Being an Interior Designer starting out on my own was tricky. And last year was rough since I had never worked for myself before. My husband has been telling me for years how hard it is to work for himself and I would stare at him as if he was speaking a foreign language. Because in reality, he WAS speaking a foreign language to me. All I could see was free time! my own schedule! not reporting back to anyone! and the list goes on.

Ha. Ha. Ha. The laugh was on me, for sure. But before I get to that, let’s talk about spring, because I’m a little bit obsessed with this week right now.

For the last week or so, I have been quietly and loudly declaring my love of this weather! I’m sure I look like Julie Andrews as she spins around on the grass in The Sound of Music…..except I’m spinning around because I can actually feel the sun on my poor pasty winter skin. (Thank you, Lord, for creating spring.)

During March in Tennessee, it usually feels one of two ways: either spring comes and surprises us like a gorgeous, vibrant rainbow or winter decides to hang around like a cowardly little weasel. (Have I ever mentioned how much I can’t handle winters?) I feel like this spring has been a nice easy transition. Right at the height of my winter discomfort and gloominess (and being over freezing), the weather threw out a couple of slightly spring-y days. Just enough to give me a little reminder of what I was hanging in there for. And then it slowwwwwly made it’s way, surprising us at every turn with the wonderful flowers and trees that take their turns each year. We’re just getting started here and I am D E L I G H T E D to say the very least. As I’m typing in my office, I can peek through the purple blooms on one of our trees out the window and see my kids playing Star Wars with sticks in the back yard. Perfect weather! And just in time. It’s been just at a year now that I started this little company for myself and I’m finally in a place this season where I can look back on my progress and how much I’ve learned. And more importantly, to see where I’m headed from here.


The Interior Maven FB page screenshot.


As I said above, I realized today that it has been a year that I hopped back into the design world and really began. After taking 9 years off from working in that field, it almost felt foreign. So many things had changed. Places had changed. Technology had come so far, thankfully, but scarily. And it has been tough. So here is my get-real-with-you post because I was in for an awakening.

In March of 2015, I began posting things here and there about our life and the pretty, aesthetic parts of it. I had big plans of getting a ton of photos ready for my big blog and website launch last May, but to be completely honest, I got so so busy working with design + staging clients that there was no time. I refused to give up time with my kids, especially while they were home for the summer, and so many things I was doing required more learning as I went. Plus, the actually juggling of children at home all day while I was trying to go on staging consultations was a job in itself.

EPS Logo

EPS Logo

I had just finished up my certification for Expert Psychological Staging with Kristie Barnett – The Decorologist when BAM! the work started rolling in before I was even really ready. But I’m always up for a challenge, so I just tried to roll with it. Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed it, but I now know better about having systems in place and things like that. Thankfully, Kristie’s program gives us a year of access to her private group and the questions that I received answers to were so valuable. (I happily paid the yearly fee to continue being a part of her group in 2016 again and am happy to call her a friend and mentor in this Nashville design world.)

Design Books & Resources

I threw myself into projects and learned along the way. And, of course, I’m still learning. Every single day! But, I’m also one of those that devours information. I’m always wanting to learn every new thing that comes along and it’s exciting for me. Sometimes I get hung up on the learning part, though, and forget about the actual doing. That is where my husband can give me a kick in the pants and remind me of my purpose. Which is NOT full-time student. For example: I had never had to write a contract before and so I consulted with my BFF Amazon and she shipped me the tools I needed to remember how to write contracts, letters of agreement and all of that stuff I learned in design school and then forgot.


The hardest part of going out on my own to do design has been the solitude. I have never worked completely on my own before and after 9 years of having children with me constantly, it was REALLY weird! Haha! And it took some getting used to. I still think my best days are when I get to leave my house/office and talk to people at the showrooms or fabric houses or even stop and see a friend (that needs to happen more often!), and I LOVE shopping for staging inventory to stow away in my storage unit for the perfect client. As easy as it would be to just go get a job working as a design assistant to someone else and not worry about all the details on my own, I would not want to give up my freedom of still being available to my children when they need me after school. AND I will admit, I watch a lot of 90210 (the original version, of course) while I write reports and source items for clients online. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do that at a corporate office. Or wear sweat pants on my office days.

After having said all of that, I decided I should share with you one very large milestone today: This week is the anniversary of my first staging job.

Staging Props

On April 1st of last year, I went to my first staging consultation. Ever. (And most people don’t know this story because it’s not something you really tell until much later on. Now I can laugh, but at the time it was the worst thing for my confidence.) Anyway, I went out and consulted with this person ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY (first clue, right?) and I told them I would get them their report done by a certain day. I had never written up a real client report before, so it took me waaaaay longer than it does now. This was also during the same time period that my friend had her baby (which I had promised to take photos of during delivery) and over Easter weekend while I was scheduled out of town for a previously planned trip. To make a very long story short….


