Randy Angell of Randy Angell Designs is bringing a holistic approach to backyard landscaping
Plano has a special place in Randy’s heart; it’s where he was introduced to architecture design at Plano High School and got his first start in the home design business back in 1983. In fact, by the time he graduated high school, over 60 custom homes built in the Plano, McKinney and North Dallas were his designs. Through designing homes, Randy began designing pools and then studied horticulture to do landscapes.
About a year ago he launched his own exterior design firm: Randy Angell Designs (R.A.D.). Randy calls himself an exterior designer because, like an interior designer, he decorates backyard spaces with one vision; everything from pool tiles to patio furniture.
How did you start designing houses as a high school student?
As a junior, I was in the architecture program at Plano [Senior High School]. John Young from J.A. Young and Associates, a small family company, came to our architecture class looking for someone to help him with drafting. My teacher immediately pointed at me. I got an interview and was hired part time. Slowly, I wormed my way into a full-time position, and I kept pushing to do more work other than simple drafting. Before I knew it, I was designing houses. It’s fun now to take my son on tours around the area and say, “I designed that house when I was 17 or 18.”
Why did you create R.A.D.?
A couple of years ago I showed up with a photographer to shoot some projects, and I would see the outdoor furniture [my clients] bought themselves. The fabric went with nothing else in the backyard, so I had it Photoshopped. After that happened time and time again, I realized I was missing an opportunity to serve my clients, because who has time to go shop [for outdoor furniture] and look at fabrics? Most people would go to a furniture store and buy whatever was on sale. As much as a control freak I am with my designs, that’s why I added those services. To have that complete follow-through with a vision, makes it ten times more satisfying for me as a designer.
I draw inspiration from everywhere. I look at architecture from Australia, South Africa and Chile. Right now, it’s all about simple, clean design. I think in all aspects of our lives, things are so busy and move so quickly, we want to be able to breathe. When a [client] walks into a space I want them to sit down, exhale and enjoy. Also LED lighting is great to use when you’re having a cocktail or dinner party. When the LED lights come on you create a completely different atmosphere.
Do you ever look back at your designs from the ‘80s and question everything?
Just like I look back at my hair from that time and go “oh my”, there are things that I designed that made sense in the ‘80s, but when you look back, you go “Wow, what were we thinking?” There’s one pool in particular that used a purple iridescent tile. It was kind of out there in the ‘80s, but it worked. When I went back to do a renovation on that project, I had an “oh wow” moment. There’s always going to be those elements; when you’re trying to set trends and be ahead of trends, you’re going to stumble along the way. You think it’s working but it doesn’t really stand the test of time.
Do you ever get “designer’s” block?
When that happens, I have to make my brain stop. I’ve walked into backyards, especially with renovations, and it’s already beautiful. I look at it and go “Oh my god, what am I going to do with this, it’s already beautiful. I don’t know what they want from me!” Sometimes I might stare at it on my drawing table for two weeks. Then I’ll be driving around or I’ll be looking online at architecture and I’ll see a detail that all of a sudden sparks a vision and then it just starts flowing.
See more of Randy’s work at randyangelldesigns.com