Q&A With Natalie Hager
Casaza: How did you get your start?
Natalie Hager: I got my start when no one would hire me…LOL. I quit my stable and well-paid desk job at a commercial design firm in hopes of leaving the stress and panic attacks behind and finding a job more tailored to my lifestyle. The recession had just hit Nashville and my timing for finding a new job couldn’t have been worse. I worked two part-time jobs at my favorite retail stores and did freelance design work on the side. What seemed like a really rocky and difficult path actually propelled me to do something that I never imagined—starting my own interior design business. The freelance jobs became full-time jobs, full time clients referred friends, referrals became new clients, and the rest is history. Even though I “got my start,” I’m still working on getting rid of the panic attacks—my boss is really demanding!
C: How would you describe your style?
NH: I would describe my design style as a fresh, modern twist on the traditional Southern style. I like incorporating old and new in a way that shares the beauty of my clients’ story.
C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
NH: Traveling, eating at new restaurants, collaborating with local artists and makers, shopping at some of my favorite clothing stores, and scrolling through images from some of my favorite interior designers’ Instagram accounts.
C: Favorite room in the house?
NH: Haha, that’s an easy one for me, my bedroom. I have a 2-month-old along with 4- and 6-year-old girls, so sleep and sanctuary are two things that I don’t have a lot of these days. If I can be in a space that is calm, peaceful, and soothing, it resets me for the crazy sleeplessness. I love closing my curtains, turning on Jimmy Fallon, and pulling the covers over my head for a long nap in my cozy bed.
C: Design rule you don't subscribe to?
NH: “All good design is expensive.” I pride myself on designing for every budget. I don’t like cheap things, but I do like quality over quantity. Less is more these days, and I help my clients find where to spend their money and where to save their money. One of my rules of thumb is unless you want to spend money on a massage therapist and physical therapy, then you better buy a quality sofa and bed.
C: Recent project that inspired you?
NH: Nashville’s Noelle Hotel designed by local architect Nick Dryden with DAAD. The layers of design are numerous even down to the tiny details—like the signs to the men’s and women’s restrooms. I’m proud to watch Nashville’s booming growth provide opportunities to prove that Nashville’s design industry can hang with larger design firms in bigger cities like New York and LA.
C: Favorite texture/pattern/color?
NH: White linen, hands down. It is natural, timeless, light weight, chic, effortless, and goes with everything.
C: What is “good design” to you?
NH: Good design is smart use of space that blends old and new styles to tell a story about the person occupying it. It is a place that you will always call home.
C: Pack your bag! You're moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
NH: I’m going to have to go with Jay Gatsby’s house from the Great Gatsby. The house that I’ve always had in my head from reading the book is the perfect blend of old and new styles and an exquisite estate designed in the Art Deco style. It’s outside of New York, so it’s close enough, but far enough away from the city. It feels timeless to me. There’s also a part of me that would like to rewrite the ending of the story.
C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
NH: My rule when entertaining is to remember that it’s more about the people and less about the stuff. If I can’t enjoy the people because I’m letting the “stuff” get in the way then it’s really not worth entertaining. Entertaining for me is as much about creating a space for me to relax and enjoy as it is for my company to relax and enjoy.
C: Best advice for DIYers?
NH: Know what you can and cannot do and don't be afraid to ask for help.
C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
NH: Like the person that you hire—you will spend a lot of time with them. If you don’t have a good first impression then you probably should move on and hire someone else.
C: How do you take your coffee?
NH: With cream and sugar (honey these days).