Free From Perfect: Interior Designer Annie Stickney on Finding the Next Best Thing
Interior designer Annie Stickney describes her aesthetic as “clean and natural with a sense of humor.” After 35 years as a nurse and several years working for Linda Banks at Banks Design and Simply Home, Stickney brings talent, truth, and focus to her eponymous design business. She tells MH+D Inside Out why she explains to her clients that a personalized space can never be flawless all the time, and why imperfection can be liberating.
Q. What do you see as your greatest talent as a designer?
A. It’s kind of a cliché, but listening. And watching as well. After years of training as a nurse, I can pretty much get anything out of anybody by just watching and unpeeling their stories. I just follow the rhythm of my clients as they tell me what they want.
Q. What do you think your clients are looking for when they hire you?
A. What my clients are often trying to achieve is a feeling. If my clients tell me, “I want a blue and white room” and show me a picture, I’m going to create the feeling that they’re looking for. I might not create a blue room, but it will be something with blue in it that helps support what they’re yearning for.
Q. What’s your process like?
A. Right at the very beginning, I tell my clients that there’s no such thing as perfect. Often, a “perfect” home is stripped of personality. So, it’s a relief that there’s no such thing as perfect. That’s actually good news. We’re all off the hook. Instead of perfect, we’re looking for the next best thing.
Q. What would that be?
A. People need to feel comfortable. In a designed space, they should still experience that feeling, but they’re also going to be putting their feet up on an ottoman. They’re going to do whatever makes them feel comfortable, and they’re going to use the space. The design needs to support them and their life.
Q. Has your career in nursing affected your career as a designer?
A. If you do nursing long enough, it turns into art. I model my meetings with clients very closely to that doctor’s visit, believe it or not. As designers, we’re nurses in the home. It’s really important that people can find solace and comfort in their homes. We live in a crazy world, and you need to feel replenished before you go back out there.