Walking into Amanda Austin's Federal Hill studio, you immediately sense this is not your typical design firm. Between the scented candles, meditative music, and Austin's warm demeanor, a client would feel at ease putting their most personal spaces in her hands.
Dubbing herself "caretaker of a business and not a business owner," her personal approach to client relationships has allowed her company to grow over the past five years. Born and raised outside of Pittsburgh and a graduate of the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, Austin revisited her childhood passion for art and design after several years as a sales VP at an HR firm. She credits the transition largely to her mentor, Bob Berman of Johnson-Berman design.
"I saw a tremendous need in Baltimore for exceptional interior design that was approachable and comfortable," says Austin. "No one wants to hear that their things aren't worthy." Her developing team now consists of four designers, each specializing in different aspects of the industry, concentrating on residential and intimate commercial spaces such as boutiques and hair salons. Austin's defining strategy is to "become an extension of who you are" through an extensive dialogue with each client. She follows up with concept books loaded with visual examples, allowing her to navigate each client's preferences using color tabs denoting likes and dislikes.
"There is a true difference between a house and a home," says Austin. "It takes a mere moment for something to change from ordinary to extraordinary."
Amanda chooses the home items that keep her inspired
Hand-painted bird pillow by Dransfield & Ross: “I was so taken with this pillow. Its complex quietness tells such a story that continues to unfold.”
Peacock print from Etsy: “I have always been fascinated with peacocks and was so humbled when the girls at my studio gave this hand-painted print to me for Christmas.”
Bookends flanking the writings of Lebanese artist and writer Kahill Gibran: “I delight yet again in the rainbow of colors found in these agate quartz bookends and savor even more my collection of Kahill Gibran’s writings.”