Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to hear about career paths from dozens of designers across the industry. While each one is certainly unique, there’s one thing nearly every story has in common: hustle, innovation, and a “nontraditional” journey. Chicago-based home stager and interior designer, Candace Griffin is no exception. She got her start by designing for friends, which led her to a job interview that involved designing a room in a parking lot, all while being timed! Needless to say, she passed with flying colors and later went on to establish her own business, Candace Mary Interiors.
It was such a joy to learn more about Candace’s creative process in both staging and design, and we know you’re going to love our conversation, too.
Photography: Malaika Hilson
Tell us how you first got your start in home staging + design, and how Candace Mary Interiors was born.
I got my start by decorating homes and spaces for friends for free or next to nothing—all to build a portfolio. Then, I eventually started to reach out to companies to see if they would give me a shot. I took my first staging job seven years ago with a home staging company in Chicago. When we moved to San Francisco, I joined a top staging company. Their interview process included designing a “room” in the parking lot on the spot while being timed; it was insane! After relocating from San Francisco to Detroit, I started Candace Mary Interiors. What began as one couch stored in my living room has now morphed into a fully stocked 2000 sq. ft. warehouse space. It’s been such a rollercoaster ride but the best kind. Staging allowed me to share my work which allowed the design arm of the business to grow organically.
How would you describe the Candace Mary Interiors signature style? How do you tailor + adapt that to different clients, home styles, and staging projects?
I like spaces that feel polished but approachable. I like pairing neutrals with pops of color, and I love using greenery to incorporate a botanical feel. I want the room to feel reflective of the people who live in it.
Do you have a favorite project thus far? Tell us about it!
If I had to choose, I would say our home in Detroit was pretty special. It was a labor of love and a really fun challenge of marrying the old with the new. The house was built in the early 1900s, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bring in some modern flair. It all came together and turned out to be a really special place for us.
Interior Design: Candace Mary Interiors
Your career has managed to take you to major cities all across the country. What recently drew you back to the Chicago area?
Chicago was where it all started for my wife and me, so coming back was never completely off the table for us. We are trying to grow our family. We have close friends and family here, and it’s just a drive to Detroit.
From where do you draw your design inspiration?
I can pretty much find inspiration anywhere—travel, music, art, and other creatives. All of these things play a part in my creative process!
What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
When you aren’t working, what would we find you doing?
You’ll find me cooking or practicing my DJ skills. I recently bought a turntable, so I’m having a lot of fun there. I’m definitely a rookie, but it’s a fun challenge. You’ll also find me lounging by my fireplace; that’s my current situation, LOL!
Photography: Malaika Hilson
Tell us about your favorite space in your own home.
Our current home is a work in progress, but I am slowly falling in love with our den. It’s connected to our kitchen, so it’s an easy transition when hosting, and it has a beautiful atrium-style ceiling that lets beautiful light in during the day. It also has a corner fireplace which adds to the coziness and uniqueness of the space. I’ve got some really fun design plans for the space!
Tell us a favorite recent trend. How about a timeless one?
A recent trend I’m seeing is more people investing in their spaces thanks to the extra time being spent at home! I also think people are taking more design risks and playing with color and texture than we’ve seen in the past.
A huge thanks to Candace for stopping by the blog! Be sure to follow her over on Instagram @candacemaryinteriors for more behind-the-scenes peeks into her creative process.
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