A Conversation with Pebbles Glenn Nix
Where do you start when designing a space?
The bones! I think it’s important wherever possible that the history of a space be preserved and the architecture be allowed to speak and breathe. The design should also relate to the space’s natural surroundings, as well as the loves and passions of our clients. Taken all together, these things dictate the path.
When you get down to the nitty-gritty of an individual room, many times the client has a rug, treasured piece of artwork or furniture around which a room design can be created.
How does living in Atlanta influence your designs?
Being Southern is a wonderful thing. I feel so fortunate that Atlanta is such a design haven and has an incredible variety of antique stores, junky-fun affordable stores, art galleries, the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC). You name it, we’ve got it, and in every color!
While Atlanta is a big, exciting melting pot, it is also unique in that is has managed to stay a very Southern city, while not becoming a sort of dated curiosity. As a Southerner, I strive to honor the past while bringing it into the future – evoking Southern traditional but in a fun, updated way. I love to use antiques and family heirlooms, for example, with a Lucite chair, or a clean, sculptural accent piece. I love to mix it up, like the town I live in!
Who are your mentors in design?
My favorite designer of all time is Elsie De Wolfe. She was amazing – so artistic, innovative, or, in her own words, she “opened the doors and windows of America and let the air and sunshine in.” I am always so inspired by her sophisticated and colorful work. Her sense of pattern in a space is just pure art, seen in her use of lattice and wallpaper, for example.
I also adore Suzanne Rheinstein, who is out of Los Angeles. She is fabulous! She is like a West Coast Amelia Handegan (whom I also adore and admire). Both of these women possess such talent in mixing old with new, while still being able to present a clean, simple design. Seeing their work in person and in print always inspires me.
Personally, the noted North Carolina designer Ed Springs, who was my mother’s designer when I was young, was extremely influential in my life. From him I learned how to put things together to create wonderful spaces, and I also learned a great deal about a designer’s professional relationships. The collaboration with my mother grew out of his nurturing and respecting her thoughts and feelings. Their dance was so interesting to watch; the result always so lovely. He used to say about a client, “It is their dream house not mine,” and this philosophy has always defined GLENN EPTING’s approach to every project.
What makes spaces kid- and pet-friendly, yet attractive and comfortable?
Lots of innovation, outdoor fabric and minimized clutter!
With all the great retail outlets and catalogs out there – Pottery Barn Kids, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware – it is easy to work with ready-made items, but add custom touches to the spaces that enhance what a client wants for their children. Outdoor fabric is awesome and has come a long way. It feels good and can be as soft as indoor fabrics, but has incredible durability. It is great to use in playrooms on upholstery or in kitchens on barstools or banquettes.
Paint is also a wonderful tool! You can paint shelves, storage units, game tables a fun color with a high lacquer that allows for fingerprints to wipe off easily!
Storage is also key for kids! It is great to have a designated space in which they can get out their toys and play. And a well-designed storage area becomes an excellent learning tool, where the kids can easily put their toys up by themselves in an organized, thoughtful manner.
What color palettes typically attract you the most?
Honestly, I love the entire color wheel! All colors are exciting and inspiring in the right application. I tend to go with the palette that the client likes, and work it up so that it always feels refined and appropriate. Whatever the clients needs, our goal is ultimately a “feeling,” not just a look.
That being said, I lean toward more neutral colors on the walls, with “pops” of color in fun, unexpected places – tables, ceiling, shelves, art, throw pillows. When using a color on the walls, I often will paint the trim work the same color, but in a different finish. It adds such a softness to the space and brings everything together.
How do you incorporate green ideas into your designs?
I “recycle” as many of our clients’ belongings as possible. The opportunity to bring a once beautiful old thing back to life is very gratifying. Suddenly your grandmother’s ancient sofa is built up and reupholstered, and the old, worn-out breakfast table is cut down, painted, and is now center stage in the family room as a fabulous coffee table.
My team and I also stay on top of the latest offerings and technological improvements made in the product lines our clients need.
We like to use natural fibers when fitting, as well as low VOC paints – a healthy alternative to use on the interior walls.
Tell me about your professional background.
