Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings
Linda Merrill is an expert in the fields of interior design, media communications & marketing. A lifelong passion for creating beautiful, and livable spaces combined with a savvy business mind has brought her design work and writing to a national, and even international audience. Linda offers her interior design services in person in Massachusetts and “virtually” world wide which is a great service for budget interior design projects both far and near.
Linda’s popular design blog ::Surroundings:: offers her unique views on wide ranging aspects of the built environment from architecture, photographic tours, product reviews, design inspirations, special events and even movie set decor!
Linda is a sought after writer and voice in the field of interior design and not only publishes her own popular blogs, but is a contributing writer to other media outlets. She is also producer and moderator of a weekly roundtable discussion group, The Skirted Roundtable, that is available via podcast.
Linda serves on the Board of Directors of the New England chapter of the IFDA (International Furnishing & Design Association) as Vice President of Communications and provides both consulting and hands on marketing expertise for her peers in the industry.
Tell us about your business.
I’m a residential interior decorator in New England with a client base that has primarily been working professional single women or married couples. I started my business under the name Chameleon Interiors, but have just re-branded my business to Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings, since my brand has become more about my name and less about my business name.
I write the design blog ::Surroundings:: which has propelled me into a freelance writing and speaking career, and I founded and am the editor/moderator of The Skirted Roundtable which is a weekly podcast “radio” show that I do with Joni Webb of Cote De Texas and Megan Arquette of Beach Bungalow 8. Fashioned after “The View”, we chat amongst ourselves on various design and blogging topics and we also have invited guests.
What inspired you to pursue this business?
In 2001, after working in non-profit management for several years, I started my interior decorating firm. I had originally passed up pursuing a music career in favor of something more stable. However, I realized that I was just not satisfied working in a supporting role to other’s creativity and that my own creative energy needed to be my focus. So, after some consideration of what I liked doing and seemed good at, I enrolled at the Boston Architectural College in their Decorative Arts Certificate program. I had always liked decorating and had sewed many window treatments, chair slipcovers and pillows for myself and friends. I’d also done a lot of set decorating for high school and college theater productions, so moving into interior decorating seemed a natural thing. Once completed, I transitioned out of my job at WGBH-TV and hung out my shingle.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Between my bachelor’s degree in Music Performance and my post-graduate education in the Decorative Arts, I’ve taken a lot of history classes in music, art, theater and decorative arts, not to mention the usual political and social history classes. So, I am generally very inspired by the architecture and historical aspects of a given property or location. I’m also inspired by my client’s own interests and lifestyles.
Tell us about a favorite home decorating or remodeling project.
An early project of mine was a seaside home on the coast of Massachusetts. The homeowners were planning on selling (a fact they didn’t tell me at first) and wanted a master suite makeover that would really say “wow”. I did the master in a nearly monochromatic blue/green color palette that matched the ocean outside the windows. The wall paint was Ben Moore’s Rhine River – very pretty. The textiles and carpeting all had movement in their patterns, to emulate the motion of the water. I didn’t want to be too literal – although I did make them a custom starfish pillow as a gift. The room started off as dated and worn looking (literally a dingy, dirty greige) and ended up being colorful, yet calm and comfortable. The house sold the first weekend it was on the market in a bidding war and six weeks to the day of installation, the homeowners packed up their bags and moved. It was actually sad because I loved the room!
What’s your favorite color.
I recently used Farrow and Ball’s Cooking Apple Green ( ) on the ceiling and inside the cabinets of my new kitchen and absolutely love it!
What are your five favorite pieces of home décor from your home or elsewhere?
- French Silvered-Bronze and Crystal Chandelier by Maison Bagues, with Central spire and twelve lights (Circa 1940) – Trianon Antiques
- Pair of French 19th Century Dore Bronze and Crystal Sconces – Charlene Asdourian Antiques via 1st Dibs
- Very Unique Large-Scaled Italian Giltwood Starburst Mirror Italy 19th century – Travis & Company via 1st Dibs
- Custom pillows in beautiful textiles (designed and handmade by me) – Chameleon Interiors
- Maison Jansen Marble Top Mahogany Server Argentina 1940s-Greenwich Living Antiques & Design Centre via 1st Dibs
- Maison Jansen Faux Tortoise Painted Metal Coffee Table 20th c-Hamptons Antique Galleries II LLC via 1st Dibs
What’s your favorite room at home? Why is it your favorite?
