Welcome back to our INTERIOR DESIGN PRODUCTIVITY TOOLBOX series, where we are discussing the key essentials to running a small but mighty interior design-build practice.

FEBRUARY is the month of LOVE, so we’ll be discussing COLLABORATION and how we integrate LOVE into our business practices.


I know, I know, predictable right? BUT, as corny as it may sound, relationships truly ARE the backbone of our company, and a strategic core value that strengthens our interior design, construction, and project management process and services.  Actually, WITHOUT our treasured relationships and stellar team, we could NOT provide services at all.

Typically, as any team oriented company structure grows, you strive to build strong relationships; with clients, colleagues, brands, suppliers, contractors, specialists, consultant and your team.  Your company’s success will be determined on how well those relationships are crafted and maintained.

Every relationships we create is an opportunity for COLLABORATION, and like a heat-seeking-missile, we really do crave it.  No ONE person knows EVERYTHING, so teamwork is key for growth and success. Our relationships are our value, power, and strength.


Here are a few strategies we apply when it comes to building strong teams:

  • Seek relationships that will help you grow professionally AND personally.
  • Build relationships that will hold you accountable and facilitate your success.
  • Create relationships that strengthen your company and bring you joy.
  • Surround yourself with team partners that are smarter and stronger than you are, and build a team that lifts and challenges you to greatness.
  • Approach relationships with a mind and heart of service.
  • Always ask yourself, what can I provide this relationship so that it is equitable and equally rewarding for both parties. This builds longevity and loyalty.
  • Lastly, be patient and consistent.  Accept that building strong relationships takes time. I assure you, it WILL pay off and fill your heart.

The strongest and best types of collaborations are a direct result of TRUST.  Trust is built by consistent and HONEST engagement, and is developed over TIME.  For us, some of our most treasured, creative, and successful collaborations have come from meaningful relationships built via social media, networking events, associations, and service; and all have come from trust, built from consistent long-term engagement.  Great collaboration allows for amazing growth and expansion opportunities for everyone on the team.


We design and build for clients who trust us to create a high-quality space that is safe, beautiful, livable, and comfortable; but most importantly, they trust us to respond to their needs, budget, timeline, and vision.

A successful project is absolutely the direct result of the strength of the team; and, of course, the CLIENT is a VERY important part of the team. A strong Client/Designer relationship is a constant give-and-take partnership, and one that requires the respectful determination and maintenance of leadership, structure, authority, guidance, flexibility and balance. The development and maintenance of these key points is the reason our clients hire us, and it is our professional responsibility.


Additionally, building up and investing in strong personal relationships (with strong professional boundaries) with our clients that aren’t solely business and/or project related also accelerates the opportunities for increased creativity and a high-level of prompt communication; and upon completion, it typically leads to honest referrals, dear long-term friendships, and ultimately to more wonderful projects and sheer joy for all.



It is the FIRST word that comes to mind when I think about the privilege I have to work with such amazing, talented, hardworking collaborative thinkers every day. In a business that relies so heavily on communication and collaboration, it’s truly an honor to know, trust, and work with such a wonderful community of designers, contractors, fabricators, reps, showrooms, installers, architects, consultants, vendors and specialists.


Every project, from the very first meeting to the final sign off , photoshoot, and champagne toast, requires a village of talent.  These relationships are at the core of our business. The community we’ve built (and very much with strategic intention) is inclusive, supportive, and creative; where hard-lined competition isn’t a factor, but instead we share a like-minded vision, where the challenges of collaboration are considered a vibrant exciting inspiration, rather than a threat.  Being able to brainstorm ideas with other professionals and creative specialists ensures that we design within the means, limits and boundaries of feasibility, budget and timeline; to create a truly unique space that exceeds expectation. Our team and community of experts and colleagues provide the necessary and dynamic dimension that our high-level projects require.  Without our roster of brilliant experts, we couldn’t provide the same depth and breath of solutions.


Creating and working with a village of talent who share the same passion and drive for perfection as I do, allows me to shape, expand, fortify and maintain our brand DNA, and allows me the opportunity to focus on design and leadership.


Close collaboration and preparation with our photographer, Zeke Ruelas, ensures the success of our final photo shoot, and is an essential tool in our PRODUCTIVITY TOOLBOX.

Pictured here is our dear photographer and friend Zeke Ruelas who understands, TO THE CORE, the meaning of collaboration and perfection.  It is an honor and treat to work with such talent; a creative pro who has nothing more on his mind during the entire process than OUR success!  I couldn’t love working with him more, and THIS is the level of collaboration we should ALL be seeking.

4PT PHOTO TIP | ALWAYS work with the best your budget will allow, and always, ALWAYS, have your work shot professionally! It is a game-changer!


One of the most important and exciting collaborative relationships we cherish, (and one that the design community widely celebrates), is the collaboration between designers and builders, and large industry brands.  It is a great honor and privilege, (and quite a RESPONSIBILITY), to engage in any form of partnership; whether it is working together to specify the best product for your project, or mutually beneficial paid sponsorships.  For us, in order to truly recommend their products to our clients and social media family of followers, we MUST know, use, and trust any brand or product we endorse.  It takes a long time, hard work, energy, and consistency to build these relationships.  Consistent engagement, attending trade shows, communicating with our reps often and appreciating all that they do to ensure our success, is imperative to developing strong brand relationships.


