There are moments when I am completely baffled that I hadn’t yet discovered some of the lifestyle creatives, designers or bloggers who email our HAVEN inbox on the daily. Allison Merritt is one of those incredibly talented entrepreneurs who pleasantly surprised me with this San Clemente home tour, not to mention—a stunning portfolio of work. You would never know that she began her design journey a bit over a year ago, all while playing mama to three littles in the off-hours. We’re so thrilled to welcome Allison as our newest creative on The List and to give you a peek inside her business and life, paired with imagery of this modern abode captured by Ryan Garvin. Oh, and yes, she’s spilling the deets on the exact color of that gorgeous blue kitchen island! Keep scrolling for more.
Tell us a bit about how you got your start as a designer. How and when did you launch Allison Merritt Design?
I started Allison Merritt Design in the Spring of 2018. Interior design has always been a love of mine, but I had never thought about turning it into a career until remodeling our own home. After we finished our project, I knew this is what I wanted to do and I had to go for it!
If you had to describe your design style like a cocktail, what would it be?
A vodka soda with lime – clean, refreshing, simple with a twist!
What does your design process look like in a nutshell?
I like to get to know my clients first – their needs, wants, and style. It is really important to me to find out how they live in each space of their home and how I can incorporate that into my design. This is done during a one to two-hour consultation with my clients. Then, I gather inspiration… I get really inspired by living in San Clemente and the laid back, friendly culture of this great community. I’m also inspired by other interior designers and architects. I use these different inspirations to put together design concepts/mood boards for my clients that lay the foundation for the design direction. Once approved, I get to work on sourcing materials and furnishings as well as space planning. I then meet with my clients to go over all of the plans and get final approval on everything so I can begin purchasing and preparing for installation (my favorite part of the process).
Can you tell us a bit about the project we’re featuring today? What was the inspiration behind the design?
Yes, my Lobos Project!! I absolutely loved working with this incredible San Clemente family on their home! My clients and their two young sons had outgrown their beach bungalow, so they tore down their previous home so they could start from scratch on a new home that would fit all their needs. Their style leans a little more modern and it was a must that everything be super family friendly (basically indestructible). They are a young, fun, active family so I wanted to incorporate that throughout the home. We did this with modern lighting, lots of textures, playful wallpaper and of course the blue kitchen island.
That blue island is incredible! Would you mind sharing the paint color?
My client loves blue, so I knew we had to incorporate my favorite blue paint color – Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. I love how it looks against the brass hardware and the quartzite countertops.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Allison Merritt Design…
A typical day for me begins with coffee! I usually get up before my kids so I can have some quiet time to work, respond to emails and just get organized for the day. Then the chaos begins – I make breakfast and get the kids to wherever they need to be. The next couple of hours are filled with client meetings, sourcing and all the other little things that need to be done for each project. I’m with my kids in the afternoons and then usually work again after they go to bed. One of the perks of owning my own business is I get to make my own hours and have a somewhat flexible schedule.
As a mama to three beautiful kiddos, do you have any tricks up your sleeve for balancing biz and family life? (In other words, how do you stay sane?!)
I stay sane with lots of wine and coffee!! Seriously though, I don’t think there’s a way to find a perfect balance. But, I am a pretty organized person and I find that helps me stay on top of things and meet deadlines (with the kids and work). I also have a really amazing support system – my husband is totally hands-on, my parents live down the street, and I have really great girlfriends who keep me grounded! I also remind myself how lucky I am; I get to have two jobs I love – being a mom and an interior designer!!
What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your first year of business?
OMG, I have learned so much!! It’s totally cliché, but true… don’t give up even when you want to! I felt so uncertain about starting a business at this point in my life. I asked myself if I was too old to start a new career and how I would balance work with three young kids. But ultimately, I realized that I would never regret going for it since I was passionate about what I wanted to do. I have learned so much about myself, the interior design business and have formed great relationships with people I would have never otherwise met! On the business side, I suggest spending time and money early in the formation of the company to set up accounting and other back-office functions. This will make life a lot easier when the jobs start coming in.
You’re on a flight across the country and your entrepreneur crush sits next to you. Who would it be and why?
Shea McGee of Studio McGee! I love her design aesthetic and am so impressed by how she’s built her business. I’d love to be able to pick her brain about the business side of design and how she balances a successful career with family time.
We’re not a big fan of the terms ‘trends’, but are there any timeless design elements you’re currently looking forward to using in your upcoming projects?
I love incorporating leather into all of my projects. Sometimes in the form of a tufted sofa or ottoman, other times an amazing leather accessory. It’s a timeless material that can be used across all styles and just looks better as it ages!
Instagram accounts you’re currently crushing on:
Current favorite book and/or podcast:
3 must-haves on every shelfie:
Something vintage, framed art, greenery (succulents are my favorite)
Favorite beats usually playing in the studio:
I love so many types of music but my favorites while working are Classic Rock, Chris Stapleton and 80’s music.