterior spaces as well, which is great because ideally a home should flow seamlessly from the inside to the outside.

While most of our efforts are focused on residential projects, when the right commercial or retail project comes our way we are happy to take that on. We enjoy bringing our residential know-how to different environments.

Our projects span the better part of the East Coast - many of course in Philadelphia and its suburbs - and have taken us as far north as Nantucket and as far south as Washington, DC.

What are some of the most common design features that homeowners request in the Philadelphia area?

Philadelphia is a city full of amazing older homes with tons of character. However, these older homes are not always ideal for how most of us live today. I am often tasked with bringing clients' homes into this millennium, whether it be renovating a kitchen, rethinking floor plans and moving walls, or designing spaces with colors and textiles that feel more current.

What's the most important thing you do when you first meet with a homeowner about a new design project?

For a design project to be truly successful, I always want to find out what the homeowner's goals are for the project and how they live. I can look at a space and tell you what I think should be done, but only the homeowner can tell me about their lifestyle and hopes for their space. With that information I can design spaces that are not only beautiful, but also functional and tailored to a homeowner's needs.

What are the basic phases in the design process?

Good design takes time. I would say the process is comprised of three basic phases - design, purchasing, and installation. The process starts with an initial meeting to understand the client's needs, priorities, and dreams. There is a lot of idea sharing during this phase. We consider your space and present ideas for a more functional layout. From there we move forward with suggestions on appropriate furniture, furnishings, window treatments, etc. Once decisions are made, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes as we work with our vendors on ordering. Once items are complete, the installation occurs and finishing touches (art, accessories) are added.

How do you help people balance what they want for their home with their budget?

The client's budget must be respected. While I urge clients to invest in high quality key pieces - sofa, seating, tables - I do like to layer and mix in less expensive items. There are so many resources - Etsy, even Overstock and Ebay - that I turn to for unique, quality pieces that fit within my clients' budgets.

What advice would you give to homeowners who don't want to have any regrets when their project is finished?

First, don't allow yourself to be either completely paralyzed by decisions and unable to choose things or too impetuous and only go with the first thing that looks good. Next, it's okay to cut losses and move forward rather than redesign a space around something that doesn't work. And finally, have fun! Don't allow yourself to get worried about what other people will think or what is or is not in "fashion." Enjoy the process and let it be an opportunity for you to express yourself creatively.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

You can learn more about Mona Ross Berman Interiors on our website, All inquiries can be sent to

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