Bethany Adams is an NCIDQ-certified Interior Designer, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the AIA (American Institute of Architects), and a Certified Interior Designer in the State of Kentucky. Bethany holds a B.F.A. in Interior Design from Harrington College of Design and a B.A. from Georgetown University in Japanese Language and Culture.
With over a decade's worth of experience designing and project-managing high-end residential projects all over the country, Bethany is as skilled a decorator as she is an interior designer.
Most recently, Bethany won the 2017 ASID KY/Southern OH Design Excellence Award for Best Residential over 2,000 Square Feet and Best in Show for her own completely renovated home in historic Old Louisville.
Bethany: I've always had a strong desire to improve my environment--not only to make it more beautiful, but to make it more functional as well. I believe that everything can be made better with a little effort and Interior Design is a natural extension of that belief. When I walk into a space for the first time I can see not only how it is, but also how it should be.
Bethany: I went back to school to get a B.F.A. in Interior Design after apartment-hunting with my now husband in Chicago. All of the crazy floor plans we saw convinced me I could do better! After graduating I landed an internship with a new Design/ Build firm that ultimately led to my first job. It was very intense--most designers start out as the firm's librarian or design assistant, but after only a few months I was the lead designer and Project Manager on 5 or 6 projects. Trial by fire, but I learned a lot!
Bethany: Well, Paris is obviously the center of the world when it comes to art and design, and Chicago really is a touchstone for mid-westerners for style and new ideas, but what all three places have in common is a respect for history and an appreciation for beauty. I will say, that in Paris, people are more willing to mix modern and contemporary design and art with historic architecture and in Chicago and Louisville I find that people feel more boxed in by their home's architectural style, which is something I'm always trying to change.
When I walk into a space for the first time I can see not only how it is, but also how it should be.
Bethany: Unfortunately, unrealistic television shows have given the impression that designers come up with great ideas on the spot that cost little or no money, and can be completed in less than a week. Real design work is a process that takes time, research, coordination and, yes, money.
Bethany: If they are planning a remodeling project, they should ask if the designer has a degree in Interior Design (2 or 4 year), has passed the NCIDQ national licensing exam, is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (A.S.I.D.) or another professional organization, and is licensed or registered in their state. These are the minimum legal qualifications of an Interior Designer in most states. If they are planning a decorating project, qualifications are less necessary, though still a plus. In this case, they should ask to see the designer's portfolio and ask specific questions about the budgets those projects encompass. Beyond that, they should ask how the designer charges so there are no surprises and, most importantly, if their budget is realistic for the project they have in mind.
Bethany: I've had the good fortune to work with many amazing architects and designers, and I've learned something from all of them. Early in my career I worked with a licensed designer who inspired me to keep going and take the NCIDQ like she had. In the world of luxury interiors, where I worked, Interior Design firms employ architects to do much of the design work, so it's not always necessary to have the credentials as a designer. But she knew that someday I wanted to have my own firm and having that extra set of skills is obviously a huge boon.
In Chicago and Louisville I find that people feel more boxed in by their home's architectural style, which is something I'm always trying to change.
Bethany: The bulk of my experience is in luxury residential design, but I have dabbled in some commercial work. I have an exciting project coming out this fall that is a first for me: a women's clothing boutique!
Bethany: I really do wish I had spent a little time working in a designer's library--it's a great way to learn about sourcing and make connections that you'll need later on. I also wish someone had told me how cut-throat the field can be and not to take it personally. I am grateful for all of the experience I had before starting my own firm, but I will admit it is nice to call the shots now.
Bethany: It's funny because here in Louisville, the trends that were popular 4 years ago in Chicago are just making their way here. It gives me an edge! Wood countertops are something that is starting to catch on. I used them a few years ago in my home and I've had several clients request them since then.
I've always had a strong desire to improve my environment--not only to make it more beautiful, but to make it more functional as well.
Bethany: We all have personal tastes and a good Interior Designer will give you the absolute best version of your style, even if it's not their own. If you were going it alone, though, I'd say find a catalog that you feel represents your style and then study how things are arranged in the pictures. Often we get stuck in the way things are, but a fresh look doesn't always mean buying something new and expensive--rearrange your furniture, art, and accessories frequently and you'll find that the whole house feels updated.