Classically Fresh

Interior Design By Judy Pickett

Judy Pickett, the founder and president of Design Lines, a Raleigh interior design firm, chose a townhome full of architectural details in Balmoral at MacGregor in Cary to make her own. Pickett customized the space with bold colors, an abundance of artwork and a mix of traditional shapes with fresh colors.

On the cream-colored upholstery: “You can live with colors you don’t love just because they are practical. Or you can live with what you love and clean it.” – Judy Pickett

Emily Uhland: How did you first get interested in interior design?
Judy Pickett: I started out in fashion design at Florida State University. The opportunities in fashion design were all in New York. A friend told me I wasn’t “bitchy” enough for New York so I switched to interior design.

Pickett’s design words of wisdom: “Do what makes your heart sing, not what you think you are supposed to do.”

What do you enjoy most about interior design?
I love the exposure to beautiful things and the outcomes. Rooms can really make a person feel one way or another. In interior design, you come to understand how you impact people’s lives.

Layers of details add richness to the bedroom. The bed has a carved wood frame surrounding an upholstered headboard for a contrast of structure and softness. Nail head trim on the headboard references the intricate beading on the pillows.

How does working on your own home compare to a client’s home?
It’s hard to work on your own home. Designers see so many great products, and we love it all. My home often gets put on the back burner and tends to be a very eclectic mix with pieces acquired over time from other projects.

Pickett’s favorite space in her home combines work and play. A large desk lets her review ongoing projects, and comfortable seating facing a big-screen TV creates a gathering place for family and friends.

Where do you look for inspiration?
First and foremost in nature; the colors, shapes, forms, textures and the contrast of light and shadow.

The gray and yellow color palette “feels warm even on the coldest nights.” Sheer curtains extend across the entire wall of windows to screen the sun streaming in from the windows and door to the patio. Picket calls the room “comfy but not trendy.”

What are the advantages to working with a designer rather than trying to decorate on your own?
Working with a designer gives you protection on your investment and helps minimize mistakes. It provides someone to ask questions of and think through technical dilemmas like plumbing and lighting. Designers also will manage the budget and expectations.

If a client can only tackle one room, which room do you recommend starting with?
The room they use the most. Some people think, ‘I have to have a finished dining room or living room,’ but if the family room gets the most use, start there. It helps to plan out other rooms at the same time, so you can go ahead with them if you want.

Pickett chose luxurious and timeless Calcutta Gold marble countertops but admits marble can be difficult to keep. Acids like tomatoes and lemons can etch the finish. Barstools on the far side of the island are covered in durable raffia that wipes up easily.

What’s your advice for decorating on a budget? Where should you splurge where should you save?
Buy the best quality upholstery you can afford because that will show wear first. Overall, buy the best quality you can afford, but hold out some money for the final layer. Finishing touches are important.

Pickett selected dark chocolate walls despite protests from friends and family. “Everybody thought I was crazy, but you don’t know what the art is going to be and you haven’t seen the rug,” she said. Pickett admits that she wouldn’t have chosen such a dark wall color without abundant natural light. The vibrant Charleston low country landscape is by Betty Anglin Smith.

Do you have any hard and fast rules for decorating?
Don’t buy something because you think it’s what you are supposed to do. Dig deep and figure out what is your style. Tear pictures out of magazines and books to find a recurring theme.

What are the most challenging elements in designing a room?
People have a hard time with paint colors. They turn out differently in every application. Appropriate scale and proportion usually need a trained eye. Understanding the placement and use of textiles, like when to use rugs versus carpet.

What is your favorite room in the house?
My studio is where I like to be. It’s where the family gathers when everyone is here.

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