by Bill Koezler
Lisa Garcia and Gail Marino, partners in their one-year-old home redecorating firm, “I'm Gorgeous Inside,” shared a “high-five” after their first client gave them a standing ovation. Gail Marino and Lisa Garcia are attractive, thirty-something, entrepreneurial women who look like sisters and say that they even think like sisters, especially while engrossed in transforming dowdy homes into showplaces.
The service that they perform for clients is much like you see on TV shows such as Design on a Dime (HGTV), Extreme Home Makeover, and While You Were Out. Clients ask them to redo a home’s interior so that it becomes exceptional looking.
The two women constantly marvel about what they call their “magical” ability to assess and agree instantly on what steps they should take each time, no matter how different the jobs might be. “Somehow,” Gail says, “when on a job, we bounce dozens of complex, and even bizarre, concepts back and forth between us, yet manage to swiftly agree on sound solutions, and thus end up with a thrilled client when we’re done.”
In trying to explain the skills they combine in their year-old firm called, “I’m Gorgeous Inside,” Lisa says, “It’s a God-given talent that we just love giving away.”
Gail says, “It’s something that you either have or you don’t. We always step back from a job that we’ve finished, take a look and marvel at what we’ve accomplished. How could we have thought of all those things? And that’s when we give ourselves our traditional ‘high-five’”
Unlike with the shoemaker’s children going shoeless, the two apply their skills at home, too. Gail’s home interior, when we visited her for this story, looks like the best model home you’ve ever seen. Every inch of it prolongs your gaze, yet nothing is what you’d call overdone. We’re told that Lisa’s home is just as impressive. And so were the “after” photos of the many jobs they had done in Talega and throughout the county.
The two became friends when they met in the same Laguna Niguel neighborhood 15 years ago. Gail worked as a decorative artist, specializing in children’s murals and airbrush stenciling. She then found another passion as a children’s photographer (and her firm, “Memories of Me Photography”still operates out of her home studio.) Because of the way her home stood out, her neighbors and friends were always asking her to help out with their homes.
Lisa worked 15 years in the mortgage business, “which is something I did just for the good money,” she says. “But I’d always shown a knack for decorating and was told ever since I was a little kid that I should go into that field.” One day a friend who lived at the exclusive Balboa Bay Club asked her to completely redecorate her home there. “When I finished, the woman was thrilled,” Lisa says. “And after that, I realized that I actually could do this as a profession. I knew Gail had great talent in her blood, too, and so we decided to go for it…we started our business, “I’m Gorgeous Inside.”
Their clientele are usually homeowners who intend to stay where they are for a while, but ones selling their homes often call them to make their home look better before it goes up for sale. Gail says, “The amount that they invest with us is small compared to how much more they can get for the home, and how much quicker it sells, just because it shows so much better after we are finished with it.”
They offer Realtors® another service. Gail says, “Say you’re a Realtor® and your client doesn’t want to improve the look of his home before selling it. You can tell your seller that you have a gift for him, and it’s us, “I’m Gorgeous Inside,” (also known as, “Home Makeover Masters.”)
“We’ll go in, give the seller a consultation and list of improvements that we’re sure will improve his property. He’s happy that you, the Realtor® gave him this gift, he often actually does some or most of the things we suggest, and the home can sell faster, for a higher price, or both. Or, you can just suggest that he hire us himself, then we’ll, in return, give him the model home look that he needs for resale in this market.
Lisa says, “One thing that we are sure of is that the way you live in your home and the way you market and sell your home are two entirely different things.”
Gail says, “Compared to high-end decorators and staging companies, we’re inexpensive, fast, and detail oriented. We always show up when we say, we don’t dally, and we always finish the job when we said we would, with great results.”
The two deliver hefty cost savings to the client. Gail says, “We just love…that’s L-O-V-E…to shop, so it’s a gas for us to buy decorative items for a home. We buy like we would for ourselves, so we save clients money by getting truly wonderful treasures at wholesale prices. After all, it’s not where you buy it, it’s knowing what to buy and how to arrange and use what the client already has.”
Lisa adds, “We might be able to do several rooms on a budget, whereas a high-end decorator might not even finish one. How would the two looks compare? Our clients tell us that our finished look is even better. And we can do any motif—-Bali, nautical, cottage, English Manor, French Country, contemporary, beach, and …well, just about everything.”
The two women agree that they love tackling each new job together because the creative process is so exciting as it unfolds between them. Friends in Talega believe that the two never sleep since they both also have families at home, but Gail and Lisa agree that it just takes careful planning to give each element of their lives its proper attention.
Got a dowdy room that needs to be redecorated or a home that needs to be sold? Or, if you’re a Realtor®, got a client who’s in that boat? “I’m Gorgeous Inside,” can show you great references, and operates out of San Clemente’s Talega community. b Gail and Lisa can be reached by calling 949-361-1660.