Mastering the Elements of Style

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Avery Sefcik
Avery Sefcik

When Avery Sefcik ’03 hosted events at his home in Richmond, Virginia, guests frequently marveled at the elegance of the space. The interior decor featured touches of modernism in the dark blue hues, traditionalism in the old stone walls, and naturalism in the greenery sprinkled throughout. According to Sefcik, visitors often asked: “Who did you pay to do your house?”

“I didn’t pay anyone to do my house,” said Sefcik. “I can’t afford that.” But the common question inspired him to develop his unique talent.”

Sefcik, a blog-writer turned interior designer, is now the owner of Avery Frank Designs, a full-service interior design firm in Richmond, Virginia. A graduate of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Sefcik transitioned his background in language arts into a more visual craft. He studied the trade under an older designer in what Sefcik referred to as a “Devil Wears Prada” experience. Just two years later, Sefcik emerged with a successful business and many lessons to share on design.

What trends are you following currently in design?

“The magazines I read, they keep me updated on trends. I go towards magazines like Elle Decor, Architectural Digest; that’s the aesthetic that I like. It’s a bit more exciting, bold, more daring. One thing that I’ve done in my house is lacquer, which is super high-shine paint, and you’ll see it in New York, in D.C, in Europe a lot. At night, when the lights are on, it’s an amazing effect.”

How do you work with a budget, as you did when you first started?

“It does constrain you, but paint is still cheap. You can take something, a small piece of art that you found at an antique mall, simply add paint to it, and really change a room just by being bold. The trend today is that everything is grey or white, and that’s pretty, but take a risk. People will be saying, ‘wow, that looks great.’”

How do people figure out their own style?

“It takes time for people to figure out their own style. Usually, it is really a gut thing. If you’re in a store, and you see something you love, if it’s a gut feeling, go for it. If you like it immediately when you see it, you’ll love it for a long time.

On a basic level, buy the magazines—it is so important to be able to rip the pages out and put them on a board. Read them, look at what’s exciting to you, rip them out—that’s how you learn what you like, what you don’t like, what your style is.”

What about the holidays? How do you keep your decorations fresh and exciting?

“I mixed it up this year—I usually do a lot of fresh greenery, which is really beautiful and a tradition thing that you see all over Europe, see it at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, but it does dry out quickly. This year, I did a different feel, where I used manmade garland. That was all flocked, which is when they have the fake white snow on them. There’s more of a modern feel to it all as opposed to simple greenery.”

Brendan Coffey, an intern with Virginia Tech Magazine, is a junior majoring in multimedia journalism and English pre-education. This interview originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine.