Nashville’s roots run deep through interior designer Evan Millárd’s veins. Millárd gathers a great deal of inspiration from his surroundings; his designs reflect the eclectic sophistication, strong emotion and vibrant energy of the Music City. He currently operates his namesake design firm, Millárd, serving residential clients in Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Alys Beach, Florida; and Richmond, Virginia.
He had the opportunity to design the Cottage Center Retreat space at the Lake Forest Designer Showhouse & Gardens in Chicago, Illinois. We sat down with Millárd to learn about his experience with the showhouse as well as his best design tips.
FG: What made you want to become a designer? What was your journey like getting there?
EM: My fascination with design started at a young age when I received my first set of LEGO® (bricks). There was something special about taking components that on their own weren’t much but when combined with other pieces could create entirely new worlds. I went on to pursue my BFA in Interior Design from O’More College of Architecture & Design of Belmont University. After receiving my degree, I had the honor of honing my skills in Nashville and Chicago with the esteemed Alessandra Branca. After receiving residential and commercial design experience in both cities, I returned to the Music City to form the design firm, Modern Remains, with two dear friends. Over a decade later, I went solo and opened my own firm, Millárd. My focus is to create jewel box-like experiences and designs.
FG: People have been spending a lot more time at home the past three years. How has this lifestyle shift impacted your work as a designer?
EM: With an emphasis placed on the home, my clients no longer want spaces that are merely ‘pretty.’ Clients ask for and gravitate towards spaces that encompass both functionality and spirit!
FG: What element should every indoor living space have?
EM: Every space, whether indoors or out, should have a living natural element such as a plant or flower.
FG: What’s the biggest indoor design mistake you see people make? How do you fix it?
EM: Partially completing multiple spaces is a mistake often made. I encourage my clients to prioritize rooms and complete in phases if the entire home can’t be furnished at a single time.
FG: How do Business-to-Business programs like Frontgate’s make your job easier?
EM: Business-to-business programs offer a dedicated service team that helps take items off my plate, which saves me time. This allows me to provide a better level of service to my clients.
FG: Each room in the Lake Forest Showhouse has a unique personality and point of view. Was there a specific ask regarding the concept of this interior space?
EM: While there wasn’t a specific ask, each designer was asked to submit their top three room selections and written design concepts for each. From there, designers were chosen and assigned a room or series of rooms. The Center Retreat, which I worked on, is designed as a place to unwind and relax. With inspiration taken from nature, lush plantings are punctuated by the sounds of trickling water.
To further play into the nature theme, Nashville-based artist John Besser painted a soft palette of blues and grays from Benjamin Moore to create the nearly 20-foot floor-to-ceiling landscape. Woven wicker, gold-toned textiles and original works of art have been thoughtfully layered with beautiful blue-and-white pottery brimming with topiaries, hydrangeas and ferns to create an atmosphere of tranquility and peace.
FG: Favorite piece you used in the space and why?
EM: From the start, I knew I wanted to incorporate beautiful blue-and-white elements in my design. I like to think of the Blue Ming Handpainted Ceramic Planters as the jewelry in my design.
FG: Was there anything about the materials and design of certain pieces that made them ideal for the space?
EM: With an emphasis on featuring original work by artists and artisans, the fact that each Blue Ming Handpainted Ceramic Planter is wheel-thrown, handpainted and hand-glazed made them essential to my design.
FG: What is your go-to interior design tip for clients that sometimes surprises them?
EM: Start with rugs and window treatments as the foundation of a room then build from there.
FG: If you’re going to invest in one interior piece to refresh a client’s space, let it be ________.
EM: Art, always art. It can change one’s mood and lift their spirits.