Mother-daughter team provides visual ‘connectability’
Sometimes the demands on interior designers get a little wild, considering a routine mix of architectural challenges, budgetary constraints, long hours, and supplier shortcomings. At other times, exhibiting a wild side is what’s essential to getting hired.
For local Choice Designs Inc. founder, owner, and principal designer Carma Reincke, one such opportunity and career accolade comes from her transformation of a detached six-car garage, with an approximate 20-foot ceiling, into a trophy room to showcase hunting guns and exotic game.
The space—a virtual zoo—is home to a giraffe, lion, water buffalo, zebra, and more arranged in simulated natural habitats. It remains a favorite project for the Ivy Tech Community College Northeast alumna, who earned certificates in interior design and legal office administration from the institution.
“It is incredible, but it is very strange walking in to the space and seeing all of these animals,” Reincke says.
Her design influence extends well beyond this region. In fact, several assignments have taken her across the country, including to the remote ski town of Telluride, Colo., where she encouraged a couple to rethink not only the alignment of their planned home, but also the road leading to it in order to optimize the future residence’s views of the surrounding San Juan Mountains. Her work has taken her to the Cayman Islands as well, where she gave a seashell-inspired facelift to a multi-room villa with only a three-week timeframe.
Reincke says “cohesiveness” and “connectability” are the hallmarks of her design philosophy. And the combination has served her well, as evidenced by numerous design competition awards, magazine profiles, and people’s choice honors–not to mention a lengthy list of satisfied clients.
“Educating people about design options is a process of really getting to know the clients,” Reincke says. “That’s why our initial interview is about sitting down and getting to know the family, how it works, and seeing what the client’s ideal vision is.”
Reincke’s enthusiasm for design grew from a request for assistance from her father, a residential builder who was completing a home entry in the Fort Wayne Parade of Homes. That particular home swept the design awards that year. She gained further guidance in the field before and after college from her mother-in-law, also an interior designer.
And in 1979, Reincke incorporated Choice Designs as an interior design consulting business while her family was living in Texas. The family returned to northeast Indiana in 1984.
Beyond new construction projects, Choice Designs’ services encompass simple accents as well as complete redesigns. There are currently 11 interior designers on staff, each with different specializations.
Reincke’s daughter, Jennifer Ford, is one of them. As the firm’s residential and corporate art consultant, Ford says she considers community engagement to be an important facet of business excellence.
“I’ve lived and done business all over the world, and one thing that I’ve always admired about other businesses is how often and how well they do community outreach,” Ford says.
Choice Designs has made financial and in-kind contributions to a number of area nonprofits, such as the American Red Cross, Make-a-Wish Foundation, and Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House. It maintains a special connection with the Allen County SPCA. Choice Designs has hosted three mini-lecture events for the advocacy organization, focusing on pet-friendly fabrics, flooring, and accessories.
“The people at SPCA were overwhelmingly excited about us bringing awareness to how to design a pet-friendly home because the lack of an accommodating home is one of the main reasons they get so many dogs back,” Ford says.
With so many responsibilities and commitments, it can be a challenge for the mother–daughter team to strike a proper work-life balance. Reincke, however, doesn’t hesitate when pondering what she would do for a change of pace.
“I’d run a bed and breakfast because I love to cook and I love to visit with people,” Reincke says. “Baking is truly how I relax.”
And it also happens to be an avocation where the only demands are for her treats.
Jennifer Ford’s education and world travels to promote fine art are not only applicable for her career with Choice Designs Inc., they are also advantageous to Ivy Tech Northeast, where she has taught art history and art appreciation as an adjunct faculty member for the past two years.
“I love being able to create an atmosphere where I’m getting a lot of student feedback,” Ford says.
In fact, one of her favorite ethical debates for her students involves reparations, as they relate to Nazi-looted artwork during World War II. Much of this stolen art is either unaccounted for or belongs in museum collections today.
“Does the museum have to give up a $250 million painting, and who does it go to?” Ford asks. “So many things don’t have a firm answer, so that’s why I like getting students’ perspectives.”
Ford possesses a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington, a master’s degree from New York University, and she is working toward a doctorate at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. She has developed extensive art contacts in Europe, including coordinating art exhibitions at Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival and serving as gallery director for Hartinger Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria.
Ivy Tech Northeast Humanities Chair Teresa Vazquez-Hall has had the opportunity to observe Ford’s teaching.
“Because she is very active both locally and internationally in fine art and design, she brings a great deal of authority to bear in the classroom,” Vazquez-Hall says.
Design by number
What’s your best advice for redecorating a room on a limited budget?
Establish your priorities alongside your budget. Know what you really want to achieve. Maybe you’re looking at changing one room, and you say to yourself, “What’s going to be the biggest impact? What can I do with the budget I have?” You may have $200 or $1,000. If you’re wondering what the biggest impact is that you can make for $200, I would always say paint. Put color on that wall. Refresh things, even if it’s the same color. It’s amazing how things will yellow over time.
- Be sure to bring all samples into your room. When you’re out in the stores looking at different things you want to incorporate into your room, they could look totally different in the lighting there than what your lighting is at home. It changes. So often, we’re enhancing what something looks like by direct light. Your home may not have the direct light to emphasize your design ideas, so you may lose the luster you’re seeing within a product in a particular setting.
- Prior to purchasing, you always want to research your product choices. There is such a wide range of pricing anymore, even on the same item. By doing your research ahead of time, you’re going to be able to fit more design options into your budget.