Of The Moment:
All About Elaine: Elaine at Manhattan’s New York Design Center wearing the Arlette Turtleneck, the Becca Leggings, the Mallory Flats, the Laurana Handbag, the Chiara Sunglasses and the Annalyse Cashmere Cardigan. Photo by Daphne Youree Photography.
This month’s of the moment is design maven, Georgia resident, and celebrated interior designer and decorator, Elaine Griffin.
Elaine's interior aesthetic (and in person personality) is the mood you want every room in your house to evoke: warm, layered, contemporary—yet extraordinarily comfortable with a signature exciting pop. Elaine Griffin At Home is based in the Golden Isles of Coastal Georgia—St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island and Brunswick—and New York City.
Elaine has more than twenty years of experience and a lifetime of style which inspires her richly-textured, timeless and classic interiors that unequivocally resemble the people who inhabit these spaces.
According to Elaine, “Successful rooms take three things into excruciating consideration,” she says. “Their inhabitants’ lifestyles and space-specific needs, the room’s dimensions, and the dynamic contrasts of darkness and light, and texture and pattern. And no matter which space or its geographic location, it’s always those three things and in that order. The first tells you what goes in it and how it should look; the second, how to lay it out; and the third, its color palette.”
Below, Elaine sat down with us at New York City’s New York Design Center to talk everything from the secret to a beautifully decorated room to the motto that keeps her positive and motivated.
Coastal Georgia & NYC (but it’s always Paris in my mind)
Happiness moves mountains.
Elaine wearing the Arlette Turtleneck and the Katie Wrap. Photo by Daphne Youree Photography.
Education opens doors. No matter where you’re from, it’s hard to “own” a room if you’re the least-educated person in it; getting access in the first place is even harder still.
And also, Success rewards the steadfast. My father, a talented surgeon who integrated medicine in South Georgia in the 1960’s, always said, “You don’t have to shout about how great you are if you’re good at what you do. Just do your best and your work will eventually speak for itself.”
Smile. And get your hair done – my Southern Belle mother, whom we appropriately nicknamed Madame, would exhort, “Sugah, if your hay-uh isn’t togethuh, nothing you put on will look cute!” I hate to admit that she was kinda right there, at least in my case.
Hang curtains anywhere other than as close to the ceiling line as possible. This will be my epitaph. They should also extend at least 6 to 8 inches past the outer edge of the window trim, on the sides, to give you a full “stack” of drapery (adds softness to a room) without covering more than an inch of windowpane per side. Your windows will look a thousand times larger and be much, much happier.
Yellow. It’s nature’s perfect accent color – even adding just a spot of yellow, like a velvet throw pillow, brings an instant shot of sunshine to even the gloomiest spaces. (Trade secret: The sun’s shifting hues throughout the day nail it in the brights department – from sunrise’s pinkish gold, to noon’s blazing lemon, to the shimmering sunset symphony of oranges and corals.)
It Was All Yellow: A coveted bedside aesthetic designed by Elaine.
Most Passionate About…
By definition, creative people aren’t content unless they are busy creating something. I’m passionate about creating beauty, shining light on others, life lived stylishly, and learning new things. I still ask “what if,” “how,” and “why” a thousand times a day. Admittedly, this can be annoying.
I Can’t Live Without...
Laughter. Having a sense of humor is what turns an ordeal into an adventure.
Joie de vivre: Elaine wears the Arlette Turtleneck, the Becca Leggings, the Mallory Flats, the Laurana Handbag, the Chiara Sunglasses, and the Annalyse Cashmere Cardigan. Photo by Daphne Youree Photography.
Best Piece of Life Advice:
When Maya Angelou said that people will always remember how you make them feel, she wasn’t kidding. I’d like to add “authentically” to that – nothing feels as awesome today as authenticity.
Dr. Maya Angelou, photo by Dwight Carter.
What You’ll Always Find In My House:
You want your home to be experienced on all five senses, and after sight (obvi ha), scent is the most impactful. Think about the iconic scents of your childhood places – a classroom, your favorite pool, Grandma’s house – we recall those instantly, no matter how long ago. You’ll find scented candles and fragrance diffuser sticks in every room of my house, and at least one gets lighted every morning.
What Every Beautifully-Designed Room Needs:
Personalization. I wrote a book called Design Rules: The Professional’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator, but the one rule I’ll never break is that rooms should look like the people who live in them. If you were to leave me alone in your living room for twenty minutes before first meeting, your decor should give me a pretty accurate preview of who’ll be walking through the door. If all I can figure out is your probable net worth, then dearest, you have not finished decorating. We want to see an authentic amalgam of where you’re from, where you’ve been, where you’re “at,” and where you’re going.
