By the time Susan Hopkins unveils her drawing boards, she’s gotten to know her client like a family member. She can easily say if chartreuse or purple is a favorite color, if the dogs sleep on the couch, or if entertaining is a priority.
When Amy Minnich and her husband were building their 5,000-square-foot home in Collegeville, PA, the couple hired Hopkins in 2010 to redo the family room, breakfast area and kitchen.
“I had three small children at the time, and I had trouble just getting out the door, let alone redecorating,” says Minnich, 40. “Working with Susan was a great partnership.”
Pamela Willmoth, 49, who hired Hopkins to redesign her one-bedroom condo in Philadelphia, agrees.
“I totally relied on her for space planning,” says Willmoth, who is a senior tax director for Comcast. “We knocked out walls and reconfigured the space. She did a wonderful job for me.”
According to Hopkins, it’s all about offering a transparent atmosphere and taking on the stresses of her clients during a process that can sometimes feel overwhelming.
“I try to make my clients mindful of how a good design is going to change their lives,” says Hopkins, 32, of her Cinnaminson-based firm, Susan Hopkins Interior Designs,
In Fort Washington, PA, where Hopkins grew up, she was 11 years old when she reorganized the furniture in the bedroom she shared with her sister—for the fifth time. Her mother introduced her to the interior and architectural section of the library and told her that there was a career for what she was doing, to which Hopkins became enamored.
Always interested in dance, singing and choreography, drawing and decorating seemed natural extensions of her artistic endeavors when she enrolled in Drexel University’s interior design program, which was ranked sixth in the nation by Design Intelligence 2010 America’s best architecture and design schools.
“Setting up props, lighting and all of the aspects to stage a show takes a vast amount of work,” she says. “I have taken that same amount of drive and passion and fueled it into my business.”
Hopkins launched her small business right before the housing bubble burst, but she says she’s been very fortunate.
“My company has grown 290 percent in just the last two years,” says Hopkins, who attributes her intensive all-around approach to customer service as the mainstay of her boom. “It’s not just about picking the right piece of furniture. My goal is that the customer has to be extremely happy when I leave.”
Last month, Hopkins’ craft was highlighted nationally on NBC’s George to the Rescue, a home improvement show in which host George Oliphant springs to the construction aid of those in need.
Hopkins was the designer and project manager for a home owned by Brenda Jones, a breast cancer survivor and founder of Hug Wraps, kimono-like gowns worn by women undergoing chemotherapy. Hopkins, whose own grandmother died of breast cancer when she was 16, spruced up Jones’ work space and reorganized a spare bedroom.
The experience drove Hopkins to write the e-book, An Interior Designer Behind the Scenes on a Reality TV Show, with 10 percent of the book’s profits going to Hug Wraps.
Hopkins admits her job is a constant flow of challenges and last-minute updates. Keeping her on the cutting edge are twice-yearly visits to High Point, NC, known for its furniture and textiles, and sometimes referred to as “The Furniture Capital of the World.”
This year Hopkins says gray and taupe are the hot colors. Nail heads in upholstery are fantastic details, and herringbone patterns are sprouting a new trend. But most of today’s modern approach is a “transitional look with antiques and other eclectic items” thrown in.
For an interior designer, Hopkins will admit happily that no two days are the same.
Besides meeting with clients, working on design boards, and delivering proposals, there are other projects to fulfill.
Working with a film team on videos for a nursery design on eHow.
Finalizing contracts for her new furniture line to be showcased on One Kings Lane in 2013.
Reviewing the goals of a blog that detail in part the life of a designer.
Plus, keeping some unfettered quality time for her husband Jeffrey, and pride and joy, Caiden, her 2-year-old son, in their home in Delanco.
“I try to maintain an honest business model,” says Hopkins, “one that keeps clients happy for many years.”