Meet the black designers changing the world of interior design
Interior design is an integral part of our daily life. The way we create and shape our environments, especially our homes, can impact how we work, relax and navigate every day. That’s why interior designers can play such an important role when it comes to organizing our spaces: they’re pros at adding style and function to your home’s layout, sparking joy around every corner.
But while the world of interior design is inspiring, it’s also competitive and sadly lacking in diversity. Many black interior designers are too often overlooked, despite their significant accomplishments in the field. That said, many veterans of the profession continue to pave the way for the next generation of creatives, while leaving a major footprint to admire and respect.
In light of Black History Month, we’re celebrating a few black designers who are changing the world of interior design. From Maryline Damour and Malene Barnett to Mikel Welch and Beth Diana Smith, here are some of the talented black interior designers we think deserve to be kept on your radar – now and forever.
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Courtney McLeod, New York designer and founder of Right Meets Left Interior Design, is originally from New Orleans. With her work, you will find vibrant and joyful colors inspired by her Asian and European travels, as well as her Creole background.
Although not an interior designer, Malene Barnett is an outspoken force within the industry. Using her passion for African heritage, Malene creates sculptural ceramic tiles, hand-woven rugs and other home products inspired by traditional cultural experiences. Thanks to its global platform, the guild of black artists + designers, it provides support and safe spaces for black creatives to be seen and heard.
Inspired by her grandmother who shares her first name, Delia Kenza designs homes with bold, clean lines, neutral accents and a modern approach, while adding character and dimension to any space she touches. The perfect example? His own home, with ornate moldings and herringbone floors.
TV personality and interior designer Nicole Gibbons founded her online painting company Claire, in 2018. Originally from Michigan, Nicole later moved to Harlem, where she designed spaces with a timeless yet modern aesthetic. With Clare, she strives to make the paint shopping experience easier – where you receive designer-curated colors and expert advice on choosing the perfect shade for your space.
Sophisticated yet accessible is what defines Saudah Saleem’s design style. A New York native, Saudah draws inspiration from the bustle of the city. Her work features unexpected color combinations, eclectic patterns and design elements full of color and energy.
Tavia Forbes and the Masters of Monet
Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters are an Atlanta-based design duo whose collaborative work dates back to 2012. It wasn’t until 2014 that they decided to form Forbes + Masters, a full-service interior design firm for residential and commercial spaces. Their projects feature standout pieces as well as layers of texture.
A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Keita Turner has a solid background in fashion and interior design. In 2007, she was named the second winner of the International Design Awards (IDA) for Residential Interior Design and was one of the designers invited to unveil the new bedroom vignettes at Macy’s Herald Square in 2014. Her goal: to ensure a classic on-trend style by blending subtle natural tones and vibrant accents.
If you’re looking for modern elegance and comfort, LA-based designer Breegan Jane can bring this design to life. Previously featured on Hallmark’s Home & Family and HGTV Extreme Makeover: Home EditionBreegan is capable of evoking just about any mood you would like in your home (customization being his favorite part of the process).
With an extensive background in entertainment and fashion, Linda Hayslett founded LH. Drawings. After years of living and working in New York, Linda moved to Los Angeles, where she styled celebrities such as Hilary Swank, Sandra Oh and Charlize Theron. Although her work varies, she once mentioned her appreciation of neoclassical designwhere she fell in love with the traditional elements and rich wood of the spaces.
Beth Diana Smith
Layered textures, carefully selected artwork and an array of diverse cultural influences inform the work of New Jersey designer Beth Diana Smith. Beth started her interior design business after years of working in accounting and finance. Since her career transition, she has completed a series of residential and commercial projects with an emphasis on luxurious finishes, inspiring color palettes and eye-catching patterns.
As owner and principal designer of Laura Hodges Studio, Laura Hodges is known for her globally inspired interiors. Influenced by her diverse cultural background – including her Norwegian grandmother and Jamaican father – Laura offers a clean, eclectic vibe, while adding vintage finds and natural elements.
Maryline Damour and her partner, Fred Drake, are co-founders of Damour Drake, an interior design and construction firm based in Kingston, NY. Maryline’s work exhibits a unique cultural flair, with her designs ranging from an airy Brooklyn loft to a cathedral in her native Haiti home.
Michel Smith Boyd
Michel Smith Boyd is the founder of the Atlanta-based company, Smith Boyd Interiors. You’ll find him featured on hit shows Luxury for less and Buy it blind, where his work encompasses a lush and moving vibe. He is a master at seamlessly weaving masculine and feminine touches into a design scheme. Moreover, it is brilliant at incorporating natural materials into interiors.
Southern California-based designer Nikki Klugh has over 19 years of interior design experience. His education includes formal training at the Art Institute of Albuquerque, NM. She is also a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).
When asked about success in the industry, Nikki credits her imagination and creativity, where she dives into each challenge eager to tackle the next.
Justin Q. Williams
Atlanta-based designer Justin Q. Williams has launched his interior design business, Brand Design Co.when he was 21. A native of Alabama, Justin’s accomplishments include appearing on HGTV Design Star: Next generation. His design aesthetic offers a harmonious combination of modern and traditional style which he considers pinache penthouse.”
Florida-based designer Nicole White’s work is inspired by her Jamaican heritage. She loves nothing more than infusing the bold colors and textures of the Caribbean into her designs, while being guided by her clients’ personal style.
In addition to her passion for design, Nicole enjoys writing. This led her to launch Live Laugh Decoratewhere you can get behind-the-scenes details of his latest design projects.
As the founder of Reidy Creative, Tiffanni Reidy helps her clients create a modern yet colorful space, while adding a vintage aesthetic with clean architectural lines. Before launching her design business in 2018, she was the founder and creative director of Residence magazine, where she showcased handmade products from local small businesses in the DC metro area.
When you look at Justina Blakeney’s work, you’ll notice the lively combination of colors, textures and greenery – or as she likes to call it, the jungalow decorating style. Besides being an interior designer, Justina is also the author of several design books and the founder and creative director of interior design brand, Jungalow.
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