I received a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then a BFA in Interior Design from American University (now AIU). After school I was fortunate enough to work for a very talented Atlanta designer as well as a hospitality design firm. Both of these experiences over a five-year period gave me an appreciation for both residential and commercial design as well as a strong foundation for my business.
I partnered with Kristin Epting in 2006 to form GLENN EPTING Interior Design and we enjoyed working together until she moved out west a few years ago. I miss her dearly and we continue to collaborate on different projects.
I have also had the great fortune to teach interior design classes at The Art Institute of Atlanta and Gwinnett Technical College. It is so rewarding to be able to inspire others about the profession I am so passionate about!
Have you always wanted to work in design?
Yes! It’s in my genes! My mom is a natural born designer, and I loved watching her in action with Ed Springs, whom I mentioned earlier, a family friend and interior designer. They had a fun-loving collaboration, and it was Ed who really brought to life my mom’s natural instincts and wonderful eye.
I was fortunate to grow up in a loving home that had an incredible history to it. My mom loves antiques and is so knowledgeable about them, and furnished our home with some truly exquisite things. I love how she mixes them with beautiful upholstery, family photos and treasured mementos. Regardless of how many beautiful antiques we had, she was always adamant about every room being comfortable and purposeful.
I knew in high school that I wanted to be an interior designer. I used to make my boyfriends look through design magazines with me on the sofa. I can see them now, rolling their eyes and wishing they were watching a ballgame on TV instead!
Give me an example of a design ‘mistake.’ What did you learn from it?
Early in my career, I learned the hard way about the importance of CFA’s (Cutting For Approval) – these ensure that the swatch of fabric your client approves will actually be the same as the actual fabric in stock that is going to end up in your client’s home. Dye lots vary and can result in costly mistakes. It only took one time to learn that one!
And NOW let’s get REALLY personal …
What are ten things you can’t live without?
My sweet husband, Robert, and our son, Guy. They are the loves in my life! And, home – it is truly where my heart is! That only counts as one because I said it in the same sentence!
Pink. It’s my color of sunshine!
Fresh flowers. They transform a space and put the biggest smile on my face.
My dressing table. I have had one since I was a little girl and it is my favorite part of getting ready. I used to sit at my Grandmother Pinky’s dressing table when I was a little girl and go through all of her make-up. Now, I use a wonderful Pembroke table that my husband had restored. A pair of antique white porcelain lamps that were my mother’s when she was a little girl sit on top.
Family heirlooms. They are a part of who we are and where we came from. They weave the story we all long to tell.
Dark chocolate. Need I say more? I think women have personal relationships with chocolate!
Natural light. It can make or break my mood in a heartbeat!
Books. Whether I am reading for fun or flipping through a design book, it is a continuous learning process. Read, read, read!
Paint. It can be used in a thousand ways and is the quickest way to transform a space.
My first bible. It is a blue King James Version. My grandmother, Doris, gave it to me in 1981. She put a note in there that said “Let this book be your guide.” I keep it by my bed with other notes, cards and keepsakes in it.
What are you current obsessions?
Pink. I am forever obsessed with pink! I can’t seem to get enough of it! I just painted my iron outdoor furniture watermelon pink. It was in my grandmother’s yard and then on our back patio growing up. It was in desperate need of an overhaul, and my grandmother’s nickname was “Pinky,” so painting it all pink was so fitting! It looks fabulous.
Fabric. I adore fabric! I love all textures and colors, and how they can create so many layers in a room. Just feeling a new fabric makes my wheels start churning.
Fashion Details. The details that go into women’s fashion – the cut, the buttons, the front, the collar, etc., are so admirable. We strive for that couture finish on all of our design projects. I learned this from Suzanne Kasler years ago!
Lucite and Acrylic. They are a layering treat in the design world, illuminating everything around them! Everyone should own at least one piece!
How would you describe your personal style? What does your home look like?
I tend to be more traditional but with a touch of whimsy or unexpected detail every once in awhile. I love English antiques and fabrics and love to incorporate them where I can. Our home is casual and comfortable, but I do have a dressy side that I exercised in our formal living and dining room since we love to entertain.
What is your favorite room in your home?
I love our dining room. It is where we regroup, unwind, laugh and love. It is simple yet elegant and is always inviting – anyone can pull up a chair and enjoy a good meal, or a pack of Lance crackers.