Amy Wagner, founder of Reflections of You, by Amy, says that she inherently knew how to stage a home after moving seven times before the seventh grade with her family. But instead of doing that as her first career, she spent many years as an educator here in the Jefferson County school system. She decided to leave her job as an educator after she had her second child and took a few years off. She got two certifications as a professional stager and began staging homes to sell, based off certain visual aspects of a house that act as emotional triggers. After staging people’s homes, the clients always wanted her advice about how to design their new home. That’s when Amy added interior design to the list of services she offered helping her clients even more. Her keen eye for visual space — plus knowing what potential buyers will see in a home — has made her business known for selling homes fast and for a great price. She learned a lot of her skills by watching her grandmother, an interior designer in Birmingham, particularly the way she focuses on the details. We caught up with Amy, our latest Interior Designer Crush, to talk to her about what inspires her — and she shares some great tricks of the trade with us.
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client and his/her space?
My design philosophy is one that leans towards focusing on a timeless design and less is best. However, I named my business Reflections Of You, by Amy because when it comes to design, I truly want every home and space to reflect the personality of the client. I am always open to hearing the client’s ideas and specific needs. We work together to create the spaces they will enjoy for years to come.
You started in staging but, eventually, you began designing, as well. How did your staging business expand into this role?
I began Reflections of You, by Amy with home staging as the focus. Over time, contractors and builders called on me to assist with renovations and new builds to help with various renovations by selecting finishes (i.e., tile, countertops, paint colors, etc). Winning Homearama in 2012 truly put Reflections of You, by Amy on the map. This award helped to build credibility in my services, as well as begin the branding of my company. As a result, homeowners requested services in their homes to help with unpacking and decorating bookcases, replacing flooring, lighting, paint colors, etc.
We also saw the need to expand services by providing turnkey listings. We have been tagged as Louisville’s “Boutique GC” (general contractor) and compared to shows they see on HGTV. We bring our team of contractors (painters, flooring, handymen, landscapers, countertops, roofers, movers, etc.) and completely give homes a facelift before staging and marketing.
Your business is based on making sure that people are seeing the right things and that they respond favorably. What kind of triggers are involved when staging a home?
Our company’s model is based on our Expert Psychological Staging Certification. This certification has trained us to know the emotional triggers that will push buyers away from a property and/or pull them into a property. Our goal is for buyers to see the home rather than being distracted by the homeowner’s personal items. We have been trained to know specific items to tuck away and pre-pack. Our team makes the recommendations, as well as returning to implement the plan — packing and de-cluttering, painting, remove and replace lighting, flooring, etc. We also are unique in that we are Louisville’s premier staging and design firm with a warehouse of furniture and accessories available to lease for vacant staging. If a client leases from other resources, they will sign a three- to six-month contract. We are unique because we offer monthly leasing because our goal is to sell the home fast! Our motto is “Partner Today & Close Tomorrow!”
What kind of emotions do you try to invoke when you are designing a home (different than staging) and how do you accomplish that?
When designing a home, our focus is to create a space that will reflect the personality of the client. Therefore, each emotion is different based on the needs of the client. For example, if a client wants an office that will exude productivity and high energy, we will recommend specific paint colors, with the key element of space planned for directionality of furniture and accessories that will not be heavy.
Is there one design element that you use over and over again in some capacity? Why?
The one design element that I find myself recommending repeatedly is the use of larger chest-type bedside tables. Today we are always looking for more storage and this is a great way to add balance to a room while also including functionality. We have gorgeous options available for all bedrooms, whether it be for design or staging!
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
I am loving the new waterfall edges available for countertops! Cambria quartz countertops are beautiful selections for a timeless look. We are pleased to provide these countertops to our clients, being that we are a direct distributor for Cambria.
Where do you get your design inspiration?
Design inspirations come from so many resources! We have weekly team meetings, so many of my ideas come from my amazing team! Also, many of our vendors through market in Atlanta and Dallas send us gorgeous ideas through their catalogs and inspirational literature that give us new and trendy avenues to follow. Keep in mind, as I mentioned earlier, our clients are also very inspiring with their fun and interesting requests.
What brings you the most professional joy?
Staging a client’s home and helping them sell it within 30 days — that is what gives me the most professional joy!
Are people starting to embrace color again or is the movement still strong with a canvas of white?
Clients are still leaning more towards neutral palettes in paint colors and splashes of color in the fabrics. We have had some fun with bolder colors on the ceiling and powder rooms.
What’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of interior design from those outside the industry?
One of the most misunderstood aspects of interior design for me has been working on our Homearama show houses. When we are called on to help with a new build, we do not only help with paint colors and furnishings, but we are able to assist with selecting roof shingles, brick and mortar, exterior paint colors, flooring, kitchen appliances and countertops. We can help with anything and everything that is going to be put into the home.
Would you share one designer secret with SB readers?
When purchasing a chandelier for a kitchen or dining room table, an easy measuring tool to use is to measure the width of your table and divide by two. For example, if the width of your table is 48 inches, then the diameter of your chandelier should be 24 inches.
Who have been your industry mentors/role models — your personal interior designer crushes — and why?
My interior design mentors include first and foremost my grandmother — or as we called her “Sweetie-Pie” — who was an award-winning interior designer in Birmingham, AL. I was blessed to grow up watching her comb through wallpaper and fabric books all through my childhood and watched how she communicated with her clients. She taught me the importance of listening carefully to details in order to complete the scope of their work successfully. Another incredible mentor that I have been fortunate enough to train under and now call my friend is Kristie Barnett, otherwise known as “the Decorologist.” I received one of my certifications (Expert Psychological Staging Certification, or EPS) from Kristie in Nashville. I have modeled my company after her program. I am pleased to send anyone working with me to her training so we can continue to provide the Louisville area with this incredible EPS plan in order to sell homes fast and for top dollar.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
My most challenging project to date was a project involving a vacant staging where we had to go in and remove furniture and help the homeowner pack and move to her new home. Unfortunately, it was also a divorce situation, so emotions were very high. There were also some rodents involved, along with other challenges we had never faced before. Fortunately with our team and the credible vendors and contractors in place, we were able to pull off the turnkey listing in a timely manner by meeting our deadlines, staging the property and marketing it. We thankfully had a bidding war on the property resulting in an offer above asking price. Once again staging = SOLD!
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
My prediction for design in the next 10 to 15 years is virtual, virtual, virtual! So many things that we do even now is by way of email, pic collages, etc. We are doing color consults all over the country for clients and other forms of design. We recently launched our online store (amywagnerdesigns.com) and are selling merchandise nationwide. However, there is so much to be said for one-on-one personal contact and truly being able to communicate personally with our clients. I am hopeful we will always have the opportunity to continue our in-house consultations and have that individual interaction with our clientele.
Thank you to Amy Wagner for taking time to share her design inspirations and motivations.
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