Inspiration in the Studio

Meet Our Team: Julia

From intern to a leader at Southern Studio, Julia is next up in our “Meet Our Team” series. Recently, Julia was promoted to Lead Designer – discover a little more about her below!

First things first. How did you get started in the interior design world? What sparked your interest?

When I was little, I loved playing with different textures and patterns, mixing and matching them together. One of my family friends was actually an interior designer and I had the opportunity to shadow her at the Design Center in Charlotte, which was my first real-life exposure to interior design. From then on, I knew I wanted to pursue design as a career, so I chose Meredith College for its accredited interior design program. During my senior year, I interned at Southern Studio, eventually leading me to a full-time position on the team.

Describe a project you would jump for joy to do.

That’s an easy question, I would love to design a nursery! I imagine a neutral color palette to keep the room gender neutral. Stray Dog Designs has an exquisite white on white pendant chandelier that is embroidered with an animal pattern – I’ve been dreaming of using the piece in a design. From the furnishings, window treatments, and artwork to even the books and toys, I would love to have a hand of putting the entire nursery together.

What is your favorite shade of white paint color?

“Snowbound” by Sherwin-Williams. I use this color often, as it’s a beautiful white that doesn’t feel stark. I love the color’s subtle gray undertone.

What’s on your nightstand? 

I have a simple white lamp with a gray shade, a current book I’m reading, and a mango and papaya scented candle from Candlefish – the perfect summertime scent.

Your design style in three words:

Sophisticated. Inviting. Cozy.

We love your knack for organization. Any design tips you can share for keeping your home tidy while still “livable”?

It’s easy to keep things just to have them – my tip would be to only keep the things you love. Less is more. Also, I have to mention using trays to keep things organized  – I love using them when styling a coffee table or tidying up bathroom items.

Where do you find inspiration for designing something new?

I love scrolling through Instagram, particularly to discover new textile patterns color combinations. Finding new-to-me fabric lines and designs by textile artists spark my creativity.

Do you gravitate toward bold prints or softer, more subtle pattern?

Personally, I’m drawn to softer, more subtle pattern, and I enjoy incorporating tone-on-tone prints. However, I have to say I would love to use a pop of the bright, leafy green color I’m seeing everywhere this season, and I’m waiting on that perfect project!

What’s the best piece of design advice you’ve ever been given?

Function and aesthetic must work together. Nail down the function of the space first, and then layer the aesthetic. 

Your dream party to host?

A backyard, poolside Cinco de Mayo party! It would be super colorful and bright with lots of confetti. Not to mention, it would have to include margaritas and a festive table setting.

An Evening of Celebration, Community, and Service

From community events to small gatherings of clients and new and old friends in the trade, we are excited to open up our studio with the event series we launched this year, named Southern Studio at Sunset.

Last week, we were thrilled to host our second event of the series alongside the Cary Women’s Giving Network. This giving group brings women together to learn about the local community’s needs, inviting nonprofits to speak at meetings and apply through a competitive grants process. We were honored to be selected as hosts for their annual Grants Award Presentation, inviting both members and representatives from the winning organizations to our studio for an evening of celebration and community.

Four awards were granted:

$3000 to CASA for quality, affordable rental housing for low income families and individuals

$3,000 to the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation for wishes for Cary residents

$5,000 to the Green Chair Project for providing “Sweeter Dreams” beds for kids in Cary

$3,000 to the Hope Center at Pullen for preventing homelessness with young people aging out of foster care

We applaud this group of Cary women for their involvement in supporting our local community, and we look forward to more Southern Studio at Sunset events coming up this year! Stay tuned to see what event we have planned next…and see below for photos from the event!


Latest ASID Awards Found a Home in the Studio

At the ASID Carolinas Spring Gala in Charlotte, we were honored to be in the company of some of the best designers in North and South Carolina. Taking home three awards was the icing on the cake of a fabulous weekend spent amidst fellow designers and friends. We wanted to take a moment to share the three homes that were recognized at the gala – we are thankful for the beautiful homes and the beautiful clients who allowed us to create these livably sophisticated spaces.

First Place, Singular Space

A large-scale renovation, this open kitchen / keeping room combination dramatically changed to create a space that feels welcoming and intimate, reflecting the homeowners’ entertaining and personal style. The outdoors-in aesthetic offers a peaceful place to rest and enjoy for the homeowners and guests. Featuring an eye-catching dining table in the center of the space, dinner party guests feel welcomed by the soft color palette of blues and hints of cool gray, warm wood finishes, elegant lighting, and comfortable upholstered seating. The homeowners’ original art also provides a stunning backdrop to bring the room together.

First Place, Vacation/Secondary Home

With a soothing color palette mirroring the home’s coastal surroundings, this calming retreat is idyllic for overlooking the ocean. The goal was to restore and showcase the home’s original history and integrity, yet create a retreat where serenity and relaxation was at the center. We incorporated furnishings that would remain durable to withstand beach vacations for many years to come, while bringing in details that told a subtle coastal story, altogether impactful. The main living space offers ample seating, exquisite views of the surrounding beach, and plenty of natural light pouring in to highlight the room’s sea-inspired color palette. The dining area is informal in feel, reflecting the personality of the rest of the home – carefree, airy, and laid back: the homeowners’ perfect idea of a vacation home.

