“It’s a beautiful thing when a passion and career come together.” If there was a quote that describes Laura Aguilar, this is it. What started as a hobby has blossomed into a rewarding career. From designing for clients across the country to helping couples decide on a simple piece to change a room, Laura has tackled projects of every size. More importantly, she listens to the client first and delivers spectacular results they love. We are so thrilled to have Laura Aguilar, owner of Laura Aguilar Interiors, as December’s Interior Designer Crush.
How did you get into interior design, and how long have you been doing it?
I got started in the industry by friends and family coming to my home. We lived in Southern California, and they loved how I did the decor of our then-home. They would ask for help in their own homes — I would help them, and then their friends would see their homes and love it and then ask me to help them, and so on and so on. It just sort of snowballed from there. I did that off and on for a couple years while I still had small babies at home. As soon as they were all in school full time, I started taking it more seriously and charging clients accordingly. After a few years of that, I decided to take some interior design courses at a local university near my home and soon became a certified interior designer. I could not have done any of that without the loving support of my husband — he has and always will be one of my biggest fans!
What are the specific services you offer at Laura Aguilar Interiors?
I offer a variety of services here at Laura Aguilar Interiors. I have been hired to just pick out a paint color or two, to completely designing a custom-built home from the outside in and from top to bottom! I have even been hired just to be the deciding voice between a husband and wife who couldn’t decide on where the sofa should actually go in the family room. So basically, I have been hired for it all. There really isn’t a job too big or small that I haven’t tackled already or am willing to take on.
Not everyone has a huge space to work with. How do you tackle a smaller room and maximize the space you have to design?
I actually love working with smaller spaces. Sometime the bigger the space, the harder it is to make it feel and look complete! In smaller rooms you can use bigger pieces to fill it up and not have to buy a lot. It feels cozier and warmer, and you really can cram a lot of function into small spaces as well. A smaller family room can serve as a TV room or home office as well as a home library — just depends on how organized and how well-arranged the room is.
What are some resources (websites, apps, etc.) that people at home can use to begin to visualize a concept they have before executing it?
I always advise my clients to start a Pinterest page if they haven’t already. And if they do have one, to designate a whole board to that particular room we are working on. I used to have my clients collect magazine articles and pictures, but now Pinterest has taken the place of that, and it couldn’t be easier to use. Even my few clients that I have worked with who could care less what is happening in the ever addicting Pinterest world, I create a private board on my page for them and invite them to pin away all their hopes and dreams for their room or rooms. Nine times out of 10 they end up loving the site and “over pin” on their boards — if that is even a thing!? It is extremely helpful for me to really get a sense of their own personal style. Sometimes how a person describes their style and how they view their style are two different things. So Pinterest is the most helpful tool I use to really dive deep into the true style of all my clients’ homes.
You write a wonderful blog for your website that can be meaningful in so many ways — such as turning a house into a home. What are some things readers can take away on how to do this in their home?
In my recent blog post on “Turning a House into a Home,” I wrote about the importance of making sure a beautifully decorated home still feels cozy and warm enough for even the furriest of family members to still feel at home. I love a house that is well put together, but this doesn’t mean it has to feel stuffy. Want to cuddle up? Bring in a beautiful basket full of extra soft blankets. Want to put your feet up on the table? Purchase a table that is made of reclaimed or honed wood — it’s not shiny and you won’t have to worry about scratching the surface of a highly polished piece. Want to keep your husband’s favorite worn-out leather chair in the newly decorated room? No problem — throw on a beautiful new pillow along with a soft throw and presto! You don’t even notice it anymore. Basically, don’t kick your loved ones out of your newly designed space. Design it so they will actually want to spend time in the room and use the furniture that you spent so much time choosing. You spent money to have it be beautiful, so why not make it functional, cozy and inviting all at the same time?
Do you favor a particular style or architecture, and do you incorporate that in to your work?
I do love many different styles of decor — that is for sure. I can appreciate a well-worn farmhouse buffet or a sleek marble-top coffee table or even a mid-century side chair. But I would have to say that my style can be quite classic if I had to categorize it. My rule of thumb is to keep your “large ticket pieces” as classic as possible. The sofa, large area rugs, countertops, backsplash — avoid picking “trends” for these. Go with the classic colors and styles and add in trendy pillows and decor and tables and side chairs, smaller pieces that you can afford to replace in a couple years when the trend changes. I know sometimes “classic” can seem boring, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run and then you can afford to be the “fun trendy” accessory lady every time!
What was your most favorite project? And what has been a tough, yet rewarding project?
I would say one of my most favorite projects I have recently worked on was a home for a young successful couple buying their first custom home together. They hired me from the beginning and basically gave me free reign to decorate as I pleased inside and outside of their home! I even got to design a sweet little girl nursery for them as well — such a fun and amazing project to be a part of. I am still so proud of how it all turned out.
One of my more challenging projects was a client who was moving to the Huntersville, NC, area all the way from California. They hired me to do almost every room in their new home, and I only had one face-to-face meeting with the husband and never had a chance to meet the wife until install day! I had to learn their style through emails and Pinterest boards and make design decisions and purchases with my clients thousands of miles away — all within a short three-month time frame! Needless to say they were thrilled with the results thank goodness, but I probably slept for a week straight after those install days were complete.
The holidays are just around the corner. How do you decorate with meaningful pieces on a budget?
I love decorating for the holidays. It’s one of my most favorite things to do! This is a time where you can pull out those beloved 20-year-old ornaments and still love how they look on your new twinkling tree. You can incorporate your mom’s favorite nativity set she handed down to you on top of a beautiful new silver tray you found at Pottery Barn! All this to say mix it up! You don’t need to rush out and purchase the newest Christmas decor every year — using the well-used and well-loved pieces again and again each year is what creates the memories and warmth that the holidays are all about. Adding in the new with the old is what makes life interesting and exciting. I love a well-worn, soft, Christmas-themed blanket set out next to a new fur-lined pillow on the sofa, or even your favorite Christmas mugs gathered on top of a beautiful new platter found at HomeGoods. Mix it up and enjoy the memories, and make some new ones! I love hitting up the sales after Christmas as well, to add to my collection each year. That way you are enjoying the new without the sticker shock of the holidays.
When working with a tight budget, what is one thing a person can do to get their biggest bang for their buck?
One of the main rules I tell my clients, especially when there is a pretty strict budget, is to not spread this budget too thin! Don’t try to do too many rooms, or get too many pieces for your home. Pick a room, focus only on that room and finish it within that budget. Then save up and move on to the next room and finish it with a new budget. An unfinished room never feels restful or complete. You’re always looking around wishing you had bought this or painted that. So pick a room, decide on a budget, and completely finish that room before moving onto the next. This can be easier said than done because who wouldn’t want a completely furnished and decorated home? But if you can take your time, complete a whole room before moving on to the next, you will be so much happier with the results. I promise!
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