Known for her eclectic and bold style, design superstar, TV personality and entrepreneur Amanda Forrest credits her first home as the starting point of her career.
It all began with a red brick, two-bedroom, single-storey home with oodles of historical charm in the quaint town of Cambridge, Ont.
“I was offered a rent-to-own agreement by the homeowner, paying very high rent and, by the time I was 20 I was able to assume her mortgage (which I don’t think you can do anymore) and become a homeowner, which really gave me a leg up financially,” said Forrest.
But even before her name was on the deed, Forrest’s design talents were beginning to shine. With ingenuity and creativity as her muse, she set to transforming the 150-year-old home into something special.
“It was really the first design project that I tackled on my own and made my own design choices from start to finish. It was a great learning lesson.” – Amanda Forrest, interior designer
“I was working in a furniture store and selling advertising for a local paper and I literally had not a penny to my name,” she said. “Everything I made was going to pay for the house, but I really loved beautiful things.”
She learned how to upholster with a staple gun and transform furnishings with spray paint, furnishing her home with thrift store pieces, garage sale items and treasures that she found by the side of the road.
After a few years, she took out a home equity loan and added a second storey and two more bedrooms.
“It was really the first design project that I tackled on my own and made my own design choices from start to finish,” she said. “It was a great learning lesson.”
It also allowed her to glean the ins and outs of the construction process, from permitting to working with a historical home, as well as some invaluable DIY skills.
“I am handy with tools. I can install trim and tile and I’ve done some plumbing,” she said. “I feel like I have a really good grasp on home renovations as a result of being able to try different construction trades along the way.”
As the renovations were nudging towards the finish line, Forrest was approached to put her home on a Christmas charity house tour. At the prompting of her mother, who suggested that she use the opportunity to build a design clientele, she agreed.
“My mom printed me up some ads and perforated business cards on her computer, and a few days later, I got a call and I was so shocked I didn’t know what to charge,” she said. “So I charged $25 an hour and that was so much money.”
The rest is history.
“Once I got my first design job, it just went from there,” she said. “I am really so grateful for that home.”