North Carolina is a great place to be a new traditional interior designer, says Durhams Heather Garrett.
The state has plenty of traditional architecture, but people dont necessarily want the inside of their homes to look like Grandmas house, said Garrett, who recently landed on Traditional Home magazines 2013 list of 10 up-and-coming new trad designers to watch.
A lot of my clients are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and they want to buy a house that feels solid, and it feels classic and it feels traditional, but they dont want to have to furnish it and design the space in a way that necessarily matches that, she said. But it has to blend.
Thats what new traditional is all about.
Its that fusion, Garrett said. Its that way of infusing something very fresh and very cutting-edge with the traditional pieces, architecture, surroundings that kind of keep a space grounded.
Traditional Homes readers voted Garrett, who runs Heather Garrett Interior Design from a studio a few blocks from the American Tobacco Campus, their favorite of the 10 designers to watch. Garrett described those readers, like many of her local clients, as a younger, little bit more modern reader who loves design and appreciates classic architecture, the classic shapes of furniture. That reader that wouldnt consider themselves contemporary but really doesnt want to be penned in by the furniture that theyve inherited from their parents.
In highlighting Garretts work, Traditional Home cited her art history background and ability to blend French modern and Southern traditional styles to achieve a distinctive look.
Her signature look includes sophisticated surfaces as varied as plaster and hide or velvet and linen, as well as extraordinary lighting, the magazine wrote.
In rooms she designs, Garrett puts the focus on classic American and European design sensibilities with a natural and organic flavor, she said. She might cover an antique French chair with a contemporary print or use a chandelier that incorporates rope and seashells as a focal point. An updated perspective on paint can also give a room a modern twist without losing the elegance of a traditional style, she said.
Sick of a stuffy dining room with white chair rails and moldings? Choose a bold paint color you love and cover everything including those chair rails.
You preserve the traditional architecture and the feeling of that detail, but youre not calling attention to it like they traditionally would have, she said. Youre pulling it back a little bit.
For that matter, you dont even have to use the dining room as a dining room.
That room can be kind of a dust-catcher for a modern family, Garrett said. Shes turned the dining room into a far less formal family room in many local homes to keep up with the way people live.
New traditional, at least as Garrett sees it, can be very family-friendly.
Kids, pets and red wine are facts of life, shes fond of saying, and her designs take those facts into account. She often uses outdoor fabric for indoor upholstery, including in her own home. When her two kids spill food on the familys white sofa, which is covered in ultra-soft outdoor umbrella fabric, no one gets sent to time-out. The mess sponges right off and life goes on.
I feel like its my responsibility not to create a household thats more tense than it was when I found it, she said of designing spaces for families. Kids shouldnt feel like interlopers, and parents shouldnt be shooing the little ones away from the furniture, she said.
To give your home a new traditional look, you dont need a blank slate, Garrett said. Its more of a mind-set, really, than an actual undertaking.
We all have kind of our go-to aesthetic, she said. For every three things that you have, that you would consider to be beautiful but very solidly traditional, force yourself to choose one thing thats really modern for you.
A new traditional home can be beautiful and show high style, but it doesnt have to look like the set of a magazine photo shoot, Garrett said.
I try to really make sure that my spaces dont feel overly decorated, she said, that it really feels like somebody got a helping hand in helping the space more clearly reflect them.