20 Questions with Aparna Vijayan of Ulrich, Inc

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our favorite designers at Ulrich, Inc, Aparna Vijayan. Aparna has helped New Jersey homeowners create dream kitchens, bathrooms and countless custom spaces. Her designs have been featured in top design publications and have served as inspiration for home renovations everywhere.

Topic 1: Let’s Meet Aparna Vijayan

TSGBC: Would you share with us some highlights of your career? Where did you begin your designing career? Were you always focused on the kitchen and bath aspects of design?

Aparna:  I have an undergraduate degree in architecture and went on to do a masters at Pratt Institute.  Upon graduating in 1995, I began working in the field of interior design, and continued in that for a year.  I started in the kitchen industry in 1996 and joined Ulrich, Inc. in 1998.

TSGBC: What is a typical day like for you at Ulrich, Inc?

Aparna:  My days are always busy. I begin my day completeing paperwork and site visits.  My afternoons are often filled with client appointments, collaborating and/or shopping with them.  5 PM on weekdays, and almost all my Saturdays are blocked out for my quiet design time.  Those are my favorite hours as I get get all my creative work done then.

TSGBC: What is your favorite part of your job?

Aparna:  Client interaction and exploration, and later, translating that into design.  Seeing my clients’ excitement when they see that I have listened to them and included all of their special input in the design is very gratifying.

TSGBC: What is the biggest lesson learned in your career?

Aparna:  The importance of making my clients smile is number one on my job to-do list. In my mind, if a design enhances my client’s lifestyle and makes them happy, that is a more successful design than one that is just purely “good design”.  

TSGBC: What advice would you give to a designer beginning a career in today’s world?

Aparana:  Two things:  First – be a good listener.  Don’t be in a hurry to wow your client with  your design prowess.   Personalize, get to know their lifestyle, pets, the activities their kids are into, etc.  Everyone’s needs are different.  Second – always study the style of the house and stay true to the architecture.  You should always be cognizant of the resale value of anything you do.

Topic 2: The Ins and Outs of Aparna’s Design Expertise

TSGBC: What elements define your style?

Aparna:  I like an honest floor plan, splashes of color, texture and lots of personalization.

TSGBC: Where did you find your inspiration?

Aparna:  Travel!  I travel a lot and draw from various cultures and color palettes.  Travel also teaches you patience which translates into being a good listener for your client.

TSGBC: What is the most challenging aspect of designing a dream kitchen and/or bath? What is the must have in a Kitchen? In a Bath?

Aparna:   The limiting factors are always budget and space.  In the kitchen the must-have would be a comfortable gathering place for the family.  For bathrooms, I like them to be clean-lined and “Zen” with special features to refresh and reinvigorate you.

TSGBC: What should clients prioritize in their budget? Would you focus on cabinetry, appliances, tile, surfaces, lighting, etc? Is one aspect more important than the other?

Aparna:  Appliances and cabinetry are the important investments.  Lighting is also a key element in making a space functional and dramatic.

TSGBC: What is your project management style? Do you prefer the hands on client?

Aparna:  I like to manage collaboratively.  It challenges me more when a client has distinct ideas and is not afraid to push the boundaries.  That keeps me on my toes and I don’t get sedentary – there is nothing worse than a sedentary designer!  I keep my clients involved at every stage of the design process.

TSGBC: Do you have an all time favorite project you have worked on?

Aparna:  I have two:  One was a kitchen that I designed for a newly built contemporary home here in Ridgewood.  I loved how the space came together with its warm wood tones, subtle accents of gold, and open, airy floor plan, not to mention that it’s loaded with high end appliances!  Click here to see this Ridgewood Kitchen.

The other is a remodeled kitchen in Tenafly whose homeowner loved the color purple.  It was fun to give them the modern kitchen their family needed and utilize an unusual color palette that feels so right in their home! Click here to see this Tenaly kitchen.

Topic 3:  Aparna’s Fun facts

Go-to Paint Color for Walls:   Pale Oak

Favorite Color For Kitchen Cabinets Hale Navy

Favorite Color For Bathroom Vanity:  A Soft Grey

Flower:  Magnolia

No-Regrets purchase home and/or fashion:  Laughing Buddha.  I found it at an antique store in CT.  It brings a smile to everyone’s face when they come to my front porch.  Have seen many an Amazon driver take selfies with my Buddah! 

Restaurant:  Semma, NYC

Favorite Spot in Ridgewood:  Sook Pastry (who can resist?), and The Duck Pond

Dessert:  Passion Fruit Creme Brulee

Cocktail:  Lychee Martini

Place to Shop:  Everywhere!  Especially when I travel.

Guilty Pleasure:  Almond Croissant at Sook Pastry, Ridgewood.

Bucket List Travel Destination:  Bali, Japan

First thing you would buy if you won the lottery:  Travel (more!)

Aparna Vijayan / Ulrich Inc / 201.445.1260 / [email protected] / @ulrichinc / @aparnavijayandesigns