Had so much fun picking the brain of talented interior designer and entrepreneur Kim Meardon from M+M Interior Design. Kim and I met at a charity event many years back, keep crossing paths in crazy ways. Since then, many of my most discerning friends have chosen her firm for their interior projects. I started following @mmdesignconsultants myself and was amazed by their layered approach which strikes a balance of polish while feeling really fresh. Kim shared her thoughts on a slew of questions ranging from entrepreneurship, to design advice, color, and her favorite things. She is truly a woman of style AND substance! Enjoy! Xxo Alicia
What is M+M Interior Design and how long have you been in business? What was your training/Leslie’s?
My sister Leslie and I started this interior design business three years ago in Chicago, but for years we were unofficially doing design in New York, for friends. When we gave it the official go, I was pregnant with my 3rd baby, and Leslie with her 5th. Leslie got us up & running. We weren’t sure how it would go, given that it was a later-in-life career for both of us. Luckily, we became busy, quickly!
interior design work:
You both speak a lot about functionality for family homes. What does this mean to you? How does it come to life?
Functionality means having a space that works for you and your family. Many parents I’ve worked want to wait to re-do a room once their kids are grown – why do that?? We need to make the spaces around us pretty now, so that we can enjoy living in our homes NOW! My advice is to choose smart fabrics for high traffic areas. Many high-performance fabrics exist, like Cryptons, Perennials, etc. Create areas for kids to play. Store their legos correctly. Designate little nooks for them. Give them a special bedroom with a great vibe that becomes their own private space. Yes, kids are important to their family and have certain needs (same goes with pets), but we don’t design around them.
Also, kids are hard on furniture! Couches and cabinets take a beating, and nothing is off-limits. What we find personally, though, is that our kids don’t really play with pieces they are familiar with or have grown up around… so keeping nice things around really is realistic if you start out that way.
Like many people, I am obsessed with the show Tidying Up. As an interior designer, what is your approach to storage?
My POV is that we would need less storage if we purged more! It’s funny – I lived in NYC and never had a huge home or closet. Now, I live in a home with tons of space, yet somehow with 4 kids, the walls still feel like they’re closing in on me if I don’t purge! Especially with kids. I go through my kids closets once per month and start shifting their clothes and toys. It feels so good to donate, too. My advice is: every family, every move you make, every spring… purge. Consign your nicer things. Send boxes to a friend!
Another idea for storage is to flow your storage into the garage – just make sure to organize it well. I find that with toys, less is more. I have a rotation of toys that I keep in Rubber Maid bins – eg I bring in different cycles of different toys at different times. But in general, my pov on storage is to focus on getting rid of things first.
How would you characterize the design style of your own home? Has it changed over the years?
Eclectic! In the past 12 years, I have moved from California, to NY, to Chicago, back to NY, then back to Chicago. I have lived in everything from pre-war co-ops to all glass modern structures. My homes tend to be an eclectic mix (or hodgepodge) of every move I’ve ever had. It works because I love everything I have. I hang onto my furniture, and I never decorate for one place. I like not always buying new. Although styles change, classics remain. I feel settled when I have reminders of where I have been… just because something is new doesn’t make it better than what you already had before.
All of my belongings have been acquired over time… I’ve done everything from antique, to thrift, to Craig’s list, to high-end custom. Even if you have the budget to have a designer buy it all for you, I wouldn’t recommend it. The curated look is so much better. It is our style, and is why we get sought out. If you look closely at our portfolio there is always a mix of old and new. It’s all about the little accessories you can mix in. Small touches like fun vintage toys make a big difference. I love a home with antiques and pass-downs from family members in addition to the more common stuff.
Although I’ve become more daring over time, I’m honestly more bold with clients than with myself. A few years ago, I did a teal blue family room. That was daring for me. It was good for me to try it out and enjoy it in my own space. I loved it! That said, I overthink it with myself, whereas with clients, I get feedback and am more daring. One thing I know I don’t like is to repeat a design or fabric. Some clients see a print in someone’s house and just want to copy it… we really try to dissuade them from that.
