Today I’ve got another edition of my Behind The Blog series. This time around I talking with my friend and fellow-designer, Erika Ward of Erika Ward Interiors and BluLabelBungalow blog.
I’ve been a big fan of Erika and her design work for years and have been honored to contribute articles to her successful blog, on several occasions.
Erika’s career as a designer started after years of working for a design-build firm and she eventually made the leap and started building her independent design business, Erika Ward Interiors.
In addition to her blossoming design career which includes features in national publications and brand partnerships, Erika is a wife and mother to 5 adorable kids. I’m continually in awe of how she does it all.
I posed few questions to Erika to learn more about her design philosophy, where here inspiration comes from and how she does it all.
How did you get into the interior design profession and when did you start Erika Ward Interiors?
I began my career as an accountant managing multi-million dollar construction budgets for an internationally known design-build firm. In 2006, while still working in a corporate setting, I bravely started Erika Ward Interiors to satisfy my creative side and brought my business acumen and professionalism to the residential market. After three years of performing this balancing act I decided to fully commit to building Erika Ward Interiors and never looked back.
What do you love most about being an interior designer?
I love the newness of each project and working closely with individuals. Getting to know them and their family intimately helps me feel like we have a more authentic relationship.
We’d love to learn more about your design philosophy so tell us what design elements you think every home needs?
Every home needs a combination of something old and something new otherwise each room feels like a furniture showroom. That’s not exactly the look I want to bring. While I certainly want the room to feel polished, it also has to feel livable and approachable.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in client’s stories (career, travel, family history etc) and how they live in their home. I’m also fascinated with learning about different cultures. It’s important to me that we open our minds and even “try on” a few of their customs. I bring more depth and richness into our own lives.
How would you describe your personal design style?
The foundation of my personal style is very traditional. I love classic silhouettes paired with bright color or pattern on upholstery. Mix this with clean lines and a few organic elements like teak, woven textures, or weathered wood and I’m sold.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
My late grandparents were incredibly business savvy. I admire them both for establishing themselves during a time where it was much more difficult for African-Americans. They always stressed the economic importance of time and money, I’ve written about this on my own blog, and they always encouraged me to work as I’m working for Christ himself and not men.
In addition to Erika Ward Interiors, you also have a popular design blog, BluLabelBungalow. Tell us how you came up with that name and what readers can expect from your blog post.
I came up with the name after purchasing our first house, a Cape Cod style bungalow in 2005. In the beginning I wrote about the intersection of fashion and interior design and was obsessed with Ralph Lauren’s Blue Label collection. I pretty much dropped the e, combined the two words and added bungalow.
The blog has evolved since then to show before and after makeovers from my client projects, trend reports, decorating advice, travel features, and most recently started a series called “Devotions for the Decorator.”
You’re a mom of 5, a wife and a business owner—can you share 3 pieces of advice for other working moms out there?
Create a village of people who love your family and support your journey. We have caregivers who love our children so much which gives my husband and I a piece of mind. We can work without the worry.
Make time for self-care. I’ve recently lost 55lbs in an effort to preserve my health and no longer take it for granted. The physical transformation also came with great, unexpected mental and emotional benefits too. I’m not only healthier but I’m certain it has made me an even better wife and mother.
Pray everyday, several times a day. This helps you stay connected to your purpose, stay grateful, remain humble, and provides you with the strength you need to handle life’s toughest issues.
If you could lunch with any famous woman, who would it be and what burning question would you want to ask them?
I’d love to have lunch with Ivanka Trump. I admire the balance she strikes between career and motherhood as well as her presence as a wife. On a superficial level, she’s always very poised, polished, and modestly dressed.
What 5 thing you can’t you live without?
My faith in Jesus Christ
My five children
Travel / Exploration
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
Sitting in a quiet room with a hot cup of something.
I always like to throw a quirky question into the mix so tell us about your favorite things…
Favorite Book: Currently reading (again) the Five Love Languages
Favorite Movie: Steel Magnolias
Favorite Food: Mexican Cuisine
Favorite Store: Amazon Prime
Favorite Color: Blue
Thank you Erika for sharing a little bit about your life and style with all of us!
View more of Erika’s design work here , follow her blog here and join her on Instagram here.
And join Erika and I at the Atlanta Tastemaker Summit next month for a day of design inspiration and learning.