Listed as one of Charlotte’s 25 Most Stylish People in 2010 by Charlotte Style Magazine, Traci Zeller of Traci Zeller Designs is known for her clean, sophisticated, and approachable interiors. Through travels over the years, Traci’s exposure to the fine art, architecture and interiors around the world has helped refine her aesthetic. In addition, motherhood has also allowed her to approach design from a more practical viewpoint. As a busy wife and mother to twin boys, I can relate to Traci’s appreciation for the need for spaces to be beautiful and functional. I’m thrilled to be interviewing her today!
Simplified Bee: When did you know you wanted to be an interior designer?
Traci Zeller: I’ve often said that interior design found me (rather than the reverse), but I know I wouldn’t be a designer today if my husband and I wouldn’t have built a custom home. It was my first time living (as an adult) anywhere other than an apartment or dorm room!
SB: How would you describe your personal style and did it change once you had the twins?
TZ: My personal style is clean and classic. I love simple yet sophisticated interiors that combine traditional and modern elements. Before my twin boys were born, I wasn’t overly concerned with the amount of maintenance something took or how fragile anything was. Gosh, especially when I was single, I probably could have been happy living in a museum! Of course, that philosophy doesn’t exactly work with children, and especially not twin boys. When I would be shopping with my boys as toddlers and get the inevitable question “Are they twins,” I’d always respond “yes” and then jokingly ask the boys “are your twin tornadoes or double trouble?” To the delight of the other shoppers, they would emphatically respond, “BOTH.” Obviously my environment is important to me, however, and I wasn’t willing to let our house become the twins’ romper room. Instead, I created a new approach to interior design that incorporated my practical perspective as a parent of twins.
SB: Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
TZ: Oh my, that is a hard one. If you mean another interior designer, I’d have to pick Mary McDonald, Barbara Barry or Suzanne Kasler. They are all amazing, and I would love the opportunity to watch them work.
SB: Do you have “go to” paint colors? If so, which ones?
TZ: Of course, the right paint choice depends on the fixed elements in a room, but I do have certain colors that I use time and time again. A few of my favorites are Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray, Bleeker Beige and Kendall Charcoal and Sherwin-Williams’ Wool Skein and Urbane Bronze. My favorite gender-neutral children’s color is Benjamin Moore’s Dill Pickle.
SB: Which of today’s interior design trends are here to stay and which ones will we see fade away?
TZ: The one “trend” that I really see sticking around is the increased ability for consumers to customize products, even if they are not working with a designer. Years ago, it used to be that you bought a product one way and that was it. Custom products were either not available or cost-prohibitive for most people. Today, major manufacturers and retailers are offering dozens of different finishes and fabrics, not to mention mix-and-match styles, at a variety of price points. Over time, I expect more and more options to be available — and expected — and far fewer things to be strictly “off the rack.
Trends I see fading away? I love bold colors (usually in moderation), but I dearly hope that neon’s days are numbered.
SB: Where do you recommend clients splurge versus save?
TZ: With nurseries, I always recommend that my clients splurge on pieces the children can grow with — like a quality dresser — and save on pieces that will be quickly outgrown — like the crib or a glider. In other rooms, it
really depends on our priorities and how I can get the most “bang for the buck.” But, I’ll never recommend cheap upholstery!
SB: You have embraced social media and write a blog in addition to being on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Do you prefer one over the other? What is your advice to other interior designers who are timid about trying social media marketing outlets?
TZ: I love writing a blog. Not only does it give me the opportunity to share my thoughts and my work with thousands of people, but it really helps to focus my thinking and hone my own opinions. I heard Bobby McAlpine once say that much of what he does is intuitive for him, but when he taught as a professor of architecture, he had to learn how to verbalize that intuition. Writing a blog works the same way. The true test of whether you understand something is whether you can teach it to someone else. I would tell other designers to just “go for it.” Social media is fun; that’s why they call it social! Remember, too, that you don’t have to do everything. Pick what you like to do, what is fun for you, and do that.
SB: Fill in the blank. No room is complete without…
TZ: No room is complete without art. I love, love, love art, and most spaces don’t come alive without it.
SB: Tell us about your exciting new fabric line!
TZ: I am so excited about my new fabrics! I teamed up with Trellis Studio, a custom design studio in South Carolina, to develop Traci Zeller Textiles, and I have three patterns in four colorways debuting in April. Paintings created by my twin boys with my mom were the inspiration for the Bubbly pattern (shown above), which consists of four pieces of artwork pieced together and turned into a repeat. Sparkler was inspired by (no surprise here) fireworks (which my boys love) and truly captures the joy and exuberance with which children approach life. Prep is a simple ticking stripe updated with modern colors. It is striking on its own, but a perfect “calm” coordinate for either Bubbly or Sparkler. I am especially proud that Traci Zeller Textiles are entirely created in the Carolinas, from inspiration to design to printing.
SB: What’s next for Traci Zeller Designs?
TZ: Trellis Studio and I are already hard at work on new several fabric introductions, hopefully to debut in 3Q 2013. The new patterns are more sophisticated and probably more reflective of my overall aesthetic. We actually started with these patterns, but — likely because I am constantly inspired by my children — Bubbly, Sparkler and Prep took on a life of their own. Even before that, however, I’ll be debuting a new candle with a Traci Zeller Home signature scent. Of course, all of that is sandwiched in between working with my fabulous clients, for whom I am incredibly thankful, and running after my little buddies!
Thank you so much Traci for you time and sharing some of your beautiful portfolio with us!
*all image via Traci Zeller Designs