From my first staging gig.


Probably because I told them on the day it was due that it would be later than I planned because of the hospital visit. I totally understood that, but the reason stated was because I did not offer to bring in rented furniture for their occupied property. Huh? I was confused. Most people don’t want to rent any furniture and spend more money when they are living in a place full of furniture, so I had no idea that was their expectation. There was definitely a breakdown in communication on this job and so another stager got the job. Lesson learned! Now I always ask what the expectation is and my staging is much more seamless for the client.

To make this story even more ridiculous, that client experience stressed me out so badly that I broke out with SHINGLES on Easter morning 2015. Kind of hilarious, one year later. Ha!

But my takeaway from that experience is that you canNOT let one person get you down. This kind of thing always can bring me down and I just have to pray about it, talk to my husband about it and have him talk me out of the horrible feelings it brings you. I realized that not every client is my ideal client. And THAT IS OKAY. In a year of working now, I am starting to see who my ideal clients are. They are not stuffy. They love to laugh. They enjoy life. They understand the value of the service I provide and then we work very well together. Again…learning experience.

Family Walking

To say the last year has been a doozy career-wise is an understatement, but things can move slowly, and I’m okay with that. I’m not out to become a celebrity interior designer. I am just out there to create beautiful spaces for those who hire me and help with the money for our family. And some other things happened in our lives that made it possible for the first time ever in our parenting journey for our kids to start seeing Chad every single day. Time with my family is my ultimate goal over any career goals and the blessings we have experienced since a year ago have been amazing. And I’m back, as a person. I’ve learned how to juggle my time better between work and family and I hope to be writing here more often. I hope to spend time with friends more often.

I have a fun treehouse post coming up this week and also stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY coming up the first week of April that you do NOT want to miss.

(Clue: Country Living  Seriously. You do not want to miss this!)



Amanda Carlson

aka The Interior Maven

  • March 30, 2016 - 3:53 pm

    Brooke - I love following your new business. You are inspiring.ReplyCancel

    • June 13, 2016 - 6:05 pm - Thank you so much, Brooke. And I’m sorry I’m just now seeing your comment so many months later. Something is wonky with my blog and it’s not alerting me when people message me. I miss seeing you, but love keeping up with you on FB! :)ReplyCancel

  • March 30, 2016 - 6:36 pm

    Laurey Blinn - What an insightful year! So nice to hear someone admit their journey has not been a cake walk. So now, a designer question: am planning a new build. Would love a 3 D program such as is commonly used on shows such as Fixer/Upper. Any recommendations? Thanks. Keep blogging!ReplyCancel

    • June 13, 2016 - 6:09 pm - Hey Laurey, I’m just now seeing your comment! Yikes! I see that you have already started the home building process, so how is that going? I hope it’s going smoothly. As for the 3D programs they use on the shows….those are created by an outside company and they costs about $10k to do a room or two. (I learned this from Drew & Jonathan from The Property Brothers.) It’s really just a television thing for those amazing remodel rendering videos. So I can’t help you there, unfortunately. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • March 30, 2016 - 8:06 pm

    Judy Sapp - You have had a roller coaster year but you enjoyed some of the twist and turns but also had some not so fun ones. But I’ve watched you start up your business and have seen some things you’ve done. Beautiful! Great job!!! You are a great mom and I’ve seen you continue on as a mom, wife and Interior Designer as this year has quickly passed by. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!ReplyCancel

    • June 13, 2016 - 6:11 pm - Thank you for your super sweet words on your comment from like 3 months ago. Hahaha! I’m just now seeing it! What in the world?! I’ll get the hang of this new blog eventually. Thank you for always supporting me and always having faith in my endeavors. It mean so much to me.ReplyCancel

  • March 30, 2016 - 9:08 pm

    Beth L - Congratulations on your stage-a-versary! There is just DO much to learn, but that’s half the fun… least.ReplyCancel

    • June 13, 2016 - 6:12 pm - Hi Beth, thanks so much for your kind words! I’m sorry I just now am seeing comments from March! Ha! It has been a crazy ride to learn staging and re-learn design after so many years away, but it has definitely been worth it. :)ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2016 - 2:48 am

    Kim Pearse - Amanda, I was inspired after reading this post. As a new stager and new to the area, I am learning some of the lessons you are talking about. So glad I’m not alone out there. I would love to have a call with you if you are willing. But anyway, I found this to be very helpful personally to me. Thank you and best wishes for a productive 2016.ReplyCancel