Most recently, we were awarded one of those once-in-a-lifetime brand partnership honors.  In 2016, we were selected to join  the prestigious DXV Design Panel, one of the design and architecture industry’s highest-level of brand partnerships ever developed.

To learn more click here. You can also view the entire project here.

When a designer publicly supports a product and/or recommends any product to clients, followers, and/or colleagues, that designer takes on the moral and ethical responsibility for that recommendation, and thus the product.  Therefore, recommend with caution.

However, when a manufacturer provides the type of service and product that you CAN endorse, then it is a lovely WIN-WIN for both the designer and the brand to collaborate on building awareness for BOTH brands.


Today, more than ever, brands are working with designers through social media channels to build these relationships and promote their products to the community.  It is well worth it to pursue these incredible collaborations . It enhances the designer’s creative and professional credibility, and (in some cases) can give the designer an opportunity to have a powerful influence on future product designs and sales.

And…What a great way to give a big giant THANK YOU for all the service they truly provide to US on every project we complete!

From paint and lighting, to finishes and countertops, the broad world of interior design and build gives us countless options to choose from. Here are but a few of our trusty, #4ptfavorite, go-to brands that we love and consistently work with; and more importantly, we KNOW, will produce and deliver reliable materials, and services.


Some of the brands we partner and work with that help us provide the best products and services to our clients!


Building a strong, dedicated, gifted CORE team is THE most important key to building your business. Whether you are a team of two or two-thousand, your core team is everything.  A well built team will lift you; it will push and challenge you, it will make you cry with gratitude, and make you laugh with great gusto.  I can’t stress this enough: Take the time to carefully curate your inner circle.


TEAMWORK is another essential tool in our PRODUCTIVITY TOOLBOX. Team photo by Julian Rodriguez.

Once you begin building your team, incorporate them into EVERY part of the process. Inclusive team building is so very important, especially in smaller boutique creative firms. THIS is one of the most THE most important branches of collaboration.


I can tell you this, nothing can possibly run smoothly on a job site if headquarters isn’t organized and consistently a few steps ahead of everyone else. When every person on your team is  personally and professionally invested and feels they are an essential part of the team, and where they are repeatedly reminded of their value and worth to the company, it motivates everyone to work better, smarter, harder. This creates a positive work flow where obstacles and solutions are tackled together.

Inclusive team integration also allows for a well-rounded educational growth rhythm to be generated and experienced by all, since every team member is witnessing and engaging in all project steps throughout EVERY phase of the project.


Strong, reliable, loyal, strategic, and creative relationships are crucial to the success of any business. We feel so truly blessed to have the opportunity to cultivate and build a community of like-minded partners that understand the demands and joys of collaboration; and above ALL, we are grateful for YOU; for choosing to be here, with us!







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  1. Janet Lorusso on

    An excellent tribute to the importance of teamwork and collaboration – such important ingredients for success. I love your advice to surround yourself with partners who are smarter and stronger than you are and who will lift and challenge you. So much wisdom here!

    • Laura Muller on

      Hi Janet! SO glad it resonated with you! I’m honored by your comments and thanks so much for taking the time to read and support our blog adventure! xox

  2. Sheri Bruneau on

    Where do I begin? You have hit ALL the points for having a successful tribe. When I look back at my company, I see years of trial and error, but I see years of building relationships and trust also. As we all know, there is no ‘I ‘ in team and our teams far extend beyond our inner walls.

    Loved, loved, loved this post!

    • Laura Muller on

      Good morning!!! So thrilled that this resonates with you Sheri! I’m so honored that you took the time to read and comment! Thanks to YOU, I now have comments turned on (and we’re protected) so we can engage! Happy Sunday Blessings, Laura 🙂

  3. Sarah on

    You hit the nail on the head with this post. I contribute all my success to the relationships I’ve built over the years with my clients. I truly believe relationships, and connections with people are our purpose. This post really resonated with me, and it’s heart warming to read there are other professionals who know the value of this mindset. Cheers to you and your team!!

    • Laura Muller on

      Greetings Sarah! Thank you so much for your comments! I am so thrilled to connect with like-minded spirits that believe in positive connections and I couldn’t be more excited to know that this resonated with you and warmed your heart. My heart is full! And I couldn’t agree more…connections with people are our purpose! XOX

  4. Leslie Carothers on

    Laura ~

    This is such a beautifully written post. And having been one of your *service provider* partners in the past, I can attest to how fervently you believe in and practice all that you’ve written about here regarding the value of forming and nurturing strong relationships.

    I know that everyone who reads this post will be blessed by the information it contains as you continue to let your wisdom and experience flow out into these wonderful posts that help us all.

    • Laura Muller on

      Bless you and thank you Leslie!!! Your words and kindness fill my heart! I feel so blessed to have your love, friendship, time, and constant unwavering support! Love you dearest friend!!! xox

    • Laura Muller on

      Hi Amy! Thank you so so much for your comments! I agree, EVERY team member, colleague, and talented professional we work with is a cherished blessing! We couldn’t do anything without them! We’re so grateful! XOX


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