I’m very excited to introduce Julia Miller as my next guest in the Soulful Living series. In the sea of interiors that make up my Instagram feed, Julia’s clean, intentional, and confident style jumped off the page. I was immediately drawn to her cool vibe that is both warm and spare. It was clear from the beginning that this lady has style in droves, and is just beginning to break the surface with her nascent interiors business. I’ll hand it off to her from here!
AGI: We found you through Instagram, and were immediately drawn to your deliberate attention to detail, edited design, and muddy (in a great way!!) color palette. Can you tell us a bit about how your personal style developed?
JM: My style has evolved over time, there was a time when color and pattern was all over my home and life! Prior to settling down in Minneapolis 9 years ago, I lived abroad (East Africa and East Asia) and was drawn to the bold colors and patterns specific to each continent. I found that each place I lived, I collected meaningful pieces of art or décor that still has a space in my home today. However, as I’ve gotten older, my career became more stressful, and I had kids I realized that I wanted my home to be more calm visually (hoping that translates to my kids!) and started gravitating towards and edited palette. I am a big believer that a home should be influenced by the past and present and be a reflection of those living in it. Our home is always evolving as my family grows and changes, but I think focusing on meaning and well-made, functional pieces will always remain at the center of my style.
AGI: Your background is as a social worker - how did you come to recognize a passion and talent for design?
JM: I love this question because social work has been such an integral component in my interest in design. All of my social work positions have been largely home-based (meaning I see the individual in their home/community rather than a clinic setting). I realized early on that I could learn more about a person seeing them in their home than I could in 10 sessions in my office. Being in someone’s home allows me to see the whole picture clearly. With my clinical work, I have access to the important things in life like – can they reach their coffee maker and prepare meals comfortably? Sometimes small tweaks is all it takes! I am a firm believer that the right environment and home space can be meaningful and positive contributors to the personal growth journey. Social work was the gateway for me to start understanding how environment and behavior interact and design has been a natural segue. I know how important the feeling of my home is and being able to create a sense of calm and a welcomed spot to land has been a highlight of both my design and my clinical work. One of my old clinical supervisors used to ask me, “what are you doing and why are you doing it?” It’s a motto I live by in my design work now!
AGI: When thinking about the environment you want to create in your home, or others', what do you want those spaces to convey?
JM: My number one goal always is for the space to reflect those that live in it. What are the meaningful objects or art pieces – how can we use those with intention? How can we integrate appliances like my husband’s beloved soda stream into our space so it is both accessible and not an eye-sore (for me!)? I want the spaces to tell a story, the story of their life and reflect meaningful experiences without neglecting practicality.
AGI: What do you think is most important to creating that atmosphere you spoke of above?
JM: I think the most important is having a full understanding of how the space will be used. For me, I have small kids and we host a lot. Therefore, I chose to have paneling in our main gathering space that was easily wipeable and we went for the extra durable drywall. For clients, it’s important for me to understand what isn’t working currently and how can we adapt the space (without throwing the baby out with the bathwater!) to be more user friendly. When it comes to the details of design, I love allowing the existing architecture or age of the home (if possible) to influence the design.
AGI: What do you believe it means to have a soulful home?
JM: I think a soulful home is combining the past, present and future in a meaningful way. I also think a soulful home has an element of evolving and changing. Designing a home is a process!