Although she graduated less than five years ago, this young designer has found her passion in kitchen design. Just last year, Mary Lauda Corwin of Toulmin Cabinetry & Design became certified as an Associate Kitchen & Bath Designer through the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and she’s wasting no time studying to earn her designation of Certified Kitchen & Bath Designer. Whether working on new construction homes or an historic remodel, she marries classic elegance with smart, functional design to create beautiful kitchens that complement the home’s character and reflect her client’s personal style. We are honored and delighted to introduce Mary Lauda as our latest Interior Designer Crush. We asked her to describe her design aesthetic, tell us about what inspires her and give us a glimpse of her stunning kitchen and bath portfolio. We hope you enjoy!
What is your design aesthetic, and how do you translate that to a client’s home?
My personal style leans a little eclectic, but still clean and unfussy. I studied interior design and art history in college, so I have an appreciation and love for so many different styles. With clients, though, I am always mindful of what their preferences are and how they live. My ultimate goal is to create spaces where my clients can truly feel at home.
Why kitchens? What drew you to become the kitchen-designing maven you are today?
I honestly just fell into it. I graduated from the Interior Design program at The University of Alabama in 2013, and for about two years, I worked as an in-store designer at a retail furniture store. It was fine, but I kept having a nagging feeling that I wanted something different. Retail was just not for me. One day, a friend of mine shared a job posting for Toulmin Cabinetry & Design, and I decided to apply. It worked out, because I’m here three years later!
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment, and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
I love wallpaper! It’s such an easy way to make your space unique, and it’s relatively low risk in an area like a powder room, if your client is worried they’ll get tired of it. I’m also happy to see a little more contrast in color palettes now as opposed to the tonal, monochromatic look that has dominated the past few years. As for timeless design, there is something about a classic white kitchen with marble countertops that never gets old.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
Each project presents its own unique set of challenges, because there are so many moving parts in residential construction. It’s always hard when a client doesn’t trust you — it really makes the whole design process more difficult and strained rather than fun, like it should be.
What brings you the most professional joy?
Hands down, seeing a homeowner who is elated with the result of their project is the best feeling. I love knowing that I have had a part in making someone’s everyday life a little more beautiful. A close second would be seeing my designs come to life. Tracking a project from your doodle on paper to the finished product is a really cool feeling that is hard to describe.
How does Birmingham’s design scene differ from the rest of the country?
I think sometimes we are slower to adopt trends than other regions are. But as Birmingham grows, I see that changing. A lot of the style in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa is very timeless, which is something most of my clients are drawn to when making an investment in their home.
Where do you get your inspiration?
So many different places! Instagram makes it so easy to keep up with what my favorite designers all over the world are doing. I love movies and theater, so I also take inspiration from set design and color palettes in my favorite films and productions. I also love to travel, so seeing how architecture and design trends vary across the country is inspiring.
Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?
My boss, Jay Young, has taught me a great deal about the design and construction industry. I remember when I first started, and we would be talking about different aspects of the industry, and I would be like, “Wait, how do you know that?” It blew my mind. My manager from my last job, Glenda Kish, taught me so much about how to make every client a priority. I have never met her, but one designer I really look up to is Paloma Contreras. She has an elegant, timeless aesthetic but will punctuate her rooms with something very modern, like a piece of art or a light fixture, which I love.
Share one designer secret with us regular folk.
It’s much easier to buy everything for a room all at once, but I think the most thoughtful and beautiful spaces are the ones that have been layered and edited over time.
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
With the influence of technology and social media, it’s hard to say. I love the accessibility of sites like Pinterest, but I think that sometimes they put a lot of pressure on us to have the perfect home. Design should be fun and personal. I think that as consumers become more design savvy, we might see trends cycle a bit faster than they used to.
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Always be true to yourself! If you are only making decisions because you think it’s what other people like or because it’s trendy, you’re not going to be happy in the long run.
Thank you, Mary Lauda, for sharing your insights, inspirations and impressively diverse design portfolio. To contact Mary Lauda, visit toulmincabinetry.com, call (205) 366-0807 or email [email protected].
See who else we’re crushing on in our interior design archives. Click here and enjoy a look around!