Angela Souder: Seeing Design as Problem Solving

Angela-ams-interiorsWhen Angela Souder accepts a complicated design project she doesn’t see the limitations, she sees the opportunity.

Thanks for joining us, Angela! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.

As far back as I can remember I enjoyed the visual arts. After high school, I went to Penn State University and majored in social psychology and minored in the arts. I worked as a Human Resource Generalist, got married, bought a house and had a family. With the addition of children, the house seemed a little small so my husband and I had to decide if we should move or add on.  We had enough property to add on and the prospect of building an addition was very exciting and challenging to me. My mind was racing with creative ideas for space planning and design. We worked with an architect through the design process and when the project was completed, I was convinced that this is what I was meant to do. I immediately enrolled in the Interior Design Program at Philadelphia University, formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences. After I graduated, I worked four years for architectural firms and design professionals before starting my own business, AMS Interiors, LLC.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?

I usually ask the client a number of questions over the telephone to see if our company would be a good match.

When I meet the client at their home, it is to see the space, discuss the project scope and budget, review my process and portfolio, answer their questions and lesson their fears. Most important, my goal is to    establish a mutual trust and respect for each other because we will be working very closely together in their personal space. I want the design process to be  interesting and enjoyable.  

Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

If I do a good job of explaining the design process and how I work initially, I don’t have problems with clients. On occasion a delivery of materials or furnishings may be delayed so we expedite our purchase orders and specify alternates choices in case of delays. To design is to solve problems, so we are always in creative solution mode.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

Many clients watch the design shows on television every week. I let them know right away that I will not be able to complete their project in a half hour. In general, more people are design savvy because of the exposure to those shows. As a result, some clients would prefer to do some things themselves but need guidance in coordinating styles, colors and patterns. So I now offer limited consulting services to assist clients with those needs.

From the outside it seems like the Philadelphia area focuses on incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of history into your designs.

Many homes in Philadelphia including those homes and buildings built during the colonial era such as the Betsy Ross House, Independence Hall, the Elfreth’s Alley homes were built of brick. So exposing interior brick walls in a home is one way of incorporating a sense of history. Also, the use of paned glass colonial windows, random planked pine floors and the display of antique furniture, textiles and lighting fixture are additional ways to create a sense of history and family tradition.  

Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed? What did it look like before? After?

One of the projects that I am most proud of completing is the new residential construction project in Newport, RI. Prior to its construction, it was a very rocky bluff overlooking a beautiful scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean. Now it is a beautiful shingle style home with two levels of views of the Atlantic Ocean. Inspiration for the interior of this home was the flora, fauna and rocky coastline of this famous New England town and the client’s request for a casual elegant easy life style and decor.

Interior colors reflect the gray, celadon green, and plum tones in the huge rocks on the property and the ocean blues, green shrubs and trees and the creamy beige sand. Photos are on my website at under New Projects.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?

With the advent of so many beautiful wood, stone, and tile floors, I have specified area rugs in   almost every room of a house. There is an area rug for every style whether it is traditional, contemporary, transitional or eclectic. I have even placed area rugs on some wall-to-wall carpeting to give the room interest and color. For the most part, I specify area rugs in living rooms, dining rooms, breakfast rooms and bedrooms. I have also specified area rugs in master bathrooms and laundry rooms.

In addition to providing color and warmth within the space, area rugs ground the furniture, add  texture and can serve as a work of art or focal point for rooms lacking architectural detail.

I am less likely to specify area rugs where children play or where the elderly with walkers or canes live. I would specify a thin wall to wall carpet or a  resilient hard floor in those spaces.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

Wool rugs are very durable and my favorite are wool with silk. However synthetic rugs can be very durable because of their many generations of engineered fibers that have special qualities such as soil release, stain repellents, etc. I have three 100% spun nylon area rugs in my own home that are 15 years old and they look as good as the day I bought them. Sisal rugs are also quite durable and great for vacation homes by the sea and lakes.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

Specify a smaller rug or less expensive fibers.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers.

One way to keep your area rugs looking their best is to vacuum the rugs in different directions so you pick up all dirt and dust, vacuum often, and spot clean immediately by following the manufacturer’s directions.



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