Keep it Green, Make it Beautiful: Matthew Coates

Matthew Coates is an award-winning architect and President of Coates Design Architects in the Seattle area. His firm has been focused on green building and sustainable design from its inception.


Thanks for joining us, Matthew. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design and how you ended up in a green concentration?

I worked at a few large architecture firms in Seattle before winning the Cradle to Cradle International Sustainable Housing Design Competition in 2005.  This propelled me to start my own firm, and we’ve been focused on green building and sustainable design since our inception.

You live and work in Seattle. What are some themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the city?

Because of our climate, there’s a strong desire for access to daylight.  We like to introduce a lot of natural light into our spaces, and we do that by increasing the volume of the space which helps light to bounce and disperse, and allows for more glazing to be used with an exterior wall.

With regard to materials, there tends to be an appreciation for natural materials, materials that are honest about what they are.  Cedar and douglas fir trees grow everywhere around here, so we use a lot of these two woods for both interior and exterior finishes.

All spaces are unique, but with a green concentration you must find that there are items you tend to repeat. What would they be? Which are most dependable? 

When designing interior spaces, it’s important to create more than one use within a given space.  So it’s common to combine an office with a library with a guest sleeping area.  We often include an open living plan in our designs, so the living, kitchen, and dining areas are combined in one functioning space.  By doing so you get a lot of “borrowed landscape,” so to speak.  This is a term usually designated to exterior gardens, but it’s true for the interior too.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your education and inspiration? 

My first priority is to understand their needs and expectations.  So it’s really more about listening – critical listening – to be able to understand and interpret what it is they’re trying to accomplish, and what their expectations are in regard to scope, schedule, and budget.  I don’t come to the table as a designer with a predisposition to a particular outcome.  I look at each client and each design opportunity as its own, and I design to suit the client’s needs and context, rather than my own sensibility.

Seattle is known to have a few hardwood floors, which of course means more area rugs. Tell us how you use some of these in your designs.

Area rugs are important because they can really help to define a space, whether it’s a sitting area or a circulation path.  They send a visual or textural cue as to how a space should be used, or they can be used as a spatial organizer.  They add color, along with visual and physical texture to spaces.   They also help with acoustics, so that’s something to be mindful of if you’re creating a conversation area.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Every situation and design opportunity has its own criteria, and so we pick something that fits that criteria. So we make decisions on a case-by-case basis, and it’s always different.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Accents are best used in moderation.  I would rather see larger area rugs than a bunch of little ones.  It’s definitely important for them to be visually independent from one another.

Any final words of design advice?

When choosing an area rug, be conscious of not only the color and the way it looks, but also the rug’s durability and longevity. Knowing what textures and fabrics you’re dealing with is very important.  Ask yourself: “Is this rug going to shed all over my house?”  Also, think about how easy or difficult it will be to clean.  Choose a rug that’s appropriate for the location you’re using it.

With regard to design, area rugs are not necessarily intended to be a focal point.  They’re an important part of the composition of creating a space, but they’re more like the glue that holds it all together.  I use them to support and enhance a good design that’s already there.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

Readers can view our work on our website, and we can be reached at 206-780-0876 or


Staging Success: Shirin Sarikhani

When staging homes for sale, almost no one is better than Seattle’s Shrin Sarikhani., an interior decorator with her client’s best interest in mind.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist? 

My most important agenda during my first apt is to figure out what are their expectations and if they have any specific requirements.

Your job is filled with challenges. Which do you face most often? Do you have a method to work through those problems? 

Yes we do face challenges. Some are people challenges, but we have learned to ask right questions and let them feel that we hear them and understand where they come from. Other challenges are difficult spaces. Some homes are just difficult to design. I’ve learned that my first impressions are usually correct and I have been trying hard to listen more to myself. But I always create a back up plan.

Describe to us the project you are most proud to have designed. What did it look like before? After? 

This is a hard question. One of the first homes that I staged is still my favorite project. The homeowners didn’t want to spend any money to landscape, paint, change carpets. But, we turned a blah house that was blue inside and out with navy shag rugs, into a hip an inviting home. We took a unused space into a beautiful work space. Since we had to work with lots of blues, we brought rust orange and browns and carried the colors throughout. The color combination and the flow made the whole thing work together. The house was sold for $40,000 more than asking price in one hour.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your business? Which type of designs do you see yourself using more? Less? 

