Michelle Strausbaugh: A Space for Them

It’s not easy for designers to keep their client in mind, but for Michelle Strausbaugh her charge is to collaborate with clients and make their space beautiful.

Thanks for joining us, Michelle! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design. 

After college, I had various corporate-type jobs that never really felt satisfying.  When I turned 30 I realized that I could not do that kind of work for 30 more years, and I set out to find my work bliss.  I realized that when I was house hunting, I always wanted to buy the most run-down, dilapidated houses because I could clearly see their potential.  I realized that time stood completely still when I was determining how to decorate my friend’s rooms.  I realized that I became single-mindedly obsessed when I was painting a room.  And then I realized that this wasn’t normal!  I went back to school and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design, and never, ever looked back.

How would you describe your style? Influences?

“Less is more” are words to live by!  I like to choose a few oversized pieces to fill a room rather than incorporating many small items.  Big items create a big impact.  My greatest influence is, without a doubt, my clients.  I am creating a space for them, so how they live, their style, and their personalities guide the design of their.

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

Fantastic use of scale and proportion. It’s the biggest challenge I hear about from home owners.  They purchase a rug that looks perfect in the showroom, but teeny-weeny under their king size bed.

Which project are you most proud of and why? 

Please don’t make me pick just one! My favorite projects are when the client is really involved, and we collaborate to create their space.  When their friends and family walk into their newly renovated space and say, “Wow, this looks like you!” I know we nailed it!  That’s how we measure the success of the project.

Are there any rules you must follow when decorating your own space? 

When decorating any space, begin with function.  For instance, if you are designing your dining room, determine how many people you need to sit or if you need a serving area.  We can make anything pretty, but it has to function!  People wonder what the difference is between a decorator and a designer.  I think Steve Jobs said it best, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like.  Design is how it works.”

When should you call in a designer? 

At the beginning of your project!  Even if you are a do-it-yourselfer, a few hours of designer time will give you valuable guidance to create the room you want.

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

People tend to throw a little rug in front of the sink and call it done.  Rugs are a fantastic way to add a bit of fun and softness into areas that are typically all hard surfaces. Add a runner in a bright color or with a beautiful pattern in front of your kitchen or bath cabinetry.

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

I use rugs to bring another component of the client’s personality to their space.  Your room has four walls, a floor, and a ceiling that means the floor is a sixth of your design space! Make the most of it by adding area rugs that complement the design.  We all know they soften hardwood and tile floors, but you can also layer them on top of wall-to-wall carpet to add some pizzazz.

Anything else to add? 

Design is fun!  Fill your house with items that you love, and it will always feel like home.

Thanks for your time! 

Thanks to you, too!


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