To commemorate 40 years of Accents of the South thriving in the Huntsville area, we have conducted an interview with founder and CEO, Beverly Farrington Alm.
Beverly was the first in her field to couple interiors with architecture in the Huntsville area. Under Beverly’s artistic direction and leadership, critics consistently recognize Accents of the South as being one of the South’s leading interior design firms.
We can’t wait to share a bit of how Beverly embarked on this journey 40 years ago.
Q: How did you start Accents of the South 40 years ago?
A: Wow, it’s been such a long time – I can barely believe it’s been 40 years! I started not too long after graduating from Auburn University in Interior Design.
There wasn’t really anyone practicing architecture and interiors, which is what I wanted to do – to mix architecture and interiors and bring the two together in a home. Most people thought of an interior designer as being the same as an interior decorator – someone who could pick out fabrics and furniture, but I wanted to take it a step further.
Since there was no one in Huntsville doing this at the time, the only way I could bring this into fruition was to start a business on my own. At that point I was 24 years old; I was young and wouldn’t recommend someone doing it, but I thought it was the only way to go about it.
My father went with me, and I took out a little loan, and got a small office space. I started working, and worked hard. I gradually added a partner, and then an employee, and now we have six employees.
Q: What has been the greatest challenge of starting a design firm like this?
A: I still feel like this is true today – that not a lot of people understand what all an interior designer can do. We do everything from space planning to electrical and lighting. We draw all of our own cabinets and all of our own details. If someone wants to do a small renovation – we’re able to do that.
I like to look at an interior space and see if it’s architecturally stimulating- then the furnishings play a secondary role in the space. To me, the interior architecture space is paramount to the feeling of a space.
Q: Did you have any mentors or role models?
A: No, that was the part that was hard. I did read a lot. And by reading a lot, I learned a lot. I read a lot of periodicals of interior architecture and different interiors architects and what they were doing at the time.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own design firm?
A: To be able change the way people feel about their homes, and really help change their lifestyle by creating a space that works for them. That is really rewarding with my clients – to see them grow into and with their space with whom they are.
The other rewarding thing would be to see the people who work for me grow and expand. Because I didn’t have a mentor, I feel it’s important for me to mentor.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I become inspired by good and sound architecture, and past work. I remember the first time of going to Rome and seeing the Forum, and different architecture, and realizing that was the birthplace of architecture as we know it today. Even state buildings in Washington, DC inspire me, and Paris is always exciting. Travelling and seeing the architecture within those places, and then taking that home to reinterpret it into something that is Southern, and warm, and to simplify it while keeping its original intent.
Q: What advise would you give to a young designer?
A: To stay true to yourself, because we all have a different style, and aesthetics can be subjective. Additionally, I would say to work hard, to be consistent, and to continue to educate yourself so that you become inspired.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in the years to come at Accents of the South?
A: Well, we just opened a new shop, and I’m excited about that! It’s had rave reviews and people are really embracing it -so that’s been a lot of fun. I don’t want to grow any more in size, but I do see setting a mark on the community – to educate the community and those who we work with to appreciate what good interior design and architecture affords them and how it impacts their lifestyle in a positive way.
Q: What is an interesting fact about you?
A: I love to water ski, and I first learned to water ski at Callaway Gardens.
Q: What do you enjoy doing for fun?
A: I enjoy other creative things like cooking, doing flowers, and getting my head wrapped around a really good book.
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