Model homes are like fashion models: we all want some of that look for our own. Linda Baxter knows that well. With years of experience in commercial design and dressing high-end model homes, a portion of her potential clients call her moments after touring one of her models. “I want mine to look just like that,” is a familiar theme of those first introductions.
Linda stresses that even when decorating a model, she focuses on the person she envisions living in that home, rather than concentrating on the look alone. “The minute you walk in the home you should feel that energy,” she says. The problem is that some people aren’t concerned with personalizing their environment. “They just want to move full-speed ahead and put together a beautiful package,” Linda says. Not so fast, clients! “I tell them we can do that style, but let’s make it about them as well. We’ll start by choosing some colors or fabrics that reflect them.” Clients tell her they want their homes to look like the models because it’s “pulled together.” “But it needs to be pulled together emotionally, too,” Linda emphasizes. “It should reflect their travel, family, interests. And I don’t think there’s one right way to do that; I think there are many. My clients depend on me to put it together for them.”
To get their wheels turning, Linda gives her clients a little homework. They need to sit down and go through some books and magazines to pull out images they love, as well as those they don’t.
On the other end of the spectrum are those clients who aren’t interested in that slick, model-home look. They are highly educated about what they’re looking for and want to make all of the personal selections themselves. “Palm Springs, for example, is a very artistic community,” she says. “They’re very conscientious about design and art,” making for a great balance to her make-me-a-model clientele.
Linda’s Las Vegas-based firm has clients in Utah, California, Arizona, and Florida. One of her largest local projects was the Residence Club at PGA West, for which she was recommended by one of the owners/investors who is one of her clients.
“My clients definitely want to relax, especially in Vegas — it’s a 24-hour city,” Linda says. “They want their home to be somewhere they can shut it all off. The modern movement is very popular here, too. I think because people are trying to simplify their lives, beginning at home.”
While her own home reflects an equal level of polished cohesion as those of her clients, she leaves the Zen factor for them. “I love Old World, I love lots of stuff. I love to embellish things,” she admits.
During college, Linda says she befriended artists and interior designers, which landed her some prime opportunities. She designed a boutique in the Salt Lake City Hilton, where she soon was doing window dressing and even buying. “It was very hands-on, embellishing for every season and every holiday,” she says. “It was the spot in Salt Lake City in the ’70s.” With her flair for creating artistic environs, few would suspect she earned her degree in psychology, which she says has helped tremendously in her career in working with people.
Favorite way to relax:
Sitting by the fire on the poolside patio. Or sitting in the living room with a glass of wine and all the French doors open.
Favorite way to entertain:
“I’m a little more formal. I love to have the dining room table set. But I also love to set up the kitchen for a Sunday afternoon buffet. My husband is a great chef at the barbecue.”
The inside of a home reflecting the outside. “It’s very important that the interior design is cohesive with the architecture.”
Old World, eclectic, elegant, embellished
“We took a road trip to the Hearst Castle, and I just felt so at home there, even though it’s so over the top.”
“Because I have a model-home background, I can work on a miniscule budget and still make it look good, even with residential clients.”
Why clients love her:
“They know I am very sensitive to their desires. They trust me. It’s all about them, not about me. They also know we can change things if they don’t like it. I tell them they’re not going to hurt my feelings.”