Houzz Reviews

  • Constance H.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: November 2019

    Project Price: $50,000 - $100,000

    I found Paula McDonald Designs in Luxe Interiors Magazine. Our 600 square foot NYC apartment needed more storage space and the most efficient way to expand storage was through built-ins. Paula’s company designed and installed the built-ins on time and on budget. Great work, easy and understanding. Would definitely recommend her company and would work with her again.

  • Alison R.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: May 2019

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    Complete gut renovation of master bath and updates to master bedroom. Paula and her team did such a great job on our kitchen/living room renovation that we did not hesitate to call her again when we needed to update our master bathroom/bedroom.

    Paula is an intuitive designer and knows how to make the most of your space. Her attention to detail is unmatched. Her team of skilled experts are professional, courteous and worked well with outbuilding staff.

  • Scott G.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: October 2018

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    We first discovered Paula’s work on Pinterest while looking for inspiration to remodel our apartment. Serendipitously we landed on a photo of a renovation from another unit in our co-op. Delighted, we followed the link back to Paula McDonald’s site where we found even more amazing examples of her talent at transforming pre-war apartments like our own. In a matter of days, Paula was in our home to meet us and discuss the project. She is a total pro with extensive design and build experience. We loved that she had worked with the same sub-contractors over the years. We had heard so many horror stories of contractors going out of business, disappearing or hiring sub-par workers. You can rest assured that will not happen if you hire Paula.

    Honestly, we were worried that we couldn’t afford her. But she worked patiently with us for weeks to properly align the potential scope of the project to fit our budget. This involved numerous, detailed estimates. Once we agreed on a budget and a start date, Paula and her team immediately jumped into action, quickly securing all of the necessary approvals and paperwork on our behalf. We didn’t have to worry about any of it. She also immediately gave us assignments of what materials we would need to select. She provided as many recommendations and as much guidance as we wanted, but she was also happy to take our suggestions and work them in as well.

    Paula and her team are meticulously organized. All anticipated costs were itemized and every purchase catalogued. She creates a comprehensive binder for all of the people on a project so that everyone is literally on the same page. This advance organization made for swift work once construction began. Throughout the project, Paula and her team replied immediately to any calls or emails we sent. It was wonderful that they were so reliable and available.

    The project stuck to the original budget. Really the only overruns were due to additions and upgrades we requested along the way. In the end we are so pleased with our beautiful new home.

  • Greg S.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: January 2018

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    Paula and her team recently completed a complete gut renovation of our 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom co-op apartment on Sutton Place South. We initially met Paula at the Architectural Digest Design Show and hired her after having several in-person meetings, and conducting reference calls and site visits to review recent work. We live full-time in NJ and were looking for a single point of contact for complete design-build services, from permitting to completion. We have previously undertaken large-scale home renovations, so we had a clear view of the type of individual/firm we were looking to work with.

    We are very pleased with the completed project. The quality of the work performed by all trades, and the craftsmanship of the custom made millwork and cabinetry was outstanding. The work was done within the 120 days mandated by the building, and within the budget agreed to with Paula at the start. There were no contracting or budgeting surprises.

    Several things distinguish Paula and her team. Paula is exacting, with outstanding attention to detail. Her team of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, tile workers, painters, etc...understand her expectations and are equally precise and detailed. The workmanship is outstanding.

    Paula is highly organized and very responsive. She was quite adept in working with us to make timely decisions to support the overall schedule. All calls and texts to Paula are returned promptly. We received very positive feedback from our building superintendant and staff regarding the professionalism of Paula and her team.

    Again, we are very pleased with the work performed by Paula and are happy to recommend her services.

  • Chris J.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: January 2017

    Project Price: $10,000 - $49,999

    My wife and I had the pleasure of working with Paula and her team on the renovation of our master bathroom. Paula and her team were very professional, timely and came in on budget. While a smaller project, we appreciated the amount of personal attention Paula gave to the project - nothing was overlooked. We would absolutely engage Paula and her team on future projects and highly recommend her.

