Pandy Agnew’s interior design career began by accident. She started with a natural gift for decorating homes during Christmastime with fresh greenery, cut from the 40 acres of land surrounding her home. With a little help from her children, Sunni and Hunter, Pandy began to establish not only a livelihood but also a passion for making homes a haven through Pandy Agnew Interiors.
“I had been teaching art in public schools and, after having two kids and a divorce, I had to find a way to make more money than teaching school in the ’70s,” Pandy says. “The people I decorated for during Christmas started asking me for home decorating advice for this or that — and I’ve been doing it for over 30 years now.”
Agnew’s decades of experience and exquisite eye for decorating shines through as you step inside her breathtaking showroom, which she also designed more than 20 years ago. Pandy Agnew Interiors has a thoughtfully curated collection of classic pieces like plush chairs, hand-beaded light fixtures, colorful pillows and elegant artwork that will make any home look fresh and updated for years to come. Most of the store’s offerings balance large neutrals with pops of color and pattern. Pandy says that finding timeless pieces is one of the most important parts of decorating for her clients. “It’s all about finding things that will never date — where you can’t tell if the home was decorated this year or 10 years ago,” Pandy says. “There has to be a little whimsy, a mix that makes things interesting. Everybody wants something that lasts.”
Stepping into her showroom in Vestavia Hills, you cannot quite pinpoint a particular decor style — and Pandy says she likes it that way. “A lot of people like to focus on being just minimal or modern or French country or something. My job is to make people feel like they don’t want to go anywhere because they feel they are on vacation in their own home,” says Pandy. “In the shop, I carry every style known to man and it’s my job to make it all fit.”
Pandy’s own personal style is also eclectic and constantly evolving, while keeping those timeless elements that define “home” for her. “I like lots of things,” Pandy says. “I love cottage and big ceilings and wood floors. I love things that make you comfortable. I like cozy. I live in an 1880s cottage in Springville, which I completely gutted and redid, and it has been in numerous magazines showing what you can do with a $75,000 cottage.” And, reflective of her eclectic embrace of diverse styles, Pandy is currently going from cottage charm to ultra-modern chic. Pandy recently got married and is in the process of renovating and moving into a mid-century modern home in Vestavia. She enjoys adapting to a new style while creating special touches that make her new house feel like home.
She finds inspiration for herself and her clients through Pinterest, finding the website is an easy way to collaborate with clients. “I am still a book reader but I follow a lot of European blogs, like My French Country Home and Velvet & Linen, and a few local ones, as well.” Pandy says. “But I mostly ‘pin’ a lot of things, and a lot of people will ‘pin’ things and send them to me, so then I can find similar pieces that will work.”
Pandy and Sunni go to High Point, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia, to find most of the store’s pieces at big international markets. A favorite thing for the duo to shop for is lighting. Pandy believes that good lighting can change the entire feel of any room. “We have everything when it comes to lighting,” Pandy says. “We run the gamut from contemporary to vintage crystal to antique French. Lighting says a whole lot about a room and people often don’t realize that. People can put a room together that looks lovely but lighting can change the whole mood.”
Pandy says the biggest piece of advice she gives when offering her design services is to first be your own editor and to be unafraid of change. “What I tell people first is to go through your house and edit,” she explains. “You are your best editor. Get rid of everything you don’t love that you’ve worked around for years, that has made you unhappy. And get down to the pieces that you want to work with. Just by editing, you see everything in a different light. Then you can rebuild on that and be careful to rebuild just with things you love.”
Pandy’s decades of experience have led her to decorate for all sorts of styles — from rustic log cabins to luxurious, all-white homes — in Alys Beach. She believes her role as an interior designer, whether helping a customer pick out a new lamp or redoing a client’s entire home, is not only gratifying, but necessary. “It can seem frivolous to have the profession I have but I’ve learned that your home is what keeps you balanced,” Pandy says. “I was fortunate enough to keep my mom home for a year when she had Alzheimer’s. My home was perfect because it was small and had no steps and it was cheery! And seeing how important it was to have this house was so neat. If I didn’t have such a small, cozy, safe space or a garden for her to admire, it wouldn’t have been so perfect for her. It’s about making your home an inviting space for yourself and those you love.”
Pandy plans to work another six to seven years before passing the well-earned torch to her two children. She enjoyed watching her children’s design and business skills develop over the years and is excited to see them set sail with the store on their own. But for now, she enjoys helping clients and customers find solace and satisfaction in well-loved living spaces of their own.
“Life is so hard right now and we wake up to the news and it’s so devastating, every day,” Pandy says. “We have to constantly pull ourselves up and find beauty in our home because it’s our sanctuary. If we love the place where we sleep, cook, entertain and relax, then we can live in a better place. That’s what it’s all about.”
Pandy Agnew Interiors is located at 2880 Old Rocky Ridge Road, Birmingham, AL 35243. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (205) 874-9202 or visit pandyagnewinteriors.com.