We’re starting a monthly series called Interior Designer Crush, where, you guessed it, we talk to an interior designer (or in this case, designers) we are crushing on and ask them 10 questions we’re dying to know the answers to. We hope you enjoy it!

Today, we visit with design duo Lisa Turner and Wallace Bryan of Trinity Mercantile & Design Co. in Decatur, GA. These designing women met as friends and decided to join forces in the professional world a few years ago to service clients in a better way, utilizing each of their skills to create the ultimate design firm. They opened their store about four years ago, choosing downtown Decatur as home base since the two loved the local shopping, supportive community and government, plus the short commute.

Lisa and Wallace offer a full-service interior design firm inside their eclectic showroom and gift boutique, which is bursting with handcrafted, locally made objects. We asked each lady to describe her aesthetic, thoughts on the interior design industry and what makes Atlanta special, as well as share a few photos from some of their favorite projects.

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Meet Lisa Turner (left) and Wallace Bryan (right), our interior designer crushes this month. Image: Elliot Liss

What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client and his/her home?

Wallace: My aesthetic is eclectic with an emphasis on ethnic elements. I do enjoy creative use of color.

Lisa: My aesthetic is very eclectic and collected, from art to furnishings. I have a living room with a sofa from the 19th century, mixed with a CR Laine sculptural leather chair with nailheads. So yeah, eclectic! For clients, I like to incorporate the pieces they love in a design, and listen carefully to what they do and do not like, and what the client is trying to achieve in the room. I am also very conscious of lifestyle and children/pets. I like to “keep it real” while looking great.

What brings you the most professional joy?

L: To help clients complete a space that gives them and/or their family a sense of comfort and peace, a place to re-energize for the external part of their lives.

W: Bringing a project to conclusion — enjoying a glass of wine with a truly happy client.

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The Trinity ladies designed an eclectic home in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta, starting with this formal living room, which includes a custom, built-in bookcase to display books, eclectic pottery and other treasures collected through the owner’s years of travel. Flea market finds are paired with a wool and silk Tibetan rug and acrylic coffee table.

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The dining room features hand-painted walls by a local artist in a grasscloth texture with high-gloss lacquer. Embroidered crewel draperies frame the bay window with a view to the formal English gardens.

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The entryway combines antique oriental rugs with a leopard print for the stairs. The colorful walls layer a vintage pottery collection on a Manuel Canovas chinoiserie wallpaper.

How does Atlanta’s design scene differ from the rest of the country?

W: Atlanta is a little more traditional, a little less “glam” than some areas of the country. We may be slower to adapt to trends, and that’s a good thing!

L: Atlanta is usually a little more conservative than California or the Northeast, so there might be newer elements with more traditional overtones.

What’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of interior design (from those outside the industry)?

W: The services of a designer are a real luxury, only affordable to the wealthy. The services of an experienced professional should actually save money in the long run through the avoidance of costly mistakes.

L: That an interior design professional makes it a more expensive project! Getting the wrong size piece or something that doesn’t perform as expected is a very expensive mistake. Professional design services add value with expert guidance to avoid those mistakes.

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Lisa and Wallace designed a Decatur home’s powder room with serious whimsy. They splurged on 3D butterfly wallpaper (designed by Christian Lacroix for Osborne & Little) to create the perfect impact for this small area in a Decatur home. The lacquered custom vanity gives the space an Asian flair.

Share one designer secret with us regular folk.

L: Don’t try to be trendy — make the choices for what you love!

W: Color is the one “free” element, so use it liberally! Splurge on a few special and unusual items. The entire quality of the resulting project will be lifted.

Who have been your industry mentors/role models and why?

W: Billy Baldwin as a classicist, Albert Hadley, Miles Redd (a wonderful Atlanta
talent). I’m always attracted to projects of Peter Dunham when I see them published. He has a wonderful quirky way of combining elements, and things never seem too deliberately matched.

L: Miles Redd for his layered, collected look and brilliant use of color; David Nightingale Hicks for his use of color and adventurous design; Tony Duquette for his unbridled imagination; and William Yeoward for classic looks that are never boring.

Where are your favorite local spots to decorate a client’s home?

W: Trinity Mercantile & Design, of course! I also use ADAC for specialty fabrics and wall coverings — a wonderful pillow or lamp can really amp up the quality of a design.

L: My most favorite go-to is Trinity Mercantile & Design! Secondly is the clients’ home, where there are often overlooked opportunities with pieces they already own, which can be used in different ways.

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In a different Decatur home, Lisa and Wallace went all out in a variety of rooms. First up? The renovated kitchen and bar provide a huge amount of custom cabinetry in a small space. There is wonderful lighting throughout, including a custom painted light fixture from Stray Dog.

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The cozy family room has ample seating for conversation and entertainment. The design for this room began with the fuchsia and gray rug, and includes custom bookshelves to house a TV, art objects and family mementos. The portrait above the fireplace is by local artist Parker Owen.

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A perfect blend of old and new for the living room: restyled and recovered furniture paired with thrift store finds and custom curtains and pillows. We love the eclectic display of the homeowner’s existing collection of paintings, including those of local artist Ruth Franklin.

Where do you get your inspiration?

W: Just careful observation, travel, reading trade magazines and blogs

L: Shelter magazines, design books, but most of all … observing life

What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?

L: I think there are great fabric treatments coming out that will make furnishings and rugs very durable, especially in regards to repelling spills and stains. This will allow people to have fabric colors that they would have never dreamed of, like creamy vanilla on a family room sofa. I also see the trend for more casual, less formal rooms continuing.

W: People’s homes will continue to become more important as a way to express personalities. I hope people will be more thoughtful about the disposable aspect of home furnishings. We don’t need to populate our landfills with poorly made “temporary” sofas. I hope the trend of “made in America” continues to be a strong trend — homegrown products really are the best,  and the level of quality more than makes up for any price difference.

If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?

L: Let’s be practical and beautiful.

W: The best you can afford

Thank you to Wallace Bryan and Lisa Turner for describing their professional passions and indulging our interior design crush.

And thanks to Lisa for sharing her fabulous photos!

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