Meet interior designer and fashion pundit Beth McMillan of McMillan Interiors. Beth holds degrees in both fashion and design, giving her a unique perspective, one that shows in the creative execution seen in her work. Her designs are both elegant and timeless, while still boldly one-of-a-kind. Welcome, Beth!
When did you first know you wanted to be an interior designer?
I don’t know if I ever just knew. It’s more that is just where my journey has led me so far. I knew I would always live in a creative-minded world, because I have always been able to see and understand the power and the beauty of perfect balance, proportion, color and texture. It intrigues me to this day how the combinations of all these elements affect people emotionally and in such dramatic and bold ways. When I am fashion consulting, I can put a client in a great looking outfit that enhances their gifts and personal style. In the same breath, I can create for them a customized, beautiful space, and I am guaranteed to see a new excellence, a revived confidence and a very happy client. I love it! That’s what it’s all about!
My first degree was in fashion, but I decided to back it up with an interior design degree, thinking one of the two exciting careers would “find” me. Well, they both “found me,” and I have worked in both fields in some way throughout my career.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
My favorite part is watching the actual design process unfold from a mere concept in my head, stemming from something that inspired me, to a completed and finished project. Sometimes I just stand back amazed and thankful for the process! It is truly a cool thing to watch! Can you tell I love my job?
What did your bedroom look like as a teenage girl?
It changed quite frequently, but my favorite bedroom would have been when I was 10 years old. I know the age because I remember dancing with my twin brother while jumping on the bed watching Elvis’ last concert on a three-channel clicker TV. Great memory! That bedroom would be so “in” right now. It had a big brass canopy bed with a hot pink and green rose design fabric on the windows, the bed drapery and wallpapered on all the walls. Very vintage Dorothy Draper-y or Billy Baldwin, I suppose. Of course, I had the shaggiest of shags hot pink rug and big, white lamps. I remember being upset because I couldn’t have a chandelier due to the height of the canopy. Hilarious!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Live life, walk boldly, stay thankful, pray first and breathe in like it’s your last breath!” Fires me up just saying it! So good!
Can you share with our readers a few of your current favorite interior colors?
I am happy to share anything with anyone, but I don’t have a favorite color. I get so involved with the color schemes that evolve from each individual project that I fall in love with a new color every time. But at the moment, I am into dramatic contrast. On a project that is underway, I just lacquered the intimate small study in a charcoal black lacquer, and it is fabulous! There is another room connected to a custom-stained, all-paneled dining room that is lacquered in the deepest of oxblood plums with a Hermes orange accent in the bookshelves. It’s a high drama, pied-a-terre look, for sure! But I also love a soft, elegant palette of Prada flesh-tone taupe-pink, gold accents, soft whites and ivories. See, it totally depends on the project. I could talk for hours about color.
What do you think defines Southern style, and how has that impacted your work?
I would describe Southern style in two ways: proper-formal with traditional antiques and collectables or stylishly informal with a fashionable comfort. The Southern style that most affects my work would be my passion for beautiful antiques, valuable art and old rugs. I love to take these treasures and infuse them with a more modern décor style: sleek, straight lines; harder elements; slight minimalist approach, and use something unexpected as a surprise element in each room.
What upcoming local event are you most looking forward to?
Birmingham is just booming! It’s so exciting to see our city prospering and growing so quickly, events of all kinds, all the time! I always look forward to the spring/summer concert series, sitting outside at local restaurants and trying new summer menu tastings, the traveling Broadway theater and an occasional sporting event.
Favorite beauty product?
I’m in love with anything Tom Ford offers (probably more for the gorgeous black and gold total glam packaging), gold dust skin illuminators and runway mascara from MAC, and my favorite nude lipstick color #Evermore from Kevyn Aucoin.
Who are your personal decorator icons, past or present?
There are so many amazing design talents, past and present, but I would have to say one in particular, really more for who she is and has become, Kelly Wearstler. That powerhouse intrigues me with how insanely gorgeous-glam she is all the time while being a total “over the top” success in the business and design world! I don’t think I have ever seen anything but “Whoa-Wow” from her, seriously! Whether it is her extreme fashion sense or her over-the-top interiors, she is fearless in it ALL! Rock on, sistah!
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
An early dinner at any one of the amazing hip restaurants that we have here in Birmingham and then in bed early to read some of the stacks of books, devotionals and magazines that surround me. Sounds perfect!
Favorite local restaurant?
I love the atmosphere of Betolla, like a local favorite in the meat packing district of New York. I also love to eat at the bar at Ollie Irene and Daniel George; both sophisticated in their own right, but relaxed!
What advice would you give to others on how to build a successful business?
To build your team strong from day one! Have equal respect for each member of the team, no matter the rank or job title. Praise the good work that you see as it progresses and be ready to assist any member at any time. Work in an attitude of confident commitment and never one of a pretentious fool. Respect your clients’ questions and concerns, remembering that you work for them! Without a strong team and client relationship, it won’t happen!
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends.
- My time alone doing exactly what I want to do, in the way that I want to do it, with no one needing me for anything or even knowing where I am.
- Driving my car “destination unknown,” listening to my playlists turned up really loud!
- Delicious coffee sipped outside on my balcony, very early in the morning, before the city wakes up and life starts up again.
Thank you for sharing, Beth! Find out more about Beth and her interior design firm at www.mcmillaninteriors.com.