If you had asked them a year ago, Adrianne Bugg and Brandeis Short, owners of Pillar & Peacock, would never have predicted that they’d be busier than ever right now, especially in light of a pandemic. Yet that is what has happened.
Many people need to move, but the lack of available real estate locally is causing people to settle for something that isn’t what they want, and then they modify it.
We’re not talking decorations to “make things pretty,” we’re talking home design.
THAT’S WHERE PILLAR & PEACOCK COME IN
The duo formed in 2011 is now a staff of 11 that now also includes an architect. This addition may be unique to their industry, but it adds an extra layer of service that their clients occasionally require. Brandeis says that it also gives them comfort knowing that their designers work with an architect if they are not partnering with one on larger renovations.
They believe that good design can assume many different forms and expressions. So, they work with a variety of styles. “That means we can design a whole home, inside and out, or just a few rooms,” says Adrianne. “We offer comprehensive, turn-key, interior design services and provide architectural support where needed.”
The team handles the entire project from the planning stage to pricing, working with the lender and contractor–to selecting the finishes. This is particularly helpful with delays, regardless if they’re caused by weather or, in terms of the past year, the effects of COVID. There have been shortages and lengthy delays nationwide on supplies needed for all phases of design.
“One of our strengths is our process,” says Adrianne. While the homeowner is waiting for an item, their team goes to work on another area of the project. “We’re fleshing out the kitchen and bath design, materials, finishes, or working on another component of the project to use that time as efficiently as possible and to mitigate the pain of the delays.”
MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN
“Also, as a result of COVID, everyone started moving from the city and found us,” says Brandeis. “It's a cultural shift. Working remotely is a lot easier. They can keep their job in D.C. while living in the country on the water."
In addition to newcomers, she says that people are getting a second home or making their second home their first.
On one of their current projects, the family had moved from out of state and hired Pillar & Peacock for their services. When they asked Adrianne if she knew their lender, Tom Richardson of Chesapeake Bank, she said, "Do I know him? I bought his house, and he has all of my personal and our Pillar & Peacock accounts!" The family felt a lot of relief that they were already connected.
Local connections are important because the buyers can't always be present for site visits or to handle things that come up. "That's why we are here. We make sure that the project is implemented the way that we design it."
ON THE LENDING FRONT
Here at Chesapeake, Tom works primarily with Adrianne but speaks just as fondly of the team and shares the same experience of the market.
"The pandemic got crazy with people doing home improvements and renovations. It's hard to buy now because houses go into contract within the first weekend," Tom says. "Construction has been pretty much dead since 2008, and now all of a sudden, we're doing more construction loans than I've seen in thirteen years."
As a result, he says, that Pillar & Peacock are in the perfect position to accommodate the demand.
Any startup will tell you that it's not easy initially to get commercial financing. As a community bank, we can make recommendations and sometimes dial things back to get started. This was the case here,” Tom says. "We've started small and worked from a smaller line of credit than they first requested, but as they grew, we grew with them."
Adrianne repeats a similar sentiment. "Chesapeake Bank has been one of our greatest advocates,” she says. “They have given us peace of mind and helped us grow leaps and bounds over what we would have achieved without Chesapeake Bank support."
Tom's first love in lending is commercial, but when it comes to homes, it's construction because of the length of time you get to work with the customer. "In both, you're developing that relationship and getting to know each other. Those are the customers and relationships that stay," Tom says.
WHEN STRUCTURE AND BEAUTY MERGE
Brandeis and Adrianne met through work connections and grew into friends. Adrianne had a business degree and was thinking about going back to school for interior design. Brandeis already had an interior design degree and wanted to start a business of her own. She thought that Adrianne had an eye for it. The two talked and decided to go for it.
When asked about the name, Adrianne laughs and says, "Well, my last name is "Bugg," and Brandeis's is 'Short.'” ‘Short Bugg Design’ wasn’t going to convey what we wanted to convey.” They hired a branding firm to help them develop their name.
The “pillar" represents architectural structure while the “peacock” reflects elegant beauty. The perfect balance of the two is what good design is all about, Adrianne says. So when they heard the tagline, “When structure and beauty merge,” they fell in love with it right away because it reflects their philosophy.
“We believe exceptional design comes from a marriage of form and function, from a union between gorgeous aesthetics and brilliant practicality,” says Adrianne.
This philosophy has worked for them. One of their biggest challenges has been managing their rapid growth. The team hits its tenth anniversary on October 24. And for a number of years, they have also been voted “Best of Virginia” by Virginia Living Magazine.
The company has completed historical projects such as Mount Airy, which demanded a particular skill set because of the Department of Historic Resources’s (DHR) requirements. The two have been featured in magazines such as Fine Homebuilding Magazine, HGTV Magazine and Style Blueprint.
Pillar & Peacock have completed projects in the Bahamas, Tampa, Chicago and Manhattan. “Well, really everywhere,” Brandeis says. With offices in Irvington, Richmond, and Alabama there isn’t any location they can’t cover.
If you’re thinking about buying or building a home within the next two years, it’s an excellent time to get started, especially considering the market. “We’re big on planning anyway,” says Adrianne. “Use this time to create something you’ll love.”