Amy Howard is so talented, she could probably make a cardboard box look spectacular! With mentions and even covers in some of the most renowned design magazines, to name drop, Elle Decor and Traditional Home, Amy Howard is at the top of her game and quickly becoming the MVP in the design world. Amy makes design enthusiasts swoon with her traditional yet eclectic pieces of furniture which really could be described as pieces of art. Her entire collection is hand-crafted, each nail hammered, by the best artisans around. She is not only one of the most gracious ladies we have ever met but she is a designer, teacher, wife, mother, and friend and we could not be more honored to have her as one of our Faces of Memphis.

Also, Amy has also given us reason to celebrate. She is going to become a regular guest on StyleBlueprint and will be sharing all her secrets and tips to keeping a beautiful home! Look for her first post May 2nd.

Where did you grow up?

I am a life-long Memphian.

Where did you go to college?

I attended  the University of Mississippi and the University of Memphis. I also studied at a studio in New York and San Francisco.

Has design always been a passion or is it something that you fell in love with later in life?

Originally, my plans were to be an attorney. It was not until I went through a divorce that I decided to do something that I really loved and that was design. In the beginning, I studied Graphic Design and won an Addie for my design of the National Civil Rights Museum poster. However, I had always seen furniture as my canvas so it was a natural transition to go into Furniture Arts.

When was The Amy Howard Collection born?

The Amy Howard Collection has been in existence for 20 years. However, I have been teaching finishes and creating decorative finishes for 28 years.

When Amy Howard Collection started, it was truly a labor of love for you and your husband Gene. How is it working with your husband?

My husband is my rock, my spiritual leader and partner not only in life, but in business as well. He is also my best friend. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in Paris this past January. Working with him is not work to me, it is a true blessing.

Can you tell us briefly about The Amy Howard Collection.

The Amy Howard Collection prides itself on reclaiming the elegance of the 19th and 20th centuries by making beautiful hand crafted and hand painted furniture that is made in America. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, made by the most highly trained artisans, with much attention being made to detail. We also can create customized pieces at your request to accommodate any room in your home.

Describe your design aesthetic in 3 words.

Clean and classic with a little bit of eclectic thrown in.

What inspires your beautiful pieces?

So many things… but antiques and vintage jewelry really inspire me. Shapes and colors do as well. In my opinion, the more outlandish the better!

There are so many great decorating trends circulating right now. What is your absolute must have for the home this season?

Lucite (or acrylic as some say). It is so hot! We have loved it for years and are excited that it is finally becoming more mainstream.

You are always so poised, polished and classy. Between your family and your career, you stay pretty busy! What keeps you grounded?

Grounded… my faith. I know that I was put here for a reason. I love design and beautiful things, but my heart is the most full when I see God using me in other peoples lives. I now see design and the furniture as a secondary thing.

What statement pieces can take a room from ordinary to extraordinary?

Pieces with great finishes add so much to a room. I also believe everyone should have one statement piece. One example of that would be a great fabric that everything works off of. My designs always include painted furniture, stained furniture, with some mirror and  acrylic pieces added in. It is important to have what I call ‘oval eye track.’ Your eye should go around the entire room, one area should not stand out on its own. The entire room should flow and then you can zone in on individual pieces, like a great Trumeau over a mantle or a great secretary with monochromatic art.

Where can fellow design enthusiasts find your new line of DIY products?

They can be found on our website at  http://www.amyhowardcollection.com/ and in the Amy Howard Outlet in Memphis. We are also in negotiations with some retail outlets for distribution.

I am sure you host some pretty impressive dinner parties at your beautiful home. Any entertaining tips you can share?

I am very passionate about aesthetics. Music selected for the appropriate venue as well as age is very important. I like for it to be upbeat when my guests are arriving and more relaxed during dinner. My go-to is usually French music. I love it! I also always have fresh flowers, white and green inside, monochromatic. I love white orchids in old urns and candles. I am a big fan of having candles everywhere, except for where you eat. That is why I started my own candle line. We sell them in the store as well as wholesale to our retailers. The most important thing is that I always want to make my  guests feel special without being too over the top.

Which Memphis restaurant can you just not get enough of?

Erling Jensens.

After a long day of designing and creating, how do you unwind?

Sitting on our loggia with my sweet husband Gene, recapping the day. Simple but so nice.

What words best describe you?

Passionate, driven and creative.

What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given?

I have always loved the saying… A jack of all trades and a master of none. Focus on what you are good at and become the best!

On the slight chance that you have time to read, what books can be found on your bedside table?

I am an avid reader. I absolutely love to read but I cannot read fiction. Sad but true. I read books on business and personal growth and of course spiritual books. For business owners, I always recommend Good to Great. I also highly recommend Blue Ocean Strategy as well as The Rockefeller Habits!
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God)

Things that make my life much more enjoyable are fabulous Italian bed linens, my steam shower and Bond No. 9 perfume.

To see pieces from the Amy Howard Collection visit her store front located at 420 South Perkins Ext. Memphis, TN 38117 or visit her website www.amyhowardcollection.com

A special thanks to our amazing photographer, Christen (Jones) Morrison, for her fabulous work featured on StyleBlueprint Memphis today.  Be sure to check out her website here: www.christenjones.com