Design à la Carte

By Amanda Bonner

For homeowners looking to do one room at a time, Inside Stories by Duet Design Group is the answer.


Photo by David Lauer

Sometimes you want an entire seven-course, prix fixe meal, and other times just an entrée with a side. This was the theory behind Inside Stories, a spinoff company of Duet Design Group. “In 2014, we turned away 68 job opportunities because they desired ‘a la carte’ services,” says Devon Tobin, one of the cofounders, with Miranda Cullen, who created Duet Design Group six and a half years ago. Duet has since become one of the most sought-after interior design firms in Denver. Here are Tobin’s comments about Inside Stories.

How are Inside Stories’ services different from Duet Design Group’s?
“Duet’s designs are all-encompassing, down to the art and accessories. Duet appeals to the client who says, ‘I don’t want to do just one room at a time. I prefer to do the entire house at once.’ In contrast, Inside Stories serves those who choose to do their design one step at a time. In addition, they want to be an integral part of the process, from selection to implementation.”

What is the Inside Stories process?
“It is very similar to what we do at Duet Design Group. A designer has an initial consultation with a client; they discuss the client’s needs, desires, budget and style. The designer, who is paid an hourly rate, with a three-hour minimum, creates a schematic design, which checks all the boxes, and presents it to the client. Inside Stories differs in that if a client wants to purchase the designer’s images, she could. Alternatively, the client could choose to pay the designer an hourly rate to purchase it at the designer discounts. Duet is a full-service company—purchasing, installing and following through if errors occur. With Inside Stories, the client coordinates all of this.”


Uniquely Yours “Inside Stories clients want to put their own stamp on things,” says Devon Tobin. Photo by Emily Minton Redfield

Give us a hypothetical example of a master bedroom redo.
“If your budget is $10,000, the client understands that the cost of the designer to design the space might be $850. So then the client has a budget o $9,150. The designer prices the items needed for the room. If the client agrees, the designer measures your space, inventories the furniture you want to keep and checks out fabrics, etc. When she returns—in a week to two weeks— she has designed your space and presents an interactive presentation. At that point, the client is allowed to change up to three things, like the lamps. The client and the designer will work together to select the item. By the time the designer leaves, the client will have the en – tire finished floor plan both on print and on a USB drive, including all prices. Additionally, the designer will show the discounts Duet has if we buy the product.”

Talk about the designers who work for Inside Stories.
“We currently have three very good designers at Inside Stories, and everyone we hire has a degree in interior design—it’s no different than a law degree or an architecture degree. Miranda and I are mentoring them to be great independent business owners. We provide the training, we give continual support and advice on things like scale, and we provide the infrastructure—the leads, the computer programs, the business cards—but they remain self-managers. And they are extremely busy. Our intent is to keep bringing on more designers.”

What’s a typical Inside Stories customer?
“We have a huge spectrum of clients—millennials, seniors and everyone in between. They all want to freshen things up without doing a full facelift. And they want to put their own stamp on things.”