How D&R Design owners Ronda and Devin Lish grew an interior design business
Sometimes the inability to say “no” is a problem.
But for D&R Design owners Ronda and Devin Lish, always answering yes was far from an obstacle, especially when starting their Chandler-based interior design business in 2017.
The husband-and-wife business owners started by making custom wooden rolling barn doors and furniture, with Devin building the parts and Ronda handling the marketing and sales.
It didn’t take long for customers to want more and demand it. Project requests included kitchens and bathrooms that required more heavy lifting and custom designs. Recognizing the role model, the couple obtained their general contractor license.
“We never said ‘no’ to anything,” Ronda said. “It naturally evolved into something we didn’t expect.”
D&R took their first kitchen job in 2018. It served as a big leap and learning curve, but they adapted quickly and word of mouth took care of the rest.
“We were lucky to have someone who trusted us even though we hadn’t before,” Ronda said.
Devin’s talent and skill for carpentry, combined with Ronda’s sales and marketing experience and her passion for interior design – which she did side-by-side for 10 years – resulted in a practical combination in the domestic space.
“We offer this design element so that people don’t have to work with a contractor and a designer. We are a one-stop-shop, which sets us apart,” Ronda said.
It turned out to be successful. In their first year, the Lishes only did one or two projects a month, Ronda said. In 2021, they made 125 for the year.
The Lish’s small family business is part of a US interior design industry worth $40.7 billion in 2020, according to market research firm Reportlinker. It’s also part of a global market that was worth $121 billion in 2021, according to Statista.
Bathroom renovations soar in the pandemic
Since their first jobs, the Lish’s have never slowed down. Like other small businesses, D&R has been impacted by the pandemic. But, fortunately, in a good way.
With people spending more time at home from day to night, many wanted and needed a change of scenery. Master bathrooms were the first job, followed closely by kitchens, Ronda said. Replacing the standard tubs that come with the house with freestanding tubs and gutting the kitchens were among the projects the couple kept busy.
However, creating a functional home office was also a common request. They often worked with space constraints — like transforming a guest room or a transitional space — and Devin built custom pieces like filing cabinets, drawers, and desks.
“Everyone was trying to adapt to a new environment,” Ronda said.
Kristen Bond first hired the company five years ago to build the custom table that sits behind her couch. After a long and fruitless search for the right table, she met Ronda, who said Devin could build one to suit her needs.
So when Bond wanted to turn the little-used formal dining room in her Mesa home into an office with a specialized desk to accommodate her work, she knew who to call.
Bond needed furniture suitable for his hobby and his side job of signage and t-shirt design. Devin built him a custom wooden desk that allows access while hiding a 32-inch-wide vinyl cutter and areas inside to hold 30-inch rolls of vinyl. He also built a bench that doubles as storage.
Other rooms include a kennel that looks like a luxury piece of furniture. Composed of elegant wood, a special metal grid serves as a doorway for her pup to look in and out.
They were also responsible for renovating their Sedona home so it could be used as a vacation rental. And this month they will begin remodeling their master Mesa bathroom.
Bond called Devin’s work “incredible”. She sees many other projects on the horizon.
“Ultimately it’s the communication they have with us while we’re on a project,” Bond said. “They have this ability to take my crazy ideas and put them to good use and make them beautiful.”
A partnership that works
Before starting their business, Ronda was in sales and Devin was in industrial construction, building power plants across the country.
Devin’s job required a lot of travel, which was overwhelming in the end. They decided they needed a career where he could spend more time at home. D&R was born.
“He has a God-given talent for carpentry,” Ronda said of her husband of five years.
Even though their business has grown and the services have expanded, Devin continues to make almost all of the custom parts himself. Ronda handles much of the behind-the-scenes work, including planning, ordering materials, and whatever else is needed. And while some husband-wife business partnerships can be stressful, that’s far from the case with the Lishes.
“We work really well together and that’s what makes it work,” she says.
Ronda’s favorite room is the kitchen. See a complete transformation into a new space and ultra cool elements like a backsplash that goes all the way up to the ceiling, a custom range hood and under cabinet lighting.
But each project, whatever the room or the function, brings a particular fulfillment.
“By simply helping to bring people’s dreams to life, we feel very lucky that they choose us to realize their visions,” Ronda said. “We feel very blessed.”
What: D&R Design
Or: 3400 N. Arizona Ave., Suite 109, Chandler
Factoid: The global interior design industry was worth $121 billion in 2021, according to Statista.
Details: 480-395-1509, dandrdesignaz.com