By: Miriam Landru
Homicide investigator-turned interior designer, Ann Marie Locklear, knows a whole lot about houses. In fact, she builds them from the ground up and then styles the entire home inside out. As she spoke about her exciting career as an interior designer and contractor, she had this mesmerizing glow about her. With a Southern accent sweeter than tea, hearing Locklear speak verified the saying “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” She was a walking, talking personification of her home, which offers a wide array of color schemes, patterns, artworks, but most importantly, southern hospitality.
Ann Marie is the owner of her own interior design firm, The Plantation House, which is located in downtown Fayetteville. If designing and building other’s homes is her profession, then one can only imagine what her humble abode looks like. The brick home tucked away behind a winding driveway is quintessentially Southern. Ann Marie’s husband, Wayne Locklear, explained, “The house is a reproduction of an actual plantation home on the Natchez River located in Mississippi. The plans were purchased through the historic preservation society.” The first step in this palace of a home brings you to a checkered floor of black and white tiles, like something out of Charlotte’s Duke Manson. The walls are a peppy green and there is custom made artwork hanging throughout the hallway. Art is a huge component of this Eastover home. From giant, 5 foot canvases, to dozens of statuettes and a 10-inch palette knife painting, the house’s vibes were that of a museum, but still maintained the comfort of a home.
A vase full of freshly cut hydrangeas sat in the middle of a spacious wooden table in the dining room. Chinoiserie played a major theme in this space because the wall covering, specifically called de Gournay, was handspun silk made in England and each panel was hand-painted with scenery of oriental birds and forestry. When asked how this specific silk wallpaper was hung, Ann Marie digressed, “When I was in D.C. at a design market, I wanted this very specific type of silk. I bought it, but later found out there wasn’t anyone in North Carolina who was qualified to hang the silk. There were only two people in the South East coast who could do it. After looking for quite a while, I found a gentleman in Wilmington who was an ex-firefighter. He hung it in one day! Nowadays you can see it in every single home magazine. Since then I haven’t been afraid of anything. I’ve even hung glass on walls for my clients!” Since Wayne owns a drywall business, he helped design this room as much as he could. He explained, “I installed the 4 x 4 raised paneled ceiling in the dining room, which is made from drywall material installed by my company.” He jokingly continued, “I always prefer wallpaper on the walls!”
The room gave off a flux of color and vibrancy. Although it was old-fashioned in its ways, the artwork gave a breathe of modernity. Ann Marie explained, “I would describe my personal designing style as traditional. Classic southern, but always with an eclectic piece of art. Good design is not specific. You can do harsh-contemporary, but you may have a traditional piece you incorporate like a family heirloom.” The dining room’s crème de la crème was a one-of-a-kind Dale Chuhuly glass sculpture. The glassblowing artist’s works can be seen across the country and world, most notably in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the ceiling of the famous Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. In the large cabinet sitting in the corner, dozens of figurines perched around fine china. “That’s my whimsy,” Ann Marie explained, “I’m a big collector of Herend porcelain animals.” Every adorable critter one can think of is neatly tucked away in the most appropriate spot. This home is all about details and Ann Marie surely knows how to make sure no spot gets overlooked. It’s as if she sees an empty house as a blank canvas, and with a wave of her magic wand, or protractor for that matter, poof! Incredible artwork and décor from around the world is pleasantly incorporated around a comfortable, livable and let’s not forget fabulous, home.
The next room in the tour was the modern kitchen. With marble countertops and an artistic style backsplash, this space was sure to make the hearts of all bakers and cooks swoon. If one word could describe this house it would be eclectic. The kitchen was home to anything and everything: from a piece of Italian pottery, a taxidermy pheasant and copper kitchenware - all of these things worked luxuriously together. Two chartreuse green chandeliers hung over a huge slide-in style table. The obvious favorite in the room was the spectacular see-through illuminating glass refrigerator that resembled an amplified wine cooler. This feature was installed specifically for Wayne. He explained, “That was the one feature I wanted for the kitchen remodel and I make sure it stays organized!” Afterwards, Ann Marie whispered reassuringly, “There’s a real full-sized fridge tucked around the corner!”
