Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: I am the third generation in my family to own a furniture store. It’s in my blood. My grandfather started the tradition in Massillon, Ohio in 1902. My former partner and I developed the concept for Hoffman and Albers Interiors and we opened in Cincinnati in 1993. Now I co-own the business with my husband, Jack. I had a great opportunity to blend my education and background. My degree from Xavier is in sociology and psychology. This business is about building relationships. I am good at that—I’ve been working with many of the same people for years.
Q: What separates you from your competition?
A: Our 10,000-square-foot showroom sets us apart from most interior designers. In addition to furniture, our team of five designers works with carpeting, area rugs, wallpaper, window treatments, and bedroom treatments. We have an incredible selection of lamps, artwork and accessories. By the way, a good lamp is a great investment. Some of ours can be expensive. I don’t apologize for that. They look it. When we first launched the company, it felt like everything out there kind of looked the same. When everything is vanilla, you are doing clients a disservice. I have an eye for the unusual, the exciting—which is why we exist. The interior design of your home is like a fingerprint. It should be unique to you. I am not going to put just “what’s trending” in your home.
“You don’t have to spend a million to look like a million.”–Ann Hoffman
Q: Where do you start when designing, for example, a family room?
A: We always start with lifestyle. How many people will use this room on a daily basis. We want comfortable seating-something that works for each person’s body size. After that, I go to the focal point. In a family room, it’s often the TV and that’s okay. Or it might be a fireplace, an architectural feature or the view. To launch the room, I suggest a fabulous rug, a piece of artwork, an amazing table or console. Something that speaks to them. Then we build on that.
Q: Speaking of the TV, how do you feel about placing it above the fireplace?
A: Well sometimes that’s the place that makes sense. Usually, in the family room, the fireplace is in the center where everyone can see it. But I suggest you practice with that location first. Sometimes if it’s too high, it’s uncomfortable for your neck. If you hang it elsewhere in the room, consider placing a great looking piece of furniture—a media console or credenza—beneath it to ground it.
Q: We’ve been hearing about slow turnaround times for furniture. How early should people shop?
A: The turnaround time is getting better. Right now, I’d plan for 22 to 24 weeks on the outside. Some items arrive as soon as 12 to 14 weeks. And of course, furniture on our showroom floor is available immediately.
Q: What do you say to someone who thinks they can’t afford an interior designer?
A: Sometimes it’s more expensive to not hire a designer. We get a good number of “help me” calls from people who purchased a piece that doesn’t work in their room. The scale is wrong, or it doesn’t fit through their doors. We work within your budget. We typically present an entire plan for the room, but purchases can be made in stages. We can design different looks based on different price points.
Article originally appeared in April 2023