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!

Interior Designer Marianne Strong of Marianne Strong Interiors | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography

Interior Designer Marianne Strong of Marianne Strong Interiors | Image: Eric & Jamie Photography

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.

"The homeowner did not need a formal dining room and wanted to be able to look outside to see her kids playing in the front yard," says Marianne. "So, we removed the wall enclosing that dining space, and when we remodeled, we installed these custom made steel encasement windows." Image: Beth Hontzas

“The homeowner did not need a formal dining room and wanted to be able to look outside to see her kids playing in the front yard,” says Marianne. “So, we removed the wall enclosing that dining space, and when we remodeled, we installed these custom-made steel encasement windows.” Image: Beth Hontzas

"We had those brass shelves custom made by Brandino Brass," says Marianne. "I swear I get about three emails a week from people all over the country asking where we got those shelves." People see the home on Pinterest, Houzz, One King's Lane and Apartment Therapy, and, as a result, have commissioned similar shelving from Birmingham's own Brandino Brass. Image: Jean Allsopp

“We had those brass shelves custom made by Brandino Brass,” says Marianne. “I swear I get about three emails a week from people all over the country asking where we got those shelves.” People see the home on Pinterest, Houzz, One King’s Lane and Apartment Therapy, and, as a result, have commissioned similar shelving from Birmingham’s own Brandino Brass. Image: Jean Allsopp

"The built-in shelving came with the house and the homeowner didn't want to take them out, and so we painted them that blue color and added the butcher block countertop and it became her buffet and the standout of the room," says Marianne. "And I love that Robert Abbey light fixture!" Image: Beth Hontzas

“The built-in shelving came with the house and the homeowner didn’t want to take them out, and so we painted them that blue color and added the butcher block countertop and it became her buffet and the standout of the room,” says Marianne. “And I love that Robert Abbey light fixture!” Image: Beth Hontzas

"I have been wanting to use those lanterns forever, and I was so excited to use them! And that backsplash is a marble mosaic," says Marianne. "Ah, I love that kitchen so much!" Image: Marianne Strong

“I have been wanting to use those lanterns forever, and I was so excited to use them! And that backsplash is a marble mosaic,” says Marianne. “Ah, I love that kitchen so much!” Image: Marianne Strong

"I love the details of this kitchen — the limed oak cabinets, Wolf range, marble countertops and the beautiful marble mosaic backsplash." says Marianne. Image: Holland Williams

“I love the details of this kitchen — the limed oak cabinets, Wolf range, marble countertops and the beautiful marble mosaic backsplash,” says Marianne. Image: Holland Williams

"This is a kitchen we just finished in conjunction with Adams Gerndt Architects. The starting off point was the tile backsplash. Each piece is hand-painted and made in California," says Marianne. "And I love the butcher block countertops." Image: Beth Hontzas

“This is a kitchen we just finished in conjunction with Adams Gerndt Architects. The starting off point was the tile backsplash. Each piece is hand-painted and made in California,” says Marianne. “And I love the butcher block countertops.” Image: Beth Hontzas

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.

David Carrigan, the owner of Carrigan's Public House, had this gutted Jeep sitting in the warehouse space before it was transformed into Carrigan's. "Somewhere along the way, we though of cutting it into an L shape, and using it for where the beer taps come from," says Marianne, who loved working with David because he could make all of her ideas happen seemingly overnight. "It was one of the most wonderful projects, because I’d come up with these ideas and come back and it would be done!" Image: Beth Hontzas

David Carrigan, the owner of Carrigan’s Public House, had this gutted Jeep sitting in the warehouse space before it was transformed into Carrigan’s. “Somewhere along the way, we though of cutting it into an L shape, and using it for where the beer taps come from,” says Marianne, who loved working with David because he could make all of her ideas happen seemingly overnight. “It was one of the most wonderful projects, because I’d come up with these ideas and come back and it would be done!” Image: Beth Hontzas

"I really love how open it is," says Marianne of this Lake Martin home's living space. "I love the beams, the stone on the fireplace and it can seat a lot of people, but it’s very cozy." Image: Beth Hontzas

“I really love how open it is,” says Marianne of this Lake Martin home’s living space. “I love the beams, the stone on the fireplace, and it can seat a lot of people, but it’s very cozy.” Image: Beth Hontzas

RELATED: Beach House on a Budget: Affordable Style Has Never Looked Better!

