Sisters put custom twist on interior design company

By Andrea Ray | Aug 27, 2017
Courtesy of: Kimberly Thomas Tena Collyer (left) heads up the design aspect of Kitchen and Bath Details, while Jill Muldoon (right) focuses on the business side.

Mattapoisett — When Tena Collyer and Jill Muldoon first began walking onto construction sites nearly 20 years ago, they ran into some immediate problems.

The sisters, owners of Kitchen and Bath Details in Mattapoisett had just graduated from college when they began the business, which requires them to work side-by-side with contractors. “We’d be on site to talk to the contractors about what the design plans were, and once and awhile they flat-out wouldn’t listen to us,” Collyer said. “They assumed we didn’t know anything.”

There wasn't much to do about it except do the best job, Collyer explained. These days the attitude is mostly different and Kitchen and Bath Details, located at 81 Fairhaven Road, is doing well. “We probably handle about 40 to 50 projects per year,” Muldoon explained. “We work directly with the clients to create their dream designs.”

Kitchen and Bath Details started about fifteen years ago, Collyer explained. “I had gone to college and not used my degree. So I went back for a second degree when [Muldoon] was headed to college for the first time.” She explained that she had been working at Mahoney’ Building Supply, on Mattapoisett's Industrial Drive, when she was asked to sub a day in the kitchen section. The design element piqued her interest, and she later found herself working for a design company. “It’s a great mix of architecture and design, it’s perfect for me.”

Collyer pitched the idea of starting a business together to her sister upon graduation. “I’m the designer, but I’m not a business person,” she explained. “Jill is a fantastic business person, so she was the perfect person to work with.”

Since beginning the business, the pair has worked on homes throughout Massachusetts. “We’ll do anything,” Collyer noted. “We’re known for having a ‘classic New England’ type of design, but we’ve done modern and quite a few historic designs as well. We like the challenge.”

Historic houses are a popular request in the tri-town area as well as in Dartmouth and Boston, Muldoon explained. “We have a number of design elements and pieces specifically meant to look historical,” she said.

Collyer added that the biggest challenge of a historical house is fitting modern amenities into it. “Everyone wants their house to look traditional, the way that it would have in the past,” she said. “But they want their big fridges and microwaves, and all those amenities. We find a lot of ways to hide those things, so they can’t be seen unless they need to be used.”

Over the past fifteen years, the demands from customers have changed, the sisters reported. “Years ago, it was technology in kitchens, or in bedrooms,” Collyer explained. “Now everyone wants a defined space to keep their technology.”

Another trend is downsizing, or “aging in place” as Muldoon described it. “A lot of baby boomers are downsizing. They want something smaller, on one floor maybe, or designed to be easy access. They plan to stay where they are, so they’re planning for the future.”

The future, according to Collyer, means designing easy access to important things, provisions for a wheelchair, and generally making tasks as easy as possible.

The design process can take a short amount of time — several months — or up to two years for complicated plans, although Muldoon noted that those cases are rare.

“Our clients end up like family; we send each other Christmas cards,” Collyer explained. “We spend so much time getting to know everyone, and how they live, and what they want — how could we not stay in touch after that?”

The company also has an eye for talent; their youngest designer, Danielle Sylvia, was recently named one of the “30 Top Designers Under 30” by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Sylvia will fly down to Orlando for the reception. “She’ll see all the newest design options, come home and teach us!” Collyer said with a laugh.

Kitchen and Bath Details is open Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.