In our monthly Interior Designer Crush series, we sit down and chat with our interior designer crushes du jour to ask them questions we’re dying to have answered. Today, we visit with Joanna Goodman, Director of Interiors at Christopher Architecture & Interiors, located in Birmingham, but does work throughout the South, including Nashville. A certified interior designer with 17 years of experience, Joanna began her professional journey at Auburn University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Interior Environments. Her award-winning resume ranges from custom residences and event design to corporate office and hospitality projects. She is a self-directed designer with a reputation for high quality and attention to detail. We asked Joanna to describe her aesthetic, let us in on some tricks of the trade and give us a glimpse of some of her favorite projects. We hope you enjoy!

Joanna Goodman, Director of Interiors at Christopher Architecture and Interiors

Joanna Goodman, Director of Interiors at Christopher Architecture & Interiors, which is based out of Birmingham but is recognized for their work across the Southern region

What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client’s home?

To me it is all about the client and how the interiors will function best for them. From the beginning of the project, I listen to the adjectives the client uses when describing how they would like their interiors to feel once complete. From there, I incorporate certain design elements and products that will best represent those characteristics. I believe designing interiors with clean lines, neutral color palettes and classic architectural details provides the perfect backdrop for spaces to easily adapt to new trends, prepare for changing seasons, evolve with growing families and embrace the personality of the client.

What are your favorite spaces to decorate in a client’s home?

At Christopher Architecture & Interiors, we design a lot of open floor plans that flow from one area to the next by introducing architectural detail to the “in-between” spaces. I love to carve out a niche under the stairs or in a long hallway to create a cozy reading nook, a built-in desk area or a quiet seating area. You could say I enjoy the unexpected. In a room adjoining a teenager’s bedroom, I once designed a custom bed-swing for her to relax, dive into a good book or do homework.

"I love to carve out a niche under the stairs or in a long hallway to create a cozy reading nook, a built-in desk area or a quiet seating area," says Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

“I love to carve out a niche under the stairs or in a long hallway to create a cozy reading nook, a built-in desk area or a quiet seating area,” says Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

"You could say I enjoy the unexpected," says Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

“You could say I enjoy the unexpected,” says Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

"At Christopher Architecture and Interiors, we design a lot of open floor plans that flow from one area to the next by introducing architectural detail to the 'in-between' spaces," says Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

“At Christopher Architecture & Interiors, we design a lot of open floor plans that flow from one area to the next by introducing architectural detail to the ‘in-between’ spaces,” explains Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

"I believe designing interiors with clean lines, neutral color palettes and classic architectural details provides the perfect backdrop for spaces to easily adapt to new trends, prepare for changing seasons, evolve with growing families and embrace the personality of the client," says Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

“I believe designing interiors with clean lines, neutral color palettes and classic architectural details provides the perfect backdrop for spaces to easily adapt to new trends, prepare for changing seasons, evolve with growing families and embrace the personality of the client,” says Joanna. Image: Chris Luker

Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment, and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?

I try to design in a way that will make the interiors appear to have evolved over time. I never want a space to look “store-bought.” My design style is eclectic, and I love mixing metal finishes. Whether in the kitchen, bath or living room, people are becoming more accepting of everything not being matchy-matchy. As for furnishings, I combine the new with the old and try to incorporate meaningful items of the client’s where possible. Displaying pieces that have memories of places traveled or featuring a favorite family antique that has been passed down through generations makes their interiors unique and custom-designed for them.

What has been your most challenging project to date and why?

At the beginning of the year, Christopher Architecture & Interiors designed a showhouse for a Birmingham charity, Open Hands Overflowing Hearts. This was a challenging project for me for many reasons. Not only was the construction schedule tight, we wanted the design to be special to help bring crowds and raise the most money possible for this very worthy cause. Our vendors, manufacturers, service tradesmen and installers were so generous and donated products, offered discounts and volunteered their time. Coordination and supervision were important and every minute counted. It truly was a team effort to display products in the best way possible and pull everything together in time for the open house in January of 2016. The end result was a success, but we could not have done it without the help of our local, regional and national vendors.

Joanna designs so the spaces have a natural timeless look, combining old and new to make the spaces look as though they've evolved over time. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors

Joanna designs so the spaces have a natural timeless look, combining old and new to make the spaces look as though they’ve evolved over time. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors

"I love mixing metal finishes," says Joanna. "People are becoming more accepting of everything not being matchy-matchy." Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors

“I love mixing metal finishes,” says Joanna. “People are becoming more accepting of everything not being matchy-matchy.” Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors

Lighting is one of the driving forces behind Joanna's interiors, and this kitchen is filled with natural light during the day, as well as soft, well-placed lighting for evenings. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors

Lighting is one of the driving forces behind Joanna’s interiors, and this kitchen is filled with natural light during the day, as well as soft, well-placed lighting for evenings. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors

This room is the epitome of a transitional space, with myriad seating areas in the middle of the home's various traffic patterns, perfect for entertaining guests. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors

This room is the epitome of a transitional space, with myriad seating areas in the middle of the home’s various traffic patterns, perfect for entertaining guests. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors

What brings you the most professional joy?