When it comes to rugs and staging, I have two different approaches. If there is beautiful wood floor, we like to show it off. So we use rugs to anchor the living rooms and define these spaces, but we leave the dining room floors blank to show the wood floors. Our favorite carpets are shag in neutral colors and sisals. I don’t like to use colorful carpets or the ones with patterns, since they become a distraction. We do use Persian rugs for our traditional homes and they work well for these homes.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable? 

Oriental rugs are the most durable and, I think that sisal are some of the the least durable.

Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price? 

Carpets are expensive, the good ones at least. We try to buy them for our wholesaler vendors. The Persian rugs we buy directly from importers.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers?

Sure thing. It was a pleasure!

No Detail is too Minor: Scott Neste

The Pacific Northwest is filled with rain, but Scott Neste knows that you can warm up any room with a nice area rug and by paying attention to the details!

Tell us a little bit about your training in interior design and how you came to choose both the profession and your location.

My training in interior design has primarily been comprised of hands-on activities.  My first “room reveal” was on a winter night when I was about 7 years old and I announced to my family after dinner that they all needed me to come to my bedroom to see how what I had done!  Some things never change.  Design is in my DNA.

I was raised by creative and entrepreneurial parents, my Dad was a high-end menswear retailer for 43 years and Mom is a Home Economist. There was always a plethora of creative opportunities to be involved in from creating retail store window displays to helping renovate the family room or cook an extravagant holiday dinner for 25.

And what about professionally?

My degree is in Organization Communications and Psychology.  After college I had a 12 year career as a District Manager for American home furnishings retailer, Pier 1 Imports followed by a two year career as a Human Resources Director in a pharmaceutical research company, America’s Doctor.  In December of 2000 my position relocated but I didn’t as I choose to pursue a life dream of having my own design studio.  That brings us to 2012!

Does Seattle (and all that rain) making for a challenging market as an interior decorating? What are some of the major influences for the area?

Good question!  Having been a Pacific Northwest resident for 26 + years I’d have to say the region is on the whole laid back, not concerned with progressive design, focused on the outdoors and living a comfortable non-flashy life.  Our very temperate climate makes it a really easy place to live and fall in love with.  You may think since we average 226 cloudy days per year that homeowners would be drawn to bright colors and bold statements that combat the gray.  I’ve never found this to be the case.  People seem drawn to relish tonal, subdued palettes with organic color references.  On the whole, my paint palettes tend to be very tonal and subtle with an occasional feature wall for a special “pop of color.”

While our days are cloudy, they are also bright so these tonal color palettes actually have a rather chameleon effect.  Greens turn blue, yellows can turn green and whites stay refreshing.

If nature in the spectacular “Evergreen State” is a primary influence, I’d say that Glasswork is a second major influence.  The influence of Dale Chihuly and other well-noted glass artists is ever-present.  There is an appreciation for art and the process of making beautiful things.  Additionally, being a very environmentally conscious state creates at least the desire to work sustainably, to consider reclaimed woods and materials and to do the right thing in terms of the environment.

What’s you design philosophy? How do you try and implement it in your work?

Simple.  The client is inspiration for and benefactor of everything I do!  I work primarily to gain an accurate understanding of whom my client is, how they live currently and how they’d like to live in the future.  I consider is a great honor to design with clients.  I see my job as to interpret and anticipate their needs and to design with those needs in minds.  Secondarily, to be a robust source of inspiration, ideas, options and solutions for every need.  I’m thrilled when I show a client exactly what they think they need then I push the boundaries by showing then another option they had no ideas existed and they are wild about it!

Are your clients typically looking for big jobs, or a room-by-room type thing?

It’s a mixed bag.  I work exclusively on the billable hour so I take on projects of all sizes and budgets.  During the early 2000’s I was perhaps doing more long-range or complex projects and certainly more new construction.  Since about 2010, the trend seems to be to take on what fits in the budget at this time, complete that phase then immediately start planning the next one.  Commercial projects are of course more about getting the job done and moving on so businesses can minimize their downtime.

