Forget designer lingo like “French country” or “tastefully elegant.” The best word to describe the style of interior designer Nancy Slane’s Chandler home is “multicultural.”
One could even say Slane’s home is the U.N. of design.
A Chinese scroll graces the wall above a collection of blue and white china from the Netherlands, while a grouping of Southwestern pottery sits nearby. Upstairs, a Buddha sculpture — “from Bali or Thailand, I’m not sure,” says Slane — guards the entrance to her Moroccan-inspired bedroom, and the ornate wooden screen in the corner is from India (though she bought it at a European fair). In her dining room, the base of her grand table is from Italy, but she picked up its crystal top in Germany — even though it’s Italian-made, she points out with a smile.
It’s apparent that this designer is serious when she says she doesn’t like to do themes. When it comes to decorating her own home or a client’s, Slane says her main goal is to “make a room beautiful.”
Slane says she knew she wanted to be a designer after she got her first taste of decorating.
“My mother used to let me decorate my own room. I’d choose the colors, the fabrics, and put it all together. All my friends had posters on their walls, and I had a fabric-draped nightstand.”
After graduating from high school, Slane started her schooling in interior design at Ohio University in Athens.
“I just wanted to get away,” says the New Jersey native. And get away she did. After two years in Ohio, she finished up her degree program at the New York School of Interior Design, graduating in 1976. After living in England and then Massachusetts, the then-married mother of one moved to Arizona in 1997.
Now, Slane sometimes juggles up to a dozen clients at a time, with the help of her modest staff of two — an office manager and her mother, Claire, who moved in after Slane’s father died in 2001. Judging by her home office overflowing with fabric samples and Post-it notes, Slane is happy to surround herself in design.
“Design is for everybody,” she says, and she hopes that more people are realizing that with the popularity of decorating-themed TV shows and Web sites.
“There’s possibilities out there now that people would never think of.”
Q&A WITH NANCY SLANE
Q: How did your business begin?
A: I always knew I wanted to be in this business, I just didn’t know I wanted to start my own. My business came from me moving all the time. It was easier to start my own business and carry it around with me. It was the late ’70s when I started my business, and then I moved to England soon after (where her parents were living), but getting work permits to start my own business there was hard. So I worked for someone else in a design business, and he let me freelance. I met my husband in England, and after I had my son, I stopped working. It was when we moved back to the States (in 1987) that I started my business up again.
Q: Do you have a design motto?
A: I don’t want people to spend more money then they have to, but I want them to have what they want. People make costly mistakes by not hiring a designer. I think the less wealthy you are, the more you need a designer. When you’re wealthy, you can afford to make a lot of mistakes.
Q: What is the price range for your services?
A: It varies, depending on the project. It can be in the millions, down to a couple thousand dollars.
Q: What is your favorite type of home to design?
A: I like doing different things, because if I did the same thing over and over again, I’d be bored. My own personal taste is a little more traditional, but I like doing what (the client) wants.
Q: Most memorable design job?
A: My most interesting client was the mistress of the minister of finance in England. She was taking a lot of cash from him and doing these townhomes. It was for them, but I don’t think it was legal. She was a little crazy. He had guards all around them. It was very strange. They had a lot of requests you don’t normally have (in decorating) — everything had to have a remote.
Q: What’s something “in” right now in interior design?
A: Colors — blues, browns and oranges are coming in for this season. And there’s lots of bright pinks for outdoor furniture.
Q: Something that’s definitely “out”?
A: I’m hoping Tuscan is going out. What kills me about Tuscan is it’s not really (from) Tuscany. It’s manufactured by some company. If (homeowners) really want Tuscan, it’s totally different. Go to Tuscany — it’s much more rustic.
Q: If you could design anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: I would love to do a city apartment, like a loft or a high-rise apartment, because there’s not a lot of that out here. But it doesn’t matter what city — as long as it has a great view.
Q: How do you describe your own home style?
A: Eclectic. I think that’s the best word for it. Because there’s stuff from everywhere in my house.
Q: What is your favorite design aspect of your own home?
A: I like the things I’ve collected over time — artwork, plates, etc It means something to me, where I bought it, found it — it brings back a lot of memories.