Installation day! For me, it’s like Christmas Day. All of the things you have been designing, specifying and purchasing come together all at once. Your client finally gets to see everything you have been visualizing in your head for months, and the look of joy on their faces is priceless.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Traveling is a big part of my life, from vacationing across the United States with my family as a child to traveling now for my career. I have always been inspired by visiting new places, discovering new resources and meeting new people. From Paris, Los Angeles, New York or Slapout, Alabama, you can always learn something from the local architecture, landscape and lifestyle of the people.

"To me, the secret to great design is good lighting," says Joanna. "For example, people are happier in rooms with large windows full of natural light." Image: Jean Allsopp

“To me, the secret to great design is good lighting,” says Joanna. “For example, people are happier in rooms with large windows full of natural light.” Image: Jean Allsopp

"It’s a city with a close-knit design community where everyone knows everyone, and designers are proud of their competitors’ successes," says Joanna of her Birmingham home. Image: Jean Allsopp

“It’s a city with a close-knit design community where everyone knows everyone, and designers are proud of their competitors’ successes,” says Joanna of her Birmingham home. Image: Jean Allsopp

The vast, bright master bathroom features a custom tile floor. “Each individual piece was laid like a puzzle and I praise the installer for his patience and expertise,” says Joanna, adding, “the Bain Ultra spa-like tub sits in front of a six-by-eight-foot custom antique wall mirror, and the motorized drapery panel makes privacy a breeze.” Image: Jean Allsopp

The vast, bright master bathroom features a custom tile floor. “Each individual piece was laid like a puzzle and I praise the installer for his patience and expertise,” says Joanna, adding, “the Bain Ultra spa-like tub sits in front of a six-by-eight-foot custom antique wall mirror, and the motorized drapery panel makes privacy a breeze.” Image: Jean Allsopp

The hearth room, located between the foyer and kitchen, includes one of the home’s three fireplaces and natural pecky cypress ceilings. Image: Jean Allsopp

The hearth room, located between the foyer and kitchen, includes one of the home’s three fireplaces and natural pecky cypress ceilings. Image: Jean Allsopp

Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?

I have been fortunate to have numerous people influence and shape my career. It varies from interior designers and architects to builders and products representatives. I think the common thread with all of the people that I have looked up to is that they are passionate about design and treat people with kindness. This can be a stressful industry with deadlines and always trying to make projects special for our clients, so it means a lot when you work with colleagues that respect each another and care about working relationships.

Share one designer secret with us regular folk.

To me, the secret to good design is great lighting. Those who are close to me know I love designing an electrical plan. Lighting can make or break a space, and it is very important to balance ambient, task and natural light. Lighting creates a mood and affects the way you feel in a space. For example, people are happier in rooms with large windows full of natural light. When I design, I add dimmers to all overhead fixtures so that lighting levels can be adjusted according to the activity, time of day or the weather outside.

Copper, brick and old-fashioned lantern lights intermingle with modern elements for a timeless look. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors

Copper, brick and old-fashioned lantern lights intermingle with modern elements for a timeless look. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors

"Lighting can make or break a space, and it is very important to balance ambient, task and natural light," says Joanna. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors

“Lighting can make or break a space, and it is very important to balance ambient, task and natural light,” says Joanna. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors

Beautiful countertops, quality range, subway tiles, natural light and a beautiful impromptu floral arrangement make for a Vermeer-esque vignette. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture and Interiors

Beautiful countertops, quality range, subway tiles, natural light and a beautiful impromptu floral arrangement make for a Vermeer-esque vignette. Image: T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors

This poolside haven, complete with TV and fireplace, is the perfect spot to unwind with friends. Image: Chris Luker

This poolside haven, complete with TV and fireplace, is the perfect spot to unwind with friends. Image: Chris Luker

If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?

Listen, observe, collaborate & have fun!

Thank you to Joanna Goodman for sharing her design talents and insights. To view more of her fabulous work or to contact Joanna, visit Christopher Architecture & Interiors.

And a huge thank you to photographer Jean Allsopp, Chris Luker and T. Scott Carlisle of Christopher Architecture & Interiors for sharing their wonderful pictures with us!

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See who else we’re crushing on in our interiors archives. Click here and enjoy a look around!