When it comes to floor coverings, tell us how you incorporate area rugs into your designs.

A great rug can really anchor a room!  It is often the inspiration for the other materials selections like hardwoods, tile, paint, wall covering, fabrics and even art.  When I’m working in a traditional setting, there may be existing rug which necessitates that need to find the perfect companion rugs.  If we’re starting from scratch, I usually present an edited selection of rugs to see what my client responds to.  Often I will include fabrics for major furniture pieces so the client is better able to visualize a design direction.

Area rugs add some warmth to space. What are some other ways they can be used? Do you have any types of rugs you use more often than others in Seattle?

I find Northwest clients are rather traditional and, without a doubt, practical in their use of rugs.  Rarely, have I persuaded a client to use a rug as a wall hanging, for example.  Again, my clients seem to typically respond to subtle designs, tonal color palettes, lush textures and simple patterns.  They always want to know the content and what the cleaning protocol is.  They tend to be more concerned with how the rug will wear and how much work it will be to care for than if the rug is a particular style, designer name or of museum quality.  They pay attention to things like how will with work with my animals or how will this feel underfoot when I slide out of bed.

Any other tips or tricks for using area rugs?

If a client is relative new to are rugs, I will work to show them some simple options for say, an entryway, atrium, dining room or other smaller space. I find if I can get them interested in a smaller financial commitment in rugs, they are often open to larger purchases when it comes time to buy a “grown-up rug” for the living room!  I have a couple tips for designers.  First, be sure you understand the client’s lifestyle and how / where the rug will be used so you can show them options with an appropriate fiber content. I’m not sure I’d recommend a silk rug to a young family who has 3 small children and 4 large dogs.  Second, use samples or yarn boxes to show actual color ways when possible to ensure all your design elements complement each other.

Where can readers find your work, or make a booking for an estimate?

The best way to learn more about my work is to visit my website.  All my design and consultation time is billable by the hour so it makes it easy to bring me in for a consult and test the waters.  Most clients simply feel compelled by the work and wish to dive right in.  I’m fine either way!  Clients and learn more about my work and view project photos on numerous sites.


Make it POP: Michelle Yorke

From earth tones to “pop” Michelle Yorke knows how to design rooms that her Seattle clientele will enjoy.

Thanks for joining us, Michelle! Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.

My first year of college I had a hobby of decorating my bedroom and dorm room. Soon I was helping others with theirs and realized I had an interest for space and design, so I decided to pursue a degree in interior design. My interest soon become a passion and I haven’t looked back since.

Seattle definitely has a vibe all its own. What elements of the city’s personality do you try to add into your work? 

A big piece of the city’s personality is in the landscape. With the Puget Sound, mountain ranges and Greenery we are surrounded by amazing views and a rich palette of earth tones ranging from blues to greens, to beautiful grays. Yes, I even said gray. It is hot color right now so it’s fun to incorporate into a space because it really brings the outside in the Pacific Northwest. You just need to balance how much is the right amount without feeling drab.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer? Hurt?

Some of the most challenging spaces can be those that lack good natural light. I really have to focus on getting a great paint color and lighting, then bring in the right fabrics and accent colors to give the room just the right “pop” of color.

I love the challenge of a unique layout. It really stretches my creativity and abilities as a designer. So I say yes, it benefits the designer, maybe not always. But I gladly accept the challenge.

The idea of flow is huge in design. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

I start by getting to know my clients needs and desires for the space first, then design with those things in mind. If I’ve done my job right, the space will be stress-free because my client loves the end result and the space works for them.

Area rugs are versatile and since Seattle has plenty of hardwood floors. Tell us how you tend to incorporate them in your design?

I love to bring in area rugs to ground a seating arrangement and also warm up the space. It’s also a great way to bring in texture, pattern and color. Whether it is subtle or bold, the rug can really pull everything in the room together.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Always case by case. Every client and space is different, so I design with a blank slate each time.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Good question. If the rug overwhelms the design of the room then it’s too much. Or too many different patterns in one space or within eyesight can get to busy.

