In 1994, Roger Higgins established R. Higgins Interiors with his partner Ann Shipp and set up shop in the Historic Belmont neighborhood. For the next 20-plus years, the pair continued gaining national recognition for their design talent and breadth of capabilities. But Roger’s story does not start — or end — here. He began fostering a love of design at a young age in his home in East Tennessee. Later, an undergraduate degree from Tennessee Wesleyan University and a Historic Preservation Design degree from O’More College of Design helped solidify this passion for design and directed his career as we know it today. Roger and his full-service design firm provide design and management services from start to finish. No project is too small — and none to large. Guided by the philosophy that the most significant element in the process of creating a home is the people who live in it, R. Higgins has a knack for nailing a timeless look each and every time. We are more than thrilled to welcome Roger Higgins as our Interior Designer Crush for September!
Tell us about your experience and background in design.
My earliest experience is rattling through old houses in East Tennessee with my mother and going to auctions. This gave me a love for traditional and classic homes and furnishings. I went to college first for a history degree and followed that with a degree in historic preservation. My degree in historic preservation highlights details of houses, mantles, millwork, roof styles and materials and making appropriate selections for different types of architecture. That is my training, but my instinct is that you need to know the rules before you break them so that you do it successfully.
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client and his/her home?
I like all styles when they are done well. I may assist the client in decisions and choices that will best interpret their life, whether it’s a young family in a farm house or a couple in a high-rise penthouse, the techniques are the same. A successful design incorporates quality materials and craftsmanship — no matter what their style preference.
How has this aesthetic changed throughout your career?
The aesthetic is the same but it has become more refined with the experience of seeing more examples of all styles.
What design services do you offer?
All of them. From ground-up construction to art on the walls and everything in between. We consult with our clients to understand their needs and incorporate knowledge of construction, design and budget to insure a successful project where everyone is proud of the result.
What can one expect to find in the R. Higgins Interiors showroom?
Expect something completely different every time you come in. I don’t buy things because I think they’ll sell. I buy them because I love them, they have some sort of presence and I know they will make wherever they end up a special place.
Where do you go to find these one-of-a-kind pieces?
Everywhere … auctions, antique shows, furniture markets, artists, craftsman and design showrooms and, of course, whenever I am traveling anywhere. Every place I go is an opportunity to find a treasure.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
Tee-pees and dorm rooms. And, of course, working on a project in Hong Kong — but the challenge there was greatly geographic!
Where do you find design inspiration?
Everywhere. I look at classic and historic places for inspiration. I find the best color palettes come from nature. I am always aware of my surroundings and I always allow myself to be surprised.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? What is your favorite part?
My creative process begins with the client and learning what they are looking for — how they are going to use and live in the space. Their color and style preferences. Next step is sketches, looking for pieces that inspire both my client and myself. This can be furniture, fabrics or unique architectural items. My favorite part of the process is the initial sketching and developing a visual idea of what their project can be.
What are your predictions for interior design trends? How do you incorporate trends in a timeless way?
I predict they will always change, they will come and go quickly. I certainly think trends influence the project but they should not drive the project. I’m not a believer in buying what is “in.” Be aware that whatever trend is currently in will one day be out. The last thing you want is a house full of something that is “out.”
How do you blend antique pieces into modern design?
Don’t be afraid. Pick things and put them in. Be aware that every modern style is a version of something older. What is new was very likely inspired by something that was old.
What brings you the most professional joy?
A happy client and a beautiful finished project.
You studied historic preservation design at O’More College of Design. How do you incorporate your passion for preservation into your designs?
I’m always aware of architectural details and making sure as I design the interiors that all are either historically accurate and appropriate or that they blend the architecture and the chosen aesthetic to provide a successful result.
If you could design one person’s home, who would you choose?
The last remaining homeless person’s home.
Would you share one designer secret with SB readers?
Don’t spit in the wind and don’t paint your house blue (unless you live at the beach — and even then, I would need to pick the color).
Who have been your industry mentors/role models (your personal interior design crushes) and why?
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Thank you, Roger, for sharing a look inside your incredibly talented mind and approach to design. Learn more about Roger and R. Higgins Interiors here.
Feeling inspired? Check out these articles for more interior design tricks, tips and inspiration.