    • June 13, 2016 - 6:14 pm - Hi Kim! I feel so awful that I am just now seeing your comment and request for a call to chat. I am just now responding to about 5 comments that I never saw from March. Such a bummer. Anyway, I’m happy for you to be finding your way in this business and if you have any questions for me about being a newer home stager, please feel free to reach out via email or messaging on FB now that we are friends on there. :) Good luck to you!ReplyCancel

  • August 2, 2016 - 1:29 pm

    Glor // Always Creating Blog - OMG, you’re my inspiration! I am slacking with my interior decor biz…I want to start one but not sure where to even begin. I’m working with a friend who just bought a house so I can stage for sale and help decorate her new home. So I’m hoping to use both as stepping stones! It’s one thing to decorate MY own house but totally different when it’s someone else’s. Any advice…and how was your experience with the Expert Psychological Staging cert? Is it online, can I do it from Northern VA? Thank you! xoxo GlorReplyCancel

    • August 3, 2016 - 10:24 am - Hey girl – My experience with the Expert Psychological Staging certification was PHENOMENAL. I have my interior design degree and worked in interior design since 2001. But after taking a break from working to stay at home with my kids, I was ready to ease back into the design world slowly. So, I took this class and knew that staging would be the start to get me going again. Kristie Barnett is amazing. She is my mentor now here in Nashville. She is so encouraging, helps so much with questions, etc. I HIGHLY recommend the course. She has another one coming up in September, I believe? Email me for more information: Happy to give insight into it all. :)ReplyCancel

Behold! A feast for your eyeballs. Or a visual symphony, as some others are saying. Keep scrolling for some more eyeball feasting, but just looking at the exterior of this beautiful home! This is just a taste of what you are going to see from the interior and the gathering areas in the back.

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Exterior

Castle Homes & Wade Weissmann Architecture

I had the privilege of being invited to the first annual Nashville Symphony Show House last week for a private tour. Thanks go to Nancy McNulty and Dana Tucker of Forest Home Media for the invitation! I’m so glad I was available, because I definitely would have been sad if I missed it. I had no idea what a beauty of a home I was headed toward!


Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 Information

If you are interested in visiting and touring during the dates listed above, please click here for more information.

This perfect home is presented by Castle Homes and it was just stunning. They obviously know what they are doing over there at that office! The architecture was done by Wade Weissmann Architecture and the attention to detail was impeccable. Go check out his site for more examples of his work…WOW.

As you entered the home, there was a gorgeous staircase to your right and then it just opened up into this very well-done open living space including family room and dining room. This entire space was designer by Mark Simmons Interiors and they did such a fabulous job with keeping this space classic and fresh and NOT trendy, but with some fun details.

(Sidenote: as you are looking at these photos, please note the artwork. All of the designers of each space were very on-point with their artwork selections and placement and I was simply obsessed with it all.)

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Gathering Room by Mark Simmons Interiors

Mark Simmons Interiors – Gathering Room

The family room above was right next to this dining area shown below. (The entrance to the home is to the right of the stairs in the photo above, to give you a point of reference.)

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Gathering Room by Mark Simmons Interiors

Mark Simmons Interiors – Gathering Room

The light fixtures in this home were simply stunning. Everywhere I looked, I was saying under my breath, “Oh! Oh wow!” But at least I knew I was not the only one doing the same thing!

I had a few favorite areas in the house that I wanted to highlight. The kitchen being one of them. I am not a cook, by any means, but I can appreciate a well-appointed cooking and gathering space. This was no exception.

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Kitchen design by Castle Homes

Castle Homes

Hello, perfect gathering island / bar top / table / cooking surface. Did you see these barstools? They are calling my name. Beautiful! The textures and lines used in this space were just wonderful.

My next favorite little space was the sweet laundry room off of the kitchen. I would do laundry all day if mine looked like this. Am I right?

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - laundry room design by Castle Homes

Castle Homes

I’m dying over that table and washtub underneath. And also notice, one thing that really topped off each room was the greenery. The flowers and plants that were placed throughout this place REALLY made it feel like a home and not just a show house.

For example, this shot of greenery. And George Clooney. I laughed so hard when I saw this and thought, ‘Hey, why not? George Clooney probably makes everything look great!’ Haha! 😉

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - study by Mark Simmons Interiors

So, obviously, what am I missing so far? The bedrooms. And the master bathroom. Ahhhhh. Worth waiting for, I promise.

The Master suite was done by Julie Couch Interiors and it was beyond gorgeous. Here’s a peek, and of course I’m showing this bathroom first because it was so serene and calming. I loved the wall of windows and the rectangular tub. Those cafe curtains are the perfect touch in here!

