Log in Newsletter

The Insider | By Kelly Twedell


The shelves on the walls of Cindy Baker’s new design room are packed with books of fabric samples. That’s no surprise since she says creating custom window treatments is one of her favorite things about interior design because it allows her to get to know her clients better. “I love the interactions with the customers. You get involved in their lives when creating a home for them,” Baker said. “I’ve become close friends with many clients.” Baker is the principal owner of CJ Designs and she recently set up shop at 1333 Morganton Road, after working at the Haymount House, as an interior designer for nine years. She came to Fayetteville in 1985 for the same reason that many women do, following a man in uniform. Baker studied interior design at Missouri State University and worked in the field in Kansas City before moving here and being hired at Haymount House. She was the catalyst in launching the interior design end of the Haymount House and eventually became a part owner of the business. As the business thrived, Baker and her partner Faye Riddle bought the shop in 1988 and renamed it Haymount House Interiors, adding furniture and accessories to their showroom. In 1994, after being design partners for about eight years, Baker and Riddle moved to Haymount Galleries, which is now known as the Stedman House. Baker left there in 1994 to launch CJ Designs. Her personal style is best described as colorful. She has never favored neutrals, not even when they were popular. “I love to mix a lot of patterns together,” Baker said. “There is an art to making sure they are coordinated well and I will look and look to find the perfect matches. In a large living room there can be six to eight prints.” In 2010 the “in” color was turquoise, so Baker found lots of accent pieces in that vivid color to use in clients’ homes. This year she says the new color trend will be anything metallic, in any shade. Whether it’s a touch here, a mirror there or a metallic tone on an accent wall, the shiny hues will be popping up everywhere. While she likes to give clients what they want, Baker said that since they are paying her for her expertise, sometimes she has to gently guide them and weigh in on their decisions. It’s her job to make sure the finished room is attractive and sometimes, she said, that means steering clients away from what they say they want. During the initial visit, Baker asks the prospective client several questions about their favorite colors and their likes and dislikes. She then creates a design based on the client’s tastes and what she learned about them during the conversation. For some clients she may opt for a tailored look and for others her design could include ruffles or appear more staid and traditional. Generally, Baker said, it takes about eight weeks from start to finish for rooms undergoing complete changes but the timelines can vary according to how much business the four workrooms can handle and if the furniture needs to be ordered. Behind the scenes, CJ Designs is more than just Baker herself. She has a team of workers — seamstresses, wallpaper hangers, tile installers and other contractors — who help pull her visions together. “I always feel so strongly that I am doing the design work to please the client and I like making other people happy in this business,” Baker said. “I love the creativity piece of pulling a house together.” How much is that doggie in the window… Whether she is perched on Baker’s lap, or curled up under her desk, Baker’s adopted five-year-old dog Scooter is always fashionably dressed for the season. Scooter has already made a home in the new studio and is loved by all the staff and contractors. It is plain to see that the two are inseparable.