Alexandra & Her Home
When Alexandra Calame of Inspired By…Designs graduated from high school, she thought she wanted to go to college to study political science and then go on to law school. It was during college that she realized that the required classes were her least favorite, and the general fine arts requirements were the classes she enjoyed the most. After much contemplation, she eventually realized that her dream was not to be a lawyer, but instead, she wanted to be an interior designer. It might seem like a drastic career change, but it makes sense when you learn more about Alexandra and her lifetime love of pretty things, planning spaces and combining colors and patterns.
Now, as founder and owner of her own interior design business, she applies this love into all of her work. From designing a client’s space to her own gorgeous house in Long Island, New York, she creates masterpieces in the form of home design. We had the chance to chat with Alexandra and learned so much about her life, her career and her family. We also got a peek inside her beautiful home, which she shares with her husband and two little girls. You’re sure to feel the love that lives inside this lovely home, and we can’t wait to find out what you think about the design of her toddler’s “big girl” room and her baby’s nursery. Let us know what you love most about the rooms in the comments below!
Tell us about yourself! How did you get started in interior design? Have you always had a love for beautiful things?
The road to becoming an interior designer and going back to school for interior design was definitely a windy one. When I graduated high school I was convinced I was going to go to school to graduate with a degree in political science and then head straight to law school. It wasn’t until I was in my junior year of college that I realized the only classes I loved at school were my fine arts classes I had to take as general course requirements—and the classes I disliked the most were the ones that involved my major. Unfortunately, at that point, I had already declared my major as poly sci, so in my mind there was no turning back.
When I finally graduated from college, jobs were difficult to come by, so I just took the first job I could get at a nonprofit in Washington D.C., and that is when I really started to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Law school was pretty much out of the question, so I needed to find something else. It was then I started my first blog, which was my creative outlet, and also started my first company with a friend of mine. At the time, we really had no idea what we were doing, but I think jumping in a little blind was actually good. The startup world is rough and after a few years trying to get our concept off the ground, I knew that I needed to go back to school, which was such a daunting idea. I had always loved pretty things, planning spaces and combining colors and patterns (in furniture or in fashion!), so at dinner one night with my parents, my mom finally asked, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” and without hesitation, I said, “I would be an interior designer.” From there, things kind of fell into place.
You work as a designer, along with maintaining a blog and raising a baby and a toddler. How do you juggle all of these different aspects of your life?
It really takes a village! I’m not going to try and say I do it all myself, because I don’t. I have a lot of help and support from my husband, extended family and close friends. I know I am very lucky in this respect and this support system has made it possible for me to do what I love. I have also come to the realization that sometimes things don’t get done exactly when you want them to and how you want them to, but in the end, if you take a deep breath and prioritize what needs to be done first, your to-do list always gets done.
What is your go-to first step in the process of helping and consulting with clients when it comes to their homes? Is it different for you when you’re working on a personal project in your own space?
Whether I am designing a space for a client or for myself, the first thing I always ask is “How will this space be used, and who is using it?” Designing a space that will be used by kids and pets will feel different than if it was for a single man or woman. Once I know who is using the space, I can start to think about furniture in terms of shape, material and fabrics.
What’s your favorite part about living in your town? Any secret spots we should know about?
Both my husband and I were born and bred on Long Island in New York. We love it here and couldn’t imagine raising our kids anywhere else. It is pretty rare that you can say you are 25 minutes from some of the country’s most amazing beaches and 45 minutes or less from one of the best cities in the world: New York City. The village of Garden City has the cutest little town and we are lucky we can walk right there from our house. In the summers, the town has street fairs every Friday and a great place to take the kids for a Saturday morning doughnut and coffee or ice cream after dinner.
Where do you see your design business headed in the next five years?
I really hope to build and grow the online and virtual part of my business. When I originally started Inspired By…Designs, I really thought most of my clients would be virtual clients. However, I have worked with more traditional and in-person clients, which I absolutely love, but would love to spread my reach a bit further.
You recently had a beautiful baby girl—congrats! Where did your design inspiration stem from for her room? Did you always have an idea of what your ideal nursery would look like?
I was looking on Etsy one day and found a small shop that sold the wallpaper we put in her room and I fell in love with the leaf print. From there, the rest of the nursery came together. I never really had an idea of what my dream nursery would look like, and actually the nursery for my oldest daughter, Addison, and the one I designed for Eleanor are pretty different. A lot of how I design spaces in my home, and in general, have to do with what is inspiring me at the moment. The only thing I knew I needed the nursery to be was a peaceful place that I would want to spend time in.
What pieces from the nursery do you hope to be able to use for years to come?
Her dresser is one I know I will be using even as we transition her room to a “big girl room” and maybe even one day in a guest room. I love the drawer fronts and the lacquer finish. I think it is such a pretty look and can be incorporated into so many room designs.
How long do you typically spend on your beauty routine/getting ready in the morning?
With two kids, it has to be fast! I love beauty products but rarely get the time to use them. On a typical morning, I have 15 minutes or less!
Finish the sentence: “I would gladly drop a pretty penny on…”
A new pair of shoes! I think I got the love of shoes from my mom, and really a girl can never have too many shoes…right?
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