Angela Valentine Chaffee can walk into a room, chat with the homeowner and have a plan materialize in her mind even before she leaves.
“It’s a gift,” Chaffee, of Valentine Design, says. “I get a lot of people who ask me, ‘How do you do that?’ It’s actually one of my favorite things, truly morphing into their style. Is entertaining is a big thing? Do they have dogs, pets, children? Do they travel? Can I design a piece around a family heirloom?”
Chaffee insists on taking the client’s style into account. “Half of the designers out there have a look. My living room then would become your living room. I don’t do that,” she says.
Chaffee fell into interior design by accident. Twenty years ago, she was working in the marketing department of a local company that manages senior living cooperatives. She was part of a team that helped design 200 units in several different buildings. So over a period of four years, she met with residents and consulted on paint, flooring, furniture, moving and removing walls, adding bedrooms and other aspects of the design process.
“It was trial by fire because they didn’t have anybody, and it was a very small father-and-son business,” she says.
Then in the early 2000s, she, her husband and her two twins moved into an old Cape Cod home in St. Louis Park.
She knew if she could redesign 800 units, she could definitely tackle renovating her home.
“People started asking me to help them. So I started helping them and they said, ‘How much do I pay you?’ That was 15 years ago.”
From Shorewood to Greenwood
Nora Scallen needed Chaffee's design gift.
“You can just tell it’s ticking in her head the minute she walks in a room,” Scallen, a longtime client, says. Chaffee redecorated her entire home in Shorewood, and then several spaces when Scallen moved to Greenwood a few years later.
For Scallen’s second-floor sitting nook, Chaffee chose goat hair Ralph Lauren chairs. “They’re tall wingback chairs and a dark navy blue mohair,” Scallen says. “They’re really cute.”
In addition to the sitting area, Chaffee redecorated the front porch. “I really was struggling,” Scallen says. “I called her and said, ‘I don’t know where to go to get stuff for the front porch. I don’t know what I’m doing.’ In just four to five hours she gave me options.” Scallen ended up with two wicker chairs and a matching table.
For her dining room, the design was versatile enough that the dining table, chairs and rug from Restoration Hardware easily transferred from her Shorewood home to Greenwood.
Chaffee says the key is always listening to the client.
“My goal is to create rooms and atmospheres that make people happy and express what they really enjoy the most,” she says. She realizes redecorating and remodeling can be an overwhelming process. She offers two payment plans, an hourly charge or a flat rate contract fee.
“After spending time with them for one hour, I can try to help them bring the space to life for them so they can see what I see,” she says. “I answer the questions, ‘What is most important to you? How do you want to use the space?’ It’s about bringing that space to life and making their house a true home.”
And Valentine Design believes in giving back. Chaffee donates a portion of proceeds to World Vision and International Justice Mission.