Entering in Ami Baxter’s South Fargo home, it is not just what you see but how you feel that makes it a truly wonderful space. Capturing her home in a handful of photos is an impossibility due to the 24 foot high ceilings and larger than life architectural detail. You can immediately see that Ami and her husband, David, love to entertain. From the beautiful eight-person table over look the natural landscape of the golf course, stone fireplace, high-beamed ceilings, marble and bamboo floors and a custom kitchen made for gourmet entertaining, every space is complete. Her home is intricate, yet somehow she has simplified the spaces with her own personal flair of times past and modern and elegance. What resonates through is just simply beautiful and livable comfort, for her and David and their two daughters, Scarletta and Fuchsia. Not only is this her home, but this is also the office and studio of Firefly Designs and Events. You have probably seen the work of Baxter and Firefly Design and not even realized it. She has worked with the Fargo Jet Center, Fargo Flight school, Davies High School, Triumph Lutheran Church… the list goes on and on. Design and Living caught up with her in her home and office to discuss the industry of Interior Design and how she looks at today’s spaces.
Experience………………………….Studied art at MSUM and interior design at NDSU and has owned Firefly Design for seven years now.
Notable Works……………………………Fargo Jet Center, Triumph Lutheran Church, Liberty Middle School.
D&L // HOW DO YOU LOOK AT SOMETHING WHEN YOU FIRST SEE A NEW SPACE?
Baxter: A good designer will style a space, not in the way they want to style it, but in the way their client wants them to style it… it’s whether you took the time to listen. That’s one of the biggest things I tell my interns. If you don’t stop and listen to what your client wants, then you can style a place and they’ll probably love it, but it’s about longevity and time. Obviously when it’s first done they’ll love it. It’s brand new! Who doesn’t love brand new?
D&L // DO YOU EVER HAVE A VISION AND THEN END UP SLAPPING YOUR HEAD BECAUSE THE CLIENTS WANT SOMETHING ELSE? HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT?
Baxter: This is a perfect example. Recently I had a client come to me regarding their smaller dining room and family room. Being able to entertain was very important to them. So I started to look at the space and quickly realized that what they really needed was a larger dining room. What made it a challenge, was that they wanted to keep the dining room where it was. I knew that their family was growing and the future looked like having a bigger space would be a necessity. We talked in great detail about both spaces and I did understand their reasoning; but in this case, I needed to help them see this vision to achieve their ultimate goal. Within a couple weeks they both agreed and said, ‘Let’s do it!’ Now a year later, they are both thrilled with the new design and couldn’t be happier with how their family is able to enjoy and utilize the new space.
D&L // A LOT OF DESIGNERS PICK OUT STYLES BASED ON WHAT’S FRESH AND TRENDY. IS COMFORT IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Baxter: 100 percent. I met with a new client who said, ‘I met with all my girlfriends and they told me how much gray is in.’ It’s true that there are a lot of beautiful grays, but I could tell that with her personality gray wasn’t right. I said to her, ‘gray might not be right for you. You might not be a happy person living in a gray space…’ It’s just like how some people may not want to wear hot pink because they don’t want to be that noticeable. She painted one of her walls gray and I told her, ‘Not as a designer, but in my personal opinion, every time I look at that wall, it makes me feel sad. It doesn’t seem like you…’ If you think about our climate and how long the winter is around here, she might be more comfortable in a warmer space… Whether or not you love a real contemporary space, it’s the fact that we look outside and see white three quarters of the year. For many people it’s necessary to have a warm space.
D&L // WHAT ARE YOU ANTICIPATING FOR YOUR FALL DESIGNS?
Baxter: I’m most looking forward to seeing what the newer prints are going to be in fabric. It’s always fun to see the new designs and textures that come out for the new seasons.
D&L // IN LEVEL OF IMPORTANCE, IF YOU HAD TO PICK WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT. COLOR, FABRIC OR THE ROOM DESIGN?
Baxter: I think color is on the top. If you go out and you pick a shade that’s a half shade off, then you’re never going to really love that color. That’s why I value an Interior Designer whose strength is in color palettes. It’s not something that you can hone your skills on, you’re either really good at color or you’re not. Really balancing out your finishes and textures is what makes a space so rich. I’ve been in showrooms and I’m drawn to spaces where there’s a leather sofa but there’s not leather pillows. Maybe there’s shag or fur pillows and a cable knit throw. All of a sudden you get all these textures and it makes that whole palette become so much richer because of that variances in texture.
D&L // WHAT IS THE WORST TREND THAT YOU SEE OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN PEOPLE’S HOMES?
Baxter: I think it’s the lack of the unexpected. I really love and can truly appreciate that design or accessory that really stands out and gives you a taste of the owner’s personality. It can be as simple as one accessory that takes that room and gives it a unique little flair. It all of sudden puts it into a caliber all by itself.
D&L // MOST FUN YOU’VE EVER HAD DESIGNING?
Baxter: I absolutely adore and love this one particular client of mine. It’s the biggest compliment you can have when somebody not only says, ‘I trust you. Whatever you think.’ But then says, ‘I already love everything you’ve done and I just know that I’ll be excited to see what you do because you really know us…” What a complement. They’re paying me to pick out the next gift for their space. I have a handful of clients that are like that. It’s such an amazing treat.
D&L // IS THERE A HIGH DEMAND FOR DESIGN IN THE RED RIVER VALLEY?
Baxter: I will always say yes, there is a demand for Interior Design… I love my job! Whether or not people agree with that, it’s just like anything else. Is there a demand for people to invest their money? It’s their choice. That’s what I’m here for; to put my great education and experience to good use with your space; investing in your home or space but potentially also saving you money in the long run when your design is done correctly and has longevity.
To contact Ami Baxter at Firefly Designs & Events: