In our monthly Interior Designer Crush series, we sit down and chat with our interior designer crushes du jour to ask them the questions we’re dying to have answered. Today, we visit with Marianne Strong of Marianne Strong Interiors. She takes a fresh approach to each project, studying the client’s personal style and functional needs. From there, she creates fresh, curated spaces that are as chic and elegant as they are functional and comfy. We asked Marianne to describe her design aesthetic, let us in on some tricks of the trade and give us a glimpse of her stunning portfolio. We hope you enjoy!
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client’s home?
I would describe my design aesthetic as “edited eclectic.” I truly love so many different styles. I believe this allows me to study what my clients are drawn to and design a space tailored to them. I like to incorporate a mixture of elements that results in thoughtful spaces.
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment, and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
Well, I am really loving the wallpaper trend. Even in the most subdued of homes it is a nice way to add personality. Just a little can go a long way in making a room feel special. I don’t even know where to begin regarding timeless aspects, there are so many. If I had to pick one, I would say it is to know the value of quality.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
I have certainly had my fair share of challenging projects, but one doesn’t jump out at me above all others. Probably the biggest design challenge I face is when a client’s aesthetic is not cohesive with the bones and architecture of the house, but I enjoy the challenge.
What brings you the most professional joy?
First, I would say I get the most joy from the relationships I build with clients and peers in the industry. You spend a lot of time with the people you are working with, and I am honored to be so ingrained in their lives. Also, I really find great joy in watching a design that has been living in my head for months finally come to fruition and getting to see the client’s reaction when it all comes together. The ability to be creative on a daily basis to serve others is a gift.
How does Birmingham’s design scene differ from the rest of the country?
In general, I think Birmingham is a hidden gem, and the design scene is no different. There is so much talent here for a city our size; we are very lucky. “Traditional with a twist” is a phrase that comes to mind when describing what most clients request, which is also how I would describe Birmingham, and you can’t go wrong with that.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I love to read magazines, but with three boys under the age of 5, that does not happen as much as I would like. If I feel the need for a reset, I will pull out one of my favorite design books and flip through the pages. As cheesy as this sounds, nature is another place I find a huge amount of inspiration. Time spent outside can do wonders for a clouded mind that needs a fresh perspective.
Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?
Over a decade ago, I walked into Jenny Edwards’ office looking for a job while going back to school for interior design at Samford. Little did I know that moment would be a defining moment of my life. I could not have asked for a better mentor than Jenny. I will be eternally grateful for everything I learned from her and her support as I went out on my own. From the outside, I know this industry looks very glamorous, and parts are, but on a day-to-day basis you are really running a company, and that takes so much. I can’t even imagine what my business would be like today without that time I spent with her.
Share one designer secret with us regular folk.
Details, details, details. Details are what separate good from great and really define a space. Look for ways to add thoughtful details; go the extra step.
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
I do a lot of construction and large-scale remodeling work, and I am frequently asked what can be done in a home that won’t be dated in 10 years. Because of our access to an abundance of design at every turn, styles change quickly. Life is so fast-paced now, and I don’t see that changing, so I think design will continue to cater to that. Neutrals and whites have been in for a while, and my theory is that this is because our lives are so inundated with stimulation, people crave a restful house. I do think color will come back in various ways, but overall I believe calming spaces are here to stay. Also, I see a continued movement away from the notion that “bigger is always better.” Families are seeking smarter spaces that allow them to enjoy each other’s company while being multifunctional.
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Start with what you love.
Thank you to Marianne for sharing her impressive body of work, as well as her insights and inspirations. To view more of Marianne’s work or to contact Marianne Strong Interiors, visit mariannestronginteriors.com.
And thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for the lovely portrait of Marianne!
See who else we’re crushing on in our interiors archives. Click here and enjoy a look around!