This week’s Designer Spotlight Series features a very special guest…someone who is certainly no stranger to the “spotlight” and has become a new (and very welcome) member of the iHomeRegistry community.
That’s right…it’s Wanda Colón, from HGTV’s “24 Hour Design” and TLC’s “Home Made Simple”— and she’s here to talk to us about her experience working with famous private clients, the key to staging homes, who she admires in the design industry and more!
- What attracted you to iHomeRegistry?
As a busy Interior Designer in Los Angeles, I’m always looking for the next new software and/or tool that will allow me to communicate my design vision to the client. Time saving and one stop shopping for this tool is a key factor for me and the entire staff at Style My Space & The Academy of Home Staging and Design. iHomeRegistry allows us to create a fluid design plan with visuals for our client, including a 3D rendering.
- How did you get started in the interior design/decorative arts business?
After graduating from college, my first big design job was a restaurant redesign in Reading, PA. It was called The Firehouse Bar & Restaurant. Then I made the move from PA to CA in 2001. I started working for a design firm called Interior Motives, where I also did murals and finishes for our clients.
- Tell us about your time at HGTV and TLC. How did that come about?
I lived in the same building as Lee Snyders from Design on a Dime. I spoke to his then talent manager and gave her my portfolio. She had me shoot a reel and we started submitting my photo and reel to HGTV, TLC…I auditioned for 24 Hour Design and had 3 call backs to re-audition for the show. Initially they went with someone else. I remember I thought “What, this can’t be” I really felt like it was mine to lose so I followed up with a thank you note and to keep me in mind for anything else. They called a week later and said they reconsidered their first pick. I did HGTV’s “24 Hour Design” for 4 seasons and then had the opportunity to go to TLC’s “Home Made Simple” where I did 6 seasons.
- You’ve had some pretty well known private clients, including Kelsey Grammer, Paul Stanley, Cher and Johanna Carson. Tell us about working with them.
Of course, the initial meeting, I would ask myself “How did I get here?” and “Am I good enough?” But, what I quickly realized is that they have the same concerns as my client down the street. I would have to say meeting Kelsey for the first time, I called him Frazier on accident. I was mortified, but he assured me it wasn’t the first time. My favorite famous client is Paul Stanley. He is super creative, an amazing artist and gave us a lot of creative freedom. I’m a breast cancer survivor and during my treatment, he ran into a mutual friend who told him I had cancer. He called me asked me if I needed anything and donated a huge painting to my cancer fund.
- Where do you find your inspiration?
Literally everywhere! When designing someone’s home I want to know where the client has traveled, what they are interested in…it’s super personal to create a space for someone. My goal is for my clients, friends, and family to come into the space and say, ”Wow, this is really you!”
- If you could design a home for anyone in the world, who would it be?
I would have to say it would have been a blast to collaborate with Frank Lloyd Wright. I just recently toured the SC Johnson house and building in Wisconsin. I was so impressed not only with the overall design but the creative spirit he brought to everything from structure to the functionality of the office chairs.
- How does the Academy of Home Staging & Design distinguish itself among competitors?
First of all, we are a full service design company. Our sister company is Style My Space where I am the lead interior designer. Kim Kappellush, founder of Style My Space and the Academy, runs the Home Staging part of the business. We have our own warehouse of furniture and have the ability to stage over 100 homes at a time with our own inventory. Kim founded the Academy of Home Staging and was open to us developing the Interior Design aspect to the academy. So what makes us different is that we are successful at what we are teaching. So, anyone coming to the academy is learning from our experience.
- How have YOU distinguished yourself in such a rapidly growing industry?
I minored in fine arts. I consider myself an artist first and I bring that to the table. Teaching at the Academy also keeps me on track with anything new in design. New software, programs, trends and I get to work with the professionals at the design centers like LA Mart. Being in the know is really important in this industry. So I have a relationship with everyone from my vendors and contractors to the employees in retail stores. When we shop I have a first name basis mentality. I want my clients to be able to go back to Crate & Barrel and be able to ask for the rep that I like to work with.
- What are the top one or two keys to staging a home?
Create a space that has mass appeal to the market and make it special. Personally, I like having that statement art piece.
- What is your favorite home you’ve ever staged?
Early in my career I designed and staged a model loft in Marina Del Rey. I had a decent budget and total creative freedom.
- What is the most important room when it comes to home staging?
First impressions are always great so the first room people see really sets the tone for the house.
- Who is your design “role model”?
Once again Frank Lloyd Wright…his conviction to his designs is what we all aspire to.
- What does the future hold for the design/decorative arts business?
The sky is the limit. I love the way design changes and the exposure on TV shows has given interior design the access to everyone. Interior Design is no longer just for the wealthy. It has become available to everyone. Which in turn makes us grow as designers.
Learn more about Wanda and her work with the Academy of Home Staging & Design here.