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Cover Story - Posted March 27, 2015 10:45 a.m.
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photos by Shannon Richardson

Nikki Chisum: Panache

After growing up in Dalhart, interior designer Nikki Chisum obtained a business degree from Lubbock Christian University followed by a B.A. in interior design – including a minor in architecture – from Texas Tech. She moved to Amarillo right after her 2005 graduation to start work as the designer and decorator for Panache in Wolflin Village.

“I chose [interior design] in high school and I just never wavered,” she says. “It’s something I’m passionate about. I could never do a normal 8-to-5 office job where I’m sitting at a computer all day. I love that it’s different every day, with a new set of challenges.”

At Panache, Nikki performs mostly residential consulting, though she also has a few office and restaurant spaces on her design resume. Whether working with a homeowner on upholstery and window treatments or starting from the ground-up with new construction and remodels, she says residential design is her favorite part of the job. “When you’re doing someone’s home, you’re working with the one customer,” she says. “You’re really diving into their wants and needs, how they function, how the space will be used. But with a commercial space, you’re trying to please hundreds if not thousands of people. You’re keeping up with building codes. It’s a lot more challenging to create something the masses will be happy with.”

While she says a good designer will always adapt to meet the customer’s needs and personal tastes, Nikki says her own home has an eclectic feel. “I like to choose pieces that I love, to take my time with [a collection] and build it up rather than making everything all matchy-matchy,” she says. “I like to find unique pieces rather than go into a furniture store and pick out a whole grouping.”

Q&A

Where do you find inspiration? When I travel. It’s always nice to see the latest trends and unique finds at markets. We try to go to as many as possible, and we visit different cities to keep it fresh and interesting.

How do you begin the creative process? I like to start with one key piece and work from there – usually with an item my client loves or one that has special meaning. It could be a piece of artwork, lighting, rug, etc. I use that for inspiration, color scheme and design style, and then build on it.

Is there a signature touch you like to add to your design work? Lighting! I love to dress up any room with a unique light fixture.

How important is technology in the design process? Which advances have most affected your work life? The internet is a fabulous resource. It helps me to source products for my clients as well as provides tools for them to gain inspiration. With websites like Houzz and Pinterest they can show me through pictures what they prefer. A picture really is worth a thousand words and it helps me to create the look they will love.

Tell us about your most challenging design project. What did you learn from the experience? I generally do residential work but I worked on a local restaurant and loved it. The rules are completely different for commercial work so it was a challenge. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on.

What is the most important factor when designing a room? It depends on the space. However, I usually think that function is the most important factor. If it’s a space that is used often but doesn’t flow properly or meet the needs of the client, the aesthetics are outweighed by the problems.

What is your favorite design trend? Wallpaper! I love that it’s back! There are so many wonderful patterns, prints and textures to choose from. It quickly transforms any space.

What is the easiest way to update a room? A new light fixture. It’s an instant change.

What is your favorite room to decorate? I love to design a powder bath. It sounds silly but it’s a small space that everyone can afford to make elaborate. Wallpaper, an oversized chandelier and a gorgeous mirror instantly create a “wow” factor.

What is your own house like? My house is a constant work in progress. We have a 16-month-old so where there used to be crystal there is now a Sippy cup. But all in all I like to focus on the big picture. I have chandeliers in almost every room, and we have used special paints and wallpapers in key places. There are some rooms that may never change but there are other areas that I am constantly bringing home new pieces to update and keep it fresh.

What do you do when you’re not working? When I’m not at Panache I’m spending time with my family.

GET THE LOOK


Lamp $239
Pair a subtle and beautiful metallic finish with accessories on an end table, nightstand or entry table.


Metal candlesticks $210 each
Add a touch of whimsy and flare in a centerpiece, or on a buffet or console.


Mercury glass apothecary jar $180
As a big statement piece, this eye-catcher brings sophistication to the entry, dining room table or a large console.


Wood frame $85
The mix of gold and silver on this frame’s finish makes it a welcome addition to any side table or bookcase.


Potted boxwoods large $150; small $100
Greenery adds warmth to a home, and this look adds a fresh approach. Tuck into a bookcase, sofa table or buffet.

All items from Panache

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit heyamarillo.com and jasonboyett.com.
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