Spend a little bit of time talking with Lori Savio about her approach to interior design, and the word “intentional” inevitably creeps into the conversation. It’s present in how she describes the way a room — or maybe even an entire home — should feel when it’s just the right décor and finishing touches are made. It’s what drives the design ideas she brings to a client struggling to make their home less of a collection of nicely appointed rooms and more of a space they truly love to live in that’s also functional. Heck, it’s even the name of a signature candle line at her Cornelius home décor and gift shop — Home, Heart & Soul — that has become a must-have for her customers.
What’s funny is, intentional in no way describes the place in which she now finds herself and the latest twist her 40-year interior design career has taken. She has become the go-to design and remodeling remedy for what ails her clients who may be older, who may be relocating to the area in their retirement years or who may even have lost their life partner and have a desire to start anew.
“I wasn’t really looking for it,” Savio says, “It just happened.”
It wasn’t all that long ago when she tragically lost her husband, just a few years before moving to Cornelius in 2016. She had a teenager at the time, and she recalls just what a life changing event that was. And it was the event that led her to her career's next calling. What started out as a private shopping and design consultation at her store for a group of women living in the Bailey’s Glen 55+ community turned into a truly niche design specialty for homeowners with truly unique goals.
“Being a widow myself, I can relate to how it’s different when you’re trying to figure out your new life without that person,” Savio says, “and how that will look for your house.”
She says most of her clients come to her wanting to make changes while still having a reflection of their spouse or of the life and memories they may have left behind in another place and time. It’s not always about starting from scratch. Often it can just be repurposing, working with what her clients have but freshening things up a bit by adding new pieces, recovering existing furniture, or trying different window treatments.
Sounds simple and straight forward, but it can be a delicate task.
“You’re dealing with a lot of emotions,” she says. “But I have empathy for the people who are transitioning into a new way of life.” Her experience has taught her that there is often a commonality to that transition, and it’s a goal her older clients often express.
“They want things to feel comfortable and livable... They want it to be new and they want it to be fresh, but they don’t want it to feel like you can’t use it.”
Savio says that can mean anything from a simple color scheme change in a living area to a complete re-imagining of a 10,000-square-foot home. She has seen and done it all, and now finds herself in what has turned out to be a very niche design market.
“There are a lot of people moving to North Carolina who are at that last phase of their life,” she says. “They want to downsize; they want a simpler life.” And Savio says her design philosophy fits perfectly with her clients’ goals.
“I believe my design is simple, it’s approachable, it’s livable, it’s comfortable yet stylish,” she says, “And definitely intentional.”