"The two winged chairs are covered in a Schumacher fabric that the client had been wanting to use for years," says Marianne. We love the thoughtfully placed splashes of bold color! Image: Marianne Strong

“The two winged chairs are covered in a Schumacher fabric that the client had been wanting to use for years,” says Marianne. We love the thoughtfully placed splashes of bold color! Image: Marianne Strong

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.

A beautiful hallway vignette exudes a peaceful vibe in this quintessential Homewood home. Image: Marianne Strong

A beautiful hallway vignette exudes a peaceful vibe in this quintessential Homewood home. Image: Marianne Strong

"I love the blend of a very traditional antique server and a somewhat modern lamp, along with the mirror made of an antique wine barrel," says Marianne. "I like that this shows how you can mix different elements." Image: Marianne Strong

“I love the blend of a very traditional antique server and a somewhat modern lamp, along with the mirror made of an antique wine barrel,” says Marianne. “I like that this shows how you can mix different elements.” Image: Marianne Strong

RELATED: 10 Unexpected Ways to Incorporate Heirlooms & Antiques into Your Home

This is a seating area off of a kitchen, where people can lounge in the grey leather chairs surrounding the fabulous coffee table of green-and-white inlaid bone, or kids can watch TV or do homework at the custom-built wooden desk area. Image: Jean Allsopp

This is a seating area off of a kitchen, where people can lounge in the grey leather chairs surrounding the fabulous coffee table of green-and-white inlaid bone, or kids can watch TV or do homework at the custom-built wooden desk area. Image: Jean Allsopp

"That is an antique chandelier that my dad got years and years ago, and I’ve been hoarding it and carrying it for years and years, and I finally found the perfect space for it in my dining room," says Marianne. "And I knew immediately that I wanted to use that wallpaper." Image: Marianne Strong

“That is an antique chandelier that my dad got years and years ago, and I’ve been hoarding it and carrying it for years and years, and I finally found the perfect space for it in my dining room,” says Marianne. “And I knew immediately that I wanted to use that wallpaper.” Image: Marianne Strong

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.

"The navy grasscloth wallpaper made the bathroom," says Marianne. And paired with the warm-industrial sink and metal-and-leather-wrapped mirror, it is simply stunning. Image: Beth Hontzas

“The navy grasscloth wallpaper made the bathroom,” says Marianne. And paired with the warm-industrial sink and metal-and-leather-wrapped mirror, it is simply stunning. Image: Beth Hontzas

In this gorgeous bathroom, a striking Thibaux animal-print wallpaper, open brass vanity and glass-and-brass sconces and the homeowner's grandmother's mirror all come together beautifully. Image: Beth Hontzas

In this gorgeous bathroom, a striking Thibaut animal-print wallpaper, open brass vanity and glass-and-brass sconces and the homeowner’s grandmother’s mirror all come together beautifully. Image: Beth Hontzas

"I love the juxtaposition of a pretty wallpaper with the masculine metal mirror," says Marianne. Image: Beth Hontzas

“I love the juxtaposition of a pretty wallpaper with the masculine metal mirror,” says Marianne. Image: Beth Hontzas

"My favorite thing is that the homeowner went with a really fun print on the backsplash and bed skirt," says Marianne of this young girl's room. "I do feel like kids’ rooms should be fun. They are only young once." Image: Marianne Strong

“My favorite thing is that the homeowner went with a really fun print on the backsplash and bed skirt,” says Marianne of this young girl’s room. “I do feel like kids’ rooms should be fun. They are only young once.” Image: Marianne Strong

"I love the striped curtains and the warm wood," says Marianne of this bunk room at Lake Martin. "It feels like what a lake house bunk room should feel like." Image: Beth Hontzas

“I love the striped curtains and the warm wood,” says Marianne of this bunk room at Lake Martin. “It feels like what a lake house bunk room should feel like.” Image: Beth Hontzas

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.

Thank you to Beth Hontzas, Jean Allsopp, Holland Williams and Marianne Strong for sharing the images of Marianne’s work.

And thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for the lovely portrait of Marianne!

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See who else we’re crushing on in our interiors archives. Click here and enjoy a look around!