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A Designing Woman

Many people love antiques, modern art, flowers and pastel colors but have no idea how to bring these styles together to make beautiful and functional rooms. Help is just a phone call away at Elements of Design.Owner and designer Gwen Mai schedules home visits to consult and offer suggestions on room arrangements, window treatments, paint colors and decorative items that will turn a house into a home – all within her client’s budget, reflecting their taste and lifestyle.Mai has always loved decorating, designing and sewing. Growing up in Goodland, Kan., with three sisters, she spent many hours sewing with her mother and was often complimented on her flair for design. Unsure if she could make a living in the design field, she enrolled at Texas Women’s University and majored in kinesiology.After graduation, she married Chad Mai, a field tech for Nortel Network, and together they moved to Colorado Springs. Mai became a personal trainer at the Broadmoor Hotel where she worked for about a year.She discovered an ad in the newspaper for the Drapery School of Fashion in Colorado Springs (which has since relocated to Arizona), and she left her job and enrolled. Mai received her certification in drapery design and opened a business designing and sewing drapery and other window coverings out of her Woodmen Hills home.She designed and sewed drapery, other window coverings, bedspreads, duvets and just about anything a client requested. Mai decided to add home dÈcor items, so she opened a shop in Falcon in September 2004 – Elements of Design.The store that she designed and decorated is packed with affordable home furnishings from furniture to clocks to candles.”I love one-of-a-kind items,” Mai said. “I constantly change the store offerings so every time a customer comes in they will see new and unique things for their home.””You’ll find a lot of Old World design in my store,” Mai said. “I have very eclectic tastes.” Mai and her husband visit various Chicago markets to purchase many of her items. “Chicago is a wonderful place for design,” she said. Mai also sells items made by local artists, such as jewelry, purses and scarves.The new homes in Falcon have been a boon to her business.”The majority of my consultations are for window coverings,” Mai said. “With all the new homes in Falcon, covering the windows is the first thing most people do,” she said. Mai sews window tops and other items, but contracts with a Dallas workroom for custom draperies.Her clients come from all over southern Colorado. “I’ll go anywhere,” Mai said.She recently was a judge for the Pueblo Parade of Homes. “It was an honor to be asked and a great deal of fun,” Mai said. “Pueblo is very different from Falcon and Colorado Springs, as they do not have many of the large homebuilders and trend homes.””I love Falcon and the eastern plains lifestyle,” Mai said. “We are a community of do-it-yourselfers. It’s just at times we all need a little help.”She is currently working on a Web site to expand her business. “I’ve shipped items to other states that people have purchased while visiting locally,” Mai said. “If I can have my suppliers ship directly to customers off a Web site, it will be much more convenient for them and myself.”Mai offered the following tips for the home decorator:

  • Don’t be afraid to mix woods, metals, antiques and modern styles.
  • Let your home reflect you, and fill it with things that you love.
  • Remember that home dÈcor doesn’t have to be expensive.Elements of Design: 495-8434.

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