I can’t believe today’s blog post marks the last 2019 edition of Designers to Watch. It has been an utter joy and equally fascinating journey to have had the privilege of getting to know so many talented up-and-coming interior designers. Today for the latest edition Designer to Watch, I’m speaking with Nashville based interior designer Blaire Murfree of Blaire Designs and decided to switch up the format. When I first heard her story and learned how she broke into the world of interior design without formal training I was incredibly inspired. I had a feeling that many of you who have a similar dream would be equally interested in hearing more of her story, so a Q&A seemed like the perfect approach!
Blaire’s interiors are captivating and the breadth of her aesthetic is remarkable. From white and airy kitchens with clean lines and soft textiles to cozy dining rooms with splashy punches of color, Murfree’s interiors are unforgettable and fearless. They pull you in, making you want to look at every single detail and put an undeniably fresh and new spin on traditional design.
Q: What are some of your earliest memories of being drawn to beautiful interiors?
A: I probably got started when I became very involved in the process of designing my childhood room around 10 or 11? I was very opinionated, had a vision and my dad insisted that the interior designer let me pick out the fabrics, the lighting and furnishing for the space. My parents built that house and I would walk the land with my dad before they started building. We look at the plans with the architect and I loved every minute.
Q: At what point did you decided you wanted to pursue a career in interior design?
A: While I was encouraged to pursue a career in architecture at a young age, my father passed away shortly thereafter and I didn’t have someone there reminding me that would be a fitting career path. I was always a strong art student and loved art…. While attending Vanderbilt, I majored in Art History (they didn’t have an architecture or interior design program) and Organizational Development. I also had minor in neuroscience. I was all over the board! After graduation I considered a position at Sotheby’s but ended up taking a job with a medical company on the product management and product development team. I traveled the country managing surgical equipment trials at hospitals.
Q: How did you finally decide to take the leap from leaving the medical world to opening your own interior design business?
A: All the while I was always still painting, decorating or renovating condos and homes I had bought and flipped. I got engaged and moved to DC where I renovated a 150 year old home with my husband at night and on the weekends. I loved every minute of it although he didn’t, ha! I worked during the day as a Nurse Practitioner for an inner city Oncology group and while it was incredibly rewarding, it was emotionally exhausting. Meanwhile, I began getting more friends coming to me and requesting help designing their homes. During this time I had also had two daughters and after my second daughter was born I decided to take a friend up on helping with their entire new build home. The next thing I knew, more and more projects starting coming in and something had to give. It wasn’t until three and a half years ago that I began shifting away from nursing and focusing on creating my own design business. Since then, I haven’t slowed down and now my own employees!
Q: I love how your life took you on such an unexpected but rewarding path. Do you feel like your dream has come true?
A: I feel certain this is exactly what I should be doing and it’s probably what I should always have done. I struggle with the idea that I’m not helping the sick and those in need the way I once was, but I’m happy and I get to make my clients happy by creating beautiful homes for them to live and create memories in!
Q: What the next step for you?
A: I think about going back to school and getting a degree in architecture or design, but I already have several degrees and it just doesn’t seem to make sense. Maybe when my kids are grown! I read and study when ever I can and continue to learn with every experience.
Q: How would you describe your decorating/design style?
A: I would describe my design style as Modernly Traditional. I love the juxtaposition of traditional, classic furnishings and fabrics with more modern design elements. Personally, I love textiles and art and in my own home these decorative elements are the stars if not the show. That said, I really enjoy uncovering the personal style and taste of each of my clients and hope that the spaces I create for them accurately reflect their aesthetic and lifestyle. I don’t want any of my projects to look just like another. This is what keeps the job interesting! We just finished a very formal and incredibly traditional renovation project, and I’m dying for a contemporary neutral project right now… just to mix things up and show our range!!
Q: What else do you think readers would like to know about you?
A: I take pride in the fact that I don’t think I could willingly “brand” my look. I loved that formal project and pushing my client out of her comfort zone to some more contemporary elements in small ways, just as much as I love having a contemporary client who I push to incorporate antiques! All that aside, I think most people would say that original art, a mix of the more modern with the more traditional, a need for contrast and a love of textiles is always apparent in the spaces we create.
Thank you so much Blaire. It has been a pleasure speaking with you! You are truly an inspiration and I can’t wait to see more of your work in the future!
Photography by David Hilligas and Leslee Mitchell