Spending time in a place that makes you feel calmer and more relaxed can have a remarkable effect on your state of mind—and probably no one understands that better than Anita Yoder, president and owner of Heritage Design Interiors, Inc.
Yoder grew up in an old farmhouse outside of Strasburg. Her mother was “constantly redecorating, hanging new draperies, rearranging furniture,” Yoder said. “And so by watching her, I developed a love of decorating and interior design.”
Taking her first course in interior design at the young age of just 14 (and talking her mom and friends into taking the class with her), Yoder realized that there might not be a lot of career opportunities in this area, so she pursued a degree in the medical field instead.
“But interior design was in my blood,” Yoder said. “I was helping family and friends with design and decorating ideas, and I realized that although I was calling it a hobby, people were really encouraging me to get into the business.”
And so she took the plunge, starting her own business in 1990 at just 23 years old.
“It was challenging at first, and the economy wasn’t great, but I was given a challenge and I rose to meet it. In fact, things were going well enough that after my first year, I was able to hire my very first employee, Pam Leisey,” she said.
“It was a perfect fit; she’s still with me today. We complement each other. She leans more toward the contemporary; I lean more toward historical and traditional, with a little eclectic mix thrown in. We’re just a good match.”
In June of 1991, Yoder participated in the very first Lancaster Parade of Homes.
“I decorated a home and was thrilled when it won an award,” she said. “The following year, I was given two homes in two price ranges to decorate and won both price ranges. And now, for 19 years in a row, I’ve never missed a year participating, and my company has always received an award. It’s been very exciting.”
Yoder does a lot of work with businesses and homeowners in local areas, including Lancaster, Chester, Berks, York, and Dauphin counties.
“I also get down to Philly and northern Maryland to do some work for my local clients who own vacation homes in those areas,” she said.
The personal attention her clients receive is what, Yoder believes, sets her company apart, and it’s something she’s very proud of.
“I really listen to my clients; I look at their homes and their lifestyle,” she said. “It’s their home. I’m not going to move in and live there, so it has to be about what they want, what makes them comfortable. I have no problem when a client tells me they don’t like something I’ve presented. I tell them fabric doesn’t have feelings—if you don’t like it, just tell me!”
Some clients come in with very definite ideas of what they want, with every detail chosen. Others just need a little bit of help, so she’s happy to steer them in the right direction. Yoder likes to give her clients choices and to customize the service she provides to the unique needs of each client.
“Sometimes I’ll go into an existing home and start from the ground up, suggesting colors and fabrics. And other times, we’ll be inspired by a piece of artwork, and so we can use that as a starting point for ideas,” she said. “I always try to remind them to think about the future—are you going to love it five years from now? An idea might be beautiful in a restaurant, but is it right for your home?”
Donating her time and talents as a consultant is important to Yoder as well, and typically those opportunities arise through the suggestions of a colleague. She is happy to work with nonprofits and other organizations that make it their mission to help those less fortunate get back on their feet.
Heritage Design Interiors has also been generous in their support of local fundraising events.
“I like to keep it local,” Yoder said. “That’s important to me.”
As a child, Yoder admits she was awkward and shy, but she always found that she had a great appreciation for the beauty that surrounded her. And she’s created the perfect way to share that appreciation with others.
“If someone back when I was in elementary school would have given me a snapshot of my future, I would have looked at it and said, ‘No way,’” she said. “But now I so enjoy sharing the art of interior design with many different kinds of people.” BW