Sarah Pearce and Terri Bukartek saw each other occasionally while their husbands worked for NATO. They finally spoke in greater depth at a dinner party they both attended.
That is when they decided to go into business together.
Pearce, of the Hampton Chase community in Fairfax, had business experience, with skills like accounting and book keeping. Bukartek, a Clifton resident, had experience with marketing. They both had an eye for home design.
“We knew we wanted to do something creative,” Bukartek said. They have been running DS&T ReDesigned Interiors since September of 2005.
They work with the help of Denise Burkher and Leslie Hoffman. Burkher, also of Hampton Chase, is their office manager and makes follow-up phone calls and maintains their database, spreadsheets and inventory list.
THE MOST COMMON job they do is home staging, which is the act of preparing a house to appeal to potential buyers.
“We’re sort of the icing on the cake,” Bukartek said. “It’s like putting the makeup on the house.”
She added: “It’s a tool that Realtors should have in their toolbox.”
In addition to home staging, they also do room makeovers and consultations for color, remodeling and decorating.
Their business also serves a wide area, including Maryland, northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Their projects have included offices, a beauty shop and a car dealership. Pearce and Bukartek agreed that it takes a lot of common sense and creativity in what they do, especially since they try to work within their own budget and those of their clients, however.
Hoffman, who is from Reston, is a part-time designer and their personal shopper for items they need to redesign a home or office.
“We’re very passionate about what we do,” Pearce said.
Pearce and Bukartek joined the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists (or IRIS), a national organization for redesign specialists. Through IRIS, they attended seminars on the principles of redesigning to obtain more knowledge of the field.
"AS A SMALL business, we don’t have a large budget,” Bukartek said. They try to fix up furniture and decorations that clients already own and, when they can’t, they use resources like Craig’s List to buy inexpensive items and improve upon them.
They also donate their services, redesigning offices of organizations with a good cause or homes of needy families.
“If you have a talent for something, it’s nice to give something back,” Bukartek said.
Coming up on their two-year anniversary, they say DS&T has been successful so far, in part because of name recognition. Bukartek said that people have started referring to them as simply DS&T rather than their full name, DS&T ReDesign Interiors LLC.
“People have started recognizing that name,” Bukartek said. “It re-emphasizes that we’re doing something right."