Our latest interior designer crush is on Stephanie Andrews and Elisabeth Paulson of Balance Design in Candler Park. Stephanie, who founded Balance in 2002, has been working with her team to create thoughtfully designed and personally reflective homes throughout the area. Elisabeth joined the team in 2011, offering a complementary perspective from her education in landscape architecture and experience in both residential and commercial interior design. The two women have been working together ever since to create magnificent spaces that are beautiful, memorable and give attention to local craftsmen.
 
In fact, Balance Design, itself, is a studio/gallery for local and emerging artists, featuring a small collection of furniture, rugs and accessories that complement the art — with the design library and workspace in the back of the building. Let’s learn more about Stephanie’s and Elisabeth’s creative process, inspiration and love for interior design.
StyleBlueprint Atlanta: Stephanie Andrews and Elisabeth Paulson

Stephanie Andrews (left) and Elisabeth Paulson work with a great team at Balance Design to create homes that not only look amazing but also exude a happy spirit.

What is the key to successful design collaboration?

Stephanie: A successful design collaboration begins with the client. Determining their motivation, whether that is elevating their home’s finishes because they want to update their kitchen or bath, creating a stunning yet comfortable room to be with their friends and family or just to finish off the details so their home looks “put together.” Once we truly understand this, then we as designers can collaborate on how to reach the client’s goals. Typically, one designer heads the project, makes several floor plan options and then creates vignettes that fit each floor plan. From there, we review and are able to enhance the selections through careful editing. This process requires that each designer be confident in their choices yet open to edits. It is through this back and forth on finishes, fabrics and details that the design evolves into something greater than the sum of its parts.

What’s the best part about relying on local craftsmen to create your overall vision?

Elisabeth: This allows our clients to experience a truly one-of-a-kind piece. Our design vision is only as good as the craftsman that builds it. They also add a level of innovation and detail that would not be possible without this collaboration. Everyone has their strengths, whether it is finding incredible lumber to create furniture or placing fabric on a pillow, just so.

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: Interior Design Crush Stephanie Andrews and Elisabeth Paulson

This bachelor’s master bedroom is classy yet approachable thanks to art by Eva Magill-Oliver, emphasized rafters and an impressive chandelier. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

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Stephanie and Elisabeth pride themselves on the finishing touches. Here, a curated collection of custom and ready-made mirrors are on display. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

What brings you the most professional joy?

Stephanie: I believe that my mission in life is to create beauty and lift people (including myself) to a positive and happy place. I feel incredibly blessed that I have the opportunity to express this mission daily with my employees, my clients, my family and my friends.

How does Atlanta’s design scene differ from the rest of the country?

Elisabeth: Atlantans truly value design and working with designers. They embrace a multitude of styles and incorporate history and travel in their homes. The misconception that Atlantans only embrace traditional Southern style is outweighed by a spirit of modern lines and fun. Every home has a story.

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: Stephanie Andrews and Elisabeth Paulson

The bold elegance of this Buckhead home’s formal living room is accentuated through symmetry and fabulous art by Erin McIntosh. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: Stephanie Andrews and Elisabeth Paulson

Stephanie and Elisabeth transformed an Alpharetta home into a modern global treehouse. They embraced the challenge of incorporating a big, bold painting and, eventually, it defined the space. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: Stephanie Andrews and Elisabeth Paulson

Using the client’s own existing chairs, this grand entry maintains a personal touch and a bit of history. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

Share one design secret with us regular folk.

Elisabeth: Less is more. Everything should have meaning in your home. If you don’t like an accessory — or even a rug — ditch it before you find the “perfect substitute.” The right one will show up just on time (if it was meant to be there in the first place).

Who have been your industry mentors/role models and why?

Stephanie: Jonathan Adler for his irreverent, colorful, fresh and happy vibe; Clodagh for her thoughtful, organic, layered and simple forms; Kelly Wearstler for her glam, rock-n-roll personal style; Oprah Winfrey for her authentic yet rock-solid empire creation.

Where are your favorite local spots to decorate a client’s home?

Elisabeth: I enjoy finding inspiration outside a typical home furnishings store: a visit to the High Museum of Art, Atlanta Botanical Garden — even your neighborhood hardware store or bookstore. Observe what artists find inspirational and incorporate these subjects or textures in your design. Embrace an old rug or chandelier that needs repair. Take some photos in your neighborhood and notice what attracts you.

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: wet bar

This bar niche was a collaborative effort between Stephanie, Elisabeth and Ross Designs Architects to showcase the ship model built by the client’s great-grandfather. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: chef's kitchen

A true cook’s kitchen is created from the ground up with modern surfaces and details like wide plank floors and soapstone backsplash. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

Where do you get your inspiration?

Stephanie: I am loving Instagram and the colorful freshness of many talented abstract artists. My favorite magazine is Domino, and I never fail to be inspired by the lifestyles of the women they feature. I also find inspiration from little treasures that I hold dear from my travels: a Buddha prayer wheel from Nepal, a handmade shirt from Italy, my Scottish plaid from my grandfather and photographs from my first trip to Paris with my husband, Ed.

What has been your most challenging project to date and why?

Elisabeth: In general, our most successful projects incorporate design-savvy people with an appreciation for art and trust for our eye. They consider design an investment for their happiness and welcome innovation, texture, multiple styles and really solid pieces. So, I guess the most challenging projects are the ones where these attributes are more difficult to come by. Every project is different and we try to embrace each one individually.

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: spa bathroom at home

This spa-like bath is one of a kind with custom cabinetry and a stellar view. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

StyleBlueprint Atlanta: master bedroom with triangular windows

Embrace the unconventional! Triangular windows are incorporated seamlessly into a sophisticated master bedroom on the west side. Image: Tracy Cox Photography

Is there one design element that you use over and over again, in some type of capacity? And if so, why?

Elisabeth: I am probably most attracted to Scandinavian design, which has clean, low lines with attention to materials and detail. I try to challenge the rules and emphasize something unique even in these simple designs, whether that be changing a paint sheen or using an unusual cabinet pull. Every foundational design can be tweaked so it is elevated and custom to the project.

Thank you to these two talented Atlanta designers for sharing your insight and expertise. And a huge thank you to Tracy Cox Photography for her wonderful photos!

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Check out some of our other designer crushes in our Home & Decor section!