A Gray Area

“The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what’s in or what’s out. This is not an easy job.”

-Albert Hadley, The Story of America’s Preeminent Interior Designer

Starting is always the most difficult part. It keeps us from moving forward, from exploring and experiencing. That first step is the scariest, even more so than the decision to start, but it can also be an amazing beginning to an unforgettable journey. I write this, my first blog post, with all the hope and fear everyone has stepping into the unknown. I want to thank you in advance for setting out with me on this mission to improve your life through interior design.

My name is Alecia Plaetz and I have an incredible passion for helping people create a better life. I have been in the design industry since 2007 starting out as a furniture consultant. I spent several years helping clients find the perfect rug, sofa or small accessory that allowed their room to be an expression of their family. When the visual merchandising position opened I took over staging an 80,000 square foot showroom giving clients an opportunity to see completed rooms before they took an item home. I loved creating different looks to meet any taste using the same bedroom set or sectional. After graduating with an interior design degree I decided to start my own business to further help people. My education helped define my role as an interior designer to be guide in the design process. Furniture is just a small part of interior design and I wanted to help people at the scary starting point.

Before I tell all of you where to begin it might help if I told you where I began. Growing up on a dairy farm may not seem like the most creative environment, but it’s amazing how no cable T.V. and endless fresh air still allowed my imagination freedom. I had no idea what interior design was, but it’s surreal looking back how much it was a part of my life. Baling hay might not make it onto anyone’s top ten list of greatest childhood memories, but out of the resulting stack my sisters and I built rooms out of haybales throughout the year using whatever we could find to create dishes, sheets, lamps, really anything you find in a house. My father was probably not impressed with the treasures he had to pull out before feeding the cattle but he never hindered our process. Likewise my grandfather encouraged creativity or rather ways to keep us girls out of trouble. He would take a broom handle, turn it upside down and drag the end in the gravel road to create life size floor plans. I always admired his ability to draw a perfect circle for the dining room table. It kept us entertained for hours as we wore out the space in between walls and furniture navigating our imaginary lives in the middle of the farm.On the occasion we spent any time inside, I was blessed to spend my childhood growing up in an old farmhouse. It was built out of necessity without any frills or extras and I’ve always loved the simple beauty it represented. The typical farmhouse was designed out of function and had a reputation for being straightforward and modest. Farmhouses fit the family and lifestyle of those living within their walls to such a T that any change caused the home to evolve to better serve the new life. As such the original porch had become our living room which meant we had a great place to open Christmas presents and practice our dance routines, the larger dining room housed the piano and my father’s office while the upstairs toy room became my sanctuary. Most farmhouses looked like this organic animal sprawling upwards and outwards with several roof pitches and a collection of siding materials, but to me it will always look like home.

Eventually my parents decided the house was no longer meeting our needs and couldn’t be further modified. They launched into researching new homes and as it was before the time of Internet searches, I discovered a Lindal Cedar Home book full of beautiful homes with floor length windows showcasing snow capped mountains and wide open living spaces warmed by the post and beam construction. I spent endless hours paging through the floor plans and just as many creating my own perfect idea of the home we were going to live in. That was my introduction to graph paper and a pencil with more eraser than lead which I still have laying around my house to this day. I’ve never enjoyed shopping until I found home shopping. Endless aisles of cabinet hardware, bookcases full of carpet and the fabric options. I thought it was the greatest task in the world when my mom asked for my input on the bathroom cabinet hardware. It puts a smile on my face whenever I go home and see them still attached to the cabinet doors. They may be a little outdated 15 years later, but I will never forget how I felt choosing them out of every other option.

I still enjoy the endless variety that stress others out because I can make sense of the chaos and help others do the same.While I relished the home plans, 3d view of the new kitchen and choosing finishes, I still didn’t know that was a profession. I made it through high school and joined the Army Reserves to help pay for college and because I had no clue what I was supposed to be getting an education in. After basic training and advanced training I was accepted at UW-River Falls and focused on what I was good at – art. The great part about being a little undecided was the variety of classes I was able to take within the art department. In addition to drawing, I took classes on ancient

Egyptian art and had the opportunity to actually visit the Egyptian pyramids I spent a semester studying as well as a trip to Belize and Guatemala after learning about their culture and the ancient Mayans. As I moved through school I still had confusion on m direction and took to taking personality tests to help figure out professions I would enjoy and I still didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do.

Growing up without television made a great positive influence on my life however it is thanks to TV I discovered the world of interior design. Working for a pizza delivery company while going to college meant I spent most nights working until 3am and then homework until 8am class. TV ensured I didn’t fall asleep. It also ensured I stumbled unto HGTV. I spent endless hours watching Jane Lockhart, Candice Olson and Kristen Cunningham and I found my calling. I applied not only for a new job but also a transfer to UW-Stout for their Interior Design program.

I applied to HOM Furniture in Roseville to see if I actually would like working in the design and furniture industry and was accepted to Stout shortly thereafter. I remember my first design course, Architectural Design, I finally felt I was on the right track. I loved building model stairs, identifying the different home styles and learning about all things design. I transferred to the

Eau Claire HOM Furniture as a furniture consultant and took over as the visual merchandiser the semester before I graduated. I was in charge of staging the 80,000 square foot showroom, including 2 Christmases. I enjoyed putting together room groups but the price was no longer working with customers and I decided in 2011 to open my own business. It was the best and hardest decision I have ever made.

My mission has always been to do something that I was passionate about while helping people live a better life. I’ve found my purpose in helping people have a great experience in the spaces they live, work and play in. My job isn’t to make things pretty. Beauty is a side effect of great design. When a room fulfills the function of the people using it, it becomes beautiful.

I would love to hear from you what makes your rooms beautiful and what other topics you would like information on. Thanks for reading!

-Alecia

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