Designer Friday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Ana Claudia Schultz

With her keen eye for details and exquisite taste, Ana Claudia Schultz is ready to take on any client that comes her way. By working in architecture for over a decade, she has built a strong foundation for understanding and creating beautiful interior spaces. When her passion for decoration blossomed, she started Ana Claudia Design and quickly became established as a go-to interior designer. Every single one of her projects is curated to perfection and can be seen in many publications such as Goop, Rue Magazine, Domino Magazine, House Beautiful and HGTV. Now, along with her husband Aaron Smilye, a financial and tax advisors for creatives, Schultz is opening a new concept space in Rhinebeck, New York called THE BECK featuring Hudson Valley artisans and makers. Introducing this week’s Designer Friday, the one and only, Ana Claudia Schultz.

You can find this interior in an Orchard Street Penthouse apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Taking inspiration from the style and history of the Lower East Side, Ana Claudia designed the perfect interior for this minimalist-modern Swedish couple.

Andrew Joseph: You’re the newest Crayola color. What color are you and why?
Ana Claudia Schultz: I’d be the perfect shade of white. I love white as a background, but also contrasting it with another color. Also, white crayons don’t color easily so I’d be a more updated, easier glide and to use white. Also, white is the hardest shade to find for interiors!

Andrew: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?
Ana Claudia: Toucan, because I loved Toucans as a child. I love that they are usually black and white then have this weird colorful beak and eyes. They seem very sweet too.

Andrew: Describe your design style as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see.
Ana Claudia: Balanced. It’s about adding elements you love without being overwhelming whether it’s antiques with modern, or glam and minimalist.

Andrew: What is the last book you read?
Ana Claudia: Becoming by Michelle Obama. I “read” her audiobook when I still had time to create pottery. I looked forward to going to the studio and escaping with her thoughtful storytelling playing in the background.

Ana Claudia wanted this room to be both elegant and inviting, as it is the place where her client’s would hangout and relax the most. The fireplace is the living room’s focal point and is accompanied by custom walnut cabinetry.

Andrew: If you could live in any home in a movie or television series, what would it be?
Ana Claudia: When Harry Met Sally is my favorite movie and I love that it is based in 1980s NYC. If only I could get the apartments they lived in for the same price today!

Andrew: If you weren’t a designer, you’d be a ….?
Ana Claudia: I tried so many things before interior design. I started school studying business, then graduated with an architecture degree, then had a jewelry design business. I’d be an interior designer because I tried the rest and it’s what I am meant to do.

Andrew: What’s the best thing that happened to you this month?
Ana Claudia: We signed the lease for our new office space. It will showcase local Hudson Valley makers as well and I’m very excited about it!

Andrew: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Ana Claudia: Mezcal with one big rock.

Andrew: What would you like remembered about you?
Ana Claudia: My mom always said that you have to be better than your past life to be better in your future life. Better, is how I want to be remembered. Better than I was a year ago or 20 years ago, but always open enough to learn and to get better.

The amount of natural light this apartment on 57th Street in the Upper East Side is impeccable.

Andrew: What’s the weirdest thing a client has ever asked you?
Ana Claudia: Nothing is too weird, weird is fun. Recently a client asked for a rock climbing wall which I would’ve done but the ceiling was only 85″ high.

Andrew: What are your ideal weekend plans?
Ana Claudia: At home with my husband and kitties. Since social distancing and since we don’t have a pool I hang out on my deck which I call Jamaica. I set up lounge chairs, a misting fan, and have an umbrella. I just lay out and enjoy the view of the Hudson River for hours. It’s my escape.

Andrew: What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
Ana Claudia: I consider myself a terrible writer. I had a job as a secretary where I was scrutinized for my writing skills and their voices are still there whenever I write anything.

Andrew: What’s your design pet peeve?
Ana Claudia: When people don’t show up as scheduled. We all have busy lives so when it’s avoidable, just show up when you said you would.

Andrew: Are you a good cook? If so, what’s your specialty?
Ana Claudia: Relatively good, I make a great Thai/Indian/Brazilian inspired sauce that goes on my grilled fish. Also, ginger scallion noodles, and I make a spicy shrimp and grits that’s delicious!

For her room in the Kingston Design Showhouse, Ana Claudia added a bold wall covering to the ceiling and placed elements around the private dining room that created an overall mixture of modern and traditional, feminine and masculine, and moody and bright style.

Andrew: Do you get your eight hours a night? – what is your schedule like?
Ana Claudia: I do my best to get 8 hours of sleep every night. We wake up at 6 AM every day and work until at least 5. Then I wind down with dinner and a silly TV show, then sleep.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Ana Claudia: I wanted to take on a job that was different than most of my projects. It was a job I don’t think I got and it was French Country. Normally, I would not care for French Country, but this one potential client had great style and I knew we could create some very special moments in his home.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Ana Claudia: Inclusion of all races and working with local talents.

About The Designer | A native of Brazil, Miami-raised, long time resident of Brooklyn and now resident of Upstate NY, Ana Claudia is just as eclectic and diverse as her background. Upon graduating from Florida International University with a Liberal Arts Degree focused in Architecture, Ana Claudia worked in architecture for about a decade only to realize she loved working in interior design. For 5 years she worked at Ligne Roset as an interior designer where she honed her skills not just in design but also became a better listener and developed strong customer service. While at Ligne Roset Ana Claudia also started her design company first as a jewelry company known as ACD Jewelry and soon after she decided to solely focus on interiors and never regretted a moment since.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here.

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