By Melissa Zoeller
The Leap Group
Spring is in the air at Bittners. New furniture, fabrics and accessories have arrived reflecting fresh colors for this exhilarating time of the year.
Amanda warmly greets me. We make our way to the new Urban Showroom, settling into a modern linen dining room chair around a Bittners’ custom-made table, with the wood’s rich history coming from a historic building in downtown. A very unique painting depicting a 19th century boxing scene gives the room a distinctive Louisville flair.
As our conversation begins, Amanda shares her love of design and extensive knowledge of art.
Why did you choose your career?
Design truly chose me! From an early age, I was always rearranging furniture and decorating at home.
While in college, friends would ask me to help pick room colors. Word spread, and eventually that became a part-time job! After completing my degree in Fine Arts from the University of Louisville, I was hired for a full re-design of a home. During that project, I knew I had discovered my passion.
In 1997, I was thrilled to be hired by Bittners as a residential interior designer. During those years, I learned so much! I left to pursue work as a freelance designer but my heart kept pulling me back to Bittners.
This year came the opportunity to return and I am thrilled to be back. I am amazed at the vision of Bittners’ President, Douglas Riddle and what he has accomplished in the years I had been gone. He’s truly brought the firm into the 21st century both visually and technologically.
What do you love about design?
I love the process of working with a client to create their vision of their dream home. Each project and each individual is personal and it’s a unique challenge and privilege to unlock what they envision for their space.
Meeting my clients for the first time, seeing the before and watching the process unfold is amazing. The outcome at the end of the project is always such a dramatic difference!
Because it is such a personal process, you end up with lifelong friends. I take that with great honor. Everyone works so hard, and to come home and love a room and be able to relax in the space is the most important thing we as designers can do for people.
What design trends do you see right now?
I love the concept of creating calm spaces with neutral walls. I approach a room like a blank canvas. I use foundation color on the walls and then accent with color – almost like a backdrop for rugs, fabric, furniture and art.
Neutrals are not only creams, tans and white, but can also be in blues and green, all allowing you to move them from room to room.
What is your design philosophy?
Every client and every space is different, so the most important thing we as designers can do is listen to what they want. We have the opportunity to not only give them their dream space, but also the ability to live the best way possible in that space. I want my clients to feel comfortable and warm in their home.
What inspires you in design?
First, my kids inspire me every day. I also love to watch people and life and how they interact in their spaces.
A blank canvas inspires me. A disaster of a room that I know I can fix is what drives the artist in me.
Cooking and food is very fulfilling. You can show your love by preparing for family and friends a wonderful meal.
I’m also inspired by the Bittner’s creative process and collaboration. It’s a huge aspect in how you think and how you feel. I’ve known most of these designers for years and some I’ve just met. I’m so happy to be associated with them. I also love Bittner’s incredible showrooms. It inspires me every time I walk through. Our amazing resource room has any sample you could possibly want.
I’ve spent much time and learned from our master craftsmen, who are truly inspiring. It gives us, as designers, an ability to create whatever our clients imagine. Bittner’s is really an amazing place to be.
What are your personal design strengths?
I treat every interior as the client’s interior. I try to give them a room they are asking for. It all goes back to the listening. You as a designer are not the one living in the room – the client is. It’s the marriage of the knowledge of design and real life that I bring to the table.
Who inspires you?
My mother was always an inspiration to me. She had a grace and dignity about her that I strive to have every day. Growing up, she told me that, “You can do anything.” She instilled that in me with little words of encouragement every day and I believed it!
What are some of your career highlights?
Working at Bittners has been a highlight for me. Douglas’s vision for the future and how he allows us as designers to be as creative as possible, equipping us with a support team that stands behind us, is really incredible. That’s a hard balance to find and he’s mastered it. Quiet leadership is truly an incredible gift of his.
What you are grateful for?
My kids, every day. I am so proud of them!
Happiness. The people in my life and the love that I feel. I work every day to be grateful and teach my kids to be grateful.
What type of community service are you involved in?
I’ve been involved with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the March of Dimes Signature Chef auction. I’m also working on an idea to fight against childhood obesity through food and exercise for improving the health and wellness of our children.
What is one thing that people may not know about you?
I’m writing a cookbook with recipes from all over the country.