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  meet the designer,
Thom Cutean
 ulteriordesignlifestyle  

I got an early start in this industry. I was born the youngest of four children. My mother was a former model and merchandising maven, my father a time study analyst and efficiency expert. It was a rare mix of art and science; and I think it produced a true sense of wonder and an appreciation for beauty in my mind. I have always dreamed in fractals. I have always surrounded myself with beautiful interiors even on a thrift store budget when necessary.
I got my professional start in my local home town upholstery shop while I was in high school. (Chairpeople Furniture) I learned about removing coverings from the furniture frames, making patterns and rebuilding spring decks. I also found out I could really take a punch! Then I moved on to estimating jobs and selling textiles. This is where my love of decorative arts began.

I became adept at estimating yardages and knowing all about different types of fabrics and leathers. In my middle 20's I moved to Chicago from the suburbs and started working in the trade first as a retail manager, and then finally in sales to the trade in some of the furniture showrooms in and around Chicago's bustling Merchandise Mart. Somewhere along the line I developed an appreciation for "lifestyle shops" like The Conran Shop and Moss in NYC. I worked with a partner to model a shop in Chicago (Innerview/Innerview Home) after them. We achieved a great degree of success as we catered to Chicago's hipsters and fashionistas. We had a great experience until we lost our lease. (a mere detail overlooked by my partner) We lasted about 5 years in various incarnations of this venture which I later termed "Guerrilla Retail".

From there I went on to manage Scandinavian Design. This was a great opportunity to learn all about importing furniture from Europe and Scandinavia. Also I always had such a love for mid-century and classic furniture so I was very happy in this environ. It is also where I met my wife. I did that for several years and then began listing "Furniture Specialist" on my resume. By this time I had been on many factory tours and learned all about how furniture is made and what types of construction were best for each users application. I also had the rare opportunity to work with Lee Weitzman on his magnificent custom furniture, and it was a profound creative environment for an interior designer to see first hand. I helped him develop a contract line, and market to the hospitality industry. I was also in place to help out with visual merchandising of his flagship showroom in Chicago's River North neighborhood.

In late 2006 I went to work for Duralee Furniture in their Chicago Showroom and marketed a private label concept to interior designers/retailers helping them to create a signature line. It was the first time I built a program like this for the trade and while doing so I picked up quite a few tips on how to make something like this valuable even to small design start ups. I think the most important thing I have learned about being an interior designer is to have a bunch of trusted craftsmen in your contact list. Even though I primarily work on private residential projects, I am pretty hard to stump when in need of a custom solution. I work with many of the best repair and restoration companies, painters; and wall paper hangers. I can always provide a reference to make the project seem effortless to my client. To this day, interior Design is a magickal world that I am so happy to be a part of. I have learned a wealth of information and I have met some of the most visionary designers and people.

I recently moved to Oak Park IL. With my wife and my infant son. We gravitated here knowing it would be a nice place to live in direct contrast of the city. however, the big draw for me was that Oak Park is known for its massive appreciation of decorative arts and architecture. Living in the historical district we are surrounded by many amazing original Frank LLoyd Wright homes and many other homes that are beautiful and regal and well maintained. It is truly a HAVEN for a design enthusiast such as myself. I completely redesigned the home we bought. I redid the floors and all painted surfaces, I replaced fixtures, installed focal wall coverings and I finished a basement to include a state of the art playroom and home theater room.

I am often asked what does Ulterior Design mean? To this I reply: "I believe that good design is for everyone." In the last few years we have seen a rise in interest in DIY media as seen on HGTV etc. This has been both good and bad for the design industry. I think it is important to point out that while you get to see amazing before and after results within the span of a half hour (or what seems to be elapsed over a weekend) These are not true representations of how most projects are completed. It is my job to listen to my client and help them create a realistic and scalable scope of the project including a budget. I am not simply "plugging in" my personality, but by creating a relationship with my clients I can help them achieve their unique dream space. Whether you need a new color for your bathroom or you need a whole new house full of furniture, I invite you to contact me. I will happily discuss the scope of your decorating project and provide you with clear solutions for getting the job done on almost any budget.



contact me at:
(312) 281-1468 or email: designulterior@gmail.com.
 
 

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