Amanda, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. What was the most important lesson/experience you had in a job that has helped you in your professional career?
Prior to moving into interior design and starting my own firm, I spent 15 years as a practicing attorney and also a high school teacher for 3 years before that. I learned a lot of good lessons from my time working in these other fields, as well as being an employee. During my time practicing law, I was fortunate to have a great mentor for almost half of that career, who was also my boss. She guided me in the arena of family law, client relations, and also billing practices. The takeaway from my time at her firm was to always be ethical and honest when it comes to how you treat clients and how you handle money. I witnessed other peers in that field who operated quite differently, and I always appreciated her transparency and authenticity with her staff and clients. It made for a nice working environment and also a prime example of how you can be successful without taking advantage of people, and in family law that is paramount since most of your clients are in incredibly fragile states emotionally and financially. I have taken those lessons into my own design practice–always being upfront about my billing and my costs, as well as how I can work with my clients to save money and maximize their budget. I want to create a beautiful product, but not at the expense of someone’s economic comfort. I spend my client’s money like it is my own, the same way I always treated my law clients as if I was the one in their shoes–understanding the limitations that may exist and constructing methods to work around them for a creative result. I think this is something that sets me apart as a designer, along with my belief that great design is for everyone, no matter the dollar amount or space size I have to work with.
Amanda, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I am an interior designer based out of Houston, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to moving into interior design and starting my own firm, I spent 15 years as a practicing family law attorney and also a high school teacher for 3 years before that. Although it is a newer venture for me, design has always been a passion throughout my life. Prior to making the transition out of law, I spent many years designing my own homes as well as those of friends, never realizing that I could do this as a career. During COVID my husband and I were in the midst of an extensive remodel and I was able to devote all of my time and energy to that project, which was the catalyst that launched me into full-time design.
I would describe my aesthetic as desert modern design, which is a fusion of clean lines and contemporary furnishings complemented by a neutral color palette, organic elements, global textiles, art and accessories, with the intention of blurring the line between interior and exterior. I love for a space to feel open and airy, but also welcoming and full of interest.
One thing that sets me apart from most designers I know is how I utilize my clients’ budgets and the unique ways in which I shop. My relationship with my clients is more organic than structured–I tend to design spaces as I go instead of mapping everything out at the start. While the basic design is determined at the project’s inception, filling in the space and finding one-of-a-kind items that perfectly fit my client and their home is where I really get to showcase my talent. Additionally, I am very budget-conscious and spend my clients’ money as if it was my own. More often than not you can find me consignment shopping or sorting through marketplaces rather than online. I want a reaction of “Wow, I’ve never seen something like that before!”, coupled with the satisfaction that it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
I am most proud of how individualized each of my projects is. I get to know my clients, beyond their style, to find out what the are really looking to achieve in this process. I love the opportunity to highlight a sentimental item, whether it is an old desk or a set of antique glassware that was passed down, which a client has overlooked or been frustrated by where or what to do with. I think that most styles can work harmoniously in one space, so I like the opportunity to mix and match the old with the new. I create calm, beautiful spaces where someone will want to be–the best compliment to any design.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
I have always been a right-brained, artistic person. As a child I was always building things, drawing and being imaginative. However, in my house and in school, I never felt that art was celebrated or encouraged as anything outside of a hobby or pastime. I ignored the part of me that craved having a creative career because I feared that path meant I would never really be able to support myself–or so the association had always been taught to me. I ended up attending law school and practicing for 15 years…before that same voice that I had been suppressing was too loud to ignore any longer. I had no passion for what I was doing as an attorney, and knew, no matter how hard it would be to start all over, I had to take the leap. Although it has been hard changing careers in my 40’s, I feel so fortunate to do something everyday that allows me to create, explore, and design. I know I’m in the select few who love what they do and get to do what they love. The most rewarding aspect of this for me is in allowing my innate artist and creative to thrive.
Is there mission driving your creative journey?
I am driven by the desire to continue to do what I love and prove to myself that I can be successful in a creative career. My goal specifically within design is to reach that coveted place where I can choose the projects I feel most passionate and excited about and that are aligned with my niche as a designer. While I enjoy the challenge and diversity that comes with creating all different kids of spaces for my clients, my leaning is always towards desert modern design, and I would love the ability to stretch this aesthetic more within myself and my projects. I think I am just at the beginning of that journey, and it’s been incredibly rewarding thus far, and I look forward to what the future holds.