There’s no need for me to have a big opener for the August edition of Lake Travis Local. When I sat down for lunch at The Grove in Lakeway with Alicia Autrey the other week, there weren’t any dull moments. This Texas native is as sweet, smart and sassy as they come and I’ll let you dive right in.
Lake Travis friends, meet your Decorator for Hire, Alicia Autrey:
1. What’s your story? Were you decorating and doing interior design stuff as a kid?
Well, I have never had a problem telling people my opinions since I was a kid. I have, however, learned how to be a bit more tactful about it!
I really discovered my love of design when my husband and I purchased our first home in 1999. At the time I was an event manager and had started as an independent consultant for Southern Living at Home. With each home show I did, I found myself really enjoying explaining how and where people could use our products instead of the products themselves.
People started asking me to come to their homes and show them how to incorporated the decor into their homes. That prompted me to start educating myself on interior design.
When I recognized that design was an art and like any creative field, some people just have a natural talent and people were willing to pay me for that talent, I was hooked!
It was about this time that I became a mom for the first time. I decided to give up corporate America and start my own business. I began taking courses online and reading anything I could get my hands on in the field.
In 2005 I launched my company Decorator For Hire. In the beginning my focus was primarily on redesigns. With home staging really beginning to catch on, I added it to my repertoire in 2007.
Over the years I have gained experience and education while helping realtors, builders and homeowners in residential and commercial applications. Everything from colors, flooring, counters, paint and window fashions. After a decade, I still can’t believe that I get paid to do this!
2. What do you love best about doing business in the Lake Travis area?
It’s a feeling. Some says it’s the people, some say it’s the lake or the hill country, but the reason I love working with the people of Lake Travis is all of it. The people I meet and work with and the places I get to work in are all so inspiring!
It’s just a different feeling out here. I live here, I work here. I raise my family here. And like it or not, the area is growing, or should I say exploding! That is definitely good for business.
3. How did Decorator for Hire get started?
I’ve always felt like there is a certain stuffiness about the interior design industry, an unapproachability if you will. Something most people believed is attainable only by the wealthy.
I wanted to change the face of design.
To be a company that was not intimidating to call on.
One that would offer pricing that made sense for the budget conscious as well as the financially blessed.
I believe that everybody deserves great design. You should love where you live, it should be a sanctuary. Somewhere to retreat to from the busy crazy world we live in every day.
If you can only afford to create that one hour at a time, I’m your gal. If you can afford to hand me a blank check and say go crazy, I’m that girl too! But no matter what your needs are, I wanted to start a decorating company that offers amazing style and friendly customer service.
4. What kinds of clients do you work with? What problems do you help them solve?
I always say “If you’re in need of a decorator, I’m a Decorator For Hire!” That is to say, I work with all kinds.
Some people just need to be pointed in the right direction. They want me to come and validate choices, recommend items, layout or colors and help show them how to pull it all together.
Then there are the clients that may or may not know what they want or need so I help them find it, buy it and install it.
Some clients, we use what they already have, we add to it or we may replace it all.
As for staging, we work with homeowners and realtors to consult on what they can do to prepare their homes for sale. Staging is a big part of my company and such an important service.
Basically, everyone I work with wants to love their home. They want it to feel comfortable, cohesive and inviting. Some want it more functional, others more fashionable, but all of my clients want it to reflect their taste.
5. What do you do differently than other interior decorating services?
I make design attainable. Life is expensive and interior design can be too, but it doesn’t have to be insanely expensive. I’m not interested in talking my clients into the most expensive options and finishes. If that is what they want then I can definitely get if for them, but I respect the budget savvy client too.
I also want to take their style into consideration. Some clients don’t think they have a style but it is my job to recognize what they will like and pull it together for them. Not because I love it but because they will!
6. What are the three things that stand out about living in Austin versus other cities you’ve lived?
I am a Texas native, born and bred and proud of it (like most you meet!) And I have had the opportunity to live in many of its cities. I can honestly say, there is no better place to call home.
The people – so amazing, accepting and friendly.
The landscape – in one word GREEN. I love all of the trees, lakes and hill country. Even downtown is pretty.
The culture – no matter what you are looking for it’s here.
7. What are your big goals for Decorator for Hire?
Growth! In the next three years we are looking to expand not only with more designers and services but with a brick and mortar design and staging studio.
8. What are some things Decorator for Hire does to give back to the community?
Any chance we have to help in some small way, we are happy to. We have donated to local churches, schools and charities for the past 10 years. From the Lakeway Police Department to Emmaus Church, Stop the Clot or Lake Travis ISD we have donated services and time to help our community.
9. What do you like best about living in the Lake Travis area?
Lake Travis is small town enough that you can’t leave home without running into someone you know, but big enough to find just about anything you need. It’s a community you can feel a part of. A place my children will remember fondly.
10. If someone is new to Austin, what do you suggest they see or do?
If you’re coming to Austin, the bats and the Capitol are a must see, but if you get to the hill country, I recommend a dip in Krause Spring, and lunch at Opie’s.
11. What is your favorite place to drink, relax and meet with friends in Austin?
Oh so many choices!!! Let me count the ways … The Grove, Rocco’s, Fore, Iron Cactus. You can see I like to wine and dine close to home! When there are so many fabulous choices in my backyard, why go anywhere else? But if I’m in Austin, Chuy’s get’s my vote. I love my Mexican food!
12. Favorite brunch spot?
Iron Cactus … there’s a pattern here.
13. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own business?
Believe in yourself, have a great support system and never give up. Be flexible to change but firm on your dreams. Sometimes life get’s in the way, sometime you fail, but as long as you learn and keep moving forward, you will succeed.