Bailey Li is an interior designer and decorative artist based in Orange, New Jersey. She discovered her passion for decorating while working as a Real Estate agent.
Drawn to the architecture and character of historical homes, she began providing home staging services to homeowners that were looking to sell.
What inspired you to get into interior design?
In 2003, there was an influx of professionals from the New York City market seeking to put down roots in Northern New Jersey where I worked as a realtor.
A lot of the homes that I listed were beautiful historical homes that simply required some refreshing and updating in order to get the asking price or above. During that time home decorating shows on HGTV were super popular and as a result, the demand for home staging services was on the rise.
I had a listing for 1.3 million dollars that needed some major sprucing up so I seized an opportunity. I called in one of my best friends, Wanda Anderson who had an amazing sense of style. I told her that I needed her to stage the home for me; she came in, won my client over and was hired that day.
Wanda had never staged a home before so she insisted that I help her! She and I left the meeting that day and immediately formed our home staging business.
We had a check in our hands before we even had a name for our company. Staging was a means for clients to easily visualize potential properties as a place to call home and a way to speed up the sales process for me.
Little did I know that it would spark a passion for interior decoration / design and ultimately Guide me towards creating artistic hand painted/ textured walls and murals.
What inspires you?
I decided years ago to be fearless and to allow that fearlessness to fuel my work and inspire me creatively. I also wanted my work to not only be beautiful and functional but I committed myself to going the extra mile and pulling out the hidden parts of my clients that are truly begging to be expressed and translate them into their spaces.
The point of this was to ensure that their spaces transcend aesthetics and kick down fear based barriers that prevent many people (especially people of color) from allowing their living spaces to reflect who they truly are.
I aim to always have my designs be rich in history and explosive in personality. I am constantly inspired by my clients’ accomplishments, cultural backgrounds, travels etc. and I would be remiss not to infuse aspects of their life journey into their homes.
My clients often tell me that their spaces have become daily reminders to them of how amazing & brilliant They are and that waking up and coming home to their new environment encourages them everyday to not only live up to that but become more of what they are meant to be.
I challenge myself to do the same … with every project I make sure that I am not limiting myself to just the role of interior designer but instead I stretch myself into an Interior artist, a curator, a decorative strategist, a visual artist / muralist etc. whatever I need to be in order to bring that vision to life, I become it. I am also mindful of the fact that I am not “here” to blend in and/ or be accepted.
I am here to stand out, to make an impact on the lives of my clients and to pave the way for other young aspiring black interior designers. I truly aim to create dynamic, unique experiences that uplift the client, myself and all who see it. The idea of that in and of itself inspires me.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would be to be part of a collective/ team of dope and passionate artists, architects, creatives, Designers, professionals that together purchase and develop properties in order to create artist/ creative communities around the globe.
The structures will be historical structures that we’d renovate and / or retrofit to become affordable and conducive for artists and creatives to thrive in.
Since this is a “dream” project I imagine that it will be fully funded by “angel” investors whose only required return on investment would be that each artist pour back into the communities and remain a vital and ongoing part of the development of rising artists and creatives.
I believe emphatically in the idea that art in all its forms and genres has the ability to change the world so ultimately my dream project would be one that would positively impact the lives of multiple people and that impact will be so great that it will improve the lives of many for years to come.
What advice do you have for someone who is clueless about how to design their space?
1. Stay true to you; infuse your experiences and journey into your space.
2. Choose a concept and stick to it.
3. Do not be afraid of color.
4. Hire a professional to help you bring it all together.
If a student wanted to enter the field, what advice would you give them?
Make sure it is a passion and if it is let it guide you to your purpose. There’s one thing to have a job/ career and there’s another to have a job/ career that your passionate about because through that passion you have the ability to discover your PURPOSE in this life.
Purpose is what ultimately leads to fulfillment. Once you’ve discovered your passion … Be fearless and make a mark! Your unique gift was not given to you in order for you to just blend in.
What do you envision for the future of design?
The future I envision is one with more black artists, collectors, galleries, furniture makers, interior designers / decorators entrepreneurs etc living in the dream that God has for them. I heard Oprah say those words “I’m Living in the dream that God has for me” and I concur; I see that for the future of myself, design and everyone periodt!
-Tony O. Lawson