Any final words of design advice?

Love your space and make it a reflection of who you are by incorporating personal things. Add bold color and pattern with throw pillows. You can change them out seasonally or switch them around and use them in different rooms.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

I’m featured on Houzz and can be contacted personally for a consultation at 206-349-1239.


An Interview with Kim Gorsline

Thanks for joining us, Kim! Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design and how you ended up in design? 

I have loved design since I was a little girl. When my mom gave me the dollhouse she played with when she was a girl I was very interested in trying to change the wallpaper and carpet in it. It was in early high school that I realized I could make a career out of my love for design and began looking for colleges that offered a design program. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design and decided to start my own interior design business about two years after graduating.

You live and work in Seattle. What are some themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the city? 

Something a lot of my clients love in Seattle is the use of clean lines, contemporary furnishings and simple clutter-free designs. While I’m not sure that any of those things originated in Seattle, they are all very characteristic of what I would say is the prominent design style in Seattle. How that plays out in each project is different of course, since every client is different.

All spaces are unique, but do you find that more clients want a green concentration? What items do you repeat? Which are most dependable? 

While green design is very popular in the Northwest and Seattle, I have only found it to be a real priority to incorporate it into designs for clients who have particular chemical or allergy related sensitivities. In that case some of the best products I have worked with have been wool carpets and concrete flooring.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your education and inspiration? 

My first priority is typically getting a good sense of my clients design style, taste, preferences, like and dislikes. Some of my clients already have a strong sense of what they like and what they hope for in the end design and for my clients that are less sure I have a number of tools I use to help them identify their design style and preferences. I always try and bring my education and inspiration to every job I work on, but not in a way that is forcing my own design preferences on my clients. For me it is very important that my clients taste and personality be displayed in the end design.

Seattle is known to have a few hardwood floors, which of course means more area rugs. Tell us how you use some of these in your designs.

Area rugs are a wonderful addition to a lot of Northwest rooms. They can add visual and tactile warmth as well as help anchor a room and define a space. They are also a great place to add color and visual interest to a room.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis? 

I would say it is on a case-by-case basis. Every client is different and every project has different needs as well as different budgets.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Again, this all depends on what the client’s budget is. If a client can afford it and is willing to spend thousands of dollars on a rug there are some very beautiful rugs that are really works of art that can make an entire room. However, if a client has a smaller budget and the rug needs to serve more of a functional purpose rather than be a work of art there are plenty of great looking rugs in that category to.

Any final words of design advice?

My design advice would be to go with your gut. A lot of times when I work with clients they already have a good sense of what they like and don’t like. Typically they need my help to figure out how to put what they like together into a cohesive design, but it is rare that I meet someone who is completely opinion less when it comes to design, especially in regards to their own home.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation? 

Readers can see my work and make an appointment for a consultation on my website at

Thanks for your time!


On the Move: Erik Waldorf

The design business can be tricky, but for interior designer Erik Waldorf hard work has overcome every obstacle, even moving his business from California to Seattle.

Thanks for joining us, Erik! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.

Thanks Tim!  Thanks for talking to me today.  For me it was a transition from retail, schooling, and eventually landing at a couple of design firms.  The rocky economy, let’s say, helped me choose my path and I started my practice in 2006.  It’s been rewarding to be able to help transition people’s environments into the spaces and places they want to live.

You recently moved from California to Seattle. What a change! Will the climate change affect your designs?

That’s right.  I’ve only been in Seattle for about three months so I’m still settling into my surrounds.  However, I have asked myself that question.  The short answer: Yes.  The climate and certainly the way the light in the sky is have a direct impact on design.  My typical color palette may change a bit and eventually I’m assuming I’ll start imparting some Pacific Northwest influences into my designs.  I am hoping, however, that my California past will be able to show off a little bit.  We shall see.  That’s the exciting part!

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist?

I can’t say I have a checklist down to a science but I do try to see how clients are living.   It’s important to understand their routine, their habits, how they are using their spaces, and I ask as many questions as I can to figure this out.  Once I find out how they are using their spaces then the next step is to understand how they want to use their spaces.  It’s important to understand the scope of the project they have in mind and go room-by-room to get an outline of what needs to be done.  Of course, coming to a realistic idea of budget is an important part of that initial conversation.