Honorable Mention for Single Family Home 3500+ sq. ft.

Layered in soft neutrals and detailed textures, this home is a peaceful retreat grounded by a classic and clean design aesthetic. Seeking a relaxing space, yet one sophisticated and refined to match their taste, the homeowners wanted to incorporate beautiful architectural and design details alongside a neutral color palette. Incorporating the homeowners’ existing pieces along with new created an opportunity to transform the old when paired with new furnishings, giving each room a fresh story to tell. The homeowners were also open to paneling and wainscoting, showcasing the home’s arches and adding visual interest to walls that could be further uplifted. On the second floor, there was also an opportunity to incorporate hints of color in these more playful, personal spaces.

Meet Our Team: Crista

We’re continuing our “Meet The Team” series with Crista, our Studio Administrator. Find out a little more about her below!

First things first. How did you get started in the interior design world? What sparked your interest in the business?

I started as a client of Southern Studio. I enjoyed the whole process and working with everyone on the team, so when I found out there was an opening I knew I wanted to join the team. 

Give us a peak into what your career before Southern Studio. How your past work connect with what you do now?

Before staying home with my children, I was a research scientist. I worked on the Human Genome Project, Infectious Diseases and then later in the area of Metabolic Disease. The attention to detail, organization and trouble shooting needed to create and run experiments in a lab are the same skills needed to take a design all the way to installation in a client’s home.   

Your responsibilities at the studio are:

I am responsible for the daily operations of the studio, which includes accounting and human resource duties, as well as placing all orders and reviewing acknowledgements. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people – The people I work with, the people that we design for, the people that we buy from, the people that deliver our product. I love installations too! Seeing the finished product and how all of the pieces come together to create a beautiful space is quite satisfying.

What’s your morning routine?

I get up at 5:30am to run with my dog, Riggins. I love running in the morning because I already feel so accomplished and my day has barely begun. I usually see my son for a few minutes before I head out. I have to stretch when I get home so I try to catch the news and then I get ready for work and head out by 8:00am. If it’s a really good day I  have thrown in a load of laundry and started the dishwasher on my way out!

What’s currently sitting on your nightstand?

Lotion, a candle and books. Right now, I am reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.

Your design style in three words:

Comfortable, functional and collected.

Describe your dream home…

Anywhere my family can gather…a villa in Tuscany or a lake house close by as long as it’s filled with family and friends and designed by Southern Studio. Then it’s my dream home! 

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be, where would you go, and what would you order?

I am very fond of this question … I answered it once in an interview and my answer is what got me the job. I wonder what I will get this time…right now, I would love to have lunch at the Willow Inn on Lummi Island with the chef Blaine Wetzel, and I would eat what ever he was serving. I love food!



CAD Comes to Life in a Bunk Room, Bathroom, and Living Room!

So often in our projects, we need to communicate the design vision through conceptual drawings. It’s always a thrill to see these CAD elevations come to life and we thought it would be fun to share. From a coastal project’s bunk room and bathroom vanities to a family room fireplace, we enjoyed reimagining these spaces and customizing for each client.

A Coastal Bunk Room

In this showstopper Bald Head Island retreat, a playful bunk room with plenty of seating to enjoy the exquisite oceanfront views was a must.

We initially drew up the plan to include recessed niches to give the walls additional character, under the bed storage, and a shared ladder for the top bunks. With two full size and two twin beds, we wanted the room to still feel fresh and airy, reminiscent of its coastal outside surroundings. Whether for late night reading or playing games, lighting was also added for each bunk – giving each bunk its own private feel. The soft blue color on the ceiling also keeps the serenity of the rest of the home alive and consistent within this fun sleeping and playing space.

We hope you enjoy the “before and after” of this project as much as we do…we’re dreaming of those ocean views!

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

Seaside Vanity Projects

In these two coastal bathrooms, space planning was essential.

In the first drawing and photo of the guest bathroom, a towel and quartz shelf were added to maximize storage space in tight quarters. For a more direct light source, we incorporated a library light fixture and placed above the mirror – taking advantage of the ceiling height.

In the second set of images, we decided to enhance the use of a tile our client loved and pull it down to cover the floor. To showcase and not take away from the beautiful tile, we matched the cabinetry and mirror frame, while adding sconces to anchor and streamline the space.

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

An Elegant Fireplace

In this Cary, NC residence, the fireplace is the icing on the cake of an open, airy family room.

We designed the fireplace to coordinate with the room’s soothing, neutral color palette. Painted in a fresh white to contrast slightly with the creamy white walls, the fireplace has a presence that is carefully kept soft to blend with the room’s furnishings. Incorporating more creamy hues with brighter whites was a challenge, however layering these neutrals created an eye-catching pairing. Crystal and brass sconces adorn the columns, further highlighting the elegant architectural details of the fireplace.

From CAD drawing to real life, we imagined this fireplace to pair seamlessly with the construction selections of the kitchen cabinetry and countertops, as the kitchen is in direct view. The clients envisioned a relaxing space with a “peaceful sanctuary” aesthetic, yet they also wanted one that felt refined. With the fireplace design, we wanted to do just that – create a setting where family felt at ease, as well as create an element that could stand alone as the room’s sophisticated centerpiece.

Photo: Taylor Lovette of Blue Barn Photography