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Growing up in Jackson, MS, Marguerite Johnson was obsessed with playing house, but she was so focused on the interiors and furniture that she could never start “playing” until it was perfect. She soaked up architecture on family trips and spent weekends looking at historical Mississippi homes. As a child, Anna Still was constantly painting and drawing, and she dove into every DIY project she could. In her grandparents’ mid-century home filled with Scandinavian furniture and accessories mixed with beautiful antiques, Anna began to appreciate “the mix” she infuses in her design work today.

Anna and Marguerite overlapped working for Betsy Brown for five years and came to know each other’s knacks and quirks. When it was time to move on, Still Johnson was born, amalgamating their names, creative sparks, and technical talent.

Anna Still and Marguerite Johnson posing in a home they designed.
Get to know the duo behind Still Johnson — an interior design firm and brick-and-mortar home shop in downtown Birmingham, AL. Image: C.W. Newell

How has the brick-and-mortar retail shop changed or enhanced your design business?

AS: Our shop dovetails perfectly with our design business. We are in downtown Birmingham, and our location broadens our reach to potential clients. One of our favorite projects is with someone who randomly walked by the shop after dinner and reached out to us. We also use the shop as an expanded portfolio. A potential client can stop by the shop and understand that we like interesting art, eclectic antique and vintage furnishings, and handmade accessories.

The shop also enhances our existing projects by offering readily available furniture and accessories. We love to grab a few things from our shop when we are installing a design project. Finally, it’s just really fun to buy items as we find them. If a vendor has a fantastic set of chairs or an artist has completed a huge abstract, I don’t have to wait for a project to use them. It used to be sad to come across an amazing “find” with no home for it; now we can buy it! Someone will pop into the shop and fall in love as well.

What do you want your clients to feel when they enter their Still Johnson-designed space?

MJ: I like to create homes that reflect a client’s personality, inspire them daily, and serve as spaces where clients can relax and enjoy daily life. I hope clients feel we’ve taken their vision and exceeded their wildest dreams. I want the spaces to serve functionally and beautifully as an inspiring background for everyday life.

Dark textured living room
The modern and approachable Thompson Project was for a fun, energetic family who moved to Birmingham from Brooklyn. The homeowners appreciated art and had an existing collection of great authentic mid-century furniture. “Our goal was to create an interesting design that could be a starting point for years of collecting,” Anna adds. Image: C.W. Newell
Still Johnson interior design house outside with family on the porch
They pulled the palette from the home’s architectural elements: the exterior of the house (charcoal), interior walls (white), and wide-planked oak floors (camel). Image: C.W. Newell
Outdoor patio of the Thompson house in Birmingham, AL
“The client loves dusty colors (dusty rose, dusty blue, dusty olive), so we sprinkled those colors throughout the house as pillows or artwork, which made for a nice accent to the moody palette we established,” Anna says. Image: C.W. Newell
Girl's room with bed and pink bedding and natural drapes
Anna and Marguerite tried to infuse as many weighty, natural materials as possible into the newly built house. “We used oak or walnut for almost every piece of hard furniture and lots of natural linen in the drapery and upholstery,” says Anna. Image: C.W. Newell

What’s a common misconception people have about interiors?

MJ: Interiors are more than pillows and throws (as my interior design professors used to say). It is crucial to understand a space’s architecture, scale, materials, and function before selecting furnishings. We work for hours perfecting floor plans and then developing a comprehensive scheme to guide the project. The initial groundwork informs each individual furnishing selection.

AS: I don’t think people understand how much it costs to furnish a home. Many of our potential clients are younger, and we spend a lot of time educating them about how much to expect to pay for a furnished home. It doesn’t matter if you buy furniture from a catalog; if everything is custom or a mix, the components add up. However, I think a well-furnished home can be life-changing, so I believe there is significant value in what a designer can provide.

