Designer Ann Wisniewski focuses on elegant, casual interiors

Designer Ann Wisniewski creates inviting interiors that feel at once elegant yet casual.

Background: I grew up in East Cobb and worked for several years as a pediatric nurse. I loved what I did, but felt something was missing. After talking with several local architects, I decided to pursue a career doing something that I loved to do in my spare time: working with colors, fabrics and design. While working full-time as a pediatric case manager, I attended an evening/weekend program at Brenau University. I graduated with a BFA in Interior Design and started my own firm two years later.

My company: AJW Designs, Inc. was established in 2001. I work closely with my architect-husband on commercial business projects; high-end residential and multi-family designs in the Atlanta area and nationally.

First design job: Working as an intern for a designer renovating a local assisted living facility.

As seen in, or on: HGTV's Designer Challenge; House Beautiful; Modern Luxury magazine; Atlanta Homes and Lifestyle's Magazine; ADAC's Interior Perspectives Tour July 2015; ASO 2015 Decorators' Show House; St. Phillip's Cathedral Antique Show's 2015 Inspiration Avenue; and Christmas at Callanwolde.

Claim to fame: Serving as a past president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.

Current obsessions: Mixing warm and cool colors. One example: a cooler wall color with furnishings that have yellow, melon, or citron green or antique brass with brushed nickel. Also large tufted wool rugs.

Favorite home accessories: Trays. They are made in so many different materials and are so versatile. The other materials that are really popular now are petrified wood and quartz.

Favorite design/décor trick: When installing draperies, position the top right below the bottom of the crown molding. Visually, it makes the ceiling look higher and the room look bigger.

Quick fix for a room: Change out the pillows on the sofa, change the rug, move your art around to different rooms. Also change lamps — getting new lamps or borrowing lighting from another room.

Pet peeve: Artwork not hung properly — too high or too low.

Most important element in a room: A focal point: what you see when you walk into the room. This can be many things: a piece of art, a special family piece, a spectacular outdoor view. My job as a designer is to bring the rest of the room into balance and support whatever that is effortlessly.

New or re-emerging looks I like: Use of "green" products, such as those made with reclaimed wood or recycled glass.

Design looks I am glad to see go: The shabby-chic look, not to be confused with the use of reclaimed wood.

Biggest mistake I have ever made: It was on one of my first jobs. I was measuring a window for drapes in a two-story open room and forgot to measure the space from the bottom of the window to the floor. The drapes were a little short when I went to install them.

Biggest mistake homeowners make: Buying furniture too large for a room.

Favorite rooms to design: Open condominium spaces; kitchen/keeping rooms; and master bedrooms/baths.

Hardest rooms…: Small spaces. They are where you have to be the most creative.

Designer challenges: Creating what clients want to achieve within the square footage available and the budget they have.

Favorite Atlanta home stores: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Design Within Reach, Circa Lighting and Steve McKenzie's.

Places for great (and unexpected) finds: Queen of Hearts Antiques and Interiors; Scott Antique Markets; and, an online consignment marketplace.

Favorite magazines: Modern Luxury Interiors, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, Atlanta Magazine Home, Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Traditional Home.

Favorite blogs: Sarah Cyrus blog and the Monthly Minute (

Personal style: Eclectic. I love to mix cleaner, transitional styles with antiques and family heirlooms, and adding a touch of the unexpected, such as contemporary art, to add interest to the space.

Household issue I am fussy about: I like pillows to be straight and mirrors to be clean.

Favorite household object/possession in my house: It is a Christmas cactus that my Mom had when my parents lived at Lake Hartwell. It must be 25 years old. It doesn't bloom at Christmas anymore, just whenever it wants to.

Dream project: Design a line of lighting. It is such as important accessory.

Latest project: A new law office in Atlanta.

Up next: Residential projects in Cumming; Dallas, Texas; and Sedona, Ariz.

Find Ann:

- Website:

- Facebook: Ann Wisniewski

- Pinterest: Ann Wisniewski

- Houzz: Find a Pro, Architect/Building Designer, AJW Designs Inc.