With a penchant for creativity and a keen eye, Maureen Stevens pursued a career in interior design and styling that has led her to become a desired talent for projects in New Orleans and Austin. With an understanding of how to make spaces look effortlessly stylish and balanced, Maureen has an appreciation for the approachable and an attention to detail. Splitting her time between two Southern cities, each packed with personality, Maureen is tasked with catering to New Orleanians and Austinites looking to live in well-edited and functional rooms. Her level of innovation as an interior designer and stylist becomes clear from peering inside some stunning Maureen-designed spaces. Order a café au lait (Maureen’s drink of choice), and see for yourself.
Tell us about your background in design.
I have a degree in the healthcare field, and I had a career change nine years ago — well, [it took] three years to find exactly what it was, plus six years doing interior design. I started with writing an interior design blog and then went on to create an online home decor shop. From there, I began styling for magazines and, voila, began doing interior design and styling for various projects.
Explain the difference in the way you approach interior design and interior styling.
They definitely go hand-in-hand and are both crucial in designing a space that’s cohesive, layered and personal. Each part is really a progression or a continuum — the design comes first, then the styling. The interior design is all about creating the overall concept, palette, space and furniture plan. Interior styling is in the details: creating vignettes, creating a story and imbibing life and creativity to a space.
Is there a thread that connects all of your projects?
Yes! They are all approachable, yet bold enough to wow. They’re well-edited and immensely functional. Also, they are truly a reflection of my clients’ personalities, weaving their stories into their space.
Describe your design sensibilities.
My design sensibility is about always approaching a new space or a design dilemma with both left- and right-brained activities. Good design cannot be achieved without organization and consideration of spatial constraints. Additionally, you must be creative and be willing to go outside the box.
Do you follow any “rules” in design?
Yes, and even though I don’t consciously think about them, understanding design rules and their application is always in the works. For instance, the color wheel resides permanently in a part of my brain, along with visual balance and creating symmetry with asymmetry so as not to get into the design faux pas of *gasp* matchy-matchy.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on an office in New Orleans for a design-savvy boss lady, where I’ve been given the task of creating a New York City vibe with New Orleans flair. I am also working on a boutique hotel in downtown West Austin; it’s been two years in the making, and with design, patience is key. Other projects include two urban spaces in the newest (and may I say, amazing) condo in downtown Austin, the 5th & West. [It is] a farmhouse home — a modern build we are turning into a sexy, eclectic space with a dash of bohemian. Plus, our 1860s home in the Marigny we just purchased. Ah, gasping for air, but totally grateful for these projects.
You divide your time between New Orleans and Austin, two inherently creative cities. What attracted you to these places?
I am so lucky to have found these cities that perfectly describe my design sensibilities and, frankly, who I am … urban versus classic, historical-streamlined versus charming, modern versus vintage — essentially, updated classic. I am a traditionalist at heart, but I also love to celebrate the modern world we live in.
How would you define the design culture in each of these cities?
Austin is definitely more urbane. It abounds with amazing architects who define the landscape — modern and contemporary. Whereas New Orleans is about preserving the past. Architectural details are the norm, and they are very serious with their antiques there. I just recently joined Preservation NOLA and am excited to be a part of an organization that preserves the history and cultural identity of New Orleans.
In each city, where can we find inspiring designs?
In Austin: the Austin Public Library, Lenoir, Elizabeth St. Cafe and Eberly (I really have a thing for spaces that are more classically designed with a Parisian bistro feel.), Hotel St. Cecilia and South Congress Hotel. Tarrytown and Pemberton Heights are my favorites. They are older neighborhoods and more traditional than the rest of Austin.
What makes a good interior designer?
A good designer should have all of the traits you would like to have in a good partner — a good listener, organized, follow-through and, most of all, creative and innovative to satisfy all of your wants and needs, even on a shoestring budget.
If you could design one person’s home, who would it be?
Who is currently inspiring you?
Dorothee Meichlizon! She is a designer out of Paris who has designed/is currently designing a slew of boutique hotels all over Europe. I recently stayed at the one in the heart of Covent Garden, London, the Hotel Henrietta. It’s a study in updated art deco.