Your job is filled with challenges. Which do you face most often? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

I think the challenge I face most often is working with others in the industry.  Not that they are purposefully being challenging but that there are many hands involved in a design project from contractors and sub-contractors to vendors and workrooms.  This makes me the pivot person.  As with all things in life communication is key.  It’s important to be on top of all the hands involved and understand any setback they might have.  I communicate every aspect of a project with my client and have them involved in the decision making process as much as I am.  Collaboration is very important with all those involved.  It’s always a team effort whether it’s a one room me and the client kind of thing or an entire home with all the players.

Describe to us the project you are most proud to have designed. What did it look like before? After?

Hmm., that’s a tough question.  It’s hard to pick just one as they all have their unique elements.  I’m quite fond of a project I completed this past year in Menlo Park, CA.  It was a great project to play with as it had a little bit of everything for me to dig into.  We transformed the kitchen and dining room in this home without having to spend a fortune.

The kitchen was almost too bright.  Lime green walls, bright white cabinets, and white ceramic tile everywhere. They also had a built-in desk that collected clutter; it was a throwback to the 90’s era of new homes. I made small architectural changes by completely redoing the kitchen island and revamping the cabinets where the desk was to have a wine cabinet and pantry. I refinished the cabinets to soften them and replaced the countertops with beautiful granite and the backsplash with hand painted tile.  The dining room wasn’t quite as involved but it started out dark in color but also not much natural or artificial light.  I changed the wall color (inspired by a color in a fabric choice), added more and controllable lighting and added all new furniture.  It was tons of fun!  The best thing… the clients love it!  The best thing a client can ever say is, “it feels like home.”  I know I did my job right when I hear that.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your business? Which type of designs do you see yourself using more? Less?

I love rugs too!  Rugs, of course, add character, charm and warmth to a room.  Not to mention texture and/or pattern.  They help reel in many aspects of a designed space and I use them to help define the space.  I tend toward more traditional designs but with a contemporary or lighter color palette.  I guess what might be called “new traditional.” I absolutely love many of the Moroccan patterns that are coming to the market now.  Although, I don’t use them as much, contemporary Tibetan rugs can be wonderful additions to a space.  Usually, they have less pattern and more focus on color and texture.

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

The best area rugs are those that are hand knotted and made with natural fibers; most often wool or a wool-silk blend.  I find these rugs tend to maintain their value as well as durability.  Yes, they can be pricier and so for more budget-minded clients I lean towards hand-tufted rugs but keep to the natural fibers.  If allergies are persistent that will lead me down the path of nylon or other synthetic fibers but I find they are just not as durable over the long haul and tend to matt and show traffic pattern more readily.

These things can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

As far as rugs go, you have to do your research.  Know what you’re getting and why the price is attached.  You can find inexpensive rugs but is it the quality you want or need?  Perhaps you don’t go for the most expensive rug under the dining table or maybe no rug there at all and put your monies into the living room rug.  Planning for the space and making sure you get the right size will help too. You may not be able to purchase something right away either but if you know the price you can plan for it and eventually follow-through.  You never have to do it all at once.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers!

Keep true to who you are in your design.  Your rooms don’t have to look like a magazine cover or catalog.  Hire a professional!  If you’re confused, tired, don’t have time, etc, etc.  bring on someone who knows what they are doing and can save you time, and costly mistakes. Even if it’s for a few hours to get your feet moving in the right direction. And always do something beautiful for yourself.


Feeling Cozy Inside and Out: Dawn Wilkinson

Dawn Wilkinson is taking the intimidation out of the interior design.

Thanks for joining us, Dawn. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.

I started my design career in the mid-90’s at a mom & pop style floor covering store in Bellingham Washington after graduating from the interior design at Oregon State University.  Prior to my formal training, I was a young lady who in grade through high school was moving furniture around in her room, and the room of her friends just for fun!

Seattle definitely has a vibe all its own.

