Approach & Journey
HOW WE WORK
A Deeply Personal Process
There are many ways to measure success at an interior design firm – awards, media recognition and exceptional interiors are a few. But at Studio Brunstrum, our definition of success hinges on the journey we take with our clients.
We believe that collaboration, based on mutual trust and respect, along with open dialogue, is essential to the design process. From there, we can create, solve challenges and infuse each home with beauty as if it were our own.
To design a home, to be invited into someone’s inner sanctum, is a privilege.
Susan Brunstrum is involved with every project and is the creative force behind Studio Brunstrum design. You can expect her to lead all client presentations, when architectural schematics, color palettes, floor plans, furnishings and more are reviewed and discussed. As a unified collective, Susan and her team learn your habits, day-to-day routines and aspirations.
If collaboration is our bedrock, then simplification is our path to a smooth process. Years of valued client input have yielded a streamlined design journey. Billing, ordering and invoicing are transparent and easy to understand. Our touchpoints make it easy for clients to stay informed, even during the most complex assignments.
Studio Brunstrum can manage projects from the ground up, including architectural plans through to construction or renovation. We design for primary residences, vacation homes, pieds-à-terre and commercial properties.
- Turnkey transitioning from one home to another – upsizing, downsizing or rightsizing
- Project orchestration and consultation on existing homes, renovations and new construction
- Interior architecture and space planning
- Project management, including selection and scheduling of service providers, trades, architects and contractors, and specifying, ordering and installing all necessary elements
- Design development, selection and placement of furniture, accessories, window treatments, floor coverings, paint and wall coverings, artwork, antiques, upholstery and fabrics
THE STUDIO BRUNSTRUM TEAM
Founder and Principal
As founder of Studio Brunstrum, Susan combines her marketing and business acumen with her love of art and creativity. Her master’s degree in advertising from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, was earned while she continuously took classes in art history, drawing and design. Susan eventually parlayed her advertising background into corporate marketing and even led her own marketing/communications firm before discovering her true calling – design. From a one-woman, home-based business, Susan nurtured Studio Brunstrum into an award-winning firm with a team that shares her passion for catering to a discerning clientele. She spreads her enthusiasm for design as an active participant in the design community and as an on-air contributor. When not working, you will find Susan spending time with her two adult children or seeking creative inspiration in fashion magazines, art and travel.
JULIA COSKEY COLE
Director of Business
Julia is Studio Brunstrum’s Director of Business, a position that combines her passion for numbers with a desire to work in a lively, creative atmosphere. She is responsible for purchasing, expediting, invoicing and weekly status reports for all client projects. A Texas native, Julia is a 2009 graduate of Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance. She has more than five years’ experience in commercial banking, including BBVA Compass and JPMorgan Chase Bank, and worked in business for an interior design firm in Houston before moving to the Midwest. She and her husband, Andrew, previously lived in Papua New Guinea for two years, where she volunteered and helped fundraise for numerous local outreach organizations. She says, “It was an incredible adventure and an unforgettable experience.” Julia and Andrew still enjoy traveling, taking their puppy, Adelaide, to the dog beach, playing tennis and exploring Chicago’s many museums.
Designer / Project Manager
An art enthusiast who likes to experiment with painting, drawing, charcoal sketching and block printing, Lauren infuses her work with creativity as a Designer/Project Manager. Being a designer was always her dream, and she joined Studio Brunstrum immediately upon earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design from Chicago’s Harrington College of Design. Her favorite aspect of her job is finding the perfect “wow” piece for a space – a unique light fixture or a stand-out piece of furniture that a client never knew existed. At the studio, her days are a mix of creativity and organization – making design decisions as well as maintaining schedules and project management for clients. A city girl at heart, Lauren loves the energy of city living, where she can explore hot new restaurants, wander the Art Institute of Chicago or walk the lakefront. “My inner designer comes out during my free time at home. I love to read and scour fashion, lifestyle and design blogs for inspiration.”
Social Media and Marketing Manager
Lizzie handles all social media, blogging and marketing efforts at Studio Brunstrum as the Social Media and Marketing Manager. “I’ve always loved reading, writing and sharing my creative ideas,” she says. “Marketing and social media allow me to combine both creativity and strategy to build brand awareness and engagement both on and offline.” Lizzie’s background includes website development, content creation, brand strategy, design, social media and email marketing. Before joining Studio Brunstrum, Lizzie did marketing for her alma mater, Central Michigan University, as well as various other clients in the interior design industry. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism. The small-town transplant now lives in the Gold Coast with her enormous ginger cat, Scully. In her free time, Lizzie enjoys exploring the city, shopping at vintage stores, and trying out new coffee shops.
Cristina understands procurement from both the inside and out. She has worked in-house for a contractor, vendor and at an interior design firm. At Studio Brunstrum, Cristina is responsible for keeping the buying and fulfillment side of the business in order. She purchases all furnishings, materials and services required by the design team, coordinating delivery schedules and following up with vendors. Her position is perfect for her, as she started her career seeking a profession that leveraged her strengths in organization, mathematics and attention to detail and included her passion for creative minds and culture. Cristina indulges her interest in the arts by listening to late night jazz, discovering little-known artists, experiencing cultural events and exploring writing, dance, music, canvas and design. Her cultural curiosity was sparked by a diverse family background that includes Mexican, German, Bohemian and French. She is a life-long Chicagoan and lives in the city with her son.
Alycia Dagenais brings a well-rounded background in interior architecture, space planning and sustainable design to her position as Project Architect. Originally from New England, much of her design aesthetic came from a childhood spent helping her parents continually remodel their 150-year-old home. After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she worked in Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee. Alycia is responsible for architectural drawings and CAD from floor plans to tile layouts. She can be found at job sites coordinating with architecture firms, builders and contractors or working to ensure that projects follow city codes and ordinances. Alycia shares her experience as an Adjunct Professor at Kendall College where she teaches “Interior Design for Hospitality.” When she is not working or teaching, Alycia works alongside her husband undertaking their 100-year-old home renovations in Elmhurst and raising their three young children.
Sarah always wanted to be an interior designer. She considers design as an experience that can evoke emotions. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, Sarah launched her career specializing in custom furniture and upholstery. That work solidified her passion for working with clients to create designs that reflect their lives, which she incorporates daily at Studio Brunstrum. Her enthusiasm for the profession led her to take the rigorous NCIDQ Exam and she is now an NCIDQ Certificate holder, verifying her commitment to health, safety and welfare in spaces she designs. Sarah is active with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), first joining as a student and leading her group to earn two national awards as Student Chapter President. Sarah and her husband bonded over their mutual love of architecture and design in high school, and enjoy long weekend trips, architectural tours and their city life in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago.