• Mon. Mar 1st, 2021

Spotlight on In Home Design Center: Essex’s Interior Design Hub

Anna Hardy was set on the path toward interior design when she was just a toddler. When she was 18 months old, Hardy’s parents bought a decaying manor house in England and immersed themselves in restoring and renovating the property. Her father was a professional craftsman who refinished furniture and her mother owned an antiques dealership.

From her earliest memories, Hardy has been surrounded by the chaos, the history, the process, and the beauty of transforming a space through hard work and thoughtful design. Today, these early influences manifest themselves in In Home Design Center, an interior design business that lets Hardy help her clients express their own tastes and passions in the shape and style of their homes. 

“It’s so exciting to see the clients excited about their home,” she says. 

In late 2020, the business moved from its previous location in Amesbury to set up shop in Essex, where the abundance of antiques shops and natural beauty serve as regular design inspiration. 

The Victorian-era home, perched atop a hill on a one-acre lot, is currently divided into an office, a design studio, and a small showroom. Hardy, however, has plans for the future. By spring 2021, she expects to have completed a two-story barn attached to the house, which will become a showroom where she can highlight a wide range of furniture, rugs, antique pieces, and home accessories. Large sliding doors opening onto the yard beyond will keep the space bright and airy.

She will use the yard to host community events, classes, and festivals. 

“I just felt like this would be a good spot to be in,” says Hardy, who was so taken with the property that she put in an offer within five days of first laying eyes on the place. 

The philosophy of In Home Design Center is focused on personalizing each design to the tastes and lives of the people who will live in it. The In Home team stays open to the desires of clients and never tries to impose their own style on another family’s space, they explain. The process begins with conversations with the client, exploring not just their aesthetic preferences, but the way they live in a space: What items mean a lot to them? What are their favorite ways to spend time in a space?

“We’re really asking questions that open up what they want,” says client services specialist Catherine Fenn-Smith. “It’s really unlocking their passions, then working with that.”

Even as they customize each design, the In Home team has a consistent philosophy about the best way to plan a home that will remain a compelling space for years to come. They believe in creating a cohesive look in and between rooms—not matching, but complementary and continuous. And when it comes to furnishing and decorating, they want clients to take the time to choose pieces that have a story or a meaning behind them.

They encourage homeowners to stay away from matching bedroom sets and shopping sprees at big box shops. 

“It’s very important to have pieces that have character, that aren’t cookie cutter,” says Fenn-Smith, who keeps her father’s beautiful old wooden pipes on display in her own home. 

At the same time, the function of a space is paramount. “We’re not making it so precious they don’t want to use it,” Hardy says. 

Hardy is also sometimes willing to get playful or unconventional with her design suggestions. Pointing to a vintage carved-wood secretary in the corner of her showroom she imagines what it would look like painted a bold raspberry pink with a blue interior. 

The business also excels at the practical sides of the design and renovation process, Hardy says. It is important to her that new projects are given a full plan and budget right from the start, even if the work is going to be spread out over years. She wants clients to know what they are getting, when they are getting it, and how much it will cost. 

And, with experience in all aspects of renovation, from reworking the basic structure of a home to finding the perfect finishing touch, the In Home team knows how to troubleshoot when unexpected problems arise. Hardy recalls one project in an 18th-century home in which contractors discovered a previous builder had removed the central support beam from the house. Hardy and her team had to scramble to rework the plans and shore up the structure. 

“I think that’s what we’re really good at: finding solutions,” she says.  

Meanwhile, trends may come and go, but Hardy says the key to designing a lasting look for your space is to listen to yourself and not the fads. 

“Everything is in right now,” says Hardy. “If you have that attitude you can mix it up.”

For more information, visit inhomedesigncenter.com.