Cindy Aplanalp: Follow Your Passion

Whether it’s implementing a design you saw in Paris or choosing a career, interior designer Cindy Aplanalp knows that to make it a reality you have to go for it.

Thanks for joining us, Cindy. Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in interior design?

I’d probably be classified as a late bloomer and I’ve only been doing this professionally for six or seven years.  Prior to I did lots of my own ‘projects’ and my ex’s son was a builder so helped him some. For years friends would offer to take me to lunch if I’d help them pick paint or rearrange their bookcase, so I did a lot of ‘free design’ as I learned what did and didn’t work. Probably the thing that helped me hone my talents the most is raising six kids. I’ve cleaned my share of bathrooms, vacuumed acres of carpet and learned with wears well and what doesn’t. Additionally, I’ve been fortunate to travel the world and see first hand ancient architecture and how others live. So all these experiences add to my work now.

You live and work in Texas. What are some Texas-like themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the Lonestar state?

No, I try with all my heart to steer clear of typically Texas ventricular. No Lone Stars yet, thankfully!

All spaces are unique, but in Texas you must find that there are design features every client wants. Which are most popular? Any type of furniture or finishing you find dependable in pleasing your client?

There is no such thing as a typical client- all are unique and would not use me if I did the same thing over and over. What I can always count on is starting every design from the ‘feeling’ realm- like how they envision feeling in their space- those strong emotionally charged feelings are what I use to gather my design ideas and instincts. Its really not about me at all- its about them and what they desire.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your design experiences and current forms of inspiration?

If I’m meeting a couple, then my first priority is to meet with both on the initial encounter. This is a joint collaboration and I need the input of all parties.  Secondly, they must communicate well, honestly and respectfully with each other, especially about money and have congruent expectations for the project. I’m not a marriage counselor and I don’t want to be. They must already be happy because stuff like a big fancy house, no matter how lovely, doesn’t create happiness. Sure, it can enhance happiness, but you gotta start from of place of internal happiness to really appreciate the heart that I put in each project. As a designer my time is limited, I want to work with those who will appreciate and enjoy what we create together. Fortunately, I guess I’m at the point now where I can be choosy. I’m really seeking inspiration from them and what they are wanting. I’m a luxury item, unlike bread, milk or gasoline, so those seeking me have the basics very well covered. They are seeking an expertise, talent and ability to turn their desired outcomes for their homes into reality. It takes an emotional connection, and a lot of trust, so that is why I want my potential clients to feel as good about me as I need to feel about them because we are partners in this process.

Texas has grand hallways and with that comes nice hardwood floors, and eventually some area rugs. Tell us how you use rugs in your designs.

Our climate in Houston is mild and humid so I use hard flooring almost exclusively except in bedrooms, media rooms and closets. Rugs are tremendously important and the place I begin my color palettes because there are fewer rug options than any other material that would go into a fine interior. I will almost exclusively select the rugs as the first item because this sets our color palette for the entire home. It is a very efficient way to approach a project. I’ll have 14-to 20 rugs all selected for the entire space an that all play nicely together, and use that as the basis for the design.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Depends on the needs of the family, and answering questions like, dogs, kids, cats, what stage of life?  Do they take off their shoes in the house, or not. What’s their budget? Is this a ‘forever’ purchase or will it be thrown away in a few years? I go to market four times a year and have thousands of rug samples in my studio- so I have access to just about any rug in the world really. I have some lines that I love to use because of their value, quality and timing attributes. Many times I have custom rugs made for clients willing to wait months if not a year or more for something truly one of a kind. So it just depends on timing, budget and clients lifestyle.

Is there a price limit on what you’ll spend on the rug?

No, and my favorite rug in my own home was under $600 and I’ve placed a $6,000 rug under a kitchen table. It has to be the right rug for that particular client. It’s really not about money, its what works

Any words of design advice for the wannabe’s out there?!

Yes, follow your passion and study and expose your self to great design through books, magazines, the Internet and visit great places and spaces. I think travel is key to training your eye.

Take the time to sketch. It causes you to really look at things and stay close to nature, because nothing trumps nature and the way colors, patterns, textures are mixed in nature is harmonious- genius.  Follow the work of designers you appreciate- read about what inspires them and how they came to be in this field. Lastly, its never too late. I didn’t go to design school until my early 40′s. In 1984 I graduated with a Business Management degree. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an Interior Design degree, so dream big and enthusiastically follow your passion!

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?


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