Q&A: Interior Designer Lauren Liess

Liess, a wife and mother of four, is busy playing numerous roles between her family, interior design business and textile company in Northern Virginia.

By Kayla Franson

Photo Courtesy of Lauren Liess

Whether it’s working from scratch or the beginning designs of a client, Lauren Liess enjoys creating stunning spaces for different tastes and personalities. Liess, a wife and mother of four, is busy playing numerous roles between her family, interior design business and textile company in Northern Virginia.

What brought you to the world of interior design?

“I had actually majored in public relations and didn’t intend to get into this field, but when I started decorating my first apartment I realized I had way more fun doing that than my real job. I kind of started thinking about it and started getting requests from friends and family to help out with their places and it from there.”

Where did you go to school for design?

“It’s called Sheffield School of Interior Design; it’s a distance learning program. But my actual bachelor’s is in communications, not design.”

What do you love about design?

“I love it because every client is different, and they all have their own style. I love helping them figure out what their style is and how we can make that come across in their homes. It’s not like I’m doing every space for myself; I have to approach each space differently because the clients are so different. It’s kind of fun to get to do different styles and do different personal things for different people.”

How do you design for someone with a different taste from you?

“A lot of it is questions, asking them likes and dislikes. A lot of the questions focus on how the clients want to feel when they come into their home. Half of it is style and the other half is mood, so we’re figuring out their style, what appeals to them, just kind of on the surface. But then we’re also figuring out how they want to feel when they’re in certain areas of the home and when they come home. It’s a lot of questions and digging to figure out what they like best. Something that’s really helpful is I’ll show them inspiration pictures. I love it when clients … give me inspiration pictures and rooms they like and places they like and things that appeal to them, so that once I see the group of them I can start seeing a pattern and kind of figure out what it is they’re drawn to in each of the spaces.”

Is it difficult to design styles that aren’t your own?

“Not really. I love that part of it. I say they’re not my style, but in a way you can sort of see that my hand is in all of them, even though some of the clients may be very different. I think in the end they kind of have my overall look to them. I don’t completely shake off what I like and what I feel is important in a well designed room, so that kind of stays in every room.”

How would you define your personal style?

“I like spaces that feel fresh and natural and kind of collected over time. I want some clean, but then I like little areas, … it’s going to sound funny, but little areas of clutter. That would be, like, a crowded bookshelf, but then the room still feels clean and organized. As long as the mess is organized.”

Where do you gain inspiration?

“A lot of it is when I’m doing things for myself. I love design books, design magazines, places, traveling, … a house I drive by, anything, kind of everywhere I guess. And then for clients, a lot of the inspiration, again, comes from them and when they tell me about what their interests and passions are.”

Do you prefer to start designing from scratch or build on what the client has already created?

“Either works for me, … and honestly, most of our rooms we are doing from scratch. We may have one or two pieces, but most of the spaces have completely blank slates … I love that. Obviously, there’s a lot of freedom in that, but I also don’t mind working with things when people have things they truly love. If they have a great piece from their grandmother and they love it, … I love working with things that people have an emotional attachment to. It makes them happy to see their older pieces used in a new way, it looks good. The thing I don’t like is when people say, “I have this, I have to use it, but I don’t like it.” And then they expect they’re going to love [it], and that’s just kind of not possible. As long as they love it, I can make it work.”

How do you carry out seasonal decor for clients?

“What I’ll do, is we pretty much design a room so it can work in all seasons, but then I’ll talk to the client about ways they can make it work in every season. So it would just be maybe switching … pillows and changing out a few accessories, because definitely the stuff that’s seasonal is not major pieces of furniture or curtains. Most clients don’t switch out their curtains seasonally, so it’s things they can do really easily themselves to kind of make it work throughout the seasons.”