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design-happens_cindy-portrait200x300Cindy Aplanalp works in both commercial and residential design, is a regular design blogger and travels extensively to keep her inspirations fresh. She’s also a single mom who went back to school to study interior design. Learn about Cindy’s mid-life careeer change and her tips for aspiring designers.

1. Tell us a little about you as a designer?

I am a late bloomer in the design world. I’ve always loved design but started out with a business degree and worked in accounting. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t my calling. I had always helped friends decorate and loved designing my own home, but I didn’t think of it as being a possible job. When I realized a huge life change was coming (a divorce), I knew I needed a way to support myself and my kids. So, just entering my 40′s, I went back to school to get a degree in interior design.

If you have a passion for design, it’s never too late. Aesthetic develops and enriches over time — all of life’s experiences and exposures add to your creative genius. My global travels, raising a family and paying attention to the world around me all add to my value as an interior designer.

2. Which designers influenced you?

Jan Showers, Suzanne Kasler, and most recently, Alessandra Branca. I love the depth of their work. In design school I did a report on Jan Showers. I have a framed picture of her in my office with a post-it note that says, “WWJD” (What Would Jan Do?).

3. Show us a picture of the room you most enjoyed designing and tell us why you love it.


I love this room because it speaks to the homeowner’s sense of style. She is a modern, sophisticated woman who has a well-developed taste cultivated from living on both coasts and traveling the world. Her home and values are traditional. She often takes her daughters to their various activities or works in her extensive garden. She also longs for a sense of glamor and wants to be surrounded by beauty. I think this room tells her story well. It’s sophisticated, eclectic, comforting, timeless and beautiful.

The home owner, my assistants, Amber Reddoch and Erika Barczak, and the photographer, Brad Carr, added so much to the collaboration.

4. What’s your favorite design style?

In my design style, function precedes form. I always say “a pretty space that doesn’t perform well is like marrying a beautiful woman with no sense of humor — nice to look at, but hard to live with.”


I believe design is a living breathing thing. Good design comforts and offers joy. I begin by figuring out what my clients want by asking them how they want to feel in their space — cozy, relaxed, happy, warm? Next, I ask them how they envision living in the space. I listen for things like, “to better connect with my family or mate,” or “to have a place where everyone feels welcome.”

This is why my spaces look so different from each other. We have a phrase in our studio — “It’s Not About ME.” It’s about the client and what they really want and need.

5. What’s the essential home accessory (or piece of furniture) you use in your designs?

I don’t have a signature item, but I do have a signature approach.


First, I get the “box” right. I set the framework with smart space planning, the right wall/ceiling color and flooring. Then I begin to fill the box with furnishings and accessories that are meaningful and beautiful to the client.

Second, I select interesting and unique lighting, which is the best way to set the tone of a room. When I do these two things in unison, I find it an efficient way to design.

6. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Hands down, it’s Lake Powell on the Colorado River. Just my beautiful family, a houseboat and a billion stars at night is perfection.


Designers & Talent

64 Responses

  1. inger mcmanus says:

    WOWZERS!!! Cindy, that is a wonderful write-up! Congratulations!!
    May God continue to lead you in successful paths!! <>< Inger

    • cindy says:

      Inger! So great to hear from you!!!! Yep this is pretty cool! But not as 'cool' as CO!!!! Hope you're having a fantastic summer. Tell JoeLee hi! Cindy

  2. doug odle says:

    Cindy and her team have been a dream to work with as a vendor! I like that she starts her "box" with flooring!!!

    Miller Brothers Floors
    Perfect Design

    • cindy says:

      Ahhh thanks Doug!
      Love Miller Bros!
      Thanks for all your efforts with McCracken and Clark- and esp. Wison!!!
      Come to our Fergson's sponsored happy hr on the 17th at Baker Street- Willowbrook-
      Hope you can make it!

  3. Donna says:

    Congratulations! Have I mentioned I can't wait for my house to be built so we can began working on the interior design?!!!! I am soooo looking forward to the next step. : )

    • cindy says:

      Thanks Donna!
      And Ditto on your beautiful home!!!!!! Can't wait till it's at this point for you!
      Really enjoy working with you and I know your going to be so super happy with your home.C

  4. Christy Lane Pedigo says:

    so proud to be able to say, ' i know her'. u never cease to amaze me.

    • cindy says:

      Christy, So great to see you at the reunion!
      Thanks for all your encouraging comments- all the time on FB! I so apprecate our support!

  5. Cheryl Coatney says:

    Awesome Blog Cindy! I really appreciate the initial view of where you are in life and how you arrived there, as it offers a feeling of knowing you personally. Then the clear insight into your design philosophy gives the consumer a true picture of the direction you take with each client. Always placing the client's needs and desires first, is truly the key to success. I see so many design shows that only showcase the designer's style and very little of the client's personality shows through. Each one of your rooms are striking and so diverse, reflecting your ability to listen as well as your eye for design. You have been an asset to my real estate business over the years, offering staging and decorating advice. I admire your continual journey in design aesthetic and wish you the very best in your future.
    Cheryl Coatney
    Keller Williams Realty Professionals

    • cindy says:

      Thank you for your continual support! You're such a pro and always so good at everything- your compliments are so sincere and really touch my heart because we both got started in our careers after we did the mom thing and it's so fullfilling to follow passions.
      Here's to you too, Cheryl! You're a shinning star!!!

  6. Patti Nance says:

    Fantastic!!! We are very excited seeing your work. Please know that we are always thinking of you and
    your many opportunities to please your clients. You are a wonderful communicator and it shows in your work, but of course we have always known this. Congratulations on this write up and your awesome beginning as a designer.

    Hope to see you soon.
    Patti Nance

  7. Debi Ronca says:

    Cindy….I have always seen greatness in you, and I am so thrilled that you are walking in your God-given talent of design!! You truly hear the hearts of your clients and wind up designing something even beyond their own imagination. Breathtaking rooms that I would want to spend my time in!
    Congratulations my friend…..this is your moment and this is your time and I wish you all the best in your career of design.
    I could not be happier for you!

  8. Erika says:

    Cindy- this is so exciting! I can't thank you enough from all of my heart for giving me the opportunity to work with you! It has been a dream, amazing, insightful, challenging, ridiculously fun, and incredibly life changing! I haven't stopped smiling since my first day of work!

    • cindy says:

      Erika- Thank you for sharing your light and talents with us- you bring sooooo joy much to this crazy party!
      So glad you, Amber and I are in this together!
      We are the luckiest people alive!!!!!

  9. Mary Brenner says:

    Way to go Cindty! Love the article and your unique approach to interior design.

  10. Mark says:

    Beautifully stated, Cindy! Heart, talent, grace, and eloquence too- you are unstoppable! Just keep letting that light shine through — It illuminates everything and everyone around you, and all that it touches is better for it.

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