JULIE + AMBER
If you don’t already know, let me be the first introduce you to Julie Brown + Amber Thomas. Otherwise known as the dynamic duo behind one of my favorite design studios in Nashville, Providence Interiors. They have both worked in the interior design industry since the mid 1990′s and joined forces in the Spring of 2010. It was their two middle sons that first introduced them. After many sporting events between the boys, and overnights, they quickly became joined at the hips. It was then their two older sons that became good friends, which made their mom bond even tighter. Their families quickly became closer and closer. As time went on, they both realized they had a knack for design and similar styles.
HOW THEY STARTED
Neither one has a formal degree in design, but do you really need one? They prove you don’t, and that’s what I love about them most. Hey, you’re either born with it, or you’re not. To me, no certificate will make you an expert or give you the designers eye. Both spent many years helping friends with their homes. Julie started off sewing custom draperies, bedding and pillows for people. Which led to, ‘help me pick out paint colors’. What do you think about this rug?’ And this chair? ‘ While, Amber had originally gone to school for design. She switched majors two years in and headed towards accounting. She too helped friends, and like Julie, word starting spreading. Before they knew it, they each had built up a pretty good Interior Design business on their own. After chatting it over many a nights, I’m sure. They thought……WE should do this. But, it was a family trip to the beach that sealed the deal and Providence Interiors was born.
HOW I DISCOVERED PROVIDENCE
I stumbled onto Providence Interiors after picking up a cake at a local bakery next-door. When I walked in, it was LOVE at first sight. Every texture, metal, fabric and lighting was on point. I held that box cake in and walked around their store with my jaw wide open, for at least a good hour. It was like they read my mind. Everything I loved in one room. I had to get that cake to the party, but knew I’d be back.
At the time we were renting a home in Nashville that was completely furnished and everything I loved was locked up back in our home in Minnesota. To pacify myself, I would visit their showroom very often, but knew I couldn’t buy anything as much as I wanted to. It turned into my ‘Wednesday Afternoon-You’ve Got An Hour To Spare Before You Pick Up The Kids’ kind of thing. It was just a place I wanted to be in. It felt like home. Not your typical furniture design studio. It was fresh + clean + chic and so inviting! Even all those times I spent strolling, I never did officially meet Amber Julie during that year I lived in Nashville. But when my family and I decided to move to Nashville permanently, three years ago. You better believe Providence Interiors was one of the first places I went, when it came time to decorate and accessorize my new home.
Everything is so aesthetically pleasing. Well styled and makes all my creamy white + gold dreams come true. If you know me, you know I had found my heaven. The staff is so sweet, helpful, *when asked*. I hate being followed around. Thankfully, that’s something they do not do. For me, I enjoy taking it all in and sorting out my thoughts. I certainly don’t want to be badgered every five seconds. Am I right? There are always other designers scoping things out for potential clients. That to me is always a good sign. It just means that they’ve curated a beautiful inspiring collection of pieces. It’s always fresh and new. That’s another positive. Nothing worse than popping in, only to find the same ol’, same ol’.
NOT JUST FOR DESIGN
Here’s another thing I love about Providence Interiors. Maybe you’re not decorating a new house or maybe you just recently did so. You might love your space, just the way it is and don’t need a new lamp or coffee table. Which is wonderful. But, something tells me you may need a gift from time to time, or need something for that friend that has everything. That’s what makes them another one of my Nashville go-to’s. I can pop in and grab that hostess gift, they even have some really dreamy jewelry too. Walk through, I bet you discover something(s) you must have.
STYLING YOUR HOME
From bar glasses to killer trays, they are my go-to for everything party. So next time you host and need to elevate your bar cart, look no further. They’ve got you covered. How about these dreamy agate coasters? SO GORGEOUS.
ABUNDANCE OF ACCESSORIES
I’ve never really been to a store that had such a cool assortment of accessories. Most places I’ve lived, and I’ve moved NINE TIMES, had plenty of home designer stores in the area, but that just it….stores. That meant, drive, park, search. Drive, park, search… and maybe, I’d find a piece here and there, but what a dream to have all the goods in one place. From the bright white coral, to the giant baskets even I could fit it. It’s all here waiting to be discovered.
Need help? Don’t know where to start? From just a simple makeover to complete renovations of large and small spaces, Providence can cover your interior design needs. It all starts with a consultation to listen and understand the scope of the project. Then, they put a plan in place which may include recommendations for furniture rearrangement, selection of paint colors, furniture, fabric, window treatments, artwork, florals and accessories. Then, upon approval, orders are placed and and the design plan is implemented. They say, the much anticipated installation day is a favorite, as the vision comes to life. I can speak from experience. THAT IS LIKE CHRISTMAS MORNING!!! Ultimately, their goal is for the space to be an expression of the YOU.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Amber and Julie a week ago. We had so much fun. I took the opportunity to pick their brains about design + things we should and shouldn’t do + trends they can’t wait to see go. Down to their favorite paint colors. Let’s hear what they had to say…
What’s you favorite design project to do? New Construction or helping bring new life to a room?