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Master Bathroom by Julie Couch Interiors

Julie Couch Interiors

Check out the bubble light pendant hanging over the bed below! It was so amazing! My other favorite part of this room was the bench. So cozy looking and added just the right amount of texture under that pendant and the hard lines of the bed. Such a great combination.

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Master Bedroom by Julie Couch Interiors  Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Master Bedroom by Julie Couch Interiors

As you walked up the stairwell, this is what awaited you at the top, in between two his-and-hers guest suites. Again….the light fixture. Hello feathers! Looks like a juju hat on a light to me and I’m loving it! And check out that turquoise feather pillow! And the sweet layered tufting on that bench! All the details and my mind was on overdrive. Beautiful spaces done by Rozanne Jackson Interiors for The Iron Gate.

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Upstairs Guest Landing by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate

A few details shots of this space:

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Upstairs Guest Landing by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate


Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Upstairs Guest Landing by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate


Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - Upstairs Guest Landing by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate

The bedrooms flanking this space are as follows. Both equally gorgeous in their own feminine and masculine ways.

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - "His" Guest Suite by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate

Loved this detailed cabinet in this space with a record player and a collection of albums.

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - "His" Guest Suite by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate

The more feminine guest suite:

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - "Her" Guest Suite by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate

More detailed shot of the side table and artwork:

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - "Her" Guest Suite by The Iron Gate

Rozanne Jackson Interiors | The Iron Gate

More amazing artwork:

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - artwork

I think I touched on my own personal favorites and highlights of the home and will later post a slideshow of all of my shots. These were definitely the ones of the interior I was most excited about getting out to you!

As for the exterior, just look at this back patio and gathering space. Pretty much my dreams come to reality. Again, Mark Simmons Interiors & Wade Weissmann Architecture really nailed this space!

Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - by Wade Weissmann Architecture & Mark Simmons Interiors

Mark Simmons Interiors & Wade Weissmann Architecture


Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - by Wade Weissmann Architecture & Mark Simmons Interiors

Mark Simmons Interiors


Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - by Wade Weissmann Architecture & Mark Simmons Interiors

Mark Simmons Interiors & Wade Weissmann Architecture


Nashville Symphony Show House 2015 - by Wade Weissmann Architecture & Mark Simmons Interiors

Mark Simmons Interiors & Wade Weissmann Architecture

Are you crying yet? Over the beauty. I almost was.

So there you have it. An amazingly put together show house from some amazing creators both on the architecture side, design side and the builder side. Kudos to all of you!

Tomorrow I will have a post and photos about the Garden Party that happened in this back yard and all that we were involved in and able to enjoy and even the items we got to take home. It was a perfect (hottttttttt) day and the skies were glorious. Thank you to everyone!

So, tell me….what was your favorite party of the Nashville Symphony Show House for 2015?




aka The Interior Maven

  • July 8, 2015 - 2:04 pm

    Mandy Trahan Yeager - I think the master tub and laundry room are my interior favorites, looks like the designer used rugs from Currey & Co. But I LOVE the outdoor living room and the pea gravel beds lined with bricks, swoon!!!!ReplyCancel

  • September 16, 2015 - 3:49 am

    Elizabeth R. - The houses in Nashville are so dreamy!! These were beyond that. How fun of a day!ReplyCancel

    • March 29, 2016 - 9:52 pm - Oh my word! Am I just now receiving your comment? Crazy! Sorry for the delay. This house and the other show houses I have been to here in Nashville are definitely dreamy! Perfect word. :)ReplyCancel

Welcome to my new blog, friends and clients!

I am so happy to be introducing this space to you and I have so many posts that I have been wanting to share. Lots of fun photos saved around this laptop of mine that I know a lot of you have been waiting on. Those are coming with time, I promise!

Please join me on this journey and feel free to share my space with any other design lovers, remodel-a-holics and/or Nashville fans, because I’m sure a lot of it will be local projects that I get into.

I decided to begin my blog’s journey today, on 615 Day for Nashville and surrounding areas, because it seemed fitting. I’m a numbers type of girl and I needed a start date that meant something to me. Nashville has been good to us. More than good. We have been living and working here for 13 years this summer and I have never regretted a moment of being here. I’m glad we took the chance to jump into the music scene so long ago. I supported us in the design field while my husband made his way in the music world and now he is supporting me as I venture back into the design world. It has all paid off! Lots and lots of hard work.

In one year, I will celebrate this space and this career and I will embrace that. For one, because it will keep my mind off of quarterly taxes that I always owe in mid-June. Ha!

Thanks for all of your support as I’ve gotten back into the design industry and have now added home staging to my career. It has been hectic around here as I have begun this endeavor, but all-in-all, I know I made the right life choice with all of this.

Stay tuned for a new post this afternoon with some gorgeous photos. Yessssss. You will want to see it!



aka The Interior Maven