Since I just completed it, it’s my kitchen. Everything is fresh and new, plus there is lots of green!
Who are your favorite designers?
I love Maison Jansen –all of their furnishings are so beautiful. There are lots of historical notes to the pieces yet still very timeless. I really like the designer Thad Hayes, whose style is certainly much more masculine than mine, but I love his streamlined aesthetic. It could be because I find it so hard to streamline my own life that I am drawn to someone who is so good at it. There is nothing out of place or without purpose in his work. And I like Suzanne Kasler for her use of textiles, soft mix of colors and eclectic mix of styles.
What’s your personal design style? Has it evolved over time?
My personal design style is fairly traditional. I think rooms should be timeless and not overly trendy, but never museum-like either. I like furniture to look formal but be comfortable. I like putting my feet up. I love the color green and have since childhood. In my current condo, I’ve gone from green with cranberry red and black accents to the same green with pink and cream accents. I’ve done the red toile thing when it was popular, and then moved on, and have now incorporated some burlap in my new kitchen. I think trends should be feathered in with accent fabrics or accessories, but easily transitioned out when the trend has passed or gets boring. I would say that I’ve gotten more streamlined as time has gone on, but I’ve never had a “what was I thinking?” moment either when it comes to things I’ve acquired.
Many of us have a product we bought for our home-that now makes us think-"what was I thinking" - do you have one?
Basically, as I’ve said before, I’ve not really had a “what was I thinking” moment. Or at least, nothing that I’ve spent more than $100 on! I’m pretty considered in my buying and have collected pieces over time as I’ve needed them. There is an old joke in New England about how once a proper Brahmin Back Bay lady was asked where she purchased her hat and her response was “We don’t purchase our hats, we own our hats”. And that’s kind of how I am with my furniture.
Describe your dream room.
My dream room would be a beautiful soft palette of greens, creams and pinks (yes, much like my living room!) in a mix of textures. I love linens and velvets, silks and organdy. The furnishings would be comfortable – English arm chairs or sofas, deep club chairs, with a mix of lighter Continental French or Scandinavian pieces for a “collected” look. I also prefer furnishings to have the patina of use on them, so I don’t mind worn velvets and wrinkled silks and linens, or scuffed leathers. I love early-mid 20th century French case goods. And, of course, I love a crystal chandelier and sconces!
What are your favorite blogs or home design/improvement websites?
- Pure Style Home – because Lauren Liess can make anything beautiful and she seems so “real”.
- 1st Dibs – For research on historical styles and to just take in all the beauty.
- French Essence – For lifestyle and history. Besides, who doesn’t want to live in France??!!
- Google images – because the world is at your fingertips and is limited only by my search terms!
What are your favorite books, design shows and/or magazines?
- Elle Décor
- House Beautiful
- Australian Vogue Living (when I can get it!)
- Any books by Judith Miller, and McAlester’s “A Field Guide to American Houses”
Do you have a decorating, design or remodeling tip you’d like to share with The Decorating Diva.com readers?
DIY takes you a long way! Learn to sew and you can make pillows and window treatments. Rolling up your sleeves and doing work oneself is very personally satisfying. I redid my kitchen for less than $500 (excluding the new appliances) by doing everything with a friend. I decorated a beautiful townhouse in Boston and my clients did a lot of the labor themselves. It not only stretched their budget considerably, but they took a lot of pride in being able to point out their own hard work. It gave them a lot of ownership of their home.
- Website: Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings
- Twitter: @Surroundings
- Blog: ::Surroundings::, ::Silver Screen Surroundings::, The Skirted Roundtable
Decorating Diva, LLC would like to thank Linda for sharing her beautiful interior design projects, and her timeless decorating advice with The Decorating Diva.com readers.