Stanford woman starts business rearranging rooms

July 06, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

STANFORD - An assortment of vases and other objects sits on a dining table at Sandy Caudill's Stanford home. An antique pie safe is empty, ready for some of the objects to be placed inside.

An ironing board stands nearby with parts of draperies on it that Caudill has made. A matching fabric is draped across the couch that it soon will cover.

In the midst of all this, Sherry McGuffey arrives, ready to made order out of all of the chaos.

In her business, Visual Coordinations, McGuffey visits clients' homes and rearranges their furniture and accessories. Instead of advising people to start from scratch, she utilizes the "art of placement."

Caudill's case is a little different. After remodeling her home to take out a wall with fireplaces and open up the area into a great room, Caudill wanted help bringing it all together. A registered dietitian, Caudill says she does not claim to have interior decorating skills.


"I can cook anything you want, but I just don't know how to get it all together," she says.

Changing things around has been a lifelong fascination for McGuffey.

"I've been rearranging my bedroom furniture since I was old enough to move it," she says.

Book by Talbott led to week-long training in Florida

McGuffey has several books on decorating and she launched this venture after reading a book by Carole Talbott. At the back, it gave information about Talbott's program and Web site. McGuffey decided to attend Talbott's week-long training in Florida.

At the training, she and others in the class went to four different homes and rearranged the furniture to make rooms more cozy or usable.

"We had a lot of on-the-job training," she says of the class she attended in January.

Generally, McGuffey allows three hours to redo a room. She charges $200 for the first room and discounts for other rooms based on what is needed. She also works in a local law office and mostly schedules appointments on her Wednesday afternoons off, but she will work on weekends.

"Most people prefer Wednesday afternoons to the weekends."

McGuffey arrives with two tool boxes in hand.

"I've got my hammer and level. My trunk is full and I've got a ladder," she says.

The hammer is used for hanging pictures. McGuffey says she tries to work with what items people already have. "Mostly what I do is I don't require you to buy anything," she says. "Sometimes I pull things from other rooms if I think it will look better in another room."

After she finished Caudill's greatroom, Caudill was pleased with the openness of it.

"Leaving open spaces helped a lot and I like using my own things. I didn't want to go out and buy things."

Caudill does plan to add an area rug. For a recent client, McGuffey recommended that she find a couple of pictures to hang on the wall. "I told her when she gets them I'd come back and hang them for her," she says.

She also doesn't paint rooms to change the look.

"If they want to paint, I have a paint chart and I discuss that with them, but I don't go in say, 'You need to paint this.'"

She also carries candles and greenery as accents.

"Greenery adds life to a room," she says.

She offers money-back guarantee

The one thing she aims to do is move the furniture, but she offers a money-back guarantee.

"If I move things and you're not happy, I'll move things back like they were and it's free."

In her own home where she and her husband, Mike, have lived for eight years, McGuffey, who studied interior design in college, thinks she has things as she wants them.

"It went through several stages," she says.

She points out that most of her rooms are small, but she has arranged the furniture so that the rooms don't feel cramped.

In her living room, she pulled a couch away from the wall and has a desk and chair behind it. She likes the desk there because it's convenient.

"I had it in here before but it was cramped and you don't use things that are hard to get to," she says.

Couches, in general, should not be lined up against a wall, she says.

"If I lined this couch up against the wall, there is no way all this furniture would fit in here," she says of her living room.

Her collection of baskets also is on display above her kitchen cabinets. "Collections look better in a group than spread around a room," she says.

Of course, until she lays eyes on a room, McGuffey isn't sure what she'll recommend.

"I guess every rule is broken at some time."

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