Get to know some of our most admired design friends and gain insight into their inspirations and in the latest series from Ayr Barns: At Home.
Anissa Zajac is the founder and lead designer of House Seven, the Indianapolis-based design firm. With a unique sensibility for blending the modern with the antique, Anissa creates beautifully layered and well lived-in spaces. We caught up with Anissa as she shared insight into her creative process and offered a few practical design tips. Read on below...
When reflecting on the beginning stages of your interior design journey, when did you know this was a career you wanted to pursue?
I think once I realized that this was a “real” career that I could pursue, I was always interested in being in interior design. I grew up in a small town in upstate NY and no one had an interior designer. It wasn’t even on my radar.
Throughout your designs you use prints in a few different ways, what's your general rule of thumb for mixing prints?
I love to mix florals into all my designs because I’m innately a lover of flowers and nature in general. I think mixing in stripes or ticking is always a perfect match to any floral print and one rule to follow is to always marry your color selections from one piece to another. This will create the cohesiveness you are looking for.
During a lull, where do you look for creative inspiration?
Oh I have lots of lulls with our long midwest winters so I travel as much as I can. Even if it's just a quick 2 day trip to Chicago or NYC. A good boutique hotel or restaurant in the city always cures this for me.
As you curate designs for your clients, what would you say is most important in making a house feel more like a home?
Good design is only as good as it is functional in my opinion so you must listen to your clients and ask lots of questions in the initial stages of the design. How will they live in the home, who will live there, where do they work (at home or away), how long do they plan to stay in the home? All of these answers help me assess their own personal needs and wants and doing so helps me create a space that is curated to this specific client.
Sourcing decorative items can be tricky, have you established a system that makes the process easier? If so, what are your favorite spots to source from?
It's so tricky! First, I go through all of my clients own personal items looking for anything that is special to them and then incorporating it into the design. We never have enough so that's when I look to what I can provide for the client and usually those items I have accumulated over time. I am constantly sourcing items from all over in hopes of using it in just the right spot in a client's home. These items are usually found at antique shops and vintage finds online. I also visit highpoint twice a year and Roundtop to find one of a kind items. And never underestimate the half-priced book store for unique books for styling bookshelves and tabletops.
In four words, how would you describe your design style?
When a client has a smaller budget, how do you make sure you meet all their wants and needs while sourcing quality pieces?
We always start out with the clients wishlist and then we prioritize their needs. We approach the design with a high/low plan. Investing in quality upholstered pieces is a must in my opinion and we save by sourcing tables, lighting and decor from more budget friendly shops. The one item I won’t skimp on is dressers. Anything that has mechanics and is used on a daily basis needs to be of a higher quality, otherwise you just end up replacing it and spending more in the end.
Have you discovered any new inspiration recently that you are excited to start implementing into your upcoming designs?
I love cabinets and furniture pieces with cutout patterns. I love how it adds a little architectural detail to a space and I have used this design in my home and several client homes recently.
Designing spaces that are functional but also beautiful takes a lot of thought. What would you say are your do’s and don’ts when designing a well trafficked space?
Do use pieces that can manage the wear and tear of a high traffic area. Easily washable or stain resistant. I love a vintage turkish rug in an entry or kitchen because it's so forgiving. Don’t use items that aren’t conducive to the space. Choose a wood coffee table in a family room that will have feet and drinks resting on it as opposed to a glass one. It’s just common sense!
Within your own home, what are some treasured pieces that you can’t imagine parting with?
Oh where to begin. I have so many but I would have to say it's our framed family photos. I really wanted this new home of ours to feel as much like home as possible for my girls since we have moved a lot over the years. Nothing feels like home to me as much as pictures of the people you love hanging on your walls. I also have some of my grandmother's dishes that we use all the time that are super special to me because it reminds me of my childhood.
What does the art of slow living mean to you?
It means using the beautiful things you have and sharing your home with the people you love. We are a busy family right now with 2 girls in highschool and one in grammar school but we find ourselves entertaining a lot on the weekends. Dining alfresco in the backyard and hanging out on the patio late into the night with candles burning and the sound of the woods in our backyard. I think if you can find those moments in the chaos it creates those beautiful core memories. That is what working so hard the rest of the time is for in my opinion.
Discover more of Anissa's work on the House Seven Design website and on Instagram @housesevendesign
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