Behind the Design: Ivy Designer Amanda Barnes of Amanda Barnes Interiors
Ivy Designer Spotlight: Amanda Barnes of Amanda Barnes Interiors – San Francisco, CA
Amanda – how did you get where you are today?
My path to design was a little unconventional. I graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Biopsychology. After that, I spent the next thirteen years in biotech primarily focused on Neurosciences. I could never get enough of design I read about in books, magazines and anywhere I could get my fix. I spent many years helping friends and family on the side with their projects and handled several construction projects from start to finish while I was working full-time in corporate America. After getting married and starting a family, I finally found the courage to follow my heart into design and founded Amanda Barnes Interiors.
Amanda Barnes Interiors strives for function and client satisfaction with timeless designs. How do you tailor each space to a client’s needs?
With my clients, I strive to cultivate elegant living for everyday life. I take a practical approach to selecting fabrics, layering textures and picking pieces that will transition with the family as they grow. Some families are really focused on incorporating sustainable materials into their home. For these clients, we focus on using pieces with low to no VOC finishes, organic wools and FSC certified woods. Other clients put attention on pieces that will survive the most talented of sofa jumpers and fort builders. In this situation, we focus more on incorporating things like solution-dyed acrylics, a lot of round pieces without sharp corners and washable fabrics that survive budding artists. Whatever is the most important priority for my client, we work from there to build the concept and layer in pieces that blend together now and will function well for years to come. I also love to include very personal pieces such as souvenirs from traveling, old family photos and other heirlooms as part of the design process to ensure the clients feel like the final look we are working toward is curated just for their home and their family.
Who are your favorite local vendors and people of the trade in the San Francisco/Bay Area?
I am currently coveting St. Frank on Sacramento Street and have always loved walking through Anthem a few blocks down. The ladies at Hardesty Dwyer are my favorite for all things upholstery, The Bath and Beyond Showroom is my go-to for projects under construction and Big Daddy’s Antiques is one of my favorite stops in the city. I could not get by without the beautiful selection of planters and succulents at Flora Grubb and I would be happy to move into McGuire at any time – I am obsessed with every piece in their showroom. The city is full of little gems!
Which colors, materials and textures are you particularly into right now?
No surprise here – a whole lot of neutrals! Right now, I am using a lot of blues, mushroom, beige, grays, creams, a bit of blush and whites. My favorites!
How does designing make you feel?
Grateful, inspired and very happy.
What’s your business mantra?
No regrets! I spend a lot of time outside my comfort zone.
How do you maintain a healthy work/family/life balance?
I have a two-year old and a four-year old. This is without a question the hardest topic for me. My first referral came to me when I had a six-week old and a two-year old and I was not expecting it. This referral was the launch of my business during a crazy time of adjustment for our family. I knew there was never a good time to start a business so I commenced slowly and never looked back. I continually fight the “mom guilt” but I also focus on my blessings every day. I often work very late after my kids go to bed to make up for any time I spend with them during the day. I have found that for now, staying small as a business allows me to only choose projects that keep my fire going, my design fix satisfied and still leaves me time to focus on my family. It is really hard for me to say no to projects but for my sanity and for my family this is the best solution right now. Work + life + family balance is something I work on every day but rarely feel successful at.
Your portfolio is stunning – who’s your go-to photographer?
Thank you! My one and only is Alyssa Rosenheck. She is an incredibly talented photographer and has also become a dear friend.
You have a thriving Instagram following – what’s your secret? How much time do you dedicate to social media marketing efforts per day?
Instagram is one of the many things I have had to be realistic about with my business. I know I do not have time for a blog, I cannot say yes to every project that comes my way and you probably will not see me doing Instagram Stories anytime soon (even though I love them). I decided when I started my business that I would try and commit to one photo a day up to five days a week. I do not always meet my one photo a day goal, and sometimes I post a few in a row, but they are always of my work, my daily inspiration or projects in progress. I try to keep my Instagram feed as a reflection of the moments that inspire me and keep my business thriving. Hashtags have been helpful and making sure to tag vendors allows me to connect with them directly. I wish I could give more time to Instagram but, in reality, I spend less than twenty minutes online. I also post on Facebook but not as frequently.
You’ve been featured in Architectural Digest, My Domaine and Style Me Pretty to name a few. What’s your trick to getting published?
My photographer, Alyssa Rosenheck, is a strong advocate of our collaborations and I leave it in her creative hands to handle the placement of projects.
Why did you join Ivy?
The real question is, why didn’t I join Ivy earlier? Ivy has streamlined so much for my business. I have a place to attach all of my documents for reference later, I have a website my bookkeeper can communicate with me through, and the Ivy Product Clipper is amazing!
What have you learned from the Ivy Designer Network?
This group is INCREDIBLE! I have learned some new trade resources I would never have otherwise found. I have learned that there are many ways to get the job done and there is an amazing community of small business owners who have so much to offer to each other. I have never had any formal training so I am grateful to be included in this network to collaborate.
How does Ivy help streamline your day-to-day workflow as an interior designer?
I collect a retainer up front. After presenting to a client, I can write-up a proposal and have it transformed into an invoice and then a purchase order in minutes. Hello, time management!
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
While I would bet I am not using Ivy to its full potential (or even close), I could not live without the Ivy Product Clipper!
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