Teresa Davis’ story is more than a tale of creating beauty out of everyday ordinariness. It’s a tale of creating beauty — and purpose — out of loss. She launched her Memphis- and Denver-based interior design firm, Post 31 Interiors, after the tragic death of her husband in a plane crash in 2009. “While helping my family sift through some of the darkest moments, I overheard a family friend consoling my youngest son with these profound words: ‘Try to think not only about why your dad has left, but why you are still here. The pain is so great now, but there will be a day where this will lead you forward.’” recalls Teresa. “At that moment, I began to understand how necessary it would be for all of us to focus on what we are passionate about — and to cherish the remaining days we would have together.”

For Teresa, that passion is creating fine art and practicing interior design. Before the loss of her husband, Teresa had worked part-time in interior design while raising her family. After his death, she opened Post 31 Interiors to honor her husband’s legacy by living each day to its fullest and doing the work she feels called to do. Today, Teresa operates Post 31 from a space inside Palladio Interiors & Antiques in Memphis, TN, and from her studio in Denver, CO. Read on to learn more about her passions, her projects and her thriving fine art and design business.

Teresa Davis

Teresa Davis, interior designer, artist and owner of Post 31 Interiors, splits her time between Memphis and Denver. Image: Kristin Hatgi Sink

When did you first realize you wanted to become an interior designer?

From my earliest recollections, I was always creating. Early pencil scribbles came to life with crayons, puddles of Prang watercolors found their way onto paper, and handfuls of Play-Doh became sculpture. As I grew older, I designed troll houses out of cardboard boxes complete with furniture, and Barbie houses morphed into unique mansions full of handcrafted pieces. By the time I was old enough to discover a paint roller, there were orange and pink vertical stripes on my attic walls. My life has always been about ideas and creating.

Where did you study, and what were your earliest jobs in design?

I enrolled at the University of Kansas and dove deep into design and art while studying a broad background of drawing, painting, photography, textiles and ceramics. It instilled in me a deep appreciation of art and what the artful side brings to interior design.

A neutral palette of cloud-like gray forms the backdrop for this elegant mix of traditional and modern furnishings. The sinuous lines of a mid-century wooden lounge chair blend with crisp and tailored upholstery, while pillows provide pops of color.

Teresa loves to include subtle hints of metallic in her designs, like this brass-rimmed coffee table. Books make great decor items, especially on a tiered, glass-topped table.

Layered rugs and loads of greenery give texture to this space, while navy blue accents provide punch.

Tell us about your shop in Palladio in Memphis. What do you offer in that space?

My space in Palladio is a reflection of who I have become as an interior designer and artist. My design mantra is “Collected. Crafted. Curated.” and explains my life and surroundings. I am constantly collecting from travels, crafting with art and design and curating with a discerning eye what seems valuable to my design aesthetic. I have both new and old furnishings, one-of-a-kind pieces, original art and whatever interesting objects I scrounge up on my journeys.

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Where do you find inspiration for your work?

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see,” said Henry David Thoreau. I am inspired every day, wherever I may be. Colors, patterns and shapes from whatever crosses my path are registered in my creative process and will appear somewhere in my design work. Travel is very important and gives me the opportunity to sharpen my eye and see out of the box. Museums, architecture, nature, music and people inspire my creativity. I am a huge fan of being a life learner and am always searching for the next opportunity to either deepen an understanding or take in something new.

A modern case piece serves as a perfect spot to create an entertainment-ready bar. A metallic bowl is ideal for chilling the bubbly, while a tailored tray keeps the bar supplies both accessible and tidy. Modern art gives the vignette a fun punch of color.

Reclaimed wood has a dramatic presence in this entryway, which serves as a room in its own right. A pair of tall, upholstered benches flanking the doorway doubles as extra seating for dining and entertaining in a pinch. The entry is wide enough to house the family’s grand piano.

Wood planks on the ceiling and floor warm up this country kitchen and add rich layers of history to what is actually a new space. The island offers extra storage, which allows windows to replace upper cabinetry, filling the space with natural light.