While We’re At It, Don’t Forget:
Lamps. Three out of four corners of most rooms should have their own lamps in or near them (and optimally, all four to avoid a dark corner). Even if you have perfect overhead lighting, it’s still important to have lower-height pools of light illuminating each seating area and most tabletops. Lamplight covers a multitude of sins like nothing else in the design toolbox – it’s literally God’s gift to décor. So much so, that I advocate buying cheapie lamps from thrift stores, etc. as “get your glow on” placeholders until you can find ones that you love. Lamplight is everything.
Let there be light: A cozy corner at one of Elaine’s designs.
My 2021 Holiday Vibe:
Glisten. Glimmer. Glow. I’m wild about metallics this year – if it’s gold and a perfect fit, I’ll take two! I think we’re all feeling super festive after the trials of 2020, and nothing says celebrate better than shine! Down South, I’ll pair cute metallic t-necks and tops with my signature white jeans (style note: velvet jeans for the fall); for NYC, I’ll mix in skinny black leggings and booties. I’m ordinarily not such a glitzy chick, but this year, the soft, subtle shimmer of gold, black or ivory in a satin or a knit feels happifying.
Most Favorite Room I’ve Designed:
My eleven Good Works Makeovers for Oprah’s O at Home magazine. Being able to experience first-hand the life-changing impact that living in thoughtfully-designed spaces truly has is both humbling and gratifying.
My Personal Style:
I’m an evolved Southern preppy at heart (“evolved” after working in fashion and living in Paris) and am passionate about classics with a perfect fit (the legacy of a true fashionista mom who was an avid seamstress). I also proudly share the accessory addiction that is a Southern girl requisite.
I totally relate to the intellectual corps of fashion editors who’ve deconstructed their wardrobes into curated collections of perfect essentials that they acquire in every color and then add to. This SO makes sense! The perfect-fitting pair of pants deserves to be in my closet in every color, don’t you agree? Darling, we won’t begin to mention sweaters.
It’s in the bag: Elaine wears our Laurana Handbag and Chiara Sunglasses for a signature pop. Photo by Daphne Youree Photography.
My Interior Style:
Is warm, stylish, colorful, eclectic, texture-filled, thoughtfully detailed and unpretentiously elegant. Rooms that look like they have come together over time; spaces that genuinely look like the people who live in them.
A Pop of Red: A room designed by Elaine.
Any Quick Design Tips?
If you obsess about getting just one thing right in your home, make it your furniture layout. Perfectly-placed seating groups in an eye-pleasing mix of materials, shapes and finishes are the design equivalent of an haute couture outfit – so “as one” with its body that you notice zero of the wearer’s imperfections. It’s hard for the eye to rest in a room filled with furniture in all the wrong places, even if you’re not quite sure why that comfy feeling remains elusive.
Advice For Those Confused About Their Design Style:
Look in your closet. Your IRL closet, first, and then your “just won the lottery” dream closet. There’s a deep, cellular-level connection between interior design and fashion – they’re opposite ends of the same rope on our personal style spectrum. Fashion is the face we present to the outer world daily, and interior design at its purest essence is the cocoon we create to shelter our most authentic selves. The two almost always speak a shared language – rarely will you find an ultra-modern design minimalist with a tired, dated wardrobe. I promise that you’ll never go wrong making your “client” the person who wears what’s in your closet.
When I Need Inspiration, I…
Get up and go. Taste and a sense of style are muscles – the more your eye is exposed to and examines what works well and why, the better the two become. So I’m an enormous proponent of travel, even if it’s sometimes just a voyage to the other side of town.
My own creative droughts tend to occur when I’ve stayed in one place too long – inertia really is creativity’s mortal enemy. Seeing how things are done in other cities and other parts of the world is just fascinating. I mean, they serve tea in Japan, England and Texas, but each is a whoooole different story. And that’s just lifestyle stuff – we haven’t touched home and fashion!!!
On The Go: Elaine in New York City wearing our Arlette Turtleneck. Photo by Daphne Youree Photography.
Tonal solfeggio frequency music. I first stumbled across the genre when searching for a spa fave on YouTube, and I swear by nothing else for a good night’s sleep now. It’s also a daytime go-to for non-distracting, chill-zone background music.
Shop Elaine’s Favorites: