Beth Diana Smith defines herself as an eclectic maximalist with a "more is more" design philosophy. The CEO and principal designer of her eponymous interior design studio loves to curate her spaces with lots of pattern, texture, and color, reflecting different styles and cultural influences. Beth's move into interior design—she had a previous lucrative career in corporate accounting and finance—first came out of a personal project, redesigning her New Jersey townhouse. The interest she developed during the renovation turned into a creative outlet, then into an additional degree at the New York School of Interior Design, before finally into a career change. At the heart of her switch was a desire for her own happiness. "I wanted to do something that brought me joy and challenged me in good ways that would make me better." Prioritizing the personal is also essential to her work and her client-centric approach for each project. Beth was her own client for her most recent undertaking as she worked to renovate her home office. She transformed her neutral-toned space and brought in a gallery wall, stylish and spacious wooden furniture, and richly-detailed pattern with hints of rust, mauve, and black hues. We got a chance to tour the updated space and chat about being an eclectic maximalist and why she felt our Islay Cabinet and Alaari Wallpaper by Malene Barnett were so central to this refresh. Read on for a few styling tips from Beth to keep your home office organized yet beautiful.
You previously worked in accounting and finance for Fortune 500 corporations before leaving to launch your own interior design firm. Tell us about what led to your career switch.
Funny enough, I'm still surprised at my career change. I planned to be a CFO one day and had never considered myself creative or had tried to do creative things. I wasn't the kid that made artwork with crayons and markers—I was the kid that organized their toybox. Interior design wasn't a choice; it was a discovery while redesigning my own home, which led me to research a lot about it, and I was inspired. I didn't want to change careers, but I couldn't shake the design bug that bit me. I thought it would be a fun side hustle, for which I decided to go back to school because my brain likes technical knowledge and education. Overall many reasons led to my career change, but I would say that the main factor was happiness. I wasn't happy at my company at the time for a long list of reasons, and my mother had passed away, and that journey of grief made me evaluate my own life decisions. I could no longer validate staying somewhere that made me miserable but paid me well. I wanted to do something that brought me joy and challenged me in good ways that would make me better, which also paid me well.
You've spoken before about how your previous experience plays a significant role in running your studio. How does your business background complement your eye for design approach?
It's kept me grounded and has given me an advantage because I know how to manage the business end of my firm. I worked a lot in budgeting and strategy, and I implement all of those skills into running my business, ensuring that I have a process and don't make exceptions to it. It's made me a better business owner, and I'm grateful for that part of my journey.
How would you define your self-described design style of "eclectic maximalist"?
I would define it as an unapologetic curation of pattern, texture, and color that mixes various design styles and cultural influences, with a more is more philosophy.
We love how you state that the goal for each project is to elevate your clients' lives by first elevating their daily environment. How important and beneficial is living in a space that inspires you?
I think it's the foundation of how we should live. Home is supposed to be our safe haven from the rest of the world, a place where we can rest and recharge, so we have the energy, in all aspects, to conquer everyday life—including work.
The past two years have obviously seen a rise in work shifting to our homes. So similarly to the previous question, what do you see as the significance of having a great workspace at home?
Having a great workspace is a must-have in order to be as efficient and comfortable as possible. How can anyone work comfortably or feel inspired to tackle certain work tasks while working in chaos? For most people, that would be toxic.
What was your creative process when designing your very own office refresh? And where did you get your inspiration from?
I treated myself like a client: I created a list of the functional things that I needed, a list of things that I wanted, and then outlined my design concept, which is how I wanted my office to feel inclusive of the color palette. That is always my starting point for any project. My inspiration was the vibe I wanted for my office, and that included the pieces I wanted to see, like a gallery wall, mauves, blacks, and lots of pattern.
The stunning Alaari Wallpaper by our recent collaborator Malene Barnett is central to your renovation—what led to you choosing it?
It felt like it was literally the design concept that I wrote for myself—it had pattern, mauves, and a beautiful texture. The Alaari Wallpaper is just stunning.
You've brought in the Islay Cabinet as well; how helpful was it to save space by incorporating a lofty storage piece?
Life-changing! The cabinet is a beautiful piece of furniture, and plus, it allows me to "see" everything that I need while also providing a lot of storage. And because it maximizes vertical storage, it allowed me to have more wiggle room in my floor planning which gave me the space to include additional furnishings.
What are the other anchor points of your office? And why did you choose those pieces?
Great question; I have 3 anchor points—the Islay Cabinet, the Reese Dining Table that I use as my desk, and a bench. I chose the large 82" Reese table as my desk because I need a lot of tabletop space while I work so I don't feel cluttered. The bench allows me to have additional storage space and seating when needed.
Your gallery of artwork in your office is a game-changer—any tips for anyone wanting to bring in a gallery wall in their space?
Thank you! For those who want an eclectic gallery wall like mine, the goal is to mix it up—different types of framed pieces, different types of frames, objects, etc. I usually like to use the same frame type for a modern gallery wall or keep it simple with a few oversized framed pieces. And I always, always lay my gallery walls out with kraft paper on the wall first before I put any holes in the wall. This ensures that the placement is perfect.
Could you give three tips on keeping your office organized and functional yet beautiful?
- Hidden storage like cabinets, drawers, and closets.
- Bins and baskets: this helps find a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Bonus tip, I use a basket in my office just for water, so I don't have to keep making trips to the kitchen. And it's a decorative basket, so no one's the wiser.
- Create a design moment (or moments): a design moment is a vignette that you want to take your breath away because it's so beautiful. That's my gallery wall because that's what I see when I'm at my desk.
What's next for you and Beth Diana Smith Interior Design?
I'm doing my first showhouse, which will be announced this January that I'm very excited about, so stay tuned for details on that big announcement! I also have new projects in the pipeline that I'm very happy about and will finally be photographing 2021 projects that were delayed because of COVID. And I'm aiming to finally get my e-shop up and running early in 2022. Last but not least, I'm planning for growth in my business and in myself as a creative.Photography by Mike Van Tassel