Store offers custom furniture, accessories
CORNELIUS – Interior designer Ally Whalen describes her style as a mix of beachy, cottage, rustic, vintage and eclectic all rolled into the theme of comfort.
It’s what her clients have come to expect from her when she redesigns their homes or when buying a piece of her signature furniture from her store. Plus, it’s what’s garnered the attention of editors using her designs in national magazines.
Whalen looks around while sitting on her line's white couch that faces the door of her South Main Street shop, Simplicity Interiors Marketplace & Design. It’s been a year and a half since she left the corporate world to hone in on her creative side and less than eight months since she opened the store.
“I didn’t anticipate business being where it is,” she said of needing to be selective with the design projects she is able to take on in addition to her other projects, “having a store, having my husband work for me, having to hire someone to help, maybe hiring more designers for a firm down the road. My hard work has paid off. … I love what I do and I’ve not once looked back.”
In May 2013, she became a full-time designer. Later her husband left his job as a police officer so the pair could open the shop, which recently expanded its space, offerings and hours. It features high-end linens, lamps, mirrors, rugs, shades, cabinet hardware, among other home décor.
It’s also where people can check out the Ally Whalen Simplicity furniture line, including sofas, chairs and sectionals, which offer a slipcovered or upholstered look. Calling it not the slipcovers of yesteryear that were thrown over old pieces and didn’t fit right, Whalen said this is all new furniture on a quality, custom-built base that is guaranteed for life and made from a North Carolina manufacturer.
“It’s more geared toward the client looking for style and comfort together versus uncomfortable, stuffy furniture,” Whalen said. “It’s a laidback look that still has style and has options with 400-plus pre-washed fabrics to choose from.”
The store mirrors Whalen’s style, but is separate from her design business. People can shop without using her as a designer or they can have their homes designed using items and companies not sold in the store.
Design clients normally come to her based on her portfolio and website. Whether it’s a small kitchen or bathroom makeover or a whole house redesign, Whalen loves the challenge. She commonly walks into a space and knows what types of things will improve it, whether it’s adding a fresh paint color or new fixtures, replacing or rearranging the furniture or even ripping down walls. Some clients are hands-off and let her make the decisions, while others prefer to brainstorm and shop alongside her. Her favorite part is hearing how her designs have not only transformed spaces but lives, as well.
“Whenever I design a room, I design it so it could potentially be in a magazine. I know that seems weird, but there is always that potential,” she said, pointing to magazine articles hung on the wall from projects she’d previously completed.
For those just wanting to make subtle changes to their homes, she recommends painting with more neutral colors such as off-white, grey or grey beige, getting an alternative style lampshade, buying an inexpensive rug, switching out the pillows or rearranging furniture.
Want to go? For details about Ally Whalen’s designs or about the offerings of her store, go to www.allywhalen.com or www.simplicity-interiors.com. Simplicity Interiors is located at 19801 S. Main St., Cornelius. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.