When it comes to work and play, instead of separating the two, Andrea Wilson Mueller decided to merge them.
“We’ve designed our life around being at home,” Andrea said. She is the owner of the landscape design company Inside Out Design.
Her company and home are located off Old Georgetown Road on land where she grew up. The land is farmland that belonged to her grandparents JW and Dorothy Wilson.
“I love being home and love being on the land,” she said. “I grew up on that land.”
Every Sunday, Andrea said her grandfather took her to Elkhorn Creek to play. The creek runs through the property. She also loved to play on a huge walnut tree that still stands tall on the property today. She and her family — husband, Michael, daughter, Jewell, 16, and son, Vance, 15 — love to spend time on the creek.
“I love stand up paddleboarding on the creek,” she said.
Andrea’s grandmother still has a farmhouse nearby. “I walk down there all the time to see her.”
Andrea grew up having a love for nature. Her father, Charlie Wilson, owned a nursery that she worked at starting at age 12. She graduated from Frankfort High School in 1998. She decided to drop horticulture and study architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta right after high school. But her love of Kentucky never faded.
“The whole time I was in Georgia I wanted to come back to Kentucky,” she said. “I love Frankfort because it’s home. My whole family is here, pretty much. I have a lifetime of relationships here.”
She decided to come back to Kentucky and attend the University of Kentucky where she graduated from in 2003 with a bachelor of arts degree in design.
However, during her last year of college, she realized that she wanted to get back involved with plants.
“It’s nice to have an interior design background and apply space planning principles to landscape,” she said.
Shortly after graduating from UK, Andrea and Michael got married and decided to start Inside Out Design. They ran the business out of a 850-square-foot apartment above a garage on their property. Eventually, they added Jewell, Vance and two dogs into the mix.
Andrea homeschooled the kids for three years, while working to build their business.
“Michael and I did everything,” she said. “We only had two or three people working with us.”
Michael ran the work crews while Andrea did all of the designs and marketing. As they worked, Jewell and Vance followed alongside them.
“They’ve always been a part of it,” Andrea said. “They toted along with me. They could tell you every job site we’ve ever done.”
As the business grew, Michael didn’t have to be in the field as much. Now, he does commercial sales and drainage sales, while Andrea does sales related to design. They now have a staff of 14 with each staff member holding an integral position in the company.
Among the staff are Kristin Dempsey, who helps with the books and human resources. Ryan Barker oversees ordering. Dan Braccio is the hardscape crew foreman. Arturo Chagoya runs the landscape crew. Becky Gatewood assists Andrea with designs.
Also, in 2007, Andrea and Michael bought their first rental property, and by 2014 had renovated and rented five properties. Eventually, they sold them all.
In 2009, they went to work converting the garage and adding to it to complete their 2,500-square-foot home, where one room was used an an office and the dining room was a conference room
“I designed our house,” Andrea said. “We built a lot of it ourselves. Michael and a few friends did all of the metal work. He used to work for a carpenter for custom homes in Lexington. He can build anything. He can weld and do electrical.”
In 2011, they built the office on their property.
Andrea’s favorite part about her work is the design.
“I love helping people solve problems in their landscape and making them excited about the plants and benefits of those plants in their yard,” she said.
She primarily uses native species in her designs. She’s passionate about educating her clients and providing the best landscape for their property and the environment.
Her first project that incorporated primarily native plants was for Investors Heritage.
“Harry Lee Waterfield hired us to do that and he wanted Kentucky native plants,” she said. “It’s been a fun garden to watch and see how other people get out and use it — that’s what it’s for.”
Every year, Andrea likes to donate her expertise to a local project or two. She particularly likes to design outdoor classrooms. This year, she’s been working with Frankfort High School on a raised bed project. Connie Lemley is overseeing the project, which is is funded through grants.
“We’re building raised beds to give kids the opportunity to grow food,” Andrea said. “And, we’re doing a food forest on Frankfort High property. It will be full of native trees and shrubs that are edible.”
Andrea will also be designing the landscape and donating trees and shrubs for a reforestation project at Josephine Sculpture Park. She will be designing an interactive landscape using the trees and shrubs purchased by donors as part of JSP’s GROW WITH US campaign.
In her leisure, it’s no surprise that Andrea likes to spend time outdoors. She loves spending time outside on her property either down by the creek or with her animals. The family also likes to travel. They have visited 48 states. They still have Hawaii and Oklahoma to check off their list.
“We have a 1954 Terry camper and it’s tiny,” she said. “We’ve taken it to Maine, Texas, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Florida and everywhere in between — that little thing has gone everywhere.”
They also enjoy going to Laurel Lake in Corbin to go boating and kayaking.
But, her favorite place will always be her home with her family, dogs, cats, chickens, goats and a horse named Hercules, who belongs to one of her staff members. She has put the goats to work on her property eating invasive plants.
“We live, work and play all in the same place,” she said. “That’s special.”