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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.