Interior Design Stories is a new segment on my blog
where interior designers give us a glimpse into their lives and their work.
I will be asking the same five questions of each designer and share some of their work with you.
So without further ado please welcome our first designer,
1. Were you always interested in interior design?
My mother had an antique business, so our home was full of beautiful pieces she and my father had refurnished. Many of those pieces are still in our family. While I didn’t get involved in the actual refinishing process, I do remember how hard they worked and the time involved – and that the end result was always astounding.It wasn’t the most impressive project I’ve ever done…but it’s been a “story” in our family ever since.When in middle school, I decided to paint half a rainbow on one of the walls in my bedroom... with spray paint, no less! Unbeknownst to my parents, my girlfriend and I bought one can each of red, blue and yellow (overlapping the colors, we’d achieved the secondary colors needed). By the time Momma walked in, the rainbow had come to life, well on it’s way to completion …and we were fully enveloped in overspray, as was most of the furniture, linens, etc. I believe her main concern wasn’t the rainbow on the wall (in fact, I think she liked it!) but the fact that we wore no masks and failed to protect anything from the overspray. She helped us get cleaned up and in proper working order. Daddy…well his was a TOTALLY different response; I think he was furious for years and the rainbow coffee cup I gave him for Christmas, only served to remind him of the event (not the best choice in gifts, I suppose)!
There were many other “re-designs” of my bedroom, apartment, condo and homes…. but none ever included a rainbow again.
2. Tell me about you and your work.
After seven years, I’ve changed my focus from residential and commercial interior design to retail and furniture design. I rented a suite at a local mercantile mall as a “taste-test” for having my own shop and wanted to include repurposed/reclaimed pieces I could make. It’s only the beginning but I feel as if this is truly, where my “sweet spot” lies (thank you Max Lucado for helping me hone-in on my talents!).
The direction I’m headed now was born not only from my residential/commercial experience but from personal difficulties, as well. I needed to get away for a while, so I went to spend time with my Momma at what was once was her childhood home, currently used as a rental camp on a lake in NE Louisiana. (Side note: Papa built the home using various species of wood; it’s still beautiful and standing strong after 60 yrs.; the genes run deep!) I was sitting on the porch flipping through an interior design magazine when I came across a beautiful, albeit very primitive, French table. “I want to make this” is all I had to say and then the fun began. My cousin, Beth and I found an old cypress barn, gained permission to take whatever we could, tore out small beams, boards and even scored an incredibly large iron pot. It was so much fun and we only stopped when we realized we were skirting danger of the roof coming down if we continued to remove any more boards.
Beth and I loaded up the jeep and headed back to the camp, so proud of the treasures we’d found. A few days – and a few learning curves – later, we had our first table built. It was a bit rustic for my personal taste but sold in my shop after only 30 minutes! We were off and running and haven’t slowed-down.
Over the last 5-6 months, most of my capital has been spent buying wood and paying my wonderful, creative and talented welder, Victor, to make the bases. I chose iron for the bases because of its stability, simplicity and strength as well as the flexibility of finishes the iron allows. In addition and perhaps most importantly, the iron bases are the perfect compliment to the wood; it really shows of the character.
Every 6-8 weeks, I travel to the mill in Louisiana to load up on as much wood as I can manage and hit the road to spend the next two weeks at the camp, finishing and preparing the wood, with Momma’s help, of course (she’s my biggest cheerleader – no doubt I got the “wood bug” from she and Papa).
On a recent trip, my uncle, Mike Zimmer, came from Atlanta to spend time with Momma and I and he became as enthusiastic and passionate about “working the wood” as Momma and I. Well into dusk, he would work, determined to finish one so he could begin another. Now I’ve got the best team ever and couldn’t imagine a better place to work than at the family homestead, with the lake as our backdrop and Papa guiding us from above!
3. What drives you, motivates you, excites you and keeps you in this business?
It’s just the beginning and my biggest motivation is the response I receive from others. I believe if one becomes fully engaged in a project…with no reference of time… just pure focus on the task at hand, it’s got to be love and I love what I’m doing and where I’m headed.
The initial phase in the process, that time when you start picking, prodding and sanding, is when the wood begins to show-off and this is my favorite stage in the process; it morphs, before your eyes into something only nature can make and each piece, each species, each cut is totally unique. It takes several days to clean a piece of wood, using what may be compared to dental instruments. They are very fine, sharp instruments that allow me to get into every crevice, the goal being to remove anything that’s weak, while maintaining the integrity of the piece. Once the detail cleaning is complete, multiple stages of hand-sanding takes place before the final sealant is applied.
The actual design process is very exciting and includes options not only for the species of wood, but also the sealant, base finishes and overall dimension. I use several different sealants from water-based polyurethane, mineral oil, beeswax, teak oil, Tung oil and Danish oil. As well, I like to offer different finishes for the base; naturally rusted, clear-coat, metallic, polished, painted, etc. All these options make each piece completely unique and personal to the individual.
4. What is one piece of advice you would offer to anyone about decorating or furnishing their home?
Please, please, please be unique! Get off the internet (at least temporarily) and go find shops to browse – and I’m not talking about at the big box stores. Focus on character, quality and pay attention to what excites YOU. Be patient; the best interiors are a reflection of the one who lives there and it should take time…months, years…to truly come together. Oh, and perhaps most importantly…support local USA artist and small businesses; no body does it better than they do.
5.If you could no longer be an interior designer, then what would you be doing?
An artist or sculptor…yes, a sculptor!
You can find Anne-Marie at AMH and Company, Home Interiors Inc.
Victor and Sagit at Rosado Welding are the creators of the iron bases.
Victor and Sagit at Rosado Welding are the creators of the iron bases.
If you are an interior designer and would like to be featured on my blog please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.