Conway interior designer Tami Risinger invites us into her home, discusses career
By Leah Ashby
Photos by Brandy Strain
Simply put, Tami Risinger is bursting with creativity and style.
Tami, owner of Tami Risinger Interiors, Inc., has been in the interior design business for 33 years. A native of Little Rock, Tami and her husband, Jack, relocated to Conway from Dallas in 1998. They have two sons: Chase, a student at UCA; and Grant, a senior at Conway High School. Tami began her career in San Francisco after high school but knew at an early age she had a talent for design.
"Honestly, at a very young age I knew it came very naturally for me. My parents would go out of town for the weekends, and when they got home all the furniture in the house was rearranged. It was evident early on that it was a God-given talent and that it was what I had to do with my future," Tami said.
Tami's infectious smile and delightful Southern accent make you want to sit down in her beautiful living room and spend the afternoon with her. Evidently, people in Faulkner County and beyond are clamoring to do business with her.
"Success was something that didn't come overnight. It's something that was built over several years of hard work, long hours and building relationships with my clients. Moving from two major cities and then to Conway was certainly a challenge for my career. However, after a few years, I started meeting people and was able to build my local clientele and have met some great people. I have clients that have become good friends over the years, and I do not take that for granted," she said.
Tami provides interior design solutions for both commercial and residential projects. While the commercial nursing home projects have kept her very busy over the years, she loves the residential side of her business too. Jennifer Crain, who recently enlisted Tami's help with a lake house update, has collaborated with Tami on several projects over the years.
"Tami is someone who came into my life many years ago, and I have never had a project without her since. She so beautifully creates a timeless space, that after a vast remodel eight years ago, I still have rooms I have never touched because I still love them just as much as the day she finished. Her sweet spirit combined with her incomparable talent has not only made me love everything she has done for me, but I have also gained a wonderful friend," Jennifer said.
A design that is near and dear to Tami's heart is her beautiful Centennial Valley home that was five years in the making. Not one for clutter, Tami prefers a classic scheme with clean lines. She encompassed those design elements and much more when she designed the house.
"I was always inspired by an architect, Bobby McAlpine, who builds homes that are modern with a cottage influence. If you have ever visited Rosemary Beach, Florida, you will see some of his projects. I always loved the clean lines and the light exterior colors that he uses.
"I also love the Bahama-style shutters and the other design elements such as the copper finials, interesting gates and the stone pathways that make it feel like a home.
"I had a stone wall added in front of my house to give it more of a courtyard feel as you are walking to the front entrance. One of my favorite spaces in my home is the breakfast room that is surrounded by windows. I love to sit there in the mornings. It is so light and bright, and I have added in color with art that I have collected over the years and some pillows.
"Everything else in the room is very soft in color.
"It is a very calming space," Tami said.
In March of 2014, Tami received news that would change her life. She was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer and would undergo surgery and five months of chemotherapy. Surrounded by family and friends, Tami focused on her career, which kept her focused on something positive during a very difficult time.
"It was a scary time in my life. You never think that something like that will happen. I was devastated the day I had to shave my head because my hair was falling out. That was a traumatic day for me.
"Then, you realize that hair is no longer important, that it is about survival and being well again. I had so much support from family and friends, and that was such a blessing and helped me get through some of the toughest times.
"My sons seemed to be so strong through it all, maybe they were pretending for me. Whatever it was, it kept me strong. Looking back, it had to be so terrifying for them.
"What amazed me the most about the entire journey was that it made me a better person. It made me realize what is important and what is not.
"It made me look at things in a much different light. It made me a much more giving and compassionate person. I am thankful to be healthy now.
"I am 17 months in remission and thank God for every day. I always had a great attitude the entire time. I think that played a huge part in my healing and my faith in God that carried me through it all," Tami said.
While Tami has showcased her talent for a variety of design projects over the years, each is unique in its own way.
"I have had so many amazing projects it would be impossible to narrow it down to just one. I can say that I have had an amazing career. I am so grateful for that, and hopefully it will continue to grow."