Who are your industry role models, and why do they speak to you?

So many of my peers are doing amazing and authentic design work that I learn so much from. There are far too many to mention, but include Nate Berkus, Malene Birger, Kelly Wearstler, Roman and Williams, Mary McDonald, Betsy Brown, Beth Webb, Suzanne Kasler, Cy Twombly, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Joseph Dirand, Jeffrey Dungan and Jef Snyder (my nephew and an architect at Lake|Flato).

Tell us a little about your own home. How does your approach differ working in your own space versus working with a client?

My personal home pays homage to a favorite quote from interior designer Suzanne Kasler: “A room should feel collected, not decorated.” And collected I am! My interiors are always a mix of neutral and textured, modern and antique mixed with assorted metallics, allowing for lots of variety in my surroundings that are meaningful to me. Photography, art, ceramics, special pieces from travels, special notes from family and friends, even a found collection of heart-shaped rocks that continues to grow are part of my surroundings. In the event of a fire, I would snatch my biggest love – my black and white photographs that I have taken of my kids for the last 30 years.

A broad bay window with a wraparound window seat becomes a soft and pretty breakfast nook with the addition of a weathered wood pedestal table and tailored, feminine upholstered chairs.

A bold landscape above the fireplace sets the color palette in this soft, neutral living room. Weathered woods form a thread throughout the space, from the tables to the ceiling beams. In the spaces she designs, Teresa loves to incorporate a mix of old and new, weathered and sleek, neutral and bold.

Sliding barn doors bring a modern farmhouse aesthetic to this neutral, elegant space. A slipcovered sofa is placed for symmetry, providing a peek into the white-tiled kitchen beyond.

What design publications or blogs do you most enjoy keeping up with?

Of course I love StyleBlueprint and the job you do curating all the latest information. Always well-written with great photography, I read it every day and always learn new things. I am also the person who is at the counter of Barnes & Noble needing a cart to haul home the latest bounty of books and magazines I have just purchased. Because I spend so much time on the computer, I need paper! I need real paper, flipping images! Give me a current design magazine or interesting book, and I’m all in.

You’re a visual artist as well as a designer. Tell us about your background in drawing and painting. Where can readers find your work?

During my college days in drawing class, I was mesmerized with and devoured the study of the human form through some incredibly talented instructors. It has continually surfaced throughout my life, as I would work on my figure studies wherever we were. Recently, as part of our family’s “#bestfortherest” mojo, I decided to jump into uncharted territory and create my own solo travel and learn abroad experience. Although I had been to Paris many times with friends, this would be a strict study and learning experience and would require alone time. I enrolled in a very challenging figure drawing and painting class and was incredibly humbled while gaining a great amount of experience. This led to many new friendships and opportunities. I am so honored and excited to announce that after receiving requests, I am now selling art on my website!

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A contemporary metallic lamp is a hallmark in the spaces Teresa designs. She loves to use a touch of metallic in every room.

Some modern art, a comfy chair, great task lighting and a gorgeous side table to set a cup of coffee — all the ingredients for a beautiful and functional reading nook!

Textures abound in this cozy corner, which is a great spot for reading, relaxing or having a nice conversation. Nailhead trim adds panache to an updated wingback chair.

What are some of your favorite local design resources?

Of course, Palladio Interiors & Antiques. Frank and Mindy [Roberts] do an amazing job of constantly curating a group of talented designers, artists and craftspeople who offer so many unique and beautiful pieces. La Maison does the same and is a great stop, too. I love Linda Ross and David Lusk galleries for art and sculpture. Millstone Market & Nursery and Garden District will fill you with inspiration. The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Dixon Gallery & Gardens are both favorite places where one can absorb all kinds of culture and enjoy the gardens. And the restaurant scene is booming!

What’s one trick of the trade or piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers?

The best way to create a warm, inviting home is to fill it with what you love! Make it a space you want to fall into every day.

Thanks, Teresa! To learn more about Teresa’s fine art and interior design, visit post31interiors.com.

All photos by Emily Minton Redfield unless otherwise noted.

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