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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. Dee Ann says:

    I love the monotone & soft colors. absolutely beautiful with a keen eye toward just the right accessories. Beautiful !!!

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks Dee Ann- appreciate your comments and support! Great to see you at the reunion- Wish we could workout together- but you might kill me! haha…
      All the Best!,

  2. ryan says:

    Great post, Cindy is an inspiration

  3. LaSchel says:

    You have impressed and inspired me since the moment I met you (I think it has been about 7 years)! You are an AMAZING women with so many GOD given talents! It is an honor to know you and a joy to watch what you are going to do next! Congrats! So happy and proud of you!

    • Cindy says:

      You are so kind and dear- always smiling and happy hearted- so glad we are friends! You make this world a more beautiful place – just by smiling!

  4. Whitney says:

    I'm so proud of you and all of your work. These photos are only a glimpse into your truly magnificent work-Your taste is impeccable! I Love you!

    • cindy says:

      Hey Whitney Girl!
      Love you so much and appreciate the way you always support me have such an open heart to my dreams.
      You are such a light in my life and I'm so excited to be your mom and all your brilliant future holds- you have such special gifts and talents- you're amazing!
      Momma Bear

  5. I'm so proud of you and you're great talent. You are a great designer , parent , and partner. I know things are going to explode for you… Keep up the good work!

    Love ya,


    • Cindy says:

      Hey Babe,
      You make so much possible for me- you're enduring support and belief in me sustains all my efforts- none of this could have happened the way its unfolding without your strength and constant cheering me on!
      I love you! C

  6. Natalie Miller says:

    Fabulous Cindy! You have been an inspiration from the moment i met you!
    Your Designs are a reflection of the Beauty within you that flows so Abundantly!
    Thank you for making the World a more Beautiful place and blessing us with your talent!

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks my dear friend- you can't know what a blessing you are to me and my family. Thank you for all your loving support over many, many years- I count you as one of my life-lines! All my love, Cindy

  7. Ellen Barczak says:

    Cindy – I don't think you know what a great impact you have had on our daughter Erika. She is so excited and proud to be working for you. Erika's dad and I encouraged her to study for a vocation (vs a career) so she could make a living doing something she loves. And we are so happy you something special in her too and offered her this opportunity. Erikca can't stop talking about the wonderful customers and venders she gets to work with and the spaces she is helping you design . Congratulations on the success of your work which shows in the wonderful examples above.

    • cindy says:

      Erika is precious!
      I knew when she interned with me a couple of years ago that I had to have her on my team.
      You can't know how she's grown and expanded her skills, abilities and her confidence in herself and her talents- Its really cool to see her take off and know she's unstoppable!
      Great job on raising such a grounded girl!
      We all lover her and she brings her own special sunshine everywhere she goes!
      All the best, Cindy

  8. Sarah Ruiz says:

    Cindy, you are such an amazing person, friend and designer. Your work is amazing. I feel so fortunate to call you my friend. I am so excited to see where all your design career will take you. May God continue to bless all your hard work.

    • Cindy says:

      Ahhhh Sarah- you're precious- love our friendship and always happy to be in the wamth of your glow! Thanks my sweet friend, C

  9. berryrock says:

    All the snaps are awesome. According to me Cindy Aplanalp is a queen in designer world. I think her choice is cool and very stylish. I'll use her all tips for decorating my house. Thanks for this lovely blog. Many thing I learn from your blog.

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  10. Bernadette says:


    Much deserved kudos for your work.

    The transformation that is taking place in my home from working with you and Amber continues and brings a smile to my face daily.

    Thanks, and all the best.


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