Favorite piece(s) and why?
A horse print that I have in my family room. It’s traveled with me to many, many apartments … and our family has roots in Kentucky, so horses are in our blood. I love big scale paintings. This particular piece was originally a triptych that came in 3 separate pieces, and I finally got it framed all in one piece. The key to it was framing it in a bright, turquoise frame; the frame made the print. These types of small details are transformative.
What color palettes inspire you right now?
I love a classic blue & white. I have to force myself to bring in other colors. Outside of those, my inspiration tends to be the colors from nature. I’m a big green, blue, and yellow person. Paint is huge! Although paint can be really hard because it looks great on Pinterest, but when that first brush stroke goes on, people sometimes freak.
In what ways do you simplify your life with 4 kids? What do you consciously give up?
I surrender to the notion of keeping up with what everyone else is doing, like vacations, nights out, etc. I am always mindful of what works for me and my family’s needs at this time in our lives. With 4 kids ages 5 and under, I realize that sometimes the best laid plans are no plans. When I do that I can just enjoy being home with them. With the daily balance of life, work, and home, I am careful not spread myself too thin… my mantra is to enjoy the little moments! Also, Amazon Prime has saved my life! And I order in whenever I can or do meal plans like Marley Spoon, Blue Apron & Green Chef.
Tell me about your personal style and how that might influence your interiors style – or vice versa!
I want to be into clothes, but I have no time or budget right now…so I just do what works. My style is classic, but not stuffy. I’m into shoes. I always put on makeup in the morning because it helps me feel put together, like I can start my day. The clothes just sort of happen based on what’s going on that day. I’m from CA – so ideally I’d like to wear sundresses and jewelry – but right now that’s not my life.
My dream wardrobe would be some vintage, a great handbag, and fabulous shoes. When I worked in NYC, I wore Manolos and a Chanel bag, But I wore them with leather jackets and fun costume jewelry. I love to wear lots of bracelets. That said, as a mom I tend to wear all black or all gray and a great pair of tennis shoes. Going monochromatic makes me feel put together, even on the days that I’m not.
Business of Design hosted by Kimberly Seldon was most helpful for my business. For parenting, I love Spawned with Kristen & Liz, as well as Unruffled hosted by Janet Landsbury
What’s a book?! If I pick one up, I fall asleep at this stage of my life with the kids and the business. One day I shall return to my Book Club groups and leisurely reading…. Hopefully someday….
I love your Instagram feed. Even your stories and fun and engaging – and stunning! Any advice for all of us just wetting our feet in Instagram?
We’ve been on Instagram for 3 years. Social media is huge for our business and a great free marketing tool. Leslie runs all of our marketing & media; she’s naturally very talented at it. To be honest, it was a lot of trial & error. We quickly learned that a business Instagram is a lot different than a personal Instagram, and that realization in itself requires some adjustment! For example, I learned that adding hashtags gets you followers, and that taking time to reply back to comments and questions creates a real community and followers. As we’ve gained more success and more clients, we’ve been featured more places, so thankfully with this interconnected network that success feeds on itself from a follower standpoint. Once we found our way, we’ve found social media to be a fun place to get inspired and get feedback … plus, people tend to be positive and complimentary, which feels nice.
The big question we ask ourselves about social media is: what is the goal? We’re only two people – we’re growing our team of designers so that we can take on more projects. But for now, we can only handle so much!
Last but not least: what is your secret sauce as a firm?
My gut is that people are originally attracted to our style because it feels fresh. However, once they meet us, they stay because we don’t do things the established way in the design world. Our back-end is digitized and super organized… anyone whose worked with a designer knows that is not always a given. We hold to budget and this online system manages all of the billing, design process, etc. Clients have access to everything and it’s all really transparent. Easy. Given how busy the people we work with tend to be, this just might be our secret sauce. (I disagree for the record …. It’s the fact that Leslie & Kim are incredibly talented)