BY PATTI SMITH PHOTOS BY SCOTT PITTMAN
Designer April Crosby helps her clients interpret and realize their vision of their home, condo or project. “The best part of my job is to see the client sit back and smile and love it,” she reflects. “You can’t teach creativity. I believe it’s a Godgiven gift. You should embrace a gift from God.”
April, along with fellow interior designer, Andrea Mauldin, owner of Nest Interiors, put her talents to use in a recent redesign of the Cantrell family’s condominium in the Grande Surf Club development on Panama City Beach. She mixed styles and materials to create an eclectic, creative, and coastal look.
Bright white pillows with navy blue accents mix well with the neutral tones of the furnishings. Many natural elements are used such as a solid wood slat dining table and large glass jars filled with sea biscuits, sea urchins, and seashells collected from local waters by the Cantrell daughters and grandchildren. It brings the outside in and inserts a piece of family to complement the magnificent views from the family room and master bedroom.
Simple updates in paint colors, furnishings, and art pieces can change the entire look of a condo when it is not feasible to manipulate interior structures, says April.
Q: What are the challenges you face in designing the interior of a condo?
Placement of A/C vents, windows, and drains. It requires a lot of planning before you start. All existing and inherent obstacles must be considered before presenting a design plan to the client.
A condominium can sometimes present a challenge for a designer due to the structured layout of the unit. For most condos there is no real altering of the architectural bones, it is merely a space makeover. In most cases, these makeovers must work within the existing layout/ floor plans in which it was originally built.
A condo has a homeowner’s association that requires its own set of rules and regulations be followed but, more importantly, there are codes and laws that are enforced and set into play by the county, city, and state in which the condo lies.
Areas that may cause a stumbling block are mostly because of HVAC ducts, fire audio/ intercom, and sprinkler systems that are already in place. In almost all condo renovations, your ability to make certain changes is governed by codes and condo associations. However, considerations are possible through proper permitting.
Q: What are the design trends you are seeing?
Simple clean lines that mimic the 60s and 70s are coming back with a contemporary flair. They are often mixed with modern trending accessories such as the modern look of acrylic, along with multiple single-seating furniture pieces that are that are used in lieu of traditional couch seating. Another popular and trending look is industrial. This eclectic look uses repurposed equipment and wood as well as many other objects that are diverse within its style of design.
Coastal Designs are trending. Design elements can include anything from rustic drift wood pieces to nautical elements to natural shells and pearls.
A design influence is merely a reflection of our culture, our expectations, and user interfaces. Ideally, these trends are a representation of the life we see in news, politics, the web, and social media as well as the community in which we live. In my opinion, a trend is ultimately set through culture and socioeconomic realities. As a designer, I will always have my own opinion when it comes to design.
My goal is to reflect a mix of styles that are both timeless and trending and include function, flow, color, and products that will best tell the story/ vision that homeowner is trying to achieve.
Q: What inspires you to create a specific design?
I personally draw my inspiration from the homeowner and the inhabitants of the space. I like to know as much as I can about the individual and their family. I will also take into consideration the environment and location of the space of interest. Once I have obtained information from the homeowner, I will then start to compile ideas and begin to work on incorporating all elements into a design plan. I have to separate my ideas from the clients’ ideas. A good design is about understanding that the design is personal to the client and their situation. A client may not know what their visions are but they will always have an expectation. Therefore it is imperative to get into their head and help them create their vision.
Q: What do you love most about being an interior designer?
As a designer, I am there to help you create a personal space of comfort, security, love, and warmth that will reflect your story. I love helping people create a space that will help them escape from the mundane ways with which they are inundated on a daily basis. As a designer, I strive to be creative, to be a detailed storyteller, and the homeowners’ interpreter in a way that will implement and create the story/vision they desire.
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