Profile: From Beer to Bangkok – Asheville Interior Designer April Gahagan

2023 Carolina Home & Garden Profile for April Gahagan, lead interior designer for Asheville's FS Design Group

Excerpted from:
Carolina Home and Garden
  by .
  Photo by Studio 828 Photography

April Gahagan is a Western North Carolina native, and her designs go around the world.

“While most 16-year-olds were working at McDonald’s, I was learning how to lay tile in a spec house,” says April Gahagan, whose grandparents and father were general contractors. She is the founder of FS Design Group and previously, the vice president and principal designer upholstered-furniture crafting, repair, and restoration company. {From that company has grown FS Design group.]  A spacious, sunny new design center and showroom for FS Design group is replete with possibilities for the residential shopper.

Even a quick glance at your website reflects a business that serves diverse niches.

That’s right. If our customer can imagine it, we can build it, and if it’s broken, we can fix it … whether the piece is a prized antique or damaged by fire or flood. We also offer reupholstering services. Our furniture is all American-made, with many North Carolina components — our springs come from Hickory and our cushions from High Point.

I’m quite excited about our new retail showroom, too. It’s a place where customers can try out our upholstered pieces that have, until now, only been “available to the trade.” The ability to touch something I’m considering buying is important to me.

What’s a typical “day in the life?”

We manage full renovations and design-builds, and work with contractors to bring their clients’ projects to life. Our residential-to-commercial client base is about 50-50 now. We design many homes from scratch for clients who build second homes in the mountains. It’s a fun process where we really dig into client personality, needs, and taste, along with practical issues like ensuring the layout will work or a custom-made chair will fit into its designated place. “All in a day’s work” could mean repurposing a client’s dining table by making new chairs, or providing all the textiles for a home — from bedding to drapes.

You’ve made your mark on downtown Asheville’s eatery scene, too.

I’m working on the Noble Cider project now, and I’ve had a hand in most of downtown’s restaurants, including Wicked Weed, Twisted Laurel, and Chestnut. I help interior designers realize their visions by sourcing what they want to create these spaces. We make custom-built booths and focus on upholstered furniture only, as opposed to case goods. It’s a fun challenge.