Interior Designer & Owner, Helen Reed Design, LLC
1901 E Franklin Street | Richmond
Hospitality: The Art of Food Space Design
By Robin R. Ashworth
If you’ve dined in any of Richmond’s popular upscale restaurants, chances are you’ve encountered Helen Reed’s design work. She may be one of the most prolific and enduring interior design professionals in Richmond’s hospitality and restaurant sector. Spending twenty-five years in the industry has taught her a lot about process, valuation, and most importantly, trusting her gut. She has observed a great deal of change in her industry in that time, as well.
“When I first started out, there wasn’t a core group you could rely on. There wasn’t even mentorship. But now I’m inspired by all these incredible women doing their own independent launches, and I know that I have a support group,” she says. But early on, even without a sisterhood network, Reed benefitted from positive connections and a proven work ethic. “Ruth’s Chris Steak House came to Richmond. That was the first restaurant I did on my own,” Reed says. And it launched her career.
Since that time, she has provided design services for The Good Leaf, Shagbark, Sedona Taphouse, The Daily Kitchen & Bar in Carytown, Pearl Raw Bar, The Boathouse, East Coast Provisions, Sam Miller’s, and the downtown location of Casa del Barco, among others. Current projects include Perch, The Doorways Hotel, The Berkeley Hotel, the Gumenick Suites of VCU Health Systems, and the Midlothian location of Sedona Taphouse.
Reed is proud of what she considers an authentic, grounded approach to designing a client’s vision. With a team of independent contractors, she is able to bring that vision to life. “I love all my projects. Each project presents a learning opportunity. And I’ve been blessed with terrific clients who allow me the latitude to design,” she says. When she takes on a project, Reed is committed to the client from concept to completion, including “layouts, lighting, finishing specifications, [architectural] code compliance, and structural design.” Depending on the scope of the project, Reed’s involvement may be anywhere from eight weeks to two years.
Reed acknowledges she had a sea-change when she decided to rebrand her business a few years ago. HL Reed Design became Helen Reed Design, LLC. Owning her feminine identity in her brand represented “a big change in how I marketed myself. Fear is what held me back. I didn’t let go of my fear until about four years ago,” she admits. And that is one of the things she hopes to help other female business owners get past.
This year marks Reed’s foray into original textile designs, including fabric, wall coverings, and rugs. Her lines have potential for national reach and are scheduled to launch in September 2018. “We’ve been working on those for two years,” she says. She also plans to publish a book.