• Stacie Kopczynski

How I Got Here


If you know me at all, you may know I haven't always been a designer which may make you question how in the world I got here. It's an unexpected journey, for sure, but one that actually makes a lot of sense—hindsight being 20/20, of course.

A couple things stand out when I look back on my life: I have early memories of helping my dad lay tile in our bathroom to surprise my step-mom while she was away on a trip and of him teaching me to "cut in" while painting the walls of my room (bright yellow, by the way :|). We did a lot of DIY growing up, before "DIY" was a thing. We took wallpaper off of paneling (who did that in the first place?!), painted paneling, installed chair railing and crown moulding, renovated bathrooms, and painted and decorated bedrooms.

Fast-forward to college: I had no intention of becoming a designer. It wasn't even in my realm of possibilities. (I either wanted to be a teacher or work for an international non-profit. I always said that "in another life", I would either be an interior designer or a broadway musical star. Lucky for you, life led me to the former rather than the latter.) There may have been hints, though, that I had a bent towards design; my college roommate and I literally chose apartments based on whether or not we could paint the walls...and paint the walls we did!

In the midst of my non-design studies, I met Kurt, my would-be husband. On our very first date, we drove through downtown Bryan,TX (because...Gig 'Em, Aggies) on our way to the restaurant, realizing our mutual love for old houses with amazing character and acknowledging that each of us had a desire to fix one up one day. Who knew where that would lead us 11 years later.

After living in 4 places in 4 years (always drawn to unique vs traditional places), Kurt and I bought our first home in 2012, and although it was already a beautiful home, we quickly went to work putting our own touch on it (we painted rooms and changed light fixtures, mainly....key tenants to quick, affordable updates). Two short years later, we were on the market again for our second home. We walked in to a house in horrible condition (the floors, walls, and every other surface were absolutely deplorable), and I announced, "I think this is the one!". I still wonder whether our realtor thought I was nuts. We updated that house almost top-to-bottom—fresh paint, new floors, new master bath, minor updates to second bath, new kitchen, added a room, and replaced windows. It was a beautiful little home that showed us that we could handle renovations, and more surprisingly, design.

We had wanted to start flipping houses around that time, but it just wasn't in the cards for us. I don't really remember the timing, but a year or two later, a door opened for us to flip our first house, and we've had the bug ever since. Meanwhile, we bought our third house, took it down to the studs, and rebuilt it to a home we now live in and are really proud of.

Flips became a normal part of our "after-hours life"; we fit it in between full-time jobs, newborns, and being decent humans (you know, trying to maintain relationships we care about). Over the years, we've built a reputation for not only quality work, but beautiful design. Neither of those things can always be found on a flip, especially.

Friends and family would often tell me, "I want you to come design my house." I'd shrug it off, knowing I had zero time for one more "hobby". Eventually, a number of things led me to quit my job (in the international non-profit sector, to note...one dream accomplished!), and the doors opened for me to pursue design work more fully.

Originally, I assumed it would be a while before I got clients, so I planned to start a design certificate course and work on the "business side" of the work. Surprisingly, though, I was booked non-stop from day one, and it's been an incredible ride ever since.

I like to believe that because my design background comes from experience and not formal training, that that gives me some sort of advantage—I know what actually works and what doesn't work, not because of what the books say, but because I've probably tried it. I also put looks and styles together because I believe they look good (and others seem to affirm my choices), not because any design rule says that that's the way it is supposed to be.

I continue to pursue the certificate course to gain the knowledge I can. But meanwhile, I've got real-world experiences stacking up that give me more insight in to clients, styles, risks, and classics that seem to be really working for me.

I love this life I lead. It allows me to spend time with my family, love on my friends, spend time working and living life with my husband, and doing something that makes me excited to get up and get started in the morning. I can't wait to see what's to come.

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