Inspired By…Tom Chandler

" We make a living by what we get…We make a life by what we give." -Winston Churchill

Today we're kicking off a new series and it's all about Inspiration. Every Thursday we'll be highlighting designers from around the world that inspire us.  Some will be the "greats", those that have pioneered successfully fabulous design, and others will be newer kids on the block that are doing some really innovative and creative work.  We'll also explore current trends and give "our take" on those that inspire us and those that don't.

For us, this series can have no meaning at all if we don't acknowledge and celebrate the talent behind the "Sisters" success. The keys to success for most have been handed down by a mentor or life coach. Someone who is unselfish enough to share their life experience and knowledge and work into the life of another. Tom Chandler has done this for countless people over the course of his career.  We have the distinct privilege to call him both friend and mentor.

John Crosby said it best, "Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction." From the bottom of our hearts, we thank Tom Chandler.

Let me introduce you…

A native of Arkansas, Tom Chandler is the owner of Chandler and Associates Interiors and the creator of the Chandler School of Interior Decorating in Little Rock, AR. Tom’s opening of his school of interior decorating follows his 18 year stint of owning and operating retail stores and operating his own interior decorating firm.

The Chandler School of Interior Decorating in Little Rock, AR offers students a twelve week course of interior decorating in which they are afforded the opportunity to gain up close and personal encounters with the personal works of Mr. Chandler and are given the chance to apprentice with Chandler and Associates Interiors.

Known as one of the leading interior decorators in Arkansas, Tom Chandler has proven his generosity time and time again by giving his time, talent and treasures to support many charitable organizations and foundations. Although Tom Chandler’s work keeps him busy he is always willing to help others.

Here are some questions we recently asked Tom:

How did you get your start in interior Design? I have been arranging furniture all my life, but I started my own design business when I was working in a salon and had a client who wanted me to do her Christmas decorating.. I went home with her one day and did her Christmas. After the holidays, I went back to her house and took down the Christmas.I then decided to rearrange her furniture without her knowing. Soon after that I worked for her next door neighbor. And so it goes....

What do you love most about it? I like MOST of the people who call me - It is very fulfilling and challenging at the same time.

What is the most challenging aspect? Over scaled furniture in small spaces, but when the challenges come, I somehow figure them out! I sometimes say "it is God taking care of an old decorator."

How would you describe your own style? My personal style is contemporary/transitional- with strong Asian influence  and emphasis on art.

What are the most important elements that every home should have? If referring to the structure; then rooms with recognizable shapes, at least 9-10' ceilings, continuation of hard floor surfaces and the bigger the windows the better.

If referring to other than the structure; meaningful art, both aesthetic and utilitarian lighting, generous traffic flow and a bar.

What are some of the decorating mistakes you notice when you walk into a home? Lack of symmetry in furniture arrangement, overdone window treatments, and too many small accessories.

Your advice on trends vs. classics? I advise sticking with classic/updated.  A touch of trend goes a long way - but there is always room for fun and unexpected.

Your advice on what to do first in a decorating project? First, call a professional designer!!  Remember it is never too soon in your project to call for help!

Where do you recommend clients splurge vs. save? SPLURGE - art and on a designer; SAVE- by getting it right the first time.

Tom's Favorite Things...

*Book - Most all cocktail table book

*Bloom - Orchid

*Color - Any shade of red

*Drink - Vodka

*Meal - Steak

*Destination - Eureka Springs, New Orleans, and New York City

*Musician- Josh Groban and Canadian Tenor

*Movie - Out of Africa and Turning Point

*Television Show - I do not watch home makeover shows, but love Golden Girls as well as Two and a Half Men and Undercover boss - My son Tray, who is a quadriplegic, records Undercover Boss and on Saturday morning I go to his house and watch it with him.

If I were home during the day, which I never am, I would watch Judge Judy and Oprah.

*Season - Spring

*Extravagance - Fine Dining

*Design Element - Lighting

*Quote-  "Get up early every day and be the best you can be"

What a great interview!  I feel like a sponge every time I'm around Tom.  He always makes it seem so simple, but believe me it's not.  He is up by 4:00 A.M. most days and at his office by 5:00 A. M.  What do you think?  If you’re a decorator, do you have a "Mentor"?  If you’re a design enthusiast do you hire professional help?  Do you feel it's a splurge or a necessity?  Do you see the value?  It's your turn.  Let's talk!