Local interior design company rebounds during COVID crisis

Albee Interior Design specializes in remodeling kitchens and bathrooms. Courtesy photo

By Bob Kirkpatrick

Like many area businesses, Albee Interior Design LLC has felt the heavy hand of COVID-19. The Bothell-based company, nearing its 20th anniversary this May, was on the verge of taking an unwanted hiatus last March when the pandemic altered the way of life as we know it.

“Everything came to a screeching halt,” said owner Wendy Albee. “The only things that were allowed to continue were projects that were underway and considered essential … like if someone had a kitchen that was ripped up, they could finish the project.”

When that happened, Albee said she and her lone employee Cathy Briskhorn, had to adjust on the fly.

“We had to find a way to continue working without coming in contact with anyone,” she said. “We figured out how to use Zoom, which we never heard of before.”

Albee said the use of zoom did allow them to pick up a couple of new jobs.

“It was very slow going, however, because we couldn’t go into anyone’s home,” Albee said. “So, we had to teach them over Zoom how to measure space for us.”

If there were any silver lining to the pandemic it forced Albee and Briskhorn to spend a lot of time working on their online presence.

“We had never really had time to do that before,” Albee said.

Had it not been for a bit of good fortune as well, the company could’ve gone by the wayside.

“We got lucky and qualified for a PPP loan,” Albee said. “That saved us.”

The loan bought Albee some time and by summer, things took a big swing in the company’s favor.

“We started getting busy again in June because we were under the modified Phase 1 so we could do projects again,” Albee said. “People were spending a lot of time at home and weren’t able to spend money elsewhere so they were spending on their house, which we like.

“We are very busy now, which is amazing when you think about how things came to a screeching halt last year.”

Although the pandemic has forced many people to work remotely from home, Albee said there has been little to no requests for new office space.

“People have wanted to expand or enhance existing office space, but more often than not they are wanting multi-purpose space,” she said. “Space for a laptop or a kids space that is multi-purpose so they can do their homework and also have a place for their toys or whatever.”

The majority of the work Albee Interior Design does is done in the greater Seattle area. Jobs stretch from Mercer Island to Woodinville, Bothell, and Edmonds.

They also have a few out-of-the-area projects and has one currently going on in Sequim.

“We mainly do kitchen and bathroom remodels … 30 bathrooms and 15-to-20 kitchens per year,” Albee said. “We are usually working on one custom home at any given time as well. The home in Sequim is a full remodel so it’s almost like a custom home.”

Albee said remodels are a bit more challenging because “when you open up a wall you never know what you are going to find … or issues you’re going to deal with in the house like low water pressure.”

She said custom homes are nice because you can do whatever you want and don’t have to worry about what was there before.

When you get right down to it, Albee Interior Design is your basic one-stop-shop.

“We do everything from space planning to material selection and overall design including furniture and artwork,” Albee said. “We do it all.”

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