Designing the Inner Harbor with Elizabeth Cross-Beard

Choosing what’s best for a client’s space is always interesting, but for Cross-Beard of Jenkins Baer Associates of Baltimore the task is made more unique by the rich history of her city.

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

Interior design has been a passion of mine since a very young age. I studied interior design and architecture in college, and have been working in the field ever since.

Baltimore is a city with a lot of history. What elements of the city and its past do you bring into your work? 

Baltimore is a beautiful, diverse and ever changing city. My home is in a building that was once a tin decorating factory, and I love the historical feel of the original facade, mixed with the modern interior renovation. I strive to celebrate the historical….rehab an original fireplace, keep the exposed brick. I like to create a transitional environment, instead of covering up the history in order to create something so stark modern. History is warmth.

What are the most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer?

A more unique layout does not benefit the client or designer. Keep it simple and make it functional.

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

Creating a comfortable and functional interior gathering space is paramount. My floor plans tend to keep entries into rooms visually open, so spaces feel large and inviting which is a plus for many of our clients.

Area rugs are versatile and since Baltimore 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?

Area rugs are the building blocks of room schemes. In my initial conversation with clients, I ask questions such as “Do you have children? Pets? How do you relax? Do you sit on the floor and play board games, or are you never on the floor? Shoes in the house?” I often incorporate rugs to define a space and to add character, warmth and texture. However, asking these questions allows me to zero in on the most suitable area rug necessary, depending very much on how the space is used on a daily basis. Especially when the existing floor is a beautiful hardwood, I gravitate immediately towards area rugs (as opposed to wall to wall carpeting) that will compliment, not cover up, the existing floor. If the area rug is full of pattern, I know that I want the eye to settle there, so I select more neutral, textured fabrics for the furnishings. If the rug is closer to a solid, I am much more playful with pattern on the furniture and window treatments. Everything must strike a balance to the eye.

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

Case by case basis, but you can find an assortment of area rugs that are always great for a neutral, sophisticated texture, and durries are great for a pop of color and pattern. The best part for most home owners are the both of these are going to be well priced! You don’t have to go broke when getting a fantastic design.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs? 

Hmmm….that question is a bit loaded! I think that when you have the perfect rug it can adapt to the space. You wouldn’t want to overlay too many, but that’s not something I would ever attempt!

Any final words of design advice?

Go with what makes you happy, don’t follow a trend just because you feel you have to. The best designs are of original thought and are timeless. It’s really about trusting yourself to understand the space and how you want to express yourself within that space.

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

A portion of my portfolio can be found on the Jenkins Baer Associates website, on Houzz, and through the magic of Google. My maiden name (very recently married) is Cross-Beard. Please contact me through Jenkins Baer to schedule a consultation.

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