As principal designer and president of an award-winning interior design firm, Ami Austin is known for transforming homes and businesses around the country with unique, creative, and functional design elements. Her work has been featured in publications such as Memphis, Midsouth, Romantic Homes, Custom Home, Interior Design, among others, and she is frequently invited as a guest speaker for home design and home staging events nationwide. Her studio, P & B Design Source, is located in downtown Memphis, and is open to professional designers and the general public. There, visitors can view Austin’s unique design style through staged vignettes and, by appointment, seek her interior design guidance.
CM: Why are you passionate about interior design?
AA: I love every aspect of designing, creating and executing a design plan. Solving design problems is such a thrill to me. But best of all, my passion for interior design truly comes alive when a project is completed and everyone involved in the process is happy with the outcome.
CM: Is there a project in your portfolio that is particularly unique? Why?
AA: I believe all my projects are unique. I do not think any project is representative of another, as they are all individually distinctive. A current project does come to mind however, unique in the sense that horses are my clients! I am designing a loft in a gorgeous stable, and I cannot wait to see the finished look.
Before I started this design project, the existing stable was already magnificent for the horses! The addition of a performance and training arena brought about the need for more creature comfort of the human kind, which I designed as a loft.
The loft has a grand view of the property, but the large windows and pitched ceilings brought a design challenge for furnishings, cooking and bathing.
During the design process, I decided on a relaxed style by staying with four colors, enabling a clean look. I installed custom Murphy beds and included a sleeper sofa in a well-appointed seating area to allow for additional comfort and room for sleepy equestrians. The kitchen was redesigned with state-of-the-art appliances, forged-iron chandeliers and custom cabinetry with perfectly fabricated granite, featuring waterfall edges to streamline the rustic, but elegant look. I incorporated sliding barn doors in the bath space, and completed the look by installing a copper soaking tub.
CM: What was the best compliment you've ever been given on one of your projects?
AA: A referral. That is the best compliment. It is so humbling that a client likes your work enough that they want to share with someone else, by referring you to their friends and family.
CM: What is your design "process"?
AA: I begin my process by building a relationship with my client. It is important to make sure we see eye-to-eye, and that we understand the nature of the design project, i.e., perimeters of the job and overall expectations. Once this has been established, the rest of my process consists of following and executing the plan in the desired time frame and understood budget.
CM: Describe the “perfect” (or favorite) design project, from your perspective.
AA: My perfect design project includes excitement around every aspect of the project. It is important to work together with a client, subcontractors, artisans, and everyone else involved, to make the perfect design project a reality. When everyone is excited about the project, and understands the desired final look, a perfect design project is the result.
I always introduce an element of the outdoors to my kitchen projects. I love to incorporate life into kitchens by opening walls with windows to give an exterior view. Two kitchen design projects on which I worked featured such an element. For one client, my design team and I took out an entire brick wall, replacing the newly opened space with French doors. For another client, we removed the wall between the kitchen / breakfast area and the formal dining room. This permitted my client to have east and west views of the gorgeous property.
CM: What goals should someone have when redesigning a home or space?
AA: From social media to design magazines, there is inspiration to discover when looking to redesign a space. Pinterest and Houzz are great examples, and clipping pictures from magazines. To really understand what type of design makes the most sense and blends best in your home or space, put all your design inspirations together. Identify what you like and what is most appropriate for setting up your home, i.e., your preferred scale for the room or home and a predetermined budget, and you will result in redesigning an entire home or just one space that fits your lifestyle.
CM: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
AA: The most rewarding part of my job is forming genuine relationships with my clients. After starting off on a client-basis relationship, we always end up becoming good friends. Not only do I become a part of my clients’ families, but they become a part of my family, as well.
I learned a lot through business organizational skills and accountability in my prior career in the demanding corporate world, but the creative aspect was missing. In the long run, managing my own business and having the ability to expand into areas without boundaries is what makes my days come alive with pleasure and satisfaction.
Award-winning interior designer Ami Austin speaks about the design
process and how she finds inspiration in her world and work.
Home | July 2016
Interview by Tonya Thompson | Photos courtesy of Chip Pankey & Steve Roberts