Andrew Howard’s interior design work is full of high ceilings, statement artwork and perfectly painted walls. A common theme throughout seems to be his mixing of textures and patterns in unique and inspiring ways. Andrew got his start thirteen years ago in his parents’ store so a love of good design is in his blood. In 2013, he was named one of the Top Young Designers in America by Traditional Home and House Beautiful. One glimpse at his portfolio and hearing just a few of his answers to our questions — you’ll see why he’s a designer we love.
Scout & Nimble: We love hearing how people started in this business and saw that yours started with an interview for your parent’s design store! Were both of your parent’s designers? Was that interview tougher than others you had experienced?
Andrew Howard: I have two sets of parents and one set are both designers. The interview was mainly my dad explaining to me that I was not particularly qualified (I had a business degree from the University of Florida) and would have to start out on the ground floor. I wouldn’t say it was more difficult, but it was certainly not what I expected. With that said, I had an enormous opportunity to learn from two of America’s best designers (Jim and Phoebe Howard) and that was something I could not pass on. I would’t say there was a specific turning point, just that this is the only thing I know how to do and really the only job I think I could be passionate about.
S&N: What inspires you and where do you seek inspiration?
AH: My kids inspire me to be the best I can possibly be and be someone that they can look up to. Nothing would thrill me more than to work with one or both of my sons one day.
S&N: What would you consider to be your greatest success within your design business or a “pinch me” moment?
AH: My greatest success is getting to a point where I have been able to surround myself with some truly special and talented designers that work with me. I have a “pinch me” moment every time we install a great house!
S&N: There is so much innovation out there as far as design elements and materials. What gets you excited today?
AH: Nothing gets me more excited than getting the chance to work with wonderful people with a clear vision that are also open minded and trusting.
S&N: You and your wife have two boys. How have they changed your aesthetic or design for your own home? What design advice would you give to parents or parents to be?
AH: Don’t get upset when your kids make a mess, spill something on upholstery, or accidentally break something. It’s pretty much what you signed up for when you decided to have them. I think I will be sad when my kids are too old to leave me a mess full of all their Lego creations, football toys, and building blocks to clean up on a nightly basis.
S&N: You live in Jacksonville, Florida. How has that influenced your design aesthetic and any go to places or secret gems we should know about?
AH: Jacksonville is a transient city. I work with a lot of people coming from lots of different places around the United States. We have a warm climate just about all year long and outdoor living is a big part of our lives. I think the way people live shapes my aesthetic more than where I am from. I am obviously completely biased, but my parents own the Mrs. Howard and Max and Company stores and they have just about everything you could dream of for your home.
S&N: What is your favorite part of the design process besides, of course, the finished product and why?
AH: More than the finished product I like getting to know my clients. I try and make the process fun and simple and in meetings a good laugh is just as important as a good design choice.
S&N: What’s one tip from your wealth of knowledge or bag of designer tricks that you would be willing to share with someone beginning to decorate a space or someone who wants to tackle making over a room in their own home?
AH: Learn to draw a floor plan. That is the road map to an entire project and it gives you the opportunity to have a great home.
S&N: We know that starting any business can be tough. What advice or tip for success would you give to someone wanting to go into the design business?
AH: I technically still work under the family umbrella. My advice would be that in the design world we have to be experts in interior architecture, furniture, fabrics, curtains, paint, color, lighting and so many other things. Be patient and know that making mistakes is part of the learning curve. You will learn more from doing something wrong and then making it right than you will anything else.
S&N: What’s next for you? Any goals/exciting projects in the works?
AH: I am hoping to write a book and tackle some home improvement projects around my own home!
3 words that describe your design aesthetic? Flexible, thoughtful, and long lasting
What is currently your favorite design “trend”? Don’t be afraid of color.
Fill in the blank. People don’t know that I can _____. Play scratch golf on at least 1-2 holes per round.
Favorite room to design in a home? Family room
Favorite way to spend a Saturday or your ideal Saturday? Beach day with the family.
Biggest design mistake that you see on a consistent basis? Tiny rugs
Dream design job? The White House? (Is that too much to ask?)
Do you have any nicknames or did you have any growing up? None off the top of my head (at least that are OK to print!)
Favorite piece of advice when designing kids spaces? Design something that the child is still going to like in 5 years and will still be tolerable in 10. Even if that means it feels more grown up than the kid you are working with at the time.
Favorite design rule to break. TVs are OK. Everyone knows you have one so don’t make a big fuss over having to keep it hidden.
Favorite design set from a movie? It’s Complicated, but don’t tell anyone that I saw it.
Best gift you’ve received? Masters golf tickets for my son and me.
Favorite way to add impact to a room? Paint
Favorite color to use in design? Anything outside of my normal toolbox.
One item/possession you would save from your house (other than your family, of course)? My youngest son’s Buzz Lightyear toy. I am afraid without it he may never be able to sleep again.
Favorite part about your job? Working and interacting with a wonderfully talented design team.
Hardest part about your job? Travel (mainly airports)
Top 3 design Idols/Mentors/Inspiration? Jim and Phoebe Howard… Everyone else is a distant third.
What’s one country you would like to visit? Belgium
Worst job you have ever had growing up? Lemonade stand salesperson
Best way to decompress? Wine followed by Ketel One
Hardest part about being a dad? It’s all hard, but it’s worth it!
Single most valuable thing you’ve learned? Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Morning person or night owl? Night owl
Whose brain would you like to pick over coffee? (past or present) Pope Francis
What album or artist is currently on repeat? Whomever sings “Geronimo.”
Favorite flower or plant? Maidenhair fern
Dumbest purchase you have made to date? A Comcast Cable Subscription (I had a bad experience.)
Superstitious? If so, name one thing you have to do? A hug and kiss to both my boys before I leave for work because I am afraid one day soon they won’t be interested.
Favorite motto or mantra? “If you go parachuting, and your parachute doesn’t open, and you friends are all watching you fall, I think a funny gag would be to pretend you were swimming.” – Jack Handey
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Images courtesy of Andrew Howard.