Ragan Wesson Stepping Out

Decorator Ragan Wesson felt called to the world of interiors, and the world happily welcomed her. She shares the things she loves most about it, as well as a few of her favorite projects.

AFTER: Walls and trim were painted White Down by Benjamin Moore. An antique chest fills the corner and provides a place for a lamp and art above. Ragan created a vignette with a painting by Shannon Harris (Grace Gallery), blue willow plates, and antlers. Curtains replace the shutters for a softer look. Photography by Shelby Willoughby
BEFORE: Wall and trim color divided the space. Shutters blocked the light and intruded on the room. The crosses needed a piece of furniture below to ground them.

It takes a lot of confidence to step out on your own as an interior decorator— something that didn’t come easily to Ragan Wesson; but when your passion keeps calling, you just have to answer. “I must confess that I was intimidated by the world of interior design,” says Ragan. “I had ‘impostor syndrome’ when I compared myself to other designers who were well-established in the field. So when I graduated from UAB, I took a job with Delta Air Lines.”

Living in Manhattan and flying around the world did nothing to diminish Ragan’s interest in interiors. “Being in New York and getting to travel had a profound impact on my vision and my eye,” she says. Inspired by the city’s shops and architecture, Ragan spent her days off exploring. “In Europe, I visited every museum and cathedral that was within walking distance of my hotel,” she says. “I took all the inspiration I found in Europe and brought it back home to Manhattan, where I decorated my 500-square-foot apartment from top to bottom. Not a single wall was empty.”

After returning home to Birmingham, Ragan settled into Homewood, got married, and is now the mother of three young children. “My friends started asking me to help them decorate their homes, and before I knew it, I had a full-fledged business.”

Often working on a budget, Ragan smartly balances splurge pieces with cost-saving items and homeowner’s existing pieces to curate custom, elevated designs. “A little strategy can go a long way in making the most of a tighter budget, Ragan says. “I enjoy helping a client incorporate an inexpensive flea market antique piece and then dressing it up with custom linens and art.”

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Before and after of living room
BEFORE: Furniture and seating seemed disjointed. The coffee table was too heavy for the space. The far wall lacked any definition.
AFTER: Custom cabinets create a true focal point and provide storage. An acrylic coffee table visually opens the room and allows the rug to stand out. Ragan pulled colors from the rug for pillows and accessories to bring the space together. New furniture creates balance.
Before and after of dining room
BEFORE: The dining area offered plenty of space but lacked any distinguishing features except for the corner cabinet.
AFTER: Ragan introduced a larger rug to define the space and added a draped wall and a mirror to stand in as a window. Art relocated to the other wall brings balance and focus. The chairs are vintage and complement the table and each other. The bookcase is styled with colorful finds in appropriate scale.
Ragan Wesson

Ragan Wesson raganwessoninteriors.com
IG: raganwesson

Defining Ragan’s Style

Hunting and Gathering.

“I love stumbling upon original art at antique malls and thrift stores,” says Ragan. “I found my favorite piece of art in London at a little flea market on the side of the road. It’s a vintage oil painting of two thatched-roof English cottages.” She adds that she always looks for art that is signed and original and has a great antique patina. “Don’t ever let an atrocious frame or cluttered antique booth scare you away from digging for gold,” the designer says.

Finding Inspiration.

“I enjoy reading old design books and learning about the greats: Billy Baldwin, Bunny Williams, Sister Parish, etc. I am currently crushing on Chicago designer Summer Thornton,” Ragan says. She adds that one of her favorite books as a child was The Secret Garden. “There was something so wild and romantic about the grand old house with its locked rooms and corridors. I would get lost in the pages as I imagined what the secret garden must have looked like,” she says.

Personal Style.

“I love any style if it is done well,” the designer says. “My personal taste leans more classic and Southern with a lot of character. My dream home would be somewhere between an elegant French chateau and a masculine, classy mountain lodge.”

Best Buy.

In addition to her design services, Ragan also sources and sells antique rugs. “I often hear clients with young children say that they love the way oriental rugs look, but they could never justify the cost because their kids would destroy it,” Ragan says. “I always remind them that I have small children too, but I also have those beautiful rugs. The great thing about a real, hand-woven rug is that it can be cleaned, rewoven, and re- dyed if needed.” She adds that sometimes the rugs look even better when they reflect the character of the ages. “One real, oriental rug is worth a thousand machine-made rugs,” Ragan says.

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