Elizabeth Schreckenberg
Contributing Writer

Marla Vogt’s mother always knew her daughter had a knack for creativity. As a young girl, Marla rearranged her room ten times in a week and sketched detailed pictures not typical for the average kindergartner. When she grew up and tried different jobs that just didn’t fit, her mom encouraged her to make a career out of something she obviously loved to do.

Above & Beyond Design by Marla | Kitchen and Bathroom“She told me I should go into Interior Design,” said Vogt, who after following that advice fifteen years ago, opened her own kitchen and bath design showroom in Columbia last month.

“I love what I do. Helping people decide what their style is, and then seeing the finished product is so rewarding,” said Vogt.

After attending Sheffield School of Design, Vogt landed her first job as a designer working for Patricia Schmidt. Soon after, she went to work at Lifestyle Kitchens and Baths, a division of Wilke, where she was the top cabinet salesperson and designer for nearly a decade.

“It was a great job,” said Vogt, “but sometimes with the high volume sales, I wasn’t able to see the end results, and that was hard for me.”

She was also not able to spend as much time with her two children as she wanted, so two years ago, she took a leap of faith and started her own business, Above and Beyond Design, and began working from home.

“I knew it was sink or swim,” said Vogt. And as she was approached with opportunities to design and remodel Metro Area eateries, she started to swim.

She added her contemporary flare to the City Diner at the Fox Theatre, Twist Frozen Yogurt in Edwardsville, Kahuna’s in Greenville, and several others, by choosing and coordinating upholstery, counter and tabletops, seating, lighting and more.

“I love to eat at a good restaurant,” said Vogt. “And atmosphere is such a key component. The food is only half of the reason people come back.”

Above & Beyond Design by Marla | Kitchen & Bath Design

Through word of mouth, Vogt has become a requested designer in homes in the Columbia and surrounding areas, and even as far as Mascoutah and St. Peters. But her success doesn’t come without challenges.

“I made this move to be closer to my kids, but it’s not easy to work when they are home,” said Vogt, who is welcoming the beginning of the school year. “Sometimes I’m on the phone and they’re arguing or trying to play on my computer. I just have to hope my customers understand life with kids.”

She also has to wear more hats than she planned for when entering the industry.

“I’m working with husbands and wives who are making major decisions about the main rooms in their homes,” said Vogt. “Sometimes they don’t see eye to eye and I have to play the role of marriage counselor/therapist to help them meet in the middle.”

Above & Beyond Design by Marla | Kitchen and Bathroom

Beautiful kitchen designed by Marla Vogt.

Most of the time, said Vogt, the woman is the most passionate about her kitchen, even if she doesn’t spend much time at the stove. Ironically enough, Vogt doesn’t cook.

“But I still want my kitchen to be functional,” she said. “We women like to entertain and feel comfortable in the kitchen, and a good design has a lot to do with that.”

So how does someone to whom style comes so naturally, help someone who has no idea what they want?

Vogt said she has a tried and true method of discovering clients’ preferences.

“I tell them to flip through magazines and cut out images of kitchens they like,” she said. “When I piece them all together, it’s amazing how most of them contain the same styles and colors.”

Although her career’s success has been incredibly fulfilling, Vogt said the opening of her showroom at 121 S. Main St. is like a dream come true.

121 South Main Street Columbia, IL 62236

Above & Beyond Design
121 South Main Street Columbia, IL 62236

“I remember sitting across the street from this building two years ago and saying ‘I want to be there,” said Vogt. “And here I am.”

With the undying support of her husband, Mike, the former flower shop has been transformed into an elegant showcase of cabinetry, countertops, and hardware. By appointment, Marla will meet with clients to design and present kitchen, bar, and bath plans using her CAD/2020 design program.

“When I was little and my dad was in construction, people didn’t get to see a visual of what to expect,” said Vogt. “Now technology allows us to put it right out in front of you.”

Her passion for beautiful, functional kitchens has led her to many great friendships. “I get so excited about every project,” said Vogt. “I love to see the before and after as much as my clients do. When they’re happy, I’m happy.”

Source Article: http://www.bnd.com/2011/09/08/1848594.html