If you’re not already following Brian Patrick Flynn on Instagram yet, that needs to be remedied right now. This cheeky, talented interior designer based in Atlanta will take you behind the scenes — along with 60,000+ of his followers — into his non-stop life, and you’ll be entertained, we promise.
On any given day he might be somewhere across the country as a designer on HGTV.com’s “Dream Home Giveaway” and HGTV’s “Urban Oasis,” or relaxing at his second home in Iceland, or working on any number of design projects for clients. Known for his fresh use of color, eclectic mix of design styles (and witty posts), he’s proudly self-taught, often learning skills along the way as a set decorator for TV and film.
Find out why he’s so worthy of being our latest Interior Designer Crush …
What is your earliest design memory? Were you one of those kids always rearranging the living room?
My obsession with interiors started around age 6 and was prompted by my childhood living room in suburban Ft. Lauderdale — particularly the room’s early 1980s sofa. It was super swanky, made of velvet and donned a geometric pattern in shades of black-brown, burnt orange and shades of grey. There was something about the fact that my family had a fashion-forward patterned sofa, tons of ferns and houseplants thriving in wicker stands, and walls covered in bleached cedar. Kids and their parents often joked that the Flynn’s living room felt like a talk show set, and I found that to be a massive compliment. I didn’t rearrange the living room, per se, but I did re-style the framed photos on the bookshelves once or twice a month.
How did you end up at TNT’s “Movie and a Makeover” and then HGTV?
I studied film in college and interned as a producer on the newsroom floor in Miami, and my boss at the time noticed how I really excelled at home-and-garden-based subjects, and so after I left news, I went right over to remodeling shows. There I would write, produce and sometimes assist the set decorators with anything they needed. Eventually I hopped in front of the camera myself mostly as a stand-in, and then KAZAM … I ended up overseeing the production design, set decoration and also became on-air talent.
What are five words that describe your design aesthetic?
Personal. Collected. Polished. Imperfect. Layered.
Who are your design idols, living or otherwise?
Nick Olsen, mainly for his juxtaposition of complexity and effortlessness. Thomas O’Brien, both aesthetically and business-wise. Sheila Bridges, mostly for being so wildly original and totally classic at the same time. Brian Paquette for his moody minimalism.
If you could have one designer come redo your whole house right now, who would it be?
If I were to be lucky enough to have one designer redo my entire house right now, I think it would be Atlanta’s Kay Douglass; her less-is-more play on scale, heavy emphasis on interior architecture, and sparse, sculptural furnishings are so on point and a perfect fit for my own house in Buckhead.
What’s the most challenging project you’ve ever worked on? What’s your favorite?
The most challenging project I’ve ever worked on was remodeling a row-house in Reykjavik, Iceland. Differences in currency, work flow, regulations, major taxes on building materials, not to mention linguistics and slang, all created tons of obstacles to work through daily. Luckily, the quality of work was impeccable, and not only did we finish on schedule, we finished early. Un-luckily, we did not finish on budget … like, at all.
My all-time favorite project is a home giveaway series I designed for HGTV called HGTV Urban Oasis 2017 in Knoxville, TN. It went smoothly, the rooms are all stellar and generously sized, the blue and white palette is super classic, and the house overall is just a perfect fit for almost anyone. I think its navy and white kitchen may be my favorite kitchen of all the kitchens I’ve done in the past 10 years.
What are some of your favorite Atlanta sources for decor? What about online sources?
Highland Row Antiques and City Issue are my go-to vintage stores, where I usually scoop up tons of Danish modern pieces and also mid-century art and sculpture. I absolutely love DixonRye.com and everything its owner Bradley selects for the showroom. And then at ADAC I am obsessed with R. Hughes, Duralee and Phillip Jeffries. I also shop online for every single project including my own house, and I definitely use both wayfair.com and overstock.com equally. SerenaandLily.com is also a favorite.
Tell us about a design mistake or two you’ve made and how — like most mistakes — it made you a better designer in the long run.
I made mistakes using green, not once, but twice, and therefore I can attest that it is definitely one of the hardest hues to get right. The first time I painted the walls of a master bathroom kelly green juxtaposed with an all-white tile scheme, I forgot to take into consideration color influence on skin tones. Needless to say, it was remarkably unflattering on anyone when they looked in the mirror. The second time I used green, it was with pear-green paint, and I only used it in my mood board versus truly testing it on different walls in different light. When the entire great room was painted on the weekend, I walked in and noticed exactly how strong its yellow undertones were, but I made it work with textile layering. The lesson learned is that super washed-out grey-greens and also brownish olive greens have the most staying power and don’t really influence skin tones too much.
What design trends do you wish would go away, and what would you like to come back?
I think chevron and zig-zag patterns have gotten out of hand, and I will always love them and continue to use them, but not until they kinda die down just a little bit. My favorite design era that I would love to see come back is the early 1980s with its heavy use of Shaker-style aesthetics, rich organic textures EVERYWHERE, tons and tons of houseplants, and sexy low-slung sofas.
What would you grab in your own home that’s the most special if you had 10 minutes to get out?
In addition to my white terrier Gidget and my significant other Hollis, I would probably grab my plaid sofa. It’s in my den, and I just love it so much.
Who would you like to call you tomorrow and hire you as their designer?
Three-way tie: Maya Rudolph, Sara Blakely or Elon Musk.
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