  • Elizabeth V.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: January 2016

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    We entrusted Paula McDonald with the totality of our project, the complete renovation of a two bedroom Manhattan apartment, to a degree far greater than most people might. We live on the West Coast and were unable to be on the premises at any time during the process. So that we first saw the "new" apartment only after its completion. The completed apartment, both for its quality and its aesthetics, far exceeded even our own expectations. Paula had understood our vision and had delivered lock, stock and barrel. There was nothing of consequence we would have done differently. She had even dealt with the co-op board and the landmark commission on our behalf; no small issues. Throughout this project, Paula sent us samples and/or photos and otherwise kept us informed of every detail. Working with her was an exemplary experience; we couldn't possibly recommend her more highly.

  • Margaret F.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: October 2016

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    I found Paula on Houzz. After interviewing and walking through the apartment with her and three other architects and design/build firms, I chose Paula. Throughout the time that we worked with her, I never regretted my choice. From that very first meeting, Paula paid attention to every single detail, every single thing that I mentioned that we wanted or needed. If you want someone to care about your renovation as much as you do, choose Paula and her team.

    We took what was essentially a one bedroom pied-à-terre in a 1989 doorman building and transformed into a three bedroom apartment with an office space, laundry room, and as much storage space as humanly possible. We maximized every square inch of our apartment to turn it into the most functional space for a family of four. Paula understood my vision and our needs. She worked with me before we closed on the apartment to get everything ready to file for permits. We were able to start the work quickly, and she managed to get the huge job started in July and finished in October before our rental lease was up. (Everyone else had told me to expect the work to take until January/February!) She has excellent contacts in the industry and knows who to work with for each portion of the project, while she oversees every detail. She has worked with me after completion of the project to answer any questions that I have and immediately assist with any issues we encounter as we settle into the new space.

    Aesthetically, the space is beautiful. Paula has great taste and listens to you, understands your taste. We could not be happier with how it turned out.

    In summary, if you want superb attention to detail, a job done quickly but with the highest quality, and really beautiful results, you need Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors.

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    I am writing this update to my review a year after we moved into the apartment... because we still LOVE it. I am grateful every day to live in such a beautiful home, thanks to Paula. Every visitor we have comments on how lovely the space is. Additionally, Paula has been immediately responsive to any minor issues that we have encountered over the past year, either taking care of the issue herself or pointing me in the right direction for high quality service providers. She still continues to care about us and about our home, and that is invaluable. I have heard horror stories about jobs only getting 95% completed and then left as such. Our experience with Paula has been the exact opposite: even when it is no longer really her responsibility, she is still on top of everything. I really cannot say enough good things about working with Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors - certainly one of the best decisions that we have ever made!

  • Annick C.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: March 2019

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    I found Paula on Houzz after spending a lot of time deciding how to go about the gut renovation of an 800-ft one-bedroom pre-war apartment on the Upper West Side. I loved the photos I saw of other renovations she had done, which suit my taste perfectly. In my case, this renovation was not to combine an apartment but to divide a larger one into two spaces, the 800-ft one-bedroom and a 1200-ft two-bedroom. We started with the one-bedroom. Since I don't live in NYC full-time, I needed someone who could provide a soup-nuts operation. I interviewed four other design/build firms, none of whom impressed me. Paula is amazing. Experienced, knowledgable, efficient. It has, unfortunately, become much more difficult to deal with the requirements of the Department of Buildings than ever before and I realized, once we had begun the process, that I had made the right choice rather than separate the job into parts (architect, contractor, work crews) or try to oversee it all myself. Paula knows what she is doing and justifiably prides herself on delivering quality work. My apartment was a challenge. Both the bathroom and kitchen do not meet ADA requirements for size, so we had to keep the appliances and fixtures in the same location; nonetheless the result is absolutely gorgeous and functional, and both rooms seem much more spacious than before. Paula was able to move a wall and reposition a door to create a larger space in the entry area which can now also serve as a dining area, in effect creating another room. She made suggestions like a pocket door between the entry/dining area and living room that I would not have thought of myself and that were absolutely the right choice. The door is completely out of the way when not needed but provides privacy if anyone, such as an overnight guest, needs it. The stain she proposed for the wood floors - which I had considered replacing but Paula saw could be sanded and look as good as new - transformed them. She ripped out moldings and installed new, which makes the apartment look clean and sharp. All the hideous wires that were showing on top of the base moldings and around the doorways have disappeared into the wall. The crews - construction, woodworking, electrical, plumbing - Paula uses, and has used for years - are top notch; they are also very pleasant people. The quality of their work is superb. Those who worked in the apartment every day kept the common hallway very clean, which is important so as to avoid any conflicts with the building staff or neighbors. Paula was on site constantly to make sure the work progressed smoothly and sort out any details that needed attention along the way. Her estimate to get the job done was four months and it took about 4 1/2 months, the delay being caused factors outside of her control. So I consider her time estimate to have been pretty much exactly on target. Paula is efficient and works to get everything needed before the renovation starts so that when it does start, it moves quickly. I would hire her again and recommend her to anyone in a heartbeat. Actually, we are working on plans for the other part of the apartment - the two-bedroom - and hope to begin work soon. Photos of the one-bedroom are on her website. I love it!

