Judith joined Monarch Paint in early 2015 after 10+ years as the owner of her own design firm. As the Design Department manager, her proudest achievements are the quality of the Monarch design team and the growing customer base they are building. Having worked in two decidedly non-design careers (college admissions and high-tech corporate data base sales), she knew it was time to do something more creatively challenging and began her Masters in Interior Design from Marymount University. On completion of the program, Judith worked in interior design including 2 years with F. Schumacher as an area representative before she launched her firm and never looked back. She credits mentors and seasoned designers as important components of building a successful design career and works to help provide that support to the design team at Monarch.
Her projects include many residential and commercial interiors. One project of particular note is the Glencroft Cottage at Glen Gordon Manor in nearby Huntly, Virginia. The inn project began with a gutted outbuilding on the estate and became two charming suites – the Windsor and the Wakefield in the 5-star property. The website, as well as the many reviews, complements the design of the suites at the cottage.
Her residential projects range from small to large. Most of Judith’s favorite design projects entail a problem solving component – whether doing an entire home on a tight budget and on-schedule or finding the best way to develop more storage space.
Judith loves design, color and her clients and brings a joy along with experience and savvy to the design staff. Above all, she is proud that the team has fun and brings in great results for clients on all types of projects – from wallpaper selection to color consulting to room and window design. Something special is happening at Monarch. She invites you to come and see for yourself.
What led you to work in the decorating/design business?
A passion for color and design whether fine art, architecture, table settings, flower arrangements, gardens or interiors.
Tell us about your first decorating project?
The very first time I did any design was as a ten-year old moving into my family’s new home. I had a room that I wanted to design for myself. My indulgent parents let me do it. The desk chair upholstery fabric matched the ‘accent wall’ wallpaper – a white ground with lavender, aqua and pink abstract flowers. You can tell how long ago that was!!! The furniture was painted white and the window treatments had a valance of the same fabric as the chair cover. I had it painted a soft lavender color and I was THRILLED!!!
How would you describe your personal decorating style?
I believe in utility as well as pizzazz! So that is the challenge. How do we get both a well working space with a lot of personality?
If I have a ‘style’ I would say it is transitional. I love a piece or two of nostalgia, of family heirlooms, or traditional design mixed with the cleaner and unfussy styles of today. In fact, I think that juxtaposition is a great way to infuse a space with personality.
What inspires you?
Just about everything about design. I am a self-described ‘textile junkie’, however, so I think a complex weave or a fabric texture or color or pattern is a source of tremendous inspiration. I tell all my clients that textiles are ‘works of art’ – that very few great mills still exist, so that if a fabric calls to you, even if it is very costly, it may be well worth the investment for it in some component of the design of your space. It may be a pillow or two, it may be the cushion on a side chair, it may be a table topper; but it probably needs to be in the finished design.
What design “rule” would you love to break?
Most of them! Small prints for small spaces, no dark colors in small spaces, ceilings should be white, etc. Spaces should reflect you – drama can be achieved by breaking rules. Given that design is creative, rules should be broken when they don’t work for the project.
What is the most essential element of any room?
The intended use of the room should lead any design plan for the space. From that decision, the light in the room, the shape of the room, the physical characteristics will set the parameters for the design. Once you know what you are planning to do in a room, then we can work to design a beautiful and functional space.
When you start working with a new client, what are three things you tell them about the way you work?
The work we do is always a ‘we’. I think other staff members have stolen my thunder on that point, as it appears to be a mantra here. Great living design works for the client who lives in the space… and that only happens when the client is involved with ideas, likes and dislikes, decisions of all kinds. We expedite and edit the vast world of choices, but you decide what works for you.
Set a budget, but let the parts be flexible. For example, don’t fix a number to any certain product. Create budget guidelines, but understand that components can be switched around. You may have allocated an amount to a sofa, but it comes out to far more because of a fabric that really works for you. Then, we rework the other items in the budget to see how it can work out – perhaps lighting could be allocated somewhat less or the rug could be different than the original budget number. Use the budget as a guide to how much the project should cost, but be open minded as to how it is used.
Our goal in the Monarch Décor Department is to create a unique design for you. We can do it using a combination of ‘catalog’ items along with more custom items. The combination we select is unique to you and your space(s). If you want your rooms to look exactly like a catalog, you don’t need a designer. But, if you want your space to reflect you and your interests, a designer working with you is very effective.
What do you think about the 2016 Benjamin Moore Color Trends Palette? Do you have a favorite color in the palette that you most like to decorate with?
Without sounding too ‘corporate’ here, I really did discover Simply White (OC-117) after it was named Color of the Year. Of course, I knew about the color and had used it…but the discovery was using it with other whites, using it in two finishes in the same room and using it alone for trim where its clean warmth could really complement the wall color. It is a beautiful white, not too glaring, nor ivory, so it works well in many applications.
What advice would you give someone choosing the perfect paint color?
Light, light, light! Light it every way you will ever see it. Study it in each light to see if you like the nuances that will develop as the lighting changes. And, be patient, as sometimes it does take a bit more effort to get the one that will really work for you. Besides, is there really a perfect paint color?
When it comes to window treatments, how do you advise your clients about what would work best?
Window treatments are a wonderful way to truly personalize your space. Considering the style of the room and the usage for the treatments will always lay the foundation for how to proceed. Clearly, if you are living in a loft, you are unlikely to be putting up jabots and swags! That one is pretty obvious. So, we eliminate the wrong treatments and focus on styles that are appropriate to the room and then design the treatment using fabrics, rods and trims, if desired, that tell your story! Finally, what is it about interiors, beauty, order and simplicity (or exuberant abundance) that designs better lives?
A space that thrills, a space that always pleases, space you are happy to enter every time you do! That is what it is about decorating interiors that works for our clients and helps us all to live better lives.
To contact Judith Hunter, Decor Manager, of the Monarch Decor Department, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-525-3468.