Julia Miller's Unexpected Path to Interior Design
We can all appreciate well-curated, minimalistic spaces that still have a coziness and warmth to them. Minneapolis based interior designer Julia Miller has perfected this in her own home and we are here for it. We sat down with the self-taught designer to discuss how she got to where she is in her career, her favorite part of the design process, and what she is loving for fall trends
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You own and operate J.Miller interiors. Tell us a little about how you got to where you are today in your career.
It has all been a process, my education and training is in clinical social work, believe it or not! In my clinical work, I have always been drawn to home and community-based settings, there is something about being in someone’s home or environment that can tell you volumes. A sense of home has a big impact on all the other aspects of life. My interest in home-based work parallels my interest in creating a home for my family and others that feels comfortable and restorative. After a big renovation of our personal home, learning that I loved the process of all the nitty-gritty details of renovation and after a lot of long talks with important people in my life, I decided that it was time for me to give interior design a go. Creating spaces where people feel at ease and welcome is in my DNA and collaborating with interior design clients on their homes as been a dream come true.
When designing your own home or a client’s home, what are the first details you always consider?
I always, always consider the architectural elements of the space and how the client hopes to use the space. I think that without a full understanding of how people want to live in their spaces, it’s hard to design! I love walking through the process of discovering how space is currently working vs. how they imagine it to work. Material selections rely heavily on the use of the space, so figuring that out first is critical for me to deliver a design that considers their lifestyle.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Can I say all of it?! Honestly, sourcing materials and pulling together the outward-facing elements of the space is a wonderful creative exercise but I think that the construction phase is equally exciting! The construction phase is where a lot of the stress of a project lives, I love walking through that process with clients and being a support for them as they take on one of the most expensive projects of their lifetime. I think this is where my background as a therapist comes in well, it’s meaningful for me to be part of solution making and supporting someone during a stressful (yet exciting!) time.
You live in Minneapolis! What are a few of your favorite things about living there?
Our green spaces! If you haven’t been to Minneapolis, please know that our parks system is unbeat! I love that Minneapolis chose to make all lakes public, so everyone can enjoy them not just people who could afford to live on a lake. Minneapolis is also teeming with creatives, the more I get into this business the more I realize how much talent and expertise lives here! I am partnering with a new and local tile maker for a bathroom project, it’s meaningful for me to work with a local creative and support our local businesses!
When did you know that you could make it as an interior designer?
What a great question! Honestly, it’s when all the trusted people in my life told me it was time. Clinical social work prepared me to be a problem solver, forward thinker, and a calm presence which are all skills that have translated so well to interior design. So for me, it was really believing that I could do it and figuring out the business side of things. I am constantly learning, growing and trying new things and with all of the support I have, I knew I could do it!
What are a few fall trends you are loving?
Give me all the textures, I love the softness in materials that colder weather brings. I find myself gravitating towards wools and colors with a lot of depth.
What are a few common design mistakes you see all too often?
Not mixing wood tones! Mixing wood tones can be super intimidating and it feels like there is a secret recipe for success, but spoiler alert! There’s not! Varied tones can make a room actually feel more pulled together, so don’t hesitate to mix those tones. I also often see curtains that are not hung properly. Hang those curtains high and wide! It will really open up space and draw your eye up. Finally, creating a home is a process! It is so easy to feel rushed and make decisions that are not well-thought through, it’s ok if it takes a few years to collect the items that are really meaningful.
You recently launched J.Miller interiors. What are a few of your best tips for someone wanting to start a design business of their own?
Believe in yourself! Honestly, developing the self-confidence to push through the hard moments is so important and will be an invaluable asset to anyone starting a new business. I also have developed a community of interior designers who have been irreplaceable in helping me learn the ins and outs of design, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions! Also, take every opportunity that crosses your path, even if it’s not ideal or you’re not sure where it will lead, see what happens! Finally, I think that it is so important that you find your style, define what sets you apart from the crowd.
Your home is beautiful and so well curated. How do you balance the look between modern and adding touches that make it truly feel like a home?
I really try to avoid paying attention to trends. In a media-saturated world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked by the next cool thing. For my home, I focus on selecting each piece that would stand the test of time and items that I truly love. I love mixing vintage pieces with handmade items from Etsy or local makers.
What’s next for you and J.Miller interiors?
I have some great projects in the works with clients who are incredibly trusting! My goal is to continue to grow a business that stands on customer service, streamlined process and design that is curated and well-considered.