Update from Maddie Hughes:
“I owe some credit to Summer Thornton, a Chicago based interior designer, for being a major source of inspiration for this nursery. Before we began, my client showed me a few nurseries, one of which was Thornton’s nursery from several years ago, that she loved. Thornton’s nursery was clearly out of our budget, but I loved every single aspect of the nursery she designed. I took her design and ran with it as best that I could while making adjustments to better fit our budget.”
After attending design school, Maddie Hughes began work for Bailey McCarthy – a top Houston designer. When we named Bailey as one of our “top designers to watch,” it was actually Maddie’s luxe home that set the scene. Maddie was soon after faced with a tough decision, and she and her husband packed up and moved to Dallas. Upon arrival, Maddie knew she had the skills and experience to open up her own firm. MH Designs was born!
Today, Maddie shares one of her recent projects – a sophisticated nursery with a ton of personality. Read on to learn more about Maddie and her journey thus far, but don’t skip the slideshow. This is one tour where the details totally matter!!
You recently moved to Dallas from Houston and started your own interior design firm. Was that a scary jump to go out on your own? How did you know you were ready?
I’ve never felt as vulnerable in my entire life as I did when I first moved to Dallas and started working on my own.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was ready or not, but I saw an opportunity and decided to take a leap of faith. I was in a new city, I didn’t have any design sources and the thought of not having a steady pay check every month had me lying awake at night questioning if I had made the right decision. I look back and I am so thankful that my old boss, Bailey McCarthy, was so encouraging. Without her, I probably would not be where I am today. I don’t think I can ever thank her enough for showing me the ropes and being such an inspiration.
What’s the biggest business lesson you’ve learned in running your own firm?
This didn’t really come to attention until I had my own business and was forced to manage all of its different aspects… creative people tend to have more “Type B” personalities, but I have learned that you cannot run a business that way. In order to be successful you have to stay on top of things, meet your deadlines and be extremely organized. Being organized is not something that has always come easy to me, so I have to work at it, but I’ve found out that it makes my life so much easier and makes my business run so much smoother.
Based on your experience thus far, what are 3 things every interior designer should consider before starting their own firm?
First, I would ask myself how passionate I am about interior design. You really have to be a self-starter because you don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder and holding you accountable anymore. Starting out is hard, especially when you’re trying to find projects and get your name out there. Then, ask yourself how confident are you in your own work? When somebody hasn’t heard of you, you tend to be questioned a lot more, so if you don’t believe in your work, you’ll constantly be trying to fit into someone else’s cookie cutter image of what you should be doing. You’re always adapting to your clients but have your own style and believe in it. Lastly, I would take into consideration the fact that you’re going to actually have to manage your own business. This last part didn’t necessarily come naturally for me, and I’m honestly still learning different aspects of my business everyday.
Who do you look up to most in the design world?
Miles Redd. I love his work because it’s quirky yet timeless.
We agree! When designing a space, where’s the first place you start and why?
The first place I start is the most basic, and that is functionality. Comfort is really important to me, and I try to make sure that the space will fit my client’s needs. I start with an empty floor plan, make a list of everything going in the space and then work on the most functional layout. Once I figure all that out, then I let the “fun” stuff begin.
And you have fun down to a T! What would you say is the biggest decorating mistake you see people make?
Not having a game plan before making purchases. Even if you cannot buy everything at once, I would suggest having a plan and slowly adding to the space over time instead of buying things here and there and hoping it all works. I would also tell people not to be afraid of taking a couple of risks when putting a space together.
We love this nursery you designed! Tell us a little about what the client wanted and how you achieved it.
When I first met with my client, she was not sure if she was having a boy or a girl yet. As far as the design went, that really didn’t matter to her because she did not want a typical blue or pink nursery. She wanted to make sure that whatever we did could transition into a space for someone of any age just incase they decide to sell their house in the near future. I think that the Scalamandre zebra wallpaper did the trick. It’s whimsical and fun, but at the same time mature. I really love this wallpaper because it’s so versatile and can be used in so many different ways.
That wallpaper is incredible. What was your client’s reaction to that?
She was all for it! My client has great taste and actually mentioned using this wallpaper in the preliminary phase of the project, and I clearly had no problem incorporating it into the design. It’s a favorite of mine and makes me think of Wes Anderson every time I see it. I could live in his movie sets.
This nursery is a great mix of color and pattern. What’s the secret to making color work?
As far as color goes, I begin by selecting one key element that ties everything together. In this case, it’s actually the crib sheet. I’ve found that a lot of designers also work this way. I love seeing a room full of color, pattern and texture and then trying to find the piece that inspired everything. It’s like finding Waldo.
We love how the room is playful yet sophisticated at the same time. How did you achieve that great mix?
I’ve always loved mixing traditional pieces with some sort of unexpected twist. The brown and black accents make the room feel rich and sophisticated, but the fun patterns and pop of color make the room playful.
We have a lot of stylish moms who are reading. What is your top advice for making a nursery work?
There are some essentials like a comfy spot to sit, window coverings to block out light and storage to keep organized, but it really comes down to personal style and preference. I am not a mother yet, but I have been told this is a room that you will be spending a lot of time in once the baby arrives. My suggestion would be to make sure it’s a cozy and soothing environment for you and your baby.
Finally, what does your “perfect room” include?
Comfort, functionality, architectural detail, color, texture and lighting. No matter what your “style” is if you get all of these things right, you are destined to have a beautiful space.
To see the original inspiration from Summer Thornton Design, click here.