This Black Designer Is Kicking Imposter Syndrome to the Curb

A dark dining room with white chairs and a golden hanging light fixture

The Spruce / Photo Illustration by Amy Sheehan / Alexander Renee Design

Everyone's got their own design story, whether it be that they were interested in interior design from a young age, or that it was something that called to them in their adulthood. Acknowledging the contribution of Black interior designers to the design and decor spaces is crucial to moving forward and giving all voices, regardless of their backgrounds, the space to be heard. We’re highlighting talented Black interior designers who are thriving in the industry today.

Ashely Dixon, the designer behind Alexander Renee Design, began her professional journey as a federal employee. She started Alexande Renee Design as a creative hobby, but it has since expanded into a career that allows her to share her life and projects with her "internet BFFs."

Ashley Dixon in a white marble kitchen

Alexander Renee Design

You're a trained policy analyst with experience working for the federal government, what made you decide that being a designer was your calling? How did you deal with imposter syndrome on your journey?

 As a 12-year federal employee, while that is what I went to graduate school for, it was very black and white. I longed for a bit of creativity and started sharing my home-building journey as that outlet. Previously, I designed all of our rentals and home flips, but never thought it would be something I was doing as a career. Imposter syndrome crept in early for me with not having a background in interior design. Pushing through fear and doubt and ultimately realizing there is only one you and your perspective regardless of your background is valid, unique, and needed.

How would you describe your style and approach to designing spaces? 

My style can be described as modern classic, which sounds like complete opposites but fusing elements like clean lines and neutrals, with the luxe feel of velvet furniture or antique mirrors, creates the perfect juxtaposition of home. When designing spaces, I focus on getting my clients to separate styles they merely appreciate or trends, from what they would actually love in their own home, as the two are not always synonymous.

Your blog started as a way of just sharing your personal home projects with your home decor BFFs—how has influencing impacted how you navigate the home decor space? 

I started sharing personal home projects to help others realize they can do it too. In growing a community on Instagram and TikTok, I realized that instead of helping one client at a time I could help more people by creating home content that could be freely consumed to help anyone, regardless of location or budget, create the life and home they deserve.

A brightly lit, white tiled bathroom with green cabinets and geometric print wallpaper

Alexander Renee Design

Do you have any design inspiration, whether it be from your culture, other cultures, or anything else in between?

Design inspiration comes from our life experiences and, for me, that looks like travel. At the forefront of my design is combining function and aesthetics, and not sacrificing one for the other to craft well-designed spaces.

From your house flipping experience, do you have a specific home that was your favorite or a design piece in a house that you flipped that you'll never forget? 

In house flipping, I love the impact that wallpaper can make and adding a mural to a kids playroom or something interesting like a rock climbing wall is the best way to know the memories that might be made.

What’s your favorite design project?

Surprisingly enough, it is my own home. In the past, I spent so much time pouring into clients and others’ homes that I neglected my own. To be able to create a sanctuary and home I love has been so satisfying. 

A white kitchen with dark blue bar seating at the island and hanging light fixtures

Alexander Renee Design

What does it mean to you to be Black in this industry? 

To be Black in this space means being excited to see other POC, especially black women, thrive. Meeting other black interior designers gives us an instant connection and I truly want to support each and every one. It’s collaboration over competition every time.

What’s your favorite part of your own home?

I love my backyard. Creating a backyard oasis was important to me, it is my safe space. The sound of water from the pool and looking at the landscaping takes me to a vacation feeling without having to leave home. I swear this was the only thing to get me through the pandemic sanely. 

What’s one thing you try to incorporate in every space you design? Do you leave a little bit of yourself in every space you design?

I have a slight obsession with antique mirrors, they do not always mesh with every client’s design style, but they do bring a warm and luxurious feel to any space. If antique mirrors aren’t your thing, a mirror is still the best way to go to add light to a space and make spaces appear larger.