Today we are jumping into conversation with Erin and Mark Reuben, the co-owners of Brisbane based workroom – Decorators Workroom. Specialising in custom soft furnishings and a trade only offering, Decorators Workroom has become essential for all things window coverings, decorative cushions and custom soft furnishings on our projects.
So in support of a fellow Australian business, we wanted to turn a spotlight on Decorators Workroom as a local manufacture who has built themselves up to play a vital role in the Interior Design industry here in Brisbane.
Join us as we sit down for a chat with Erin and dive into how they got started, what goes on in a sewing workroom and the ‘must haves’ for a flourishing designer / workroom relationship.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves? Where did Decorators Workroom begin?
“Mark and I are a husband-and-wife team and the proud owners of Decorators Workroom, a full-service workroom specialising in bespoke residential window treatments and custom furnishings for the trade. The majority of work is based in South East Queensland, from the Gold Coast to Sunshine Coast, but we are also honoured to be the preferred workroom for many upper North QLD and interstate members of trade.
We have owned our Workroom since early 2017 when we relocated our young family to Brisbane to pursue our dream of being part of the future of local Australian craftsmanship and manufacturing, which is invaluable to the Australian Interior Design industry. Our shared dream stemmed from my life-long love for fabrics, sewing and soft furnishings, combined with Mark’s military and corporate operations background… and a general love for the Queensland people and weather of course!
One of the key points that sets Decorators Workroom apart from other workrooms is our ability to extend well beyond purely manufacturing for our clients. In addition to our large manufacturing capacity, we are proud to offer end-to-end custom soft furnishing support. That means we can take care of everything from measuring and consulting, to manufacturing and sourcing of materials, through to the final installation – all under one roof.
When we are not running our business (at least not physically) Mark and I love spending time with our two beautiful girls, our two rescue dogs, five chickens and toiling away at our own home renovations (which ironically require new curtains, but our own orders are always last priority in our business!).”
What does a day at Decorators Workroom typically look like?
“Decorators Workroom is a fast-paced, high-energy work environment with lots of moving hands, and machines, working together to a backdrop of the day’s selected Spotify playlist. While every role within our Workroom is different, we are all “creative problem solvers” in our day-to-day roles.
- Our machinists are adept at altering sewing techniques and fine-tuning their machines for the perfect handling of every fabric. No two fabrics are the same, so there isn’t a blueprint for sewing every fabric.
- The Front Office is the hub of client-based solutions, including quoting, recommending fabric allowances, providing advice and managing production timelines. It is also the intermediary between the design brief and the production floor by transferring high level project details and check-measures in to the miniature of manufacturing specifications.
- Our on-site team are our skilled at measuring, consulting and installing for optimum client outcomes.
Like all small business owners, Mark and I ‘wear many hats’. My role centres around managing and consulting with clients, suppliers and team members, while Mark is the driver behind modernising and continuing to improve our workflow and client engagement.”
Key motives behind creating a trade only business?
“Our plan for Decorators Workroom has always been for Mark and I to focus on our core strengths and experience in the areas of sewing, manufacturing and operations management. We consider ourselves a “support role” for our talented and creative clients, who are then able to focus on the design process with the end-customer. Having this type of clear delineation between trade and retail also helps us build strong trading relationships based on trust and collaboration, which is something that Mark and I both immensely value and appreciate.”
Tell us a little bit about your creative process working with designers?
“At Decorators Workroom, we take a consultative process to working with our clients in order to find the perfect solution for their project. No two projects are the same, therefore we have to remain dynamic and open to new concepts and ideas.
Our creative process usually starts with a design brief provided by our client, including specifications, any inspo imagery, floorplans and some rough measurements. From this early stage we put together a summary of costings and recommendations for which support the design vision.
Once the designer has approval on the scope of work, we usually meet on site to discuss the detail of the brief from a manufacturing stance. This meeting includes a full measure-up and a consultative discussion with the designer around fabric, hardware and lining selections. For larger or more complex projects we allow for additional follow up measures, templates and proto-types in order to make sure the finished product is perfect.”
From design through to install – what is your favourite part of the process?
“I think I have re-worded this 49 times, because I can’t pin-point (excuse the pun) a favourite part of the process. The obvious answer is the big “room reveal” at the end of the project. At Decorators Workroom, we have the privilege of seeing the stunning transformation, from concept to completion, as we are engaged early in the process to measure and quote, but our soft furnishings are often among the last pieces to be installed. However, I also want to mention that our team experience so many “little joys” along the way. In particular, I love rolling out a beautiful fabric on the workroom table which I had previously only seen in a tiny sample. Seeing the fabric on a larger scale is always exciting.”
What are your ‘must haves’ from designers when working on custom window coverings?
“A clear, complete design brief. In order to successfully carry out our role, it’s important for us to understand what the designer is aiming to achieve with the custom window covering design. Key points are: design aesthetic, functional needs, time-line and budget. Visual aids are a useful tool to helping break down the communication.
An understanding of the manufacturing process. Establishing a mutual understanding of the process lays down the foundation for a trust-worthy, reliable and rewarding workroom-designer relationship.”
Let’s chat about the Bayview One window coverings as a project.
“We have had the pleasure of working with Darren and Elissa for many years on a variety of projects, but this has to be one of our favourites due to the emphasis they have placed on sharing the process and showcasing local craftsmanship and suppliers. Thank you, on behalf of Mark, myself and our whole team for your ongoing support over the years.”
Let’s break this project up a little though –
“We have two very distinct hardware types in this project. One type was selected to make a bold statement, the other was selected to completely disappear.
In the Main Bedroom, Darren and Elissa chose a 28mm double track with a 90 degree bend so the curtains flow continuously around the corner. The choice of black contrasts beautifully against the walls, while connecting to the black window frames.
Throughout the rest of the house, Darren and Elissa opted for the Silent Gliss recessed profile, a two-part system that involves inserting an aluminium channel in the ceiling during construction phase, followed by clipping the track in to place at install. The result is a completely flush finish with the ceiling and a true ceiling-to-floor dramatic drape.”
“Darren and Elissa chose a simple, quality wide-width sheer for all window treatments across the house. In the living area, the fabric was left unlined. In all of the bedrooms, a lining was required for quality sleep. We recommended our Silicone block-out lining because it has the same UV and thermal qualities of regular coated block-out lining, with a much smaller stack back. This meant that the curtains didn’t impose too much on the floor space of the room.”
“Darren and Elissa love a more relaxed style in their own curtains, so their choice of our “Relaxed Wave” heading with a slightly longer hem brushing the floor perfectly fit the brief. The Relaxed Wave is made without pleating, so it’s a versatile curtain style that can be appropriated to a wide variety of design schemes, from modern to traditional, hence it’s stellar rise in popularity in recent years.”
“We also made several Roman blinds throughout Bayview using the same sheer fabric as the curtains to provide consistency across the window treatments.”