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Sesshu Designs - Connoisseur Of Culture And Home

Tanya Shively purposefully works to make your life simpler and less complicated. She is the trusted Interior Designer for dozens of families throughout the Western US. She appreciates the site and interprets interiors to reflect it specifically and uniquely for each client. As a connoisseur of taste, she’ll ensure your home is sophisticated and timeless.

When did your passion for interior design begin?

I didn’t recognize it at the time, but it probably goes back to around age 8. As a young girl I loved rearranging furniture in my bedroom and my parent’s living room. For my 12th birthday, I asked for a redesign of my bedroom with paint, bedding, window coverings, etc – and I selected them all myself. My favorite toys to play with as a kid were Lincoln logs and Legos which I used to build houses and rooms. This was when I wasn’t drawing anything and everything. Art was my favorite class in school, and I took it every year as my elective until I graduated. In high school, I actually had a class in interior design, and that is when I knew what all of those interests added up to for a career, and I never looked back.

After high school, I pursued a degree in interior design and then went to work for a small high-end design studio in Scottsdale. I learned a lot about the business, and how to work with architects and builders. After about 9 years there, I was feeling ready to have a little more control in the final design results and in my own destiny, so I opened Sesshu Design in 2005.

How did your love for design begin to cross over with your love for the environment?

I grew up across the street from Grand Teton National Park – literally. (My parent’s house is on the border of the park.) And just 60 miles from Yellowstone. So, the idea of protecting the natural beauty around us was just part of what I always understood to be our responsibility as stewardship of the planet.

As I studied design I was exposed to the ideas of Ed Mazria, the American architect, a leader in sustainable design and founder of Architecture 2030, which advocates for more sustainable building design to minimize the effects of climate change. I recognized that we have a unique opportunity and responsibility in the design industry to make an impact of the future of the planet.

At the same time, I really love the way things like reclaimed wood add character and a story to a home that new materials just don’t. Finding old doors or gates and either reusing them or repurposing them as furniture came with a project I worked on in Santa Fe, and I loved how much interest that added to the home. It is so much better than just tossing them in the landfill.

What inspired you to focus on sustainability and health in your interior design at Sesshu?

My focus on health comes from my Dad, who has had severe chronic asthma my entire life. Things like dust, dander, mold, and allergens were a concern in our house, and making changes to reduce or eliminate those was something we addressed when I was young. As I became a professional, I heard more about how many people suffer from these kinds of health issues, and I realized that I could help them make a difference in their quality of life by the materials we chose for their home.

Tell us about your mission behind WELL Designed™ homes.

The concept of WELL Designed encompasses all of these ideas, but also takes into account the idea that people want luxury and especially livability in their home. I believe that you can have all of those things, that there is no reason to sacrifice any one for the other. In fact, many times choosing a healthy and sustainable option is a true win-win where it enhances or supports your health and well-being and is also better for the environment. I believe that your health is the most important aspect of all of these, which is why it comes first. The environment is critical as well – if we don’t take care of the planet, we have nowhere else to go. Livability is important for your enjoyment of your home and how it functions for your family and your everyday needs. And if we don’t have a little bit of luxury and beauty then we are giving up too much quality of life.

I want my clients to understand that if approached correctly, their home can be all of these things and create a true sanctuary and refuge from the world which welcomes them every time they enter it. I think that COVID has only served to underscore that concept.

What is the collaboration process like between you and a new client?

The first thing I do is ask them how much they want to be involved – just the big picture, or do they want to really get involved in all the details. Either way works for me, but it changes how I approach the initial research phase of the process.

Generally it is somewhere in the middle, and so I gather some information from them upfront about they things like and dislike, how they live, and I ask them to do some homework to put together a file of images of homes they like.

I take all of that information and start gathering materials and additional images to get a first pass concept or mood for the spaces we are designing. I also put together a preliminary budget and furniture layout. We meet so I can get their feedback to refine the style and details of what we will be specifying and/or purchasing.

Once all of these are approved, I go back to fill in the holes and flesh out the design concept with more materials, ideas, and specific items. I present those and get more feedback or approval. If we need to refine any selections, I will do that.

When we have approval on the majority of if not all items, we move into our construction document drawing phase or the purchasing phase for furnishings. All along the way, the client’s input is requested and required to proceed further, so they have a feeling of ownership of the design and a sense of confidence in the process.

There is a lot of back and forth, feedback and input, conversation and clarification throughout the design process.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work at Sesshu?

I love seeing my clients wowed at the end of the project with a beautiful home that feels really good to them. Often, they say things like, “It is even better than we imagined it would be! We couldn’t have done this on our own,” and that makes my day. I just want them to enjoy their home and hopefully the process of creating it.


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