Each month we get to sit down with our favorite local interior designers to get their insight and expertise for our Interior Designer Crush series, and every time we leave absolutely in awe of the talented designers who are right here in Charlotte. This month is no exception! We are excited to introduce our January Interior Designer Crush, Traci Zeller, who tells us why she left a successful career in law and consulting to chase her passion for interiors. We were really inspired and think you will be too!
You have an interesting background and actually graduated from the University of Virginia’s Law School. Tell us how you made the big leap from law to interior design.
It sounds like a big leap, doesn’t it? I believe smart women get coached away from creative professions because society as a whole believes we could be doing something more “valuable.” In reality, we make the greatest contribution to society by honoring our abilities and our passions, wherever that might take us. I’ve been designing my entire life, but the birth of my twin boys provided the impetus to engage in further design education and experience. I feel so fortunate to have turned my passion into a profession, but I do not regret my prior careers as a lawyer and a management consultant. The combination of my left-brain analysis and my right-brain creative talents produces exceptional results for my clients.
How would you describe your design aesthetic and how do you translate it into a client’s home?
I bring a fresh, modern approach to tradition. Crisp lines, classic sensibilities and chic color palettes are the cornerstones of the Traci Zeller Designs aesthetic. I spend a significant amount of time working with my clients to understand their preferences, and I use my perspective to interpret those preferences into rooms that are truly tailored to each client.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere, truly. I find inspiration in everyday life, from the colors of nature, books, art and so much more. My favorite source of inspiration, however, is travel. Being able to immerse oneself in a different culture — language, fashion, architecture and more — is such a joy and a privilege.
Is there a new trend that you’re really excited about — or do you try and stay away from trends?
Hmmmm, this is a tricky question. I enjoy trends when they resonate with my aesthetic and feel authentic to my clients. We all want our homes to be stylish and feel current. What I don’t enjoy is the pursuit of a trend for the sake of being “trendy.” The trends I absolutely love are those that enhance functionality, like the trend toward performance fabrics. I’m all on board with that one!
Is there one design element that you use over and over again in some capacity? Why?
I really, really like statement lighting and particularly if the fixture is a bit over-scale. Lighting doesn’t get the wear and tear of upholstered pieces, for example, and the styles aren’t particularly fleeting. That’s why lighting can be one of the best investments in a home.
Is there a part of the home that people often neglect that can actually make a big impact?
It is so important to create some type of entryway, even if your home doesn’t have a traditional foyer. The entryway is how you warmly welcome friends and family into your home, and it sets the tone for the rest of your interior design.
Tell us about your textile and accessory line, and where can our readers find your products?
You are so kind to ask! My candles and my textiles are available through my design studio here in Charlotte. I plan to launch a second collection of textile designs in 2017, all of which are inspired by vintage artwork that I sourced in Paris.
Favorite local spots to shop for great pieces?
I particularly love Isabella, B.D. Jeffries and Cotswold Marketplace; I never walk out of those stores empty-handed. Charlotte’s art galleries are also fantastic. Hidell Brooks, Anne Nielson, SOCO and Shain Gallery are amazing.
Share one design secret with us regular folk.
The easiest way to create a cohesive color palette throughout an entire house is to find a multi-color patterned fabric that you love. You can use that fabric as the “jumping off point” and incorporate one or more of those colors in every room. By varying the values and saturations, the palette will be far from boring, but the overall look will be clean and connected.
What’s your best piece of advice when it comes to design?
To quote the incomparable Miles Redd, buy quality and you only cry once.
Thank you Traci for taking the time to speak with us and give us some insight into the world of interior design. You can see more of Traci’s work, here. All the beautiful photographs are by Dustin Peck Photography, see more of his work here.
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