Seattle does have it’s own vibe, and what I really love about that vibe is people are not afraid to express their own personal interior style in their homes.  They don’t really want to have a “look” that is similar to their neighbors and they really pride themselves in making smart buying decisions that will stand the test of time, not only in durability, but in style longevity.

What elements of the city’s personality do you try to add into your work? 

We are surrounded by lush evergreen trees, tranquil blue/grey toned waters, and this time of year, crisp white snow on the mountains so bringing color cues in from is one of my favorite ways of working.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer? Hurt?

Our most challenging spaces are those where a client may be trying to place too many pieces of furniture in a room, therefore not allowing for proper circulation in & around the room.  Area rugs are a great way to anchor a space that a client is struggling with, creating a focal point from which to start building the rest of the room around.  These unique layouts are fun for us as design professionals because we can illustrate several different options for the client to consider prior to them making their final choice & investment in the rug piece.  Here’s an example of how we show a client layout options.

The idea of flow is huge in design. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

At Six Walls we often like to use the word transition.  As one moves from space to space within a home, we transition into another room that has a different function or purpose than the room before.  To make spaces still feel connected, but not repetitive, we suggest repeat common threads in the design of rugs.  One example; a pattern may be repeated in an adjacent room, but a new color of the similar pattern will be introduced.  Developing a pleasing color scheme with a client in the early stages of the design process are critical to keeping on track with selections along the way.  That way, we can come back to that color scheme for the project to insure a proper choice is being made for each material being introduced into the space.  An area rug can often provide a color scheme inspiration for a room, or a whole home if you find the right one!

Area rugs are versatile and since Seattle has plenty of loft space with hardwood floors, I’m sure you see a bunch. Tell us how you tend to incorporate them in your design?

With the almost 9 months out of the year being overcast and rainy here in the lovely Pacific Northwest, our team of designers incorporate area rugs into almost every project we work on—purely to add a cozy factor.  Even if it’s a kitchen or bathroom remodel design, we show area rug options for comfort on tile or stone floors, just as often as we do for wood floors.  Adding that element of softness, texture, pattern and color, is something that only area rugs can do!  I’m sure many of this blog’s readers have heard a designer say that area rugs are like artwork for the floor, and that couldn’t be truer.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Even though I’m a huge fan of wool and other natural fibers like jute or silks, I don’t have a style or type of area rug that I lean on most, I tend to suggest several options to our clients based on style and color needs for the room, as well as budget, and durability.  Sometimes a room calls for a high end hand knotted rug, and other times it will call for a piece of wall to wall carpet to be ordered, cut and bound to size locally!  Choosing options that best fit the client’s needs—as opposed to pushing our own style agenda helps us create long lasting relationships with our clients that have them calling us back for help on other projects in the future.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

I haven’t reached that threshold yet!

Any final words of design advice? 

Go with what you love, and don’t be afraid to pay for a little bit of advice from a design pro.



Becoming an Expert Interior Decorator Takes Study

Wendi Mannix inspiration can come from almost anywhere, but knowing how to use new themes in her interior design took years of examination and hard work.

Thanks for joining us, Wendi! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design. What would you describe as your style? Influences? Are there designers that you emulate?

I have been passionate about interior design since I was five years old!  In fact, I used to draw floor plans just for fun.  I guess you could say that interior design go into me!  I went on to earn a B.A. in Art History from Wellesley College and there was no turning back.  I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than helping people live well in a space that inspires them every day.

My personal style is constantly changing!  I have lived in Maine, Massachusetts and Florida and have spent a lot of time in Italy.  I believe a home should not only tell your personal story, but also reflect the time and the place in which you live.

There are many other designers whose work I admire.  I love Kelly Wearstler’s unexpected, modern take on glamorous style.

When you enter a room can you tell if it has been professionally decorated? What are the tell tale signs?

Not always!  There are a lot of homeowners out there who are very creative and passionate about their interiors.  That said, the sign that a room has been professionally decorated is usually evident in the details.

Which project are you most proud of and why?

My own personal residence!  As a designer, it is an incredible challenge to design your own space.  I especially love my office, which is my creative space so it is entirely white.

Are there any rules you must follow when decorating your own space? When should you call in a designer?

