April Tomlin’s passion for interior design began with her mother, a single parent who worked multiple jobs to keep her family afloat. She ran April’s grandfather’s plumbing business, sold real estate and even built every childhood home they ever had, inspiring a love of construction and a steadfast work ethic. This cultivated April’s affinity for turning a house into a home, laying the groundwork for her future career even before she was out of elementary school.
Years later, April Tomlin Interiors graces the homes of A-list clientele, delivering compelling compositions that simultaneously elicit a sense of intensity and serenity. Often monochromatic in theme, her designs are also infused with sophisticated spontaneity, incorporating pieces that highlight her fondness for all things beautiful and slightly rough around the edges. And soon, this mom of two will be traveling for design, having recently announced her exciting expansion into 30A! With a unique style that’s easily distinguishable, please welcome our newest interior designer crush, April Tomlin.
When did you take an interest in pursuing interior design?
My youngest design story is when my mom came home from work (I was 8, and my brother was 7) to find that we had managed to move some of her bedroom furniture and painted her walls as far as our little arms would take us. It’s like my childlike heart wanted our home to feel beautiful, even though we didn’t have the means. I believe my design destiny started that day.
You have a very distinct style. Can you describe your aesthetic?
I like to describe my personal style as earthy with a little edge. I live my life in a very casual, relaxed way. So, of course, my interior style reflects this. I love slipcovers, linen, wood, plaster, old trough bowls, neutrals — really anything that evokes a calm feeling. I also love funky art and wallpaper and interesting lighting. I love to walk through a consistent, natural home and turn the corner to be surprised by a show-stopping wallpaper. When designing for a client, I don’t try to push my own style on them. Some people, by nature, are more formal. Therefore, their interiors should be a little more formal. With that said, any time you are using a designer, you should like their personal style because, inevitably, who they are will come out in their designs. I recently did a more Southern-style home that I believed was completely opposite of my style, and one person that walked through the home said, “I can tell that you designed this.” That blew my mind.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I really love looking at exterior courtyards and gardens for inspiration. Outdoor spaces, if done correctly, can always make you feel peaceful and calm. I love bringing that feeling inside.
Where do you curate your design pieces?
We source from a million different vendors around the world, particularly Australia, but we also get decor from Target. Often, you can find a good amount of filler pieces off the shelf. My favorite “off-the-shelf” stores are Target, Crate and Barrel, One Kings Lane and Etsy.
You use a lot of raw, organic materials in your designs. Tell us about some of them.
I am a huge fan of raw woods; I try to make the wood we use appear to have zero stain. I love certain types of plaster. It can really elevate a plain white wall without drawing direct attention.
What design project or vignette that you have created tops your list of favorites?
I am currently designing my own home. It has become one of my favorites because it is the first time that I don’t have to consider anyone’s opinion but my own … well, also my husband’s. Sort of.
What is one piece of design advice you can offer us to elevate our homes?
Spend your money on drapes. There is no way around it; drapes are expensive — even if they aren’t custom! But without them, your space can fall flat. A custom drapery person can advise you on the scale, different materials and installation. I don’t do heavy drapes. I usually use a soft linen, and I am currently loving putting the curtain track on the ceiling for a less heavy look.
Lighting would be the second on my list of importance. Making sure lights are on dimmers, exchanging your Edison bulbs for a soft white light, and purchasing lighting that isn’t in every other house in town can really make an impact.
If you could work with anyone in the world — as a client or co-collaborator — who would it be?
I would want to work with Nate Berkus and his husband because I love their style, and they seem so sweet.
Are there any trends you’re passionate about? Are there any that you aren’t?
I love the minimal molding look that I see popping up in Nashville. For my own home, I have drywall return windows, doors, no crown molding and 2-inch baseboards.
You are a wife, mom and successful interior designer. Any tips for juggling the work-life balance?
Give up on something. I have figured out how to work hard and be a present mom, but I basically put all of my energy into those two things — as well as some close friends and one charity organization. I have had to sacrifice things like sleep, a perfectly clean home, looking cute all the time (or barely at all), facials and massages, and consistent workouts. I know one day, as my kids get older, I will be able to do more things for myself, but I find a lot of joy in being with my kids and working. It’s also okay to not feel this way. It’s okay to have a job simply to provide for your family. If that’s the case, I would for sure fill up any extra time with a hobby that makes you truly happy. It doesn’t always have to be work and kids — it can be kids and reading or exercising, etc.
What is your favorite design element in your own home?
I am building a new home, and the entire exterior is a lightly stained, vertically planked white oak. I am so, so excited.
What is one design secret or hack that you can share with us?
If you are looking for the perfect white wall color and you don’t want to paint your trim or doors, paint the walls the same color as your trim and doors. If you try to pick a different white, you might end up with your trim or walls looking a little yellow.
Can you describe your design philosophy in five words?
Do. What. Makes. You. Happy. You are the only person that has to see your home every day. When you walk into your home, you should be happy. Edit everything that doesn’t bring you joy, and collect pieces over time that make you smile.
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