An award-winning interior designer with a creative, inventive eye, Andrea Schumacher has developed a design ethos encompassing disparate elements, including a love of travel, a background in set design, a traditional education, and a willingness to hear clients’ stories. These various components combine to create a warm, bold vision that plays out in award-winning residential and commercial designs from coast to coast.
Schumacher attended Colorado State University, the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and the University of Colorado. Her experience encompasses both commercial and residential spaces, as well as set design for the television soap opera Days of Our Lives and Columbia Pictures. Her interior design business, launched in 1999, now has a staff of 20. She splits her time between offices in Denver and Santa Barbara, with an eye toward eventually spending most of her time in California.
Her book, Vibrant Interiors: Living Large at Home, published by Gibbs Smith, is a 2023 Colorado Book Award winner in the pictorial category. Her work appears in national magazines, and her firm has received “Best of Houzz” awards for multiple years running.
Please describe your influences.
“I love to travel, and I love a traveled look. I try to infuse that with clients, if they are willing, to give me a back story of where they have been. For example, I met a client who got married in Bali, so we found a big Balinese piece [to place] at the entry to set the stage walking into the home. I get to the bottom of people’s story and try to tell their story through their interior. When I look at my clients’ work, I don’t see a thread, necessarily, except that we do mix antique case goods with clean-lined modern upholstered goods. I like interesting lighting and call lighting the jewelry of the home.
Depending on the project, we take inventory of things that are important to clients. If they have their grandmother’s favorite vase, and it has 15 different colors in it, we may use that as a jumping-off point to pull colors. Maybe one of the colors in the vase is the backsplash of the kitchen color or the island color. I will use that through the home so that everything is pulled together but not matchy-matchy. I also like design to be changeable easily. Overall, if you strip our interiors down, it’s neutral on the larger pieces, and we add texture so that you can swap it out. I add pops of color with pillows, rugs, and art.”
What was it like to write your book, Vibrant Interiors: Living Large at Home?
“I worked with an expert in interior design books, and she brought in graphic designers, writers, and photographers. You must save up projects, because at least 70% of the projects in the book need to have never been seen. Then we had to go around and [photo] shoot it, which can be exhausting, completely styling and shooting from project to project. With all that, it was a really good experience.”
How has the industry changed?
“When I began, there was zero access to the internet, no Pinterest, no Houzz, none of that. Now, people can make notes on the things they see; they might tell us, ‘I hate the sofa, but I love these walls.’ You listen to what they have to say and then piece it together that way. At one point, it was unnerving that people had access to these resources, but it has made things better for us, which has been great.
At first during COVID, we thought, batten down the hatches, we’re going to lose everything. Then, it was the opposite. Nobody was traveling, they were at home, and they had money because they weren’t traveling, weren’t eating out. They were staring at their white walls, saying ‘Let’s get some projects done since we’re home.’ So, the market kind of dipped down, then it shot way up.”
Any favorite projects?
“My favorite projects are [working with] the clients that are cool and amazing. One of my favorites—it’s in the book—is a ranch in Wyoming, a complete tear down to studs, rearranging of spaces, with an addition and expansion. The clients were so open-minded about every detail being done, and now the house is so unique. The attitude of the client makes a difference in how the project will come out. … The more laid-back and go-withthe flow the client is, the better the project turns out.”