Storyboards bring home decor planning to life

Clark Whitehill House RenderingInterior design students Chad Krikorian and Rechelle Palacios fiddled with a lamp, mirror and console.

They moved around tufted ottomans and a sectional sofa.They laid out wallpaper and paint colors.And they never broke a sweat.The pair worked on a storyboard or visual images of how a room will be transformed, from paint and wallpaper to actual swatches of material for furniture, bedding, curtains, flooring filled with their ideas to make a media room livable, functional and chic.Like hammers for carpenters, stethoscopes for doctors and computers for writers, storyboards for designers are a tool of the trade.For a profession so visual and tactile, storyboards sometimes called mood boards help not only the designer pull together their plans for a room, they help clients get a feel for what the end result of a makeover will be.A storyboard is another tool not only to present (ideas), but also to record them so its the formal record of whats going to be done, said Susan Pniewski, director of interior design with H&A Architects & Engineers in Virginia Beach. Its all part of the design process.While students like Krikorian and Palacios, juniors at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach, experiment with storyboards made of foam core and other materials, Pniewski deals with 3-D renderings. Theyre computer-generated images of what a space will look like, from floor to ceiling, after the design is complete.Sometimes after a job is complete, Pniewski said, you cant tell the difference between the 3-D rendering and the final product.For Eastern Virginia Medical Schools Diabetes Clinic in Norfolk, a photo of the area before renovations looks like many typical medical waiting areas, with uncomfortable chairs, industrial carpet and white walls.The 3-D image of proposed changes shows a reception area transformed with circular shapes on the walls and flooring, pendant lighting over the check-in station and seating with comfortable cushions.Sometimes, these 3-D drawings can be placed in an area where the work is being done, so people know what to expect when the project is finished and to give people a final-result to look forward to as they are inconvenienced by the renovations, Pniewski said.Storyboards dont always have to be so detailed or expensive. They can also be hand-drawn interpretations for a client that include a color scheme, which Pniewski recently did for someone on H&A stationery.It all depends on what the client wants and how much hes willing to pay, she said.Gerrie West of Folck West Architects in Virginia Beach and an Art Institute instructor says students will soon get into CAD, or Computer Assisted Design, classes, but those drawings will probably never take the place of good, old-fashioned storyboards.Clients will always want something they can touch to get a feel for what materials will be used to transform a room, West said.They include people like Betsy Brothers, who oversaw the refurbishment and renovation of Suffolk High School into the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, which opened in 2006.The architectural firm in charge of the renovation, CMSS Architects (now H&A Architects & Engineers) in Virginia Beach, created storyboards with color choices, fabric swatches and furniture design that members of the foundation board carried around as sales-pitch tools for the new center.Foundation members, including Brothers, were charged with not only getting Suffolk City Council and other city departments on board with the plan, but soliciting donations from the public to pay for the $24 million project.Thats where the storyboards came in handy, Brothers said.We hauled those things everywhere, Brothers recalled. When theyre done well, and people really like what they see, its just amazing. As they always say, A picture is worth a thousand words. Well, those were our pictures.?As for interior design students Krikorian and Palacios, they had a deadline to meet this week.The pair is competing against seven other duos, two more from the Art Institute of Virginia Beach and five others from Tidewater Community Colleges interior design program, in a design-off for one of Tidewater Builders Associations Fall Homearama houses at The Riverfront at Harbour View in Suffolk. The community will be the site of the Tidewater Builders Associations showcase of custom homes in October.Preliminary judging took place earlier this week.The students were given a choice of rooms at the Justin Kauflin House the Charity House to benefit the TBA Scholarship Foundation. The house is being constructed by Clark Whitehall Enterprises.Krikorian and Palacios chose the media room/teen den.Their colleagues in design, Leslie Carter and Janelle Budoy, chose bedroom No. 4, or a guest bedroom. The pairs 15-by-30-inch storyboard spoke with subdued colors like bamboo shoot, white duck, silvermist and Barcelona beige.The resource room at the Art Institute overflows with choices, wood, tile, laminate samples, fabric swatches and myriad other designing elements. The students started with an empty slate and put their imaginations to work on looks that would dovetail with the Charity Houses Craftsman-style architecture.Carter and Budoy wanted to create something airy and subtle, contemporary meets traditional.Their storyboard is the room in miniature, right down to a small print out of its floor plan, a rendering of the Charity House and pieces of the modern furniture printed out in picture form and stuck on foam core.The winners designs will be incorporated into up to four rooms with the help of Rich Kahler of Exotic Home Interiors to furnish the space.Each team is being mentored by a member of Women in Design, an organization of local designers. The designers are not only looking at the storyboard progress each day, theyre offering tips to motivate the students.One recent tip given to Krikorian and Palacios: Create the wow factor by taking something conventional and making it unconventional.Designer Kathy Browning of Design Consultants created the mentor/student project and is spearheading the competition.The whole house is about education, Browning said, which bodes well for West and her students. The contest gelled with the schools Quality Enhancement Plan focusing on teamwork.No one does any type of design work alone, West said. This contest allows the students to find ways to mimic what they will do in the real world.Storyboards will be on display at the Charity House during Homearama, which will run Oct. 15 to 30.By Toni Guagenti Virginian-Pilot correspondent August 29, 2011