The Atlanta design team shares the beauty of the design process and their tips for creating a cohesive home.
If you’ve ever shopped for a new home, you’ve likely toured a beautifully decorated model. And while many model homes give the illusion of effortless style, there’s more preparation and research that goes into the design process than you may think. We sat down with Courtney Collins, Lindsey Wooten, Liz Combs, Brittney Gallagher and Julia Semon, the five incredibly talented designers that make up Empire’s Atlanta design team. The dynamic decorators let us in on what it takes to bring a beautiful model home to life and shared a few expert tips, tricks and trends to keep in mind when designing your own home.
Meet the Design Team
Julia is an Associate Designer at Empire and has worked in the interior design industry for five years. At Empire, Julia works within many different aspects of the design process, from community branding to selecting the hard finishes on a model home.
Courtney is Empire’s Design Director, with over 13 years of experience working in the industry. Courtney oversees the entire design process, from floorplans to the finished model, ensuring homeowners receive a product that serves them and their community the best.
Lindsey is the Senior Designer and Model Home Manager, and is an Atlanta native with 6 years of design experience. Lindsey loves working with customers to make their dreams come to life.
Liz is the Senior Designer at Empire, and has been a part of the team for over 6 years. Her favorite part of the design process is getting to see everything come to life, and seeing the homebuyer’s vision realized.
Brittney is a Senior Designer, and was brought on as a full-time team member after completing her internship at Empire’s Design Studio. Brittney is also a graduate from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama.
Q&A With the Design Team
What does the design process look like when starting on a new model home?
Lindsey Wooten (LW): Each project begins with market and target audience research. We study the location and become familiar with the people who live in the area. We then look at the branding of the community and try to incorporate certain design features and color schemes to carry out a sense of cohesiveness throughout the entire project. From there, we pull inspiration photos and select all of the hard surface finish selections for the home. We then create our furniture layout and start pulling furnishing options. As a team, we sit down and go through all of the options to determine which furniture pieces really create the look and feel we want to bring to life.
How does the neighborhood influence the design style you choose?
Courtney Collins (CC): Many of the areas of Atlanta we currently build in are so rich in history, and it’s the people who live there that continue to give each neighborhood its own distinct flair and character. We want our model homes to be a reflection of the energy and vibrancy that the residents bring to their communities.
LW: My favorite part of the entire process is really diving into the history of each community and developing an overarching theme for each model. I love to pull inspiration photos and try to push myself as creatively as possible to create a truly unique model with its distinct style each time.
Julia Semon (JS): I first look at the community as a whole, as well as each community’s specific branding. I then try to incorporate that into the interior selections so that it creates a cohesive space.
The Harleigh model home at Halcyon in Alpharetta, GA.
There are so many places to shop for home decor and furnishings. What are your go-to spots?
Brittney Gallagher (BG): We usually start by looking online. Some of our favorite places for statement pieces are McGee & Co., CB2, Pottery Barn, One Kings Lane and Anthropologie. Wayfair, Target and T.J.Maxx/Homegoods also have great options at an affordable price point. We’re also very fortunate to have AmericasMart located here in Atlanta. Designers from all over the world attend their trade shows every year!
The Camden model home at Halcyon in Alpharetta, GA.
What tips can you share for anyone looking to design a new home or give their current home a refresh?
CC: A couple of things that I feel can make a quick, easy update to an existing space are new cabinet hardware, and/or paint. It’s amazing how easily those small touches can make an older space feel new again.
LW: There’s value in keeping the base of your design style timeless and classic, especially with hard surface finishes. It’s much easier to switch out throw pillows and rugs than it is to change tile and countertops, for example, so I always recommend keeping your hard surface finishes more neutral and then adding your fun pops of color and style in the decorative accessories.
BG: Start your project with a clear vision. It’s so easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole that is online shopping and before you know it you’ll have wasted hours and changed your mind a million times. Your home should be a reflection of you so decide what your personal style is and stick to it. If you start with a plan it will be much easier to make the space feel cohesive.
Explore our blog for more great design tips and advice, including 4 design risks worth trying this year, ceiling and wall treatments for every home and style, and a guide to choosing the right lighting for your home.