Britt Smith Photography, Whitney J Decor, New Orleans, L

Once a Biology major, Whitney eventually quit and never looked back. Her true gift was transforming homes into masterpieces. Now you can find her redesigning the interiors of homes in New Orleans and even online for various clients. Every redesign looks like something out of a home interior magazine or HGTV. Get to know Whitney and all her interior design glory.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a designer, I would be a high school teacher. I love the idea of being able to support kids transitioning to adults.

Did you have any formal training?
I started school at UNO, attempting to receive a Biology degree. I ended up quitting and in later years got my Interior Design degree at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s online division.

What’s your go-to hostess gift?
My go-to hostess gifts are personalized baskets that include candles and coffee mugs. I usually throw in a gift card to their favorite place to shop.

What items do you make?
When I’m not working on my decorating projects, I make luxe decorative pillows sold in my online shop and also do upholstery and window treatments.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
My nightstand has about 6 books that I’m reading at the same time, a salt lamp, an African woman bust sculpture, and a small tray for jewelry.

What colors are you loving at the moment?
Right now, I’m all about copper, blue, black, and green.

What’s one thing that every room needs?
Every room needs good lighting. A great floor lamp or table lamp is a perfect functional décor piece that can make your room brighter, your wall colors pop, and show off your wall art and decorative accessories.

What materials and patterns are you into right now? 
I’m loving velvets, nailhead trims, animal prints, mohair, and leather finishes. I’m also obsessed with metals and bold stone tiles.

Your favorite decorating cheap thrill?
Plants! Plants are a cheap way to bring color, texture, and natural style into a room. They can be really inexpensive. Plus, they can clean the air in your home. I bought a huge fiddle leaf fig tree for just $28. It was the perfect accent for a corner in my living room. I also love decorating with fresh flowers, but they can get pricey (which is why I’m working on growing a flower garden).

What paint color are you obsessed with?
Surprising, I’m loving maroon and burnt orange wall colors, both colors that I’ve never really been into. But, now I’m obsessed and am currently looking for walls to paint in these colors. LOL! Also, I’ve recently painted my home office a beautiful mauve color: Antoinette by Behr Marquee. It’s the most beautiful pinky-purple and always puts me in an inspired mood.

When decorating, where should people splurge and where should they save?
When decorating, I always suggest splurging on furniture, especially seating. Cheap sofas and chairs that will be used often are a complete waste of money, in my opinion. I’d save on accessories and art, especially if you don’t work with a designer. Most people get tired of decorative accessories and art quickly, especially if they follow decorating trends. I do, in many instances suggest splurging on amazing art, if there’s a piece you love and have to have. Art can set the tone for your home and is an amazing conversation starter. Plus, great art (of good quality) can be passed down from generation to generation.

Your favorite restaurant/hotel decor in New Orleans?
My favorite hotel is the Moxy Hotel. The décor is so fun and funky. I love the personality there. I wish I could have been on their design team! My favorite restaurant is Red Fish Grill. I’m obsessed with their redfish dinner entrees and white chocolate bread pudding.

What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
Utilize social media! Put yourself out there and start sharing your work. My business has been built mostly on my online presence and marketing efforts. Within the last year, I’ve been trying to market myself locally, but I make sure to ask for a follow on Instagram (and Twitter if they are on there).

 You can follow Whitney on Instagram @Whitneyjdecor and check out her website www.

What is Your Profession is a weekly series that reveals how successful, talented, creative Black professionals got to where they are now. Check back each Wednesday for the latest interview.

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