Not that long ago, if you had a room or an entire home that needed a decorator’s special touch, you asked around locally until your friends shared their source. Once you hired this local designer, you hoped his or her vision would fit your design aesthetic and budget, but really, the only common link between designer and client was their shared geographic location. Now, just like in every other industry, websites, e-commerce, blogs, and social media have completely changed the way people go about finding and hiring an interior decorator. People in small towns now have access to designers in big cities, and likewise, we’ve seen the effect of rural farmhouse style on decor and new builds far from the South and Midwest. Good design is easier to share than ever before.
A relatively recent transplant to Louisville, Francoise Murphy — Fran to friends — has seen the power of blogging and social media transform her business. After she moved into her first home, Fran lost herself down the rabbit hole of interior design. Seeking a creative outlet and a way to document her renovation progress, she started Green Street blog in 2009, and it wasn’t long until she gathered a loyal readership who also appreciated classic yet fresh design amidst a frenetic blog world of trends and fads. As she continued to share design inspiration and create mood boards for her own home, a business was born with e-clients from around the country: Francoise Murphy Interiors. As Instagram gained popularity, Fran’s account drew loads of followers, from design novices to fellow bloggers and designers. Her popular account is a testament to the powerful online community of designers and decorators who support, share, and inspire each other’s creative endeavors of transforming an interior space. She’s a master at combining fabrics and finishes, where traditional is still fresh and classic is still cool.
We caught up with Fran to discuss the power of Instagram, the appeal of traditional design, and how she likes designing for clients in Louisville.
How did you get into the interior design business?
After I got married, I moved into my husband’s Cape Cod-style house in Connecticut. Let’s just say it was in need of some design love! So we started renovation projects, which necessitated researching fabrics, paint, etc. From this came Green Street, my blog, which served as a creative outlet to share my projects and my growing passion for home interiors and decorating. I started getting inquiries from friends and family members, then I found that I had an actual audience of readers and, almost unintentionally, my business was born.
Tell us about the places you’ve lived and worked. What do you like about Louisville families and homes, and what do you hope to contribute to the local design scene?
I was born in the South, but raised on the East Coast and in Europe (where my mother is from), and I’ve moved more times that I can count. I also continue to travel, and all of this has helped sharpen my eye for design. When we first moved to Louisville in 2013, many of my clients were e-design clients from the East Coast and the South who had followed along as I started my blog and began my business. As I have become more settled here in Louisville, my business is growing and I have more and more local clients. As fun as it is to meet someone from across the country who wants to redesign their bedroom, it is also very satisfying to be a frequent visitor in a local’s home and help them make their space work beautifully for their family.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
I was fortunate to be raised around the classical architecture of the East Coast and Europe. I definitely think that has influenced my design style. My aesthetic is traditional but with a fresh take. I like to energize traditional design with a modern touch — layers of patterns or textures, or fun whimsical components. These additions make you feel welcomed and comfortable when you enter the room, and isn’t that the point?
Who are some of your favorite designers and favorite spaces?
I look to Gil Schafer, a traditional architect, who embodies the all-American classical style. I love the timeless designs of many of the iconic American designers such as Bunny Williams, who combines beautiful style with everyday comfort, Sister Parish, Albert Hadley, and Billy Baldwin. There are also many current designers who I admire like Tom Scheerer, Rita Konig, Mark D. Sikes and Tilton Fenwick, the design duo, who aren’t afraid of color and pattern!
What is your earliest design memory?
I have two early design-specific memories. The first is receiving a dollhouse for Christmas. I spent countless hours playing with it rearranging the furniture in each room over and over again! The second occurred when I was 14 and we moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for my father’s job. Riyadh was going through a construction boom and beautiful middle eastern palaces were popping up everywhere. My dad and I would go for a drive and stop in at a construction site to walk through a palace. I was intrigued because the architecture was so different from what I had ever seen. And because they were unfinished, I also had to use my imagination to envision the final product.
Do you have a favorite space that you’ve designed, or is that like asking a mother to pick her favorite child?
Ha ha! Well, that’s easy: my daughter’s nursery. Two months after she was born, we moved to Vienna, Austria. We lived in a beautiful two bedroom pre-war apartment. Because we were short on space, she slept in our walk-in closet. (Mind you, that closet was an enormous walk-in with herringbone wood floors and an eight-foot window. But it was still a closet.) So when we moved to Louisville, I wanted to make sure that she would have a “true” nursery. It was the first room I decorated in our home here in Louisville.
But in most rooms I try to decorate with things that I love. For example, I love the classic combination of blue and white. So I am working on a client project right now that is infused with a variety of blues — from bold indigo to soft blues like china blue and chambray, all in different patterns and textures.
When you start a project, what is your overall goal for the client’s space?
My goal is always to satisfy the needs and wants of my client. Along the way, I hope that I’ve developed something timeless with a casual elegance. Homes need to be practical and comfortable — but why not make them beautiful as well?
Blog or Instagram: What is your favorite? Why?
Instagram because writing is not my strong point! I’ve found it to be an effective way to share my design aesthetic, get feedback on current projects, and share ideas and inspiration.
What is your favorite kind of room to design?
I don’t have a favorite! There are unique challenges to each and every room, so trying to solve those challenges always makes the project interesting and fun. I do like when rooms have an abundance of natural light — it makes it bright and easy to bring the outside in!
What inspires you in design?
Undoubtedly, it’s travel. Traveling is a time to step away from your normal routine and environment and remove your focus from the everyday. But, when that can’t happen, I am always inspired by nature, books and my two children!
What is one design element or secret that you cannot live without?
Blue and white … it never fails.
Do you have a design prediction for 2017? What’s in, what’s out?
Wallpaper — you are going to see more of it!
Thank you to Fran Murphy for sharing her design inspirations. For (almost) daily doses of design inspiration, follow Fran on Instagram.
Find even more interiors inspiration — click here!