We took some time this weekend to sit down with one of our most talented in-house designers, Ashley Pace, to get an in-depth look at how she got started in the design business, what motivates and inspires her, and what design tips she has to offer.
Can you give us a little insight in to how you got started in design?
Growing up fabric and design was always a part of my life. My mom was always sewing something for the house. She worked at a fabric store for as long as I can remember. In fact while most kids would ride the bus home from school, I rode the bus to my mom’s work at the fabric store where I would assist in cutting samples for customers. Eventually my family branched out and decided to open their own fabric store in Wilmington, NC. I worked there most days after school and on weekends, depending on my volleyball schedule. After high school graduation, I decided to play it safe and major in Business Management at UNCC. At that time, my parents had opened a store in Charlotte, which allowed me to continue working throughout college. After completing two years in Business Management, I knew that an office job was not going to be for me. I knew my passion was in design. So I transferred to the Art institute of Charlotte to study Interior Design. I continued to work for my parents until I was finished. I am so grateful for the learning opportunity it gave me. I helped in setting up as well as closing stores, moving stores, and selling fabrics. Although the family business had lots of benefits, I still felt as though I was restricted in terms of what I could do design-wise. I saw an ad for Distinctive Fabrics and Furniture and thought I would send in my resume– not really looking to make a change but open to it. I have been here four years next month. I love being able to work one-on-one with customers in their homes to make their personal spaces reflect their particular style and functionality. I enjoy working with the workrooms in the process of making new furniture and window treatments. I feel like I have found my place in the design world and I’m loving it!
Who are some designers that inspire or inform your work?
Candice Olsen and Christopher Lowell. I really like their diverse styles. They can keep things ultra sleek and modern with a splash of color to cater to the traditional/transitional consumer as well. Everytime I watch their shows I am intrigued by their unique styles.
What outside of the design world inspires/informs your style of design?
Really anything can inspire me, depending on where I am and what I’m doing. I’ve pulled colors together based off of a funky shirt or from a bowl of candies–bright orange skittles look great with their blue and green companions! The color wheel presents itself in many different forms throughout any given day, particularly in natural forms. The gray, rainy sky and the bright green trees against its backdrop make a great color palette for a modern, cool feel. My surroundings play a big part in my design styles. This past weekend I was out with my family and the colors in my three-year-old’s bathing suit (pink, green, orange) against the teal blue of the pool inspired me to update the colors in her room to help make the transition to a “big girl” bedroom. Being inspired isn’t a problem for me at all, I enjoy picking up on the elements around me daily and using them in my design styles.
How would you define your aesthetic? For example, do you consider yourself contemporary or classic, or a little bit of both?
I would consider myself a little of both. My house has a Mediterranean feel throughout. I’ve used a lot of warmer colors to create a cozy living space. I also love mixing styles together for an eclectic look. I have some modern barrel chairs that I had upholstered in green chenille that provide a mixture of styles, and flow well with all the colors in the living room. Functionality is also super important to me, and these chairs create extra seating space, which with a growing family, is a must.
What current design trends do you love?
I love the natural look of all things linen right now. Modern to traditional–I love them all! They can make an elegant statement in a dining room, or look ultra casual in the living room. There are no limits with what you can do. A simple band down the leading edge can give plain, everyday drapes a dramatic effect in any room.
Do you believe in mixing design styles, or do you think keeping things coordinated is essential to achieve balance?
I absolutely love to mix things up. It’s amazing what a contemporary piece of fabric can do to an antique piece of furniture. I think contrasting eras and styles can actually achieve balance in a piece or a room more effectively than keeping patterns and styles coordinated all the time (which can get monotonous and boring).
What is your most requested room to redesign?
I would have to say either the master bedroom or living room. That’s where people spend the most time themselves and entertaining others, so they want to make sure those rooms are highly functional and comfortable and that they’re able express their personal style in those rooms.
What is your favorite type design project?
I enjoy working on all kinds of projects, especially those that are color-focused– from the crisp classic colorways of cream with a splash of color, to the people who love bright, bold color. It’s always interesting because everyone has a unique design perspective and color palettes they favor, so each project is different and that keeps things interesting and refreshing for me.
Any advice to our readers who want to change the look of their home or office, but don’t want to do a complete redesign?
Pillows, pillows, pillows! You can change the whole feel of a room with some funky colored pillows for spring, or you can use warmer tones for the fall. Re-covering pillows is a versatile way to give your room a fresh, new look each season!
Ashley is a regular contributor to our Pinterest page. Check out our boards here: http://pinterest.com/distinctiveff/