Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there was a series on my blog called “Ask Five” where I conducted short, 5-question interviews with experts in interior design or DIY. Then that poor little series met an unceremonious end and was never spoken about again. But then, I met Amy Johnson who also volunteered on the Dwell with Dignity project, and she gave me the motivation I needed to resurrect the series. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Amy Johnson, owner of Bella Patina Interiors here in Atlanta.
Amy opened Bella Patina Interiors in 2002, and her design approach is described as “thoughtful, classic and always with a sense of humor.” You can check out Amy’s work on her website, or connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest.
What are your favorite sources for design inspiration?
I get my design inspiration from everywhere I look. Maybe it’s the colors in my daughter’s dress or the mottled colors of the early morning sky. I am alive with a sense of beauty everywhere I look. Even in the not so beautiful places and things, I still see beauty. I love watercolors. The way they bleed and fade into the textured paper. The muted and the saturated colors and their blurred lines.
What do you find to be the easiest types of spaces to design?
A space that has a heart beat. A family home in particular. I can appreciate the desire to create an aesthetically pleasing home for both the homeowner and the children that live there. I do not believe you should have to wait for beautiful design until the children get older. I rise to the challenge of creating a space that serves both. They are not mutually exclusive. There is a product on the market called Vectra, it is similar to scotch guard in that it is sprayed onto your upholstered items and even rugs as a protective layer to withstand stains. Often time people are understandably nervous to go with a more neutral palette with the thinking that these things will become ruined at first spill. But thanks to Vectra, that worry goes away. Wine spills, ink, food…it just wipes up. I advise all my clients to use this product, kids or no kids.
What types of spaces are the most difficult? Why?
I don’t know that I have ever encountered a particular space that was difficult. All spaces have their challenges at times, but to me that is what inspires me to find a solution. If every space I walked into spoke to me clearly, I would not have the opportunity to creatively think outside of the box. I like when things are a bit more challenging, call it the rebel in me. It forces me to take a step back and thoughtfully approach a resolution. It stretches me. I learn, thereby I grow more creatively. It is one of the many wonderful things about my career. This constant growth, change and evolution.
What ideas can you share with someone who is renting their home and may not be able to make drastic changes, but would love to make it beautiful?
Area rugs, art work, window panels and ambient lighting all go a long way towards softening the sometimes utilitarianism of a space. The layering in of items serve to give you both a collected look and a warm, inviting space. Play with texture and scale. Oversized art work is a bold statement that really personalizes your space.
What are some tips for someone designing a small space?
The first thing that comes to mind is to consider your light. Both natural and ambient lighting. By selectively adding mirrors and reflective accessories, these items take the light and bounce it back into the space. This helps to create dimension and the illusion of a more expansive space.
Have your pieces be multi-functioning.
Hang your panels high and wide. Mount your brackets as close to the ceiling as possible and typically 4-6” from the outer casing of the window.
Use area rugs to both ground and define each space.
Use oversized art pieces on far walls to invite you into the space.
Create a curated look by adding in your favorite pieces to your tablescapes…and then edit to refinement.
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