  • Jan F.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: June 2017

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    We passed on our 3bd/2.5ba renovation project for a 1900-built Upper West Side condo to PMD Development LLC (“Paula”) after waiting a year from another company that did not deliver results. This was our first condo renovation project in NYC and we made our mistakes. We saw Paula's project portfolio online in YouTube and we believe she has the right experience to resume and ultimately finish our renovation. Upon our first contact with her, we were welcomed to her office space and she explained the renovation process to us in a level of detail understandable to us as first timers. We discussed Board and NYC Department of Building approvals (“approvals”) are obtained, forms we need to file, project timeline and other expected costs (asbestos, fees to use freight elevator, etc.), and sufficiently answered the many questions we had. She showed us images of her work, plans and other document samples from her ongoing projects to better see how the process works. We think what made us extremely confident at this early stage was that she was able to explain many of her past and current projects with us from how it was planned with her clients to building it since her work is hands-on. Her experience working on-site with subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, HVAC engineers, etc.) and with different building architects/management companies made it easier for us to change our original plans to get approvals quicker. Approvals are just the first step though; the value you can expect from Paula extends just beyond her technical knowledge of drawing/revising plans and complying with building codes.

    Paula is a full-fledged, one-stop shop design-build company. Even before the approvals, she tries to understand your taste (traditional? contemporary?) and incorporates it with her technical knowledge (for example, the design of the grilles for the central AC duct). Because the work of the architect/designer and contractor are all done by her, she is easily able to change major parts of the plans to what you are conceptualizing. This combo made it easier for us to expand and change room layouts after the demolition phase of the apartment since we saw hidden risers (pipes) and floor beams that were not on the original plans of the building. There was quite a change from the plans we had when we got her in contract to project completion, and I think if you have a separate architect/designer to create the plans and separate contractor to actually build the plans, then incorporating those changes may take forever due to the information asymmetry and lag in communication.

    On the note of suggestions, changes to the design agreed upon getting her in contract will need to be approved (signed) by the client through a Change Order. This form is created by her and lists what will be taken out line by line, the credit you receive by taking it out, the additions you select, and the additional cost associated with it. It is transparent, and you can always ask her a line item you want to know more about. It makes it easy to track what you are paying for and where you get your money back when removing things.

    In the end, we think you will get the maximum value of Paula's design-build business model if you take the time and effort to let her know what you want. She will invite you to tile, floor, paint, toilet, whatever showrooms around the city (most around Flatiron) and investing the time to be with her, looking at her suggestions and understanding why she suggested that will help her deliver the apartment that you want built. On the opposite extreme, you can let her have the autonomy and "pick for you" but we believe that you will best get the value from her when you be proactive. Again, we do not see her as just a home improvement contractor, but an artist and an engineer.

  • Cabinet Maker NYC

    Relationship: Colleague

    Project Date: September 2017

    Project Price: $10,000 - $49,999

    As owner of a Brooklyn-based custom cabinet making company, I have established my long-standing partnership with Paula McDonald Design for the past 6 years.

    On annual basis, we receive multiple new projects from PMD, and on every single one of them, Paula always put her clients' best interest first.

    She is a perfectionist by nature and expects to be supported by a perfectionist team to help her deliver her vision; "good" is never part of her standards, she always strives for excellence.

    She pours all her energy and creativity into every project, she strives to solve all arising challenges and does not rest until the end result is "flawlessly impeccable".

