Julie Terrell’s design approach is rooted in a comprehensive art history education and studio art training, a solid graduate and undergraduate base that she polished off with an additional degree in interior design. Julie creates spaces as if creating a work of art, incorporating beautiful elements of style while considering proportion, scale, color, negative space and, of course, her clients’ personal tastes and functional needs. The result are spaces that are elegant and timeless, subdued yet brimming with personal style and utterly calming and inviting. Her stunning sense of style is also on display in her boutique in downtown Homewood and her online shop, which showcases a beautiful collection of home accents. We are thrilled to introduce our latest interior designer crush, Julie Terrell of Mayfair South.
What is your design aesthetic, and how do you translate that to a client’s home?
I love classic, layered and livable interiors that complement the house’s architecture and reflect the client’s unique character and style.
Tell us a bit about your background in art history and how that knowledge informs your design work.
I have always enjoyed the creative process and art was my first love. In addition to obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees in art history, I also studied studio art in college. My education provided a foundational understanding of color, pattern, proportion, balance, negative space and focal points. These concepts are woven into my design aesthetic, and I aspire to create visually balanced interiors. I also use a lot of textures and enjoy incorporating architectural details in my designs to add a sense of history.
Where are your favorite local spots to source decor for a client’s home?
We are so fortunate to have many wonderful and unique boutiques in Birmingham — it’s impossible to include them all. Some favorites are Circa, Defining Home, Henhouse Antiques, Architectural Heritage, Richard Tubb, MCJ, Brandino Brass and Tricia’s Treasures.
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment, and alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
Vibrant colors and patterns are certainly trending and feel very fresh. I enjoy using color, but tend to limit the palette so that the repetition creates interiors that are both sculptural and cohesive. Including antiques always adds a sense of history and layers to interiors.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
My most challenging project occurred when I was hired by a new client who relocated here from the beach and was starting from scratch. She sold her previous home along with all of her furnishings. I never realized just how much information I normally gather when I visit a client’s home — hearing and seeing what they like, and more importantly, what they don’t like. I wasn’t able to do that on this project. A client’s home provides a valuable glimpse into their personality, style and preferences. Without this information, the initial design phase of the project went slower. I spent time getting to know the client and her preferences by reviewing photos and inspiration pieces with her to create a home that reflected her style and wishes.
What brings you the most professional joy?
I most enjoy getting to know my clients and their families and helping them create a home that they love.
How does Birmingham’s design scene differ from the rest of the country?
Birmingham is unique because it possesses the talent and resources normally found in a much larger city. Birmingham is a beautiful city with a rich architectural history and an active design scene. There are numerous talented architects and designers, and plenty of work to keep everyone busy. And Birmingham’s close proximity to Atlanta offers designers great access to even more resources and educational opportunities.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I find everyday inspiration all around me. Inspiration typically comes from my clients, fashion, art and even the hardware store. I also love to travel and am inspired by the new experiences and perspective it brings.
Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?
After graduate school, I interned at Southern Accents magazine. During that time, I really developed an appreciation of and admiration for Southern designers and architects and the timeless elegance of the interiors included in the magazine. I admire the work of many architects and designers whose thoughtful designs create classic yet unique homes for their clients. Some of them include Gil Schafer, Bobby McAlpine, Bunny Williams, Suzanne Kasler, Darryl Carter and Tammy Connor.
Share one designer secret with us regular folk.
Engage your designer well before you want to start your project, and don’t rush the design phase. Making last-minute selections or changes usually results in a domino effect of delays and additional expense in a building project. Assemble a good team at the beginning, including a designer, architect and contractor. If you make all of the selections before construction begins, then you are likely to finish your project on time and on budget.
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
I think technology and social media will continue to change the interior design landscape. Social media will continue to expand the exposure of the designers and bring them new clients from across the country and around the world. Technology will allow designers to collaborate with faraway clients on projects while minimizing the excessive travel expenses required in the past.
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Thoughtful, timeless, elegant, collected and well-proportioned.
Thank you, Julie, for sharing your insights, inspirations and impressively diverse design portfolio. To contact Julie or to learn more about Mayfair South’s services and online boutique, visit mayfairsouth.com or call (205) 202-3455.
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