“I want the design to represent my client, not me. It takes time. It’s a process. Finding the right piece can’t be rushed. It is collected, and it tells a story.”
Art can be the starting point, or it can be the icing on the cake in the design of a room. Interior designers put it all together with flair. We sat down with one of our favorite Interior Designers, Beth Meyer, to talk about her love of design and how she uses art in her projects.
Let’s start from the beginning. Were you always drawn to design?
When I was very young I was creative, and I loved fashion. I always had an eye for putting things together, and it started with clothing first.
Then my parents built their dream house when I was in 8th grade. I enjoyed watching the process as my mom worked with her designer. I got to participate in designing my bedroom, and that’s when I discovered how exciting interiors could be. When it was time to look at colleges, I fell in love with Auburn’s programs and eventhought I would double-major in Interior Design and Fashion Merchandising. But I quickly realized that I wanted to focus all my efforts on Interior Design. I was hooked.
How did you get your start after college?
I began my design career as part of a team designing model homes, clubhouses, sales and leasing centers for builders and developers throughout the southeast. Four years later, I launched my own design firm specializing in high-end residential design and have been doing that ever since. I am so thrilled my daughter has inherited a love of design, and is now earning her degree in Interior Design, too.
When you are designing someone’s home, you have said it is important to learn about your clients. Do you have techniques to learn about your clients and their requirements?
The internet and social media have changed my job immensely. People are so educated when they come to me. That has been a real game-changer. They have saved lots of Pinterest boards and Houzz boards. Fifteen years ago, people weren’t doing that. They had to sift through magazines, and so it wasn’t as easy. So, I usually start with their collection of pictures and that’s how the conversation starts. From there I can determine neutral palettes versus color. Next we’ll discuss budget, and then we get into the finer details of who lives there and how the room/house will be used. Are there children? Are there animals?
You have said the projects you most enjoy take a design from the floor plan all the way through construction. What is your process?
When the floor plan is done, I start the space-planning. From there I work with the shell, and that gives us lighting and electrical plans. Next I move to finishes, fabrics and color selections. Often this is the time that sculpture and paintings are selected. But I do have clients that start with their artwork which we consider first in the space planning.
You use original artwork in your designs. How is original artwork important to a room?
In the last 10-15 years, artwork has become more accessible, and more important to design. I love art because it truly pulls a room together– just like the perfect accessories with an outfit such as earrings or a great necklace. It tells a story about its owner. Maybe a glimpse into who they are or what makes an owner “tick.” Often for my clients, art is the finishing touch for a space. As a designer, one of my main goals is to make a home or space reflect its owner, and art is a great way to do so.
When it’s a long-term project, you’ve gotten to know your client. You recognize where they gravitate. I do run across things in the process that fit their personalities and ultimately help tell their story. It becomes special for the homeowner. It has been a fun process to watch as people collect more artwork.
What about lighting? When do you think about lighting artwork within a design?
This goes back to lighting and electrical. I may or may not have the artwork, but I will plan for artwork lighting in the electrical phase. I look for strategic places and then make sure I have electrical available.
What’s the most interesting art installation you’ve taken on?
I had a project where the art was the focal point. The house was built and designed using all neutrals in order to showcase their growing art collection. They bought very nice pieces. It was a process to find the artwork and to see it installed into the spaces created for them ahead of time. Watching the whole collection evolve was a great experience and the project turned out beautifully.
This is where a talented gallery owner can help, and I asked Donna (dk) to pull some work for this project. We needed something specific, and she knew exactly where to get it. She helps with resources for things like hanging, frames, specific kinds art. That house was designed for art, and it turned out in a very stunning fashion. It was also featured in Southern Homes.
Do you collect art?
Yes. I always want to collect more! I have picked up some things at antique markets and in travel. I have a few favorite artists at dk Gallery. I loveHolly Irwin’s work, and I have a great piece in my foyer. It’s one of my favorites. Recently I picked up a piece fromJared Knox. I love this young man. He commissioned a piece for me with all my favorite things that I just love. It makes me happy, so I keep it in my family room where I see it all the time.
What is your favorite place to see art?
I love to go to dk to see artwork. I tend to gravitate toward this style of art. It’s just a joy to go in the gallery. They are friendly and relational, and that makes it so much more enjoyable.
Another kind of place altogether where I like to see art is the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. They do such a great job of bringing art of different scales all together in a unique setting. It’s a great way to see outdoor sculpture among the florals.
What is the coolest piece of artwork you have seen in any exhibit?
Actually, it was a whole exhibit that made the biggest impression on me. I was getting my art history minor, and I travelled to London for the summer. While I was there, a Picasso exhibit came through. That exhibit made a lasting impression on me. It was very poignant.
What is your greatest design extravagance?
I have two. They are art and rugs. Okay, well maybe three. Lamps are another extravagance.
What is your biggest design pet peeve?
Scale and proportion are my biggest design pet peeves. I often see rugs that are much too small for the room. Or the art is much too small for the space. Sometimes I see sofas that are way too big for a room. This is why space planning is so important.
What is your personal motto?
“I love a design that’s clean and classic with a touch of the unexpected.” – Beth Meyer