We visited with Interior Designer Amy Hilliker-Klebitz at the Front Porch Café in Kill Devil Hills, to talk about Outer Banks interior design and style of living in this beachy region. We also explored ways the geography’s lifestyle comforts can be emulated in homes anywhere.
“I was not born in a bathtub here, like other local residents,” she says, only half-joking. “Before there was a hospital here, residents had to go to Elizabeth City to have their babies.”
Amy is a graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, although she also attended University of North Carolina Wilmington. She earned her degree and launched a career as a licensed and nationally certified interior designer in Miami. For three years, Amy provided interior design services for high-end residential clients until the economy broke down in 2009 and business there, as everywhere in the United States, quieted. It was then that Amy decided to return to the Outer Banks, as a sort of step toward “what’s next.”
“What’s next” included her husband, David. Amy’s best friend introduced her to the civil engineer for Bissell Professional Group and the rest is history, complete with a Shih Tzu named Bentley and two Snowshoe Siamese cats, named Matix and Lola. Together, Amy and Dave have made a permanent home of Kill Devil Hills.
I asked Amy some questions about her life and work while I enjoyed an iced Chai latte from the Front Porch Café.
RM: As an interior designer, how do you approach projects with clients of diverse personalities and tastes?
AHK: I work with each client to help them fully understand their space and what will work best within that space. I guide them, but everything is based on their taste. Sometimes I do have to nudge a little in one direction or another, but it is still based upon their own taste. After all, they are the ones living there.
RM: What do you love most about your work?
AHK: I really enjoy the psychology of design. I particularly enjoy helping clients understand how their space affects them. Cluttered spaces are unhealthy in many ways and I really enjoy helping people overcome their clutter, get organized and live a more productive life as a result.
RM: In our bigger discussion, you told me you met your husband Dave in the Outer Banks. How did you meet?
AHK: My best friend introduced us. We were out having cocktails when we met.
RM: You had recently come back to the Outer Banks from Miami when you met him. Are there cool places around the Outer Banks for a “city girl” to enjoy a cocktail?
AHK: Oh, there are! We are really blessed here with so many wonderful places to eat and have a drink with friends. After all, the Outer Banks is known as a “drinking town with a fishing problem.” [smiling]
RM: What are some of your favorite hotspots?
AHK: I love the Kill Devil Grill. Mama Kwan’s is excellent. You have to try their Bushwhacker drink. It is so good! I love the Bad Bean for Mexican food. The Red Drum Grille & Taphouse is a great restaurant and bar.
RM: Where would you go to hang out with a group of girlfriends?
AHK: TRiO is a great wine and beer destination. They have a great atmosphere.
RM: For shopping, what is your favorite clothing boutique in the Outer Banks?
AHK: I really love Amity Boutique in Kitty Hawk. They have great taste. They also have a consignment section, which I love. Someone with great taste is just my size and she is always leaving items on consignment, so that makes me happy!
RM: What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t working?
AHK: I love being active. My husband might say I’m too active! I love to run, surf, do some Yoga. I play on a softball team and love kickboxing, too.
RM: Do you have any children?
AHK: I have fur babies. Bentley is our 13 year old Shih Tzu. We have two Snowshoe Siamese cats, Matix who is nine and Lola who is seven years old. Matix and Bentley are best of friends, but Lola likes to stick to herself.
RM: For someone without much space who wants to remember their time in the Outer Banks, what can they incorporate into their home or apartment to keep those memories alive?
AHK: Wind chimes, for sure. We have a lot of wind here, so many people are used to hearing wind chimes. A water feature is good. The sound of the bubbling water might remind them of the area. Nags Head hammocks and chairs are popular here. Maybe even an Adirondack chair tucked into a reading nook or on the porch would help them recall being in a relaxed state of mind.
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