Around the corner from the kitchen is the living room, the largest space in the home. With a giant leather couch and an ottoman big enough to fit three dogs, Beauregard, B.W., and Stitch to be exact, this area is the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine or to host a movie viewing with friends. The walls were decorated with grass cloth, which gives off a bamboo-looking vibe. The windows were excellently draped with the finest curtains and the room was filled with sculpture art. Taylor Reed, the Locklear’s son, has moved out of the house to attend The Citadel in Charleston, but his father told us “His favorite room is the family room. It is a formal but casual room. There are pheasants and ducks but also fine art work.” Ann Marie’s love for animals is apparent and her infatuation with dachshunds is everything but uncanny. Her admiration of these miniature dogs is represented proudly throughout artworks of different eras: modern, art deco, and even abstract. Many of her dachshund pieces are collector’s items from tradeshows across the county. All that is missing is a Jeff Koons balloon dog statue with shorter legs and an elongated torso. The quirkiness of her animal art incentive and her unconditional love for her two adorable dachshunds shows how deeply embedded Ann Marie is into both her style and her home.
The Locklears consider art the focal point of their house. With over hundreds of unique paintings, sculptures and figurines, the home could easily double as an art gallery. Ann Marie explained, “The art is definitely what my entire home is based off of. I build every room around a piece of art. With my clients, I help them decide on what direction to go by helping them chose different types of art. When considering art as a palate for a home – I ask them what is your favorite color? What are you attracted to? A piece of art really shows you who that person is. I try to bring that idea to life when designing interiors.” Wayne’s favorite piece of art is a piece by Michael Godard, an imaginative and alternative artist who specializes in paintings of food, drinks, movie stars and musicians.
Although the kitchen is one of her favorite rooms, Ann Marie admitted, “I spend so much time in my master bedroom that it is most definitely my favorite place in my house. They say your bedroom should be a place you rest in, but I work out of it! I tried to create my office and desk in there.” As she whirled around the master bedroom, she proclaimed, “I find my bedroom incredibly cozy and as you can see, pink is definitely my favorite color.” The entry-room to the bedroom is a hot-pink painted nook with stunning textured artworks of flowers in vases. With velvet prints on the walls of her bedroom, Ann Marie played with the idea of textures and patterns. She explains, “Texture is important and can take a formal room to having both formality and comfort. Flocking is texture, but silk drapes can turn everything around. In fact, interior design is often reflective of the fashion industry trends. Whatever colors or textures sent down the runway easily transition to the world of interiors! Design should always be a classic style that’s good forever and never goes out of style, just like fashion.” Texture, material and size also play major roles when choosing house accessories and furniture. “Size is everything. EVERYTHING!” Ann Marie exclaimed. “I would rather a client invest in one good piece that's proportioned correctly than a bunch of stuff. Stuff can come later. Just one piece of furniture that’s proportioned, because size is very important. Huge homes need to be purposefully put in their places.”
For those looking to build a home or seeking interior design help, Ann Marie gives some wonderful advice. Her experience with start-to-finish home design cannot be contested. “After I built my home from the ground up, that’s when I knew I loved building because I was there for every decision. After that I was pursuing everything. I started drawing and working for friends. It somehow grew from sketches on my kitchen table to a small spot downtown to a large business. In my field some people don’t have formal training, they just have an eye for it. To progress my career I took courses on color and paint, I tried to educate myself about furnishing and molding. I got into building and I loved getting right on the site and placing the home on the land. I work with architects and I am now a licensed contractor. Wayne said the most interesting process when building their house was choosing the right historic home to replicate. He said, “When we chose to build the house almost 20 years ago we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle in Richmond, Virginia to study Plantation Homes on the James River. Ann Marie and I spent time looking at moldings and details found in the historic homes located in Virginia. We brought these details back to reproduce in our home.”A person who grows with their business is destined for success. Ann Marie’s remarkable journey through the field of interior design and contracting is apparent through her own gorgeous home and her attitude towards life. She is a bright and bubbly woman with a flare of business etiquette and an equal amount of panache. Luckily enough, CityView was able to catch her right after her tropical vacation in Tahiti and Bora Bora. The trip was strictly for pleasure, not work she insisted. Despite the Locklear’s Louvre-contesting residence that is truly an ode to artwork, the family still remembers what truly makes a house a home – they have Taylor Reed’s childhood artworks framed amongst their most prized possessions.