Good morning, chic readers! Great taste and great interview answers? We can’t think of a better combination. Colleen Waguespack really wowed us with her heartfelt answers to our questions. We loved getting to know her better–and especially loved learning about the incredible Emerge Center that she led the Capital Campaign for. You’ll adore her as much as her gorgeous work! (Don’t miss the fab boat at the end. It will take you away no matter where you are today!)
1. How did you get started as a designer?
I grew up in New Orleans where the arts and cultural scenes are so strong and I was always fascinated by the creative expression that was all around me —- literally, everywhere! I went on to major in Interior Design in college and found that curriculum allowed me to incorporate my love of fine arts, graphic design, and architecture into one discipline. During college I took summer internships in Dallas and then in London and started out as a project designer in corporate architecture firms in Washington, DC once I graduated.
2.Where do you get your inspiration?
I probably look to fine arts more than any other area to get inspiration for my projects, though I am certainly looking all around me everywhere I go. A successful painting has to have the right balance, be expressive, and tell an entire story. I find a point in every vacation to sneak off to the nearest museum to study its collection. I love modern art just as much as the masters and in the Interior Design field, I’m equally comfortable and happy to work with antiques and with modern pieces.
3.Do you have a favorite project to date?
I do have a favorite project —- it’s one that’s close to home here in Baton Rouge, LA and it’s the client that I have worked with the longest since starting my residential Design career. In so many ways we have grown up together as we met the first day our sons started 1st grade together and now they’ll be seniors in high school next year. Our tastes have evolved together —- we’ve travelled, dieted, shopped, and raised our kids all the while working towards her dream home which we are finally finishing this year. At this point we laugh that we have “the same brain”. On our last trip to New York I insisted that she travel light and we showed up with matching pajamas and basically matching outfits for the duration of the trip.
4.What is the biggest challenge you face as a designer?
Time management. Running a successful business and managing a family – my husband and I have three boys – can be incredibly rewarding but it is definitely a challenge. In addition to my design firm Colleen Waguespack Interiors, I founded our home accessories business Fig & Dove. So let’s just say that my schedule is a busy one and I sometimes have to struggle to keep myself from being pulled in too many directions at once!
5. What do you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?
In 2012, with no previous experience in fund raising, I led the successful capitol campaign to build the Emerge Center: an early intervention center for children with speech and communication delays and autism, here in Baton Rouge. After living through the first five years of my middle son, Christopher’s diagnosis with autism, and running our extended family ragged getting him to different locations within the city as well as other states to get the therapeutic services he needed, I realized the best possible success for a child AND their family was to provide “all services under one roof”. Using this simple concept and setting up one-on-one meetings with donors to explain our mission, we were able to raise the funds needed and open the doors of the Emerge Center in under two years. Today the Center is thriving: it is a beautiful piece of architecture (so my previous design experience was put to good use), receives grants for research, has added a charter school , and most importantly is a warm and nurturing environment for families to get their children the critical care needed from experts in the field. I will always look back fondly on these years and hope all three of my boys never forget what we were able to accomplish. I always say, I have one son on the spectrum, but raised three boys on the playground of the Emerge Center.
6. Are there any designers that particularly inspire you?
I am always inspired and grateful to those designers who are successfully running a design studio as well as a retail shop that allow them to work from their carefully curated assortments. They take the time to travel globally and search for the one of a kind furnishings and accessories that add character and depth to our projects. Of those, my current favorites are Rose Uniacke (London), Margaret Naeve (Houston), and Amy Meier (Rancho Santa Fe). My historical favorite has been Vincent Wolf whose furnishings, accessories, and coffee table books have always found a way into my projects.
7. Go-to paint color?
Benjamin Moore/ Wind’s Breath/ OC-24. It has a chalky look and just the right amount of warmth to create a “white room” that is clearly not white. Everything looks good with it- antique furniture and modern- it’s the perfect backdrop.
Ebooks or hardbacks?
Hardbacks! I would never risk my electronics in the tub and I’m a tub and bedtime reader. I spend way too much time on my phone and like to think it’s put away before I get into bed.
M&Ms or Skittles?
M&M’s- with the peanuts! I steal all the little bags out of my kids’ Halloween candy.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee- and Cool Brew! New Orleans has always served true cold brew and I even still have an original “toddy” complete with the instructions showing a 1960’s housewife making it. I use coffee with chicory to make it extra thick, but the Cool Brew brand is authentic New Orleans.
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Looking for the perfect weekend read? I would love it if you would pick up Feels Like Falling!