Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” Interior designer Ginger Curtis just may be the poster child for this sentiment. After a difficult childhood followed by an extended bout with an aggressive form of cancer in adulthood, Ginger emerged with a renewed sense of her future. Leaning on her creativity, Ginger sought transformation and catharsis, which led to the creation of Urbanology — a Dallas-Fort Worth-based and largely female-driven interior design firm.
Her vision offers elegant simplicity to homes throughout Texas (and beyond), with an emphasis on design longevity and details that shine. Additionally, her recently released book, Beauty by Design: Refreshing Spaces Inspired by What Matters Most, offers insight into embracing your inner beauty and letting it inspire your home aesthetic. Please welcome our newest Interior Designer Crush, Ginger Curtis of Urbanology.
What inspired your design career, and what was your first big break?
My design approach was most definitely inspired by my childhood: summers spent at my grandparents’ house building forts in the forest, clambering over boulders and the river amongst the cypress trees, and lazy days spent in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean. The rugged organic beauty of nature put a very deep well of inspiration into my heart, and I draw from that daily.
My first big break was when I was still a team of just one (me, myself, and I), wearing 12 different hats — a baby entrepreneur trying to figure out my way. I designed a children’s room that became the number one most popular children’s room in the entire world on Houzz. It went viral and was featured in more countries than I can count! It gave me a little bit of street cred.
How did Urbanology come about?
The design firm burst out of one of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced — a long 18-month battle with an aggressive cancer diagnosis. I came out of that with a new lease on life and a new perspective. I was finally ready to tackle the dreams beginning to surface in my heart as I realized the gift I had been given — not just a skill set in the gift of creativity, but the gift of life itself!
Tell us about the Urban Fire House. It might be the coolest “office” we’ve ever seen!
Oh, why, thank you! (Big grin) It will always be one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on. What started as an old, dilapidated, abandoned fire station ended with not only our new office space but the most inspiring place to work. The fire station was originally one story. I built a loft and staircase so the design firm could be perched up high with a fantastical view. The front elevation of the building is 34 feet of glass, which lets the light flood into the engine room.
The space is also a full-time venue, the Urban Fire House. During evenings and weekends, it’s bustling with weddings, parties, receptions, conferences, and so much more. We also turned the old firemen’s rooms into private office suites that are available for local entrepreneurs.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
My design aesthetic is modern, with a more minimal approach than styles like traditional or transitional, without being cold. It embraces organic, earthy palettes and materials, clean lines, and simple silhouettes while still allowing for gorgeous detail in just the right moments to bring a wonderfully orchestrated balance to a space.
What is your favorite project to date?
The bungalow project is definitely my favorite and most sentimental! It started with an old garden shed and lofty thinking about what potential it held and what it could be. I promptly requested a bungalow for my birthday present that year, and my husband’s only question was, “What is a bungalow?” He worked hard over the course of six weeks to turn a shed into a mini house (which is a crazy impossible timeline) for my birthday. I worked to select paint colors, flooring, furniture decor, and one-of-a-kind pieces and artwork from my grandfather’s collection.
Can you tell us about your book, Beauty by Design?
OK, so I know I said cancer was my hardest battle, but holy moly, that is definitely up there with the hardest things I’ve ever done. The book was born out of a desire to share not only the extreme highs and lows of my journey but also the deepest inspirations in my heart with hopes of inspiring others — not only in their homes but their lives. It’s unique because it’s a design book, but it’s a design book with heart and soul that goes deep. My favorite chapter is “You are Worthy of Beauty.”
What piece of design advice can you offer us to elevate our own homes?
My book! Truly, it is the most robust field guide. I will also say [it’s important to] design for you — for what’s in your heart, not for trends that are popular. Design your home around what you truly love. Pinterest can be a little bit of a trap. It’s easy to become either overwhelmed or feel pressured to follow the trends that seem to be everywhere. My life and business motto is: “Defy the status quo.”
What is your favorite space or design element in your own home, and why?
The bathroom in my guest cottage. I know that may seem like a random place, but when you walk into that bathroom, you feel like you just stepped on the scene of a vacation in Bali. You are whisked away by textures, materials, and moments of thoughtfulness that are inspiring.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world — be it another designer or a dream client, who would it be?
I have to say Athena Calderone at EyeSwoon and Bella Karragiannidis at Ful-filled. Both of those women have incredible taste and style, and they are also both artisan chefs. What I would do to create a dreamy tablescape for the food that they so soulfully make! True Story, Bella and I almost got to work together on a styled shoot, but an unexpected opportunity to move to Greece to live in a charming villa on the ocean (I can’t imagine why that sounds appealing) changed our plans. So close!
PS: I have this thing with tablescapes. It’s one of my all-time passions and favorite things to sneak away and do when I have a few moments of spare time.
Can you describe your design philosophy in a few words?
Relaxed, organic, and cozy/modern with touches of eclectic!
To see more of Ginger’s work, visit her website, urbanologydesigns.com.
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