J: I love helping somebody make the things that need to stay, work, while adding to it, making it what they want it to be. So, not necessarily that they have to take everything out of the room, but do the right editing. It adds a much more collected look to have things that maybe have a family story with it, or came from your great aunt. I love helping to add depth to a house.
A: That’s my favorite also. Because it’s nice to have a story or an heirloom piece. It gives the room meaning. But, I also LOVE to do an entire room. I think it’s so much fun. But the challenge is, trying to make it look collected and not everything brand new.
What makes a project successful?
J: A happy client!
A: When the say, I LOVE THIS!
Three words that describe your style at Providence?
A: clean, minimalistic, well appointed. Ooops, one more……organic
J: styled, clean lines, relaxed
Do you think gold/brass is going anywhere? (please say no…<insert tons of laughter>)
A: No, I think people are finally catching on. It warms up a cool space. To me if you’ve got grays, and whites and creams. It needs some warmth, and brass makes that happen.
J: I love it. I didn’t love it at first, it took me a little bit. I had to get rid of the thoughts of brass from the old houses that I’ve re-done. THAT brass. They shinny coated brass. And what it is today, is so pretty.
What designer made an impression on you early on?
A & J: Suzanne Kasler, Bobby McAlpline, Ray Booth
What inspires you?
A: Nature. I love to hike, and every time we go to Colorado, I always look at the colors of the trees and the dark bark. The way the light shines yellow on the blue sky.
J: The beach. The way the sand meets the water. The beautiful patterns in the sand that the waves create. It’s amazing. And of course a vast amount of things to look at from other designers. I try to look all over and see the blending of colors, and shapes of things.
What’s your favorite room to design?
A: I love to design dinning rooms.
J: I have two. I love to design a living room and master bedrooms.
How long have you been in Nashville?
J: I’ve been here for 21 years.
A: 9 years and we’re here to stay!
What’s your favorite Nashville neighborhood? Place to go, eat + walk around?
A: 12 South, for sure! I’m a foodie + I love to be outside.
J: Me too! I love walking around down there.
Your go-to paint color?
A: WHITE! White Dove- Benjamin Moore
J: Yes, White Dove or China White.
What about a good gray?
A: My new favorite is Sherwin Williams : Big Chill
A & J: We both LOVE Sherwin Williams- Dorian Gray a good neutral- we do that a lot on doors + trim and exteriors.
Is there a Nashville trend running wild?
A: White houses. They are popping up everywhere!!!
J: Everybody’s painting their brick white.
What’s the best way to use color?
A: Pillows and art.
J: Keep things neutral. Then it’s easy to change things up by adding a pop of color here and there.
Finish this sentence. Every room needs______________.
J: A little bit of green to make it feel alive.. Like a fig tree, plus they are easy to keep alive. Two things- no direct light and only water when the leaves start to droop.
A: A great lamp. I don’t think people see the importance of spending money on a great lamp. We talk about this all the time. It’s like a nice handbag, it just makes an outfit. Good lighting is very important and often over looked.
Is there a trend you’d like to see GO AWAY?
J: The industrial look. Like iron pipes etc. It’s a little too much. I like it in a restaurant or bar, but…..
A: I would agree. Over it. I mean, I like reclaimed wood, but let’s not put it EVERYWHERE. I think it’s over done.
What’s a design mistake you think people often make?
A: Everything is too small. Small rug, small lamp, small accessories. Just get one great nice sized lamp. A BIG rug!
J: Waiting until you find the right piece, instead of settling for something on sale. Take your time. If you must have little things. Curate them on a nice tray. Then there’s not too much visual overload.
I mean, Julie and Amber are so fun! It seems like I’m always dreaming up reasons to work with them. As a matter of fact, I picked out new fabric to recover the chairs in my living room next! Stay tuned for that update. They’ve got me thinking about a gray, taupey linen. Hmmmmmm? So many yummy choices, how’s a girl to decide? Well, like they said, you can’t go wrong with a neutral. Take a peek at their portfolio here. So many great projects to take inspiration from.
SHOP + REGISTRY
Coming soon for all you out of town girls! A SHOP page that will be added to their website. Giving you an opportunity to scoop up some yummy accessories for your home. Also, keeping in mind if you’re about to become a bride or know someone that is. They have some really beautiful things to choose from, and a dreamy new line of white pottery.
BOOKS + BOOKS + MORE BOOKS
I know, I know… I can go on and on forever about this store, but one thing I need to mention are their books. They by far have the best selection of coffee table books I’ve ever seen. I’m completely obsessed. I like to go in there and play with different color combinations until I find the right combo. Books are in excellent filler and fun to layer on your coffee table. Anywhere for that matter. They’re such great design trick.
Can’t leave this post until I brag on their accent pillows selection, and then I’m done and I’ll let you go in and see for yourself! I don’t know, but I kinda have this sickness with pillows. They are the easiest way to change a room. Julie, Amber and I believe in the same design approach. Keep things neutral. Changing your pillows, changes the room. It’s as simple as that. I hope you had fun reading about and enjoying these beautiful images by Linsey Grace Photography. If you’re ever in the Nashville area or maybe you live here and never even knew Providence existed. Take a day and wander around the beauty of this showroom. It will not disappoint.