Full of life, personality and color, Tori Alexander creates balanced and aesthetically pleasing spaces. This Nashville native (and Harpeth Hall alum) brings her propensity to pair pattern and color in unexpected ways to homes across Nashville. Tori began her design career in California, where she established her namesake interior design company, Alexander Interiors. She returned to Nashville to dive into the ever-growing design scene. Her ability to visualize the application of design within each space ensures a flawless final product. Today, she takes us on the journey of her design career, provides endless inspiration and praises Reese Witherspoon’s style. For these reasons and more, we can’t help but crush on her. Welcome Tori Alexander as our latest Interior Designer Crush!
Tell us about your design background.
Creativity has always been my passion, so it was no surprise when I found myself burning the midnight oil in the design studio at the University of Georgia. After earning an interior design degree in 2008, I returned to Nashville to work at an architecture firm. Fast-forward to 2012 when my husband’s job took us across the country to Sacramento, California. I think being in a new and unfamiliar city encouraged me to finally take the leap and begin working for myself, which is where Alexander Interiors was born. In 2016, we moved back to Nashville, where we’ve been ever since. I just have to say, Nashville is such an exciting place for our industry right now with all the new growth, and I am extremely grateful for the wonderful clients and opportunities that continue to come our way.
What is your design aesthetic, and how does it set you apart?
I can describe my aesthetic in two words: fresh and classic. I pride myself on creating timeless interiors with layers of color, texture and pattern. Did I mention I love a good pattern? That’s what I feel truly sets me apart — my ability to pair pattern on pattern within the same space. I’d say it’s one of my design hallmarks. I also think my diversity of project locations helps set me apart from local designers. I’ve been able to draw inspiration from the quirks and trends in various regions and cities.
How do you marry the pretty and practical?
I design every space with the assumption that adults will spill red wine and children will spill their juice. That being said, it can still be beautiful! It is about knowing when and where to use each material. It is also crucial to have the right discussion with clients on the front end about their expectations for the use and life expectancy of the space.
Do you have a favorite space in the home to design?
My absolute favorite spaces to design are breakfast nooks and powder baths. They are both smaller, contained spaces and are typically great opportunities to splurge on materials because you need smaller quantities — think bold window treatments and colorful wallpaper (typically in powder baths). These are typically spaces where clients are willing to take chances, too. Whether it is piling on color, mixing in a modern light fixture or bringing in a vintage element, this is when I get clients out of their comfort zone.
What is your favorite room in your home, and why?
We moved into a 1938 Colonial-style home about a year ago, and it was my first time having a formal living room of my own. Initially, it was overwhelming, but I love how it has organically come together with a mix of old and new. The majority of the furniture is antiques that have been re-upholstered with a more contemporary fabric. My favorite items within the space are a vintage burlwood game table (that almost always has a puzzle in progress), a pair of Lee Jofa floral chairs and an extremely comfortable and durable antelope rug. Even though it’s formal, the space is child- and pet-friendly and gets daily use!
What are some bold ways in which you’ve used color lately?
I just finished the most whimsical and feminine nursery with painted tent stripes on the ceiling. You wouldn’t believe the time I spent measuring to make sure that everything was spaced perfectly, but it was so worth it. The stripes were multiple shades of a peachy blush with a scalloped border and tassels that I hand-painted based on an antique bracelet that my grandmother gave me.
What are your local go-to design resources?
I am passionate about art, which leads to a lot of custom framing, all of which I take to Beveled Edge. I am probably there once a week and work with Murphy, who is phenomenal and really understands my style. For all my renovations, I work with Angela at Stone Source on my tile and with Mary at PDI on plumbing. All my custom rugs and carpet come from Myers, and I recommend everyone take a peek at their pre-cut rugs in the back. They are a fantastic price point, and I use them in my own house and for clients. For final space styling, I head to Corzine because a set table is far more interesting than an empty one, and they also have great pieces for mantels and shelving. One of my biggest go-to resources is Goodwill … it’s my secret (or not-so-secret-anymore) source for vintage books.
What has been your most challenging project to date, and why?
I wouldn’t say that I would name a single project as the most challenging, but I certainly have encountered my fair share of challenges. I’ve often joked that owning a business in California is like waking up and slaying dragons every day. One client out there tried to skip out on a substantial furniture bill, and from that, I learned to always charge on the front end before placing furniture orders. I’ve also learned a lot about professionalism and boundaries that have enhanced my business over time. Work/life balance is also really important to me. I try my best not to respond to emails at all hours of the night and, instead, spend that time with my family. I was worried about that in the beginning, but I’ve found a great level of respect with clients through my transparency.
What has been your most rewarding project to date, and why?
Last year, I completed two separate but similar renovation projects, each for dear friends. In both cases, the challenge was to create a master en-suite from existing space within the house. Every single square inch was crucial, but we were able to create very functional spaces (specifically, the master bath in both cases) to fit the clients’ needs. The ultimate reward is to see the smiles on my clients’ faces and know that my work was able to improve their daily lives and increase the value of their homes.
What/who is currently inspiring you?
Architecture! I am currently renovating a 100-year-old home in Belle Meade with incredible architectural details on the interior and exterior. I’ve labored over the details to ensure that we’re staying historically accurate in architecture and design. One of my favorite architects to follow on Instagram is Brandon Ingram. If you love architecture, I also suggest visiting Mountain Brook in Birmingham, Alabama. I love to drive through the streets there and take pictures of the houses as case studies. Birmingham is truly the epitome of Southern interiors style and architecture … the city is filled with inspiration.
If you could choose one designer (living or dead) to redo your home right now, who would it be?
Hands down, Mario Buatta. He’s part of the old regime with the other greats like Albert Hadley and Sister Parish. With the accessibility of the internet, decorating is becoming very commercialized and, at times, generic. It is important to carry on the spirit that built our industry, which meticulously brings art into every single detail of the home.
If you could design one person’s home, who would it be?
Reese Witherspoon, hands down. I love her fashion style, and I believe it aligns with my design aesthetic. Can you imagine how fun her home would be? I envision it as warm and cheerful, with classic floral prints and fabulous art … perhaps a pop of something modern here and there to keep things interesting. She’s also a fellow Harpeth Hall alumna, and I know she would take the opportunity to support another woman in business.
What are three household items you couldn’t live without?
My power drill (for all those crazy projects I’m always working on), coffeemaker and television. I don’t actually have the attention span to sit through a show, but the background noise keeps me company on those late nights in the office.
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Spaces you can live in.
Thank you, Tori. Learn more about Alexander Interiors here.
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