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Rising Stars: Meet Alyssa Wallace

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alyssa Wallace. 

Hi Alyssa, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
After selling residential and commercial real estate for 5 years, interior design, and renovation management became the obvious next step in my career. I’m guess I’m the kind of person that always needs to be pivoting and growing in whatever, they’re doing, and simply selling more, more, more real estate was not going to satisfy me. I’ve always had an itch to do something more creative, something that could really make someone really feel something, or make someone’s life better. But, I’m not a classically trained designer, my art school curriculum didn’t go past the Jackson School for the Arts program in High School, and my college degree is in conflict management. Starting a career out of those credentials made me feel like a total imposter. Trusting your gut is hard in that kind of circumstance. 

The universe provided me with an opportunity to design and renovate my then-boyfriend now-husband’s house in Jackson Township when we decided to move him into my house at the beginning of the pandemic. We had something back then that I think most home renovators lack– pure, blissful ignorance. Once again, I knew some basics; I was raised by my grandfather, who among many things, was a commercial construction engineer and project manager for over 30 years in Southern California. I had watched him build and renovate our homes in Arizona and North East Ohio when we moved here, but I didn’t take his rants to heart much when he would run into an issue. I also came into my own thrifty style in college– a lot of homemade curtains and pillows, DIY bookshelves, and thrift store furniture flips. I started in real estate and could immediately envision the potential of properties that lacked pretty much everything for a buyer to want. Deep down I knew I could do it, and I was finally given the chance, even though it came with a tight budget. The hard lessons my husband and I learned during that first renovation are cornerstones to me now, but I also try not to let the fear get in the way of the vision because of them. We did everything to that property. Maybe it was my need to distract myself from the COVID fear, but I went so far as to fabricate my own shaker cabinet doors and drawer faces. We laid flooring, refinished flooring, made our own concrete countertops, became amateur electricians, plumbers’ masons and so much more. We ended up listing that house on Air BNB, and with the help of my husband’s financial credentials, we’ve seen great success. I think people, especially on social media, have noticed. 

To say I had the ‘bug’ was a gross understatement. I started unconsciously looking for buyers that wanted to buy a fixer-upper. I then found myself doing a ton of consulting and even leg work for free– just to help a vision come together. I obviously couldn’t keep that up, but I wasn’t going to stop, so in a way, I HAD to form Lyss Wallace Creative Co. I had no choice but to face my imposter syndrome head-on and just do what I knew I was good at; I believe I have an interesting perspective coming from the world of real estate agent-hood; I was spending most all working days looking at houses in the area both virtually and in person. I saw first-hand not just the subtle moving of trends — but what people were looking for, what jumped out at them, what mattered. Good design is great– but if it doesn’t actually fit someone’s lifestyle, it doesn’t totally matter. So that was the mantra I tried to take into every room I touch now. 

I was fortunate enough to be given my first big project by my great friend that was moving back home from Charlotte, NC. Because of her, I was able to sort out my pricing schedules, and services. I was given the opportunity to really find where my value was most in a full-scale project. I can sit down to my computer and dream up designed spaces that fit my clients brief all day long– but in the real world, I had to be in charge of making those dreams a reality. I found that my second most valuable role in a full-scale project is basically a time manager and gopher. Fabulous, I know. But I believe learning that, and embodying it, is what sets me apart from just an “interior designer”. 

Since that project, I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to design a new build cabin Air BNB that will be done this summer, in Sugarcreek OH. This has been an incredible thrill and challenge for me as the brief is so specific– and not just for a single client but for the general public, as well. I’ve had a few people in the area reach out regarding the thought of putting their house or buying a house for Air BNB, so I’ve also worked with my husband to create a service where the client receives at least a design consultation, as well as listing and management training for short term vacation rentals. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In regards to growing, or trying something brand new, I truly believe that if it’s a smooth road you are not doing something right. How do you learn if you’re never challenged? It would take me hours to expand on all the perils of construction, and pivots I’ve had to take. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m not just creating spaces for myself; I am truly coming from a place of service to others. My avenue for doing that is one that satisfies something deep inside of myself, and for that, I am extremely grateful. At the end of the day, my goal is to meet the brief, meaning meet this client’s needs both functionally and emotionally. I know that people’s homes need to be two things; A place they feel safe and familiar, and a place that they feel proud to show off. To meet these, I try to really establish a relationship with my client to get to know their likes, wants, and needs in a space– but also their story. You can figure out what someone likes (colors, materials, amenities) but if you take the time to figure out why then you’ll be able to make them feel something because you’ll be able to bring hints of that in where they don’t expect it. For example, my first big client expressed how much she loved the eclectic and artistic vibe of Charleston, SC, where she lived out her 20s. I could tell she was moving home to settle down into a more stable part of her life but didn’t want to lose that bit of wild. So, while I kept most of her house bright, clean, and neutral, with smaller funky accents– I convinced her to do a rich green hue (Cape Verde, SW) with some wainscoting in her dining room which we then adorned with bright concert posters, yellow-hued geometric rug and light fixture, and earthy leather and wood. Next to the dining room is a small powder room that guests use when she’s entertaining, so I wanted it to feel like an extension of the entertaining space. So again, I convinced her to do a big black and white peacock print wallpaper on the walls, with wainscoting again but in black. I wanted the spaces to remind her of a legendary fun restaurant in Charleston, and they ended up (possibly?) being her favorite rooms. Not because she loved the color green, or peacocks, but because of how it made her feel. 

So, I’m not going to say I specialize in any one thing or style, and maybe that will come in time, I don’t know. But for now, I would like to believe I specialize in meeting my client brief and making them feel something. 

What are your plans for the future?
Right now, I am knee-deep in this Amish Country Vacation Cabin design. I’ve been working with my client to create something that feels like an escape to people renting it. I want guests to feel like they are maybe somewhere in Tahoe or the like. I think short-term vacation rentals, even when they’re not far from home, have been providing a much-needed reset and clearing opportunity for people through this pandemic. I want to continue to contribute to that. I’ve had a few more inquiries about Air BNB and short-term rentals so I really don’t see that trend ending any time soon. I think families will want to continue traveling and spending time together in spaces that make them feel safe and also excited. I’ve noticed at my own short-term rental that a lot of my clientele is clients traveling back to their hometown to see family, so I hope that continues. 

I would like to continue taking on larger projects but also am so excited to be invited back into someone’s home to do smaller room-by-room renovations. To feel someone trust me like that is incredible. I would also really like to dip my toe in some commercial design soon. With short-term vacation rentals, I’ve kind of got one leg on each side of the fence, but my first career was in restaurants and bars. I think I could design some pretty epic spaces for people to eat, drink and relax as we come out of this pandemic and get to know each other again. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jackie Oliver
Sage + Sol Photography

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