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Life & Work with Annette Stelmack of Louisville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annette Stelmack.

Hi Annette, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I grew up with immigrant parents who were passionate about their personal businesses; a home builder and a window covering, bedspread and soft-goods seamstress. Both of my parents learned their craft in Europe and brought incredible value, expertise and service to their customers. I grew up working with both of my parents, so it was inevitable that I would become an interior designer. I have worked with clients from around the world, and my favorites are the ones in my home state of Colorado! For over 25 years, I was the Design Director of a firm in Denver, wearing multiple hats including team and project management, business development and recruiting plus introduced and led our sustainability initiatives. Inspirit, my own firm, was launched in 2006, specializing in healthy, high-performing interior design and education. With 40 years of award-winning interior design experience I work on Residential, Multi-Family, and Hospitality Interior Design projects.

Thanks to the values my folks instilled while growing up in Arvada, I provide a value-driven design experience with a deep commitment to delivering healthy, restorative, and eco- conscientious interiors. Through experience, passion, education, and hands-on knowledge, I personally guide and manage my client’s projects from concept to completion efficiently, compassionately, and with a keen eye for detail. The principles of interior design are fully integrated into all my work with balance + harmony, scale + proportion, rhythm + focal point, plus details + contrast. In addition to my design work, I love engaging with professionals and students in the building industry to educate each other on sustainable design through experience inspiring each other. As an educator, trainer and facilitator, I develop and deliver the curriculum through strategic public and private partnerships, U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Faculty, WELL Faculty, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC). I’ve been told that I am an innate teacher, bringing a contagious passion for sustainability and connecting others.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It’s been a fun, bumpy rollercoaster of a ride! I’m smiling thinking about forging relationships with contractors as a young designer when they thought I had never been on a Jobsite before. I was so fortunate to grow with a hammer in one hand and a needle in the other, helping my folks with their businesses. When I started to pursue sustainability initiatives within the firm where I was working, I learned that not everyone was on board with working toward being environmental stewards. After years of trying to make it work at a firm that I didn’t own, with team members who didn’t share my vision or values, it was time to go out on my own. Actually, while launching the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Colorado Chapter in 2002, I experienced first hand how magical it is to work with others aligned with the same vision and mission. It was eye-opening and a breath of fresh air to work with volunteers being the difference which eventually leads to me starting my own firm in 2006!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m profoundly honored to work with clients that have multiple chemical sensitivities. Every client is uniquely different in their sensitivities and needs striving for the highest level of indoor air quality for their interiors. I draw from my commitment to occupant’s health and wellbeing, which is paramount when working with this clientele. I sincerely want everyone to thrive and their home is the primary environment where we restore our well-being. This is best exemplified through my 2nd edition of ‘Sustainable Residential Interiors’ published 2014 by Wiley & Sons. The 2nd edition addresses cutting-edge processes, strategies, and principles as well as details for in-depth product vetting criteria. It has an entire chapter dedicated to healthy interiors which was seriously condensed after my extensive research on the subject. Also, the first edition was an acknowledged catalyst for change awarded the Joel Polsky Prize by ASIDs Educational Foundation in 2008 recognizing outstanding academic contributions to the discipline of interior design. Notably, I am a nationally recognized sustainable design leader, educator and author. I honor my client’s vision and goals, delivering healthy, high-performing interiors with a deep commitment to environmental stewardship. I innately guide project teams with my passion, knowledge, strategies and celebration of creativity. Lastly, I am a LEED® AP Building Design + Construction and WELL AP design professional plus active faculty member with USGBC and International WELL Building Institute which helps to keep me current in my practice.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Growing up the oldest in an immigrant family, I was/am the caretaker. My first language was German, so as I learned English and I helped my folks with theirs. I am the oldest of all my cousins and took care of many of them when I was old enough to do so. My aunt says I’m the glue holding us all together and mom says I’m the sunshine in her day! Needless to say, I’ve been told personally and professionally that I can find the pony in the pile of poo in the barn. I loved creative play and am fortunate to have grandkids who do too so I can let my kindergartener out to play! Give me dirt, water, and a Colorado blue sky and I’m a happy girl! I loved helping my grandparents in their magical and mystical flower and vegetable gardens. Today, I’m an avid gardener too! We were so fortunate to grow up water and snow skiing around the state and was a true tomboy at heart. I loved listening and dancing to music…. played the accordion, piano, guitar and clarinet. Today I still play on my sweet grandfathers upright piano and recently was given an authentic ukulele which I’m learning to strum.

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