Anna Johnson's home living room dining room with giant bookcases and arched entryway
The Overlook Project (aka Anna’s home in Birmingham) is a 1920s Tudor she stalked for a while before buying. “The house needed a TON of work. Luckily, architect Jimmy Laughlin guided me in the renovation. His vision really set the tone for the interior architecture, and Marguerite and I have slowly layered furnishings over the past few years,” Anna adds. Image: C.W. Newell
White walls and windows in a breakfast room
“This house has a lot of architectural accents in the style of Tudor homes from this era, so we painted most everything white to add some visual continuity through the space,” Anna says. “The white is also a really nice background for my constantly changing art and furnishings.” Image: C.W. Newell
Overlook house living room
“Marguerite and I like to use my house as a laboratory for our design work — constantly trying new arrangements or swapping out furnishings. I also love that nothing in this house is too precious,” Anna adds. “I have two young boys who absolutely tear it apart each day, and I think it looks better now than when we moved in.” Image: C.W. Newell
Anna Still's kitchen with windows and circle table
“The marble and stainless steel in the kitchen are starting to etch, and the oak floors show their 100-year age, but I love the warmth of a lived-in house!” Anna adds. Image: C.W. Newell

Is there a current design “trend” you’re leaning into?

MJ: The first that comes to mind is pattern play. I enjoy mixing patterns of different sizes, scales, and designs into our schemes. Many of our clients desire a mix, and pulling that together is so fun for me! I love all the patterns playing together and pulling the colors from the patterns through the room.

Secondly, hand-blocked textiles. There are so many great lines with designs that range from playful to more serious and traditional. I love the depths and level of craftsmanship in a hand-blocked textile and how they can make an item such as a re-covered chair or pillow so special.

A third trend I love is glassware. The irregularities of handmade glassware are so beautiful and eye-catching. I love how a set of hand-blown Murano glasses from Italy catches the sunlight. Or the sparkle of the glass plates we design with a company based in Jackson, MS.

Blue walls and a blue dotted bedspread and side table with light rays
“We recently did an oversized bedspread out of a playful, hand-blocked Caroline Z Hurley dot print with different shades of blue dots, and it just popped in the room!” Marguerite says of the Garraway project in Jackson, MS. The colonial-style house was built in the 1930s, so they infused a mix of New Orleans flair with mid-century form. Image: Mary Boyett Rooks
Still Johnson designed Garraway bedroom
“Our favorite spaces of the Garraway project are the primary bedroom and guest bedroom,” Marguerite adds. “In each space, we went for a monochromatic scheme which is bold and dramatic while still feeling relaxing for a bedroom.” Image: Mary Boyett Rooks
Bathroom window drapes with little bees embroidered
How cute is the delicate bee detailing? Image: Mary Boyett Rooks

What’s your favorite hidden gem in the South?

MJ: Birmingham! We have a great design and food scene, and downtown is becoming a fun destination with lots of work, play, and dining activities. Birmingham is a design hub with nationally recognized architects and designers. I also love the houses that overlook downtown. Birmingham is the endpoint of the Appalachian mountains, and the elevation changes give the city a unique topography for houses that overlook the city. You can weave back and forth, street after street, and up the mountains to view historic homes built with a view.

AS: I absolutely love the Hotel Saint Vincent in New Orleans. I am obsessed with the design of the lobby and rooms, the restaurant, San Lorenzo, and the shop called ByGeorge. The art shows in the South are another secret resource. Every year, I try to attend the Kentuck Art Festival near Tuscaloosa, AL, and Marguerite introduced me to the Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford, MS. These shows are a great way to discover new artists, purchase relatively inexpensive fabulous art, and support the art community.

Anna Johnson and Marguerite Johnson pose on the stairs.
“If Anna is Mondrian, then I am Monet,” Marguerite says. “If Marguerite is the dreamer, then I am the pragmatist,” Anna says. Image: CW Newel

Finally, what’s the best advice you’ve received, and from whom?

MJ: “Leave it more beautiful than you found it.” I am not sure who initially said it, but I heard it in preschool, and my mom would always say it. It has stuck with me since.

AS: My husband started his own business a few years before Marguerite and I started Still Johnson. He’s constantly telling me that when starting a business, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” That could be applied to starting a business and even our design work. Take the time to get it right. As a very impatient person, I try (usually unsuccessfully) to remember it.

Thank you for chatting, Anna and Marguerite. To explore more of their work, visit and swing by and see their store in Birmingham. Tell them StyleBlueprint sent ya!


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Zoe Yarborough
About the Author
Zoe Yarborough

Zoe is a StyleBlueprint staff writer, Charlotte native, Washington & Lee graduate, and Nashville transplant of eleven years. She teaches Pilates, helps manage recording artists, and likes to "research" Germantown's food scene.