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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Designers & Shops

61 Responses

  1. Judy Mills says:

    Cindy, I love looking at your website and congratulations on this article/pictures that highlight some of your skills and eye for putting things together so well. I have a bathroom that needs to be redone. I will give you a call. Wish you the best!

    Judy Mills

  2. Susan Deal Todd says:

    Cindy, I love your work. The designs I've seen are beautiful. Keep up the good work. I hopet to see you more on HGTV I love that channel. It was great seeing you at the reunion.

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks Susan! Great to see you at the reunion too- you looked really happy- I always remember your smiling face! C

  3. Paul and Irene says:

    Hi, Cindy. You are so creative and always have a clear mind. You are one of our favour designer. It's been a real pleasure working with you. Thank you again and look forward to get the next project done. :)

    Paul and Irene
    McCollum's Upholstery

    • Cindy says:

      Thanks Paul and Irene- You guys are my fav's too- you always do it PERFECTLY and my client's are always so pleased- it's a pleasure knowing you and working with you! You make me look good! C

  4. Cindy says:

    Thank you Bernadette!
    You are a wonderful person and a pleasure to work with- can't wait to photograph you home soon! It's looking sooooo beautiful! C

  5. cindy says:

    Hey Berry Rock- Thank you for the comments! It made me laugh and I really appreciate your enthusiam for design! Happy designing! C

  6. Carly Frels says:

    Cindy! This is awesome!! As always your work is amazing! Lately I have been frustrated with the job search, but you and your work inspire me to keep looking and stay passionate about design.

  7. cindy says:

    Debi,
    You are just the best friend to me- always in my corner- always praying and hopful – seeing the best in all. What a gift you are to me!
    Love you! Cindy

  8. cindy says:

    Carly,
    Don't give up on your dreams! Stay with it- it will happen!
    Did you call Peggy????????
    You're FAR too talented to let go- keep feeding the passion.
    Cindy

  9. Howard Manwarren says:

    Wow, fabulous work Cindy. I love your designs. I would die for a room with 20+ foot tall bookcases. Keep up the great work.

    • cindy says:

      Haha…well we almost did die putting stuff on those bookcases!!!! It's scary and the ladder isn't that great- the things we do for design!
      Thanks Howard! C

  10. cindy says:

    Mrs. Nance-
    Thank you sooooo much!
    You have no idea the blessing you've been to my family- esp. Dakota!
    You know the whole story- I so appreciate your prayers and cheerful inspiration- just when I needed it the most!
    Respectfully and with all my heart,
    Cindy

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