The only rule I suggest that homeowners follow is to make their space tell their personal story.  A space should reflect who you are, where you’ve been and what inspires you.  It should not follow any particular theme or trend.  I find that most of my clients have a great personal aesthetic and just need some help pulling all of the details together.

We like rugs. Tell me a little about the various ways your incorporate them into your designs.

I like rugs, too!  Rugs can be the feature in a room, or a great, neutral way to add texture to a space.  Here in Miami we have a lot of open floor plans, so they are also a great way to define different spaces within a large space.

Why do you rely on area rugs? What is the biggest addition they make to a room? Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work? Any that you avoid?

Rugs bring to rooms what accessories bring to an outfit.  They are a necessary part of the overall design, but can play a lead role or a supporting role.  Either way, a room, as with an outfit, is incomplete without them!

Anything else to add? And where can readers find your work or book a consultation?

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share my design philosophy with you and your readers. They can find my work online and contact me there as well if they would like to create an inspired interior together!


Myriam Payne is Working to Make Comfort Fashionable

Myriam Payne is an interior designer with Decorating Den Interiors in South Florida. She focuses on comfort and practicality in her work!

Is Miami a challenging market for interior decorating?

I think Miami, actually, the entire South Florida area, is a very exciting market for decorating. The population is very diverse so clients have a broad range of design tastes and interest.  Every project is a totally new experience – it could me traditional with a Spanish flair, or contemporary with rustic or Asian influences.  I love every challenge that my clients present to me in each project.

What are some of the major influences for the area?

As I mentioned above, this market is very diverse.  As a result, there are vast international influences in the South Florida market, especially from Europe and Latin America.  I see strong influences from the more contemporary and sleek Italian design and furniture markets.  At the same time, the rich woods and colors of hand-crafted Latin American designs also influence this market.  Rustic pieces and styling even in wood floors and furniture are creeping into every style of décor in our area. I find that the confluence of these varied styles creates a beautiful and unique look that can be totally customized to the likes and desires of each client.  I can then create a very individual look that fits not only the client’s personality but also their lifestyle.

 What’s your design philosophy and how do you try and implement it in your work?

My design philosophy is to transform rooms into comfortable living areas that delight the senses with rich, warm colors and inviting textures that beautifully fit the family’s lifestyle and personality.

I find that the most effective way to implement my design philosophy in my work is to start each project with an extensive interview with the clients regarding their likes, desires, and expectations for each space we are planning to redecorate or remodel.  It is important to maintain open lines of communication during the entire process.  Having the client involved in the design process is key to a successful outcome.

Are your clients typically looking for big jobs, or a room-by-room type things?  

Both. I have worked with clients that want me to redesign their entire home – every room including kitchen and bathrooms.  I have also had clients that prefer to move slowly on a room-to-room basis.  It really depends on each client’s budget.  Either way, I can help them by putting together a design plan and implementing it accordance with the pre-approved budget.  I take care of every detail for my clients, from the initial design, estimate and budgeting, selection of products, finishes, and colors, coordination and supervision of all work done by subcontractors, as well as all deliveries, and installations.

When it comes to floor coverings, tell us how you incorporate area rugs into your designs.  Area rugs add some warmth to space. What are some other ways they can be? Do you have any types of rugs you use more often than others in Miami?

Area rugs are a very important element of the interior design plan.  Area rugs have very practical applications, such as protecting underlying wood floors or providing warm and soft areas for walking barefoot around our beds in the bedroom.  Area rugs also provide color and texture – two very essential elements of a good interior design.  They also bring furniture groupings together making them welcoming and inviting.

I tend to favor area rugs that are rich in textures and colors.  I also like using hides and area rugs made of different types and colors of hides, sometimes combined with leathers.

Any other tips or tricks for using area rugs?

Area rugs make beautiful wall hangings that can be used as wall art.  So many of our South Florida homes have such tall ceilings and so many tall, tall walls that often an area rug with a specific design, texture, or color scheme is the best alternative to another large piece of art.

Where can readers find your work, or make a booking for an estimate?

Readers can visit my blog at or call my office at (954) 659-2017 to book an initial complimentary consultation in the client’s own home.