When Phelan’s opened in the 1950s, life—and design—were entirely different than they are now. Originally founded as a paint store that also sold wallpaper, previous owners maintained that focus until the 1990s, by which point it had become a wallpaper store that also offered window treatments. When Amy and Nathan Bailey purchased the store in 1998, however, the couple had a greater vision for the company—a vision driven by Amy’s background in interior design. “I worked as a designer at the store before we became the owners, and I wanted more,” explains Bailey, who holds a degree in design from TCU (Texas Christian University) and has been a practicing licensed designer for 35 years. “We thought that the store should be larger and offer a selection of accessories and home furniture to go with the already established window and wall emphasis.”
Soon after taking over ownership, the Baileys moved the store to Preston Road, where the plans they had for the company could be better executed and more fully realized. Twenty years later, the Phelan’s name is still going strong, and the vision that Bailey first had for the store has made it a success.
Bailey, along with a helpful staff that clearly knows their design, is the driving force in Phelan’s residential design services. “I love what I do,” she says. “Beautiful fabrics, patterns and textures are all at my fingertips to help my clients express their style. It’s fun to transform a space into something fabulous that our clients want to show off.”
With 4,000 square feet of space in the store, Phelan’s may not be huge but Bailey puts a lot of thought and time into selecting the wide range of products that it offers. “We try to have a great deal to choose from,” she says. “We have Dallas’ largest selection of wallpaper in one place, along with fabrics, furniture, rugs and accessories. We are a complete interior design center.”
Naturally, it takes passion to keep a company going strong for as long as Phelan’s has, and Bailey possesses an unwavering, passionate spirit. It’s something that clients can feel, and it commands a level of loyalty—as does the quality of the services that Phelan’s offers. “It is always satisfying to see our clients year after year and have the opportunity to watch their families grow and change. Many of those kids have also become clients,” Bailey says. “I think a large part of that is the personal service we offer. Phelan’s really sets itself apart from its competitors with a friendly staff that wants to help. We care deeply about our clients’ visions, and we wish to exceed their expectations. We offer them value for their money when it comes to products and services provided, and we work with them on a wide range of projects, from smaller-scale projects, like bathroom refreshes, all the way to working with architects on new builds.”
For Bailey and her staff, it really is all about connection. “I love my job because we get to share our lives with so many wonderful people who have such wonderful homes,” she says. “It is very satisfying to make someone’s vision come to life. Homes are very personal places, and I am grateful that I can help make their spaces more functional, more private and more beautiful as we work together to achieve those goals.”
As someone who has done projects on homes in places as diverse as New York, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Colorado and even North Dakota, Bailey’s portfolio is filled with projects large and small and in a range of styles as varied as the clients who commissioned them. Even so, her favorites are close to home, in Dallas, within a few miles of the store. That hometown feel lends itself well to the close-knit relationships she likes to forge with her clients. “The store is in a great area, and I’m proud to be my clients’ neighborhood store,” she says. “Some wave as they walk by to get coffee or pop in to see what’s new while the car is being washed. We always have something new arriving at the store, and many times things are purchased before we can get the price tags on them.”
Of course, Bailey does meet with her share of challenges on the job. “My biggest challenge as a designer today is having enough time for everyone,” she admits. “I do have a great staff of experienced, friendly people who are always willing to help, but everyone seems to have a project these days! Some are big, some are small, but all of them take time to pull together.”
A master of pulling it all together into a cohesive design that brings her clients’ visions to life, Bailey has kept Phelan’s not only relevant but on the cutting edge of style. For a company with 70 years to its name, that’s a true measure of success—and it’s just getting warmed up. *
Liesel Schmidt lives in Navarre, Florida, and works as a freelance writer for local and regional magazines. She is also a web content writer and book editor. Follow her on Twitter at @laswrites or download her novels, Coming Home to You, The Secret of Us and Life Without You, at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.