Before Alyssa Rosenheck found her calling as an architectural photographer and stylist, she was working hard to climb the corporate ladder in a career as a medical device sales consultant. In her 20s, financial freedom was her ultimate goal, but when she reached her 30s, Alyssa had a change of heart. “I was moving around quite a bit from Nashville to Chicago and my job was quite labor-intensive. I hadn’t taken a vacation in six years,” she says. “I remember sitting in my condo in Chicago one night thinking: From the outside, it looks like I’ve made it. But inside, I was experiencing so much creative anemia, I was miserable.”
Just a few weeks later—much to the shock of her bosses—Alyssa resigned and picked up a camera, an interest she’d had since she was a little girl. “I always had this sense of visual acuity and sensitivity to my surroundings,” she says. “I enrolled in a graphic design course, bought a camera and started reading the manual. I had always loved styling homes and designing for myself, so I went that route.”
At the same time, Alyssa was hit with some scary news: A cancer diagnosis. “I was dating my now-husband long distance and went to visit him for the weekend in Nashville, where we now live,” she recalls. “We were out to dinner, and he was like, ‘Alyssa, you have a tumor growing out of your neck.’ He’s a head and neck surgeon and was trained by the best head and neck surgeon in the world. Sure enough, I had thyroid cancer.”
It took several months for Alyssa to feel like herself again after having her thyroid and tumor removed, but her photography career became the ultimate distraction during an extremely tough time. “It gave me permission to get rid of things weighing me down and really lean into my dreams,” she says.
Her big break came when she pitched the first home she styled and photographed to Rue Magazine and it featured her work. “I’ve created a real niche for myself, not just as a photographer and stylist, but as a consultant who can help my clients with everything from social media to branding,” she explains.
On her perfect day in Nashville. “It's predominantly food-based! City House has the most delicious pizza and wine pairings in such a cool and casual environment. I’ve never had a bad meal there ever. I also love Josephine in 12 South. It’s quaint and friendly, and they also have the best Brussels sprouts. Last, Proper Bagel is one of my favorite brunch spots. It’s a mom-and-pop shop, and you get a little taste of New York, plus an ethnic flair that’s incredible.”
On her approach to home styling. “Editing is my starting point. As soon as I walk into a space, I look at the whole room and all of its parts and I’m constantly rearranging. I start by pulling everything off of the countertops and out of the room, then re-layering everything back in. I think it’s also important to incorporate color and texture. I’m a big fan of thoughtful arrangements, like adding a plant or flowers.”
On the best room in the house. “I love the places that we occupy the most, like the living room or bedroom. If you spend a ton of time in a space, the design should reflect that. For example, my living room is filled with windows and light. It’s a communal environment, so there’s not a lot of TV going on. Instead, we have this huge coffee table and it’s filled with close to 40 amazing coffee table books. It makes you want to sit down and have a really great conversation.”
On her favorite design trend. “I’m really into post-minimalism right now. I’m gravitating a lot toward pure and raw materials, unrefined woods, concrete accessories, stone floors—really raw elements that connect to the environment and add a deeper meaning to a space. I’m also into rich textiles right now. For example, mohair. If I could have a room draped in mohair, I would be all in.”
On how to fit your dreams into a busy day. “People always ask me: How did you take that leap of faith? And here’s the thing: I never suggest leaving 100 percent. You need to make sure that you have a nest egg, and if you’re not in a position to leave to start doing something you’re passionate about, spend 20 minutes a day on it. Even doing just that is a great start.”
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