    We are very glad to be Paula's favorite custom millworker shop and we love to work with her and her team.

    For many more years to come ...

  • Patricia Palermo

    Relationship: Colleague

    Project Date: August 2017

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    My client hired Paula McDonald Design to completely 'gut and renovate' the entire property before I was to list the property in the late Fall 2017. When I visited the finished renovation, I was stunned. After selling more than 100 properties in this building, I was very surprised to see the detailed, elegant transformation...and completed in less than three months! Amazing. Yes. I would confidently recommend Paula McDonald Design. Amazing! (The property was quickly snapped up in one-week!)

  • Richard B.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: December 2016

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    After living in the same pre-war apartment for over 18 years

    I decided to do a complete renovation. I found Paula's ad in Luxe magazine. How lucky was i! Paula took over the project and completely gut renovated the apartment. Electrical, plumbing, adding a washer dryer, dealing with the condo board and buildings department, they even provided the mover! The apartment is fantastic, and all the work was completed on time and within the budget. Exceptional! When people say what torture a renovation is I say mine was a pleasure! Just call Paula!

  • Gina M.

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: September 2015

    Project Price: more than $100,000

    The idea of fully gutting out an apartment on my own was a scary one. I had a vision of what I ultimately wanted, but needed the right person to get me there within the confines of a budget. I met Paula Mcdonald at a friends housewarming party. Seeing my friends vision firsthand come to life through Paula and listening to how seamless her experience was made my decision an easy one.

    PMD was there every step of the way through my entire process- from visiting the site with me before purchase to ensure my vision could be achieved in this space AND at my price to the very final walk through.

    Paula's unique background merging her artistic abilities with a business degree (Marc Jacobs meets Warren Buffet) shines through in her projects. Her acute attention to detail is unmatchable and her eye for colors, shapes and dimensions kept me from making bad design decisions (saving me a lot of time and money).

    What stood out to me the most about my experience with Paula is that she keeps her word. If you give her a "realistic" budget she will stick to it (and if it's not realistic she will immediately tell you) and she defies the common stereotype that many NYC designers are labeled with. If she gives you a timeline on completion of your project, you can rest assured that's when it will be done (no need to tag on that extra three month window most do when dealing with contractors). She only deals with workers she trusts and has had ample experience with so she knows what they're capable of and how quickly they can complete a task. Her focus on quality and detail are what she prides her reputation on and she leaves no stone unturned. What she does leave behind is a detailed binder with everything you need to know about your project (from product selection to warranties to how to clean your tiles, floors, etc).

    Overall, you get the full package with PMD. Acting as contractor and designer, Paula not only has the ability to see your vision, but she also knows how to fully execute it within your parameters.

Testimonials

  • J. Hand

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: 2011

    Paula couldn’t have been easier to work with. She stayed on top of the many moving parts surrounding our window replacement project and got the job done beautifully, in spite of many obstacles, on time. My husband and I are thrilled with the results.

  • Glen J

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: 2008

    The project was finished on time, close to budget, fabulous workmanship on every aspect of project, incredible attention to detail, end result was better than expected – “wow” factor.

  • M. Millane

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: 2009

    Professional, detail oriented with a high standard of quality. I would hire this contractor again because the job was done very well, on time and within budget.

  • L. T. Robertson

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: 2009

    The most professional, effective, timely contractor I have ever worked with. As a designer she has a great artistic taste and combines that with a pragmatic and perfectionist execution. I couldn’t be happier. Her drawings and plans were so meticulous that I could many decisions 2000 miles away. The work stayed on budget and came in ahead of time. I’m delighted that I found her. Her taste is impeccable, her flexibility concerning style is broad and easy to work with, and her ability to produce what she envisions is flawless.

  • C. Amato

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: 2011

    When comparing Paula’s finished work with other contractors, the quality of materials and attention to detail from Paula and her team appeared to be best-in-class… The documents provided in-writing to define the scope of the project were the most clear and complete that I received, her experience makes this cumbersome process understandable and manageable for the client.

  • N. Hernegran

    Relationship: Client

    Project Date: 2008

    She stays with you, after the project is over. You call if there is an issue, and she is right there either fixing, correcting and or answering any questions you might have.