An Interview With J Miller Interiors

If you have yet to meet Julia Miller on Instagram or IRL, consider this one of your luckiest days yet. Julia is a longtime friend of IDCO team (fun fact: she was our first website template purchase EVER), and we had the best time getting to know her in-person at Design Camp this year. Her story of a career transition from social work to interior design is an inspiration in and of itself, but the work that’s come out of J Miller Interiors since it’s launch has left us in awe a million times over.

To know her is to love her, and we’re so excited to share our conversation with Julia.

Photography: Madeline Harper

 

An Interview with Julia Miller

 

 

Tell us how J Miller Interiors was born, and what inspired your career transition from social work to interior design.

It’s one of those things that has been building my whole life and simultaneously happened so quickly. I served as a clinical social worker at the same institution for the last decade. My years of clinical service were unendingly rewarding, but in that time my family grew and I came to a place where I was starting to see that there were so many other things I wanted to pursue in life. Something about hitting my mid-thirties, having two small children, and taking on a large personal renovation was the spark that lit the fire.

The inspiration for interiors, creating homes, and place of rest has been a thread through all of my clinical work. And while it looked a lot different, the essence was always there—how your home feels matters. The personal renovation project we took on in 2018 gave me the confidence I was always lacking to see that interior design was actually something I could do. I think having come from a profession that was fairly rigid (graduate school requirements, internships, codes of ethics, licensure, etc.) it felt like making a transition to interior design was out of the question.

However, after I completed our renovation I began to see that interior design wasn’t out of the question if I took it seriously and gained the skills I needed! From 2018-2019 I worked at growing my Instagram account, got the courage up to start saying “yes” to new client inquiries, bolstered my skills on the technical side of design, and was finally able to depart my beloved clinical career for a new career that has my whole heart.

 

Photography: Amanda Marie

 

How would you describe the J Miller Interiors signature style? How do you tailor + adapt that to different clients and home styles?

This is such a great question! In some ways, I find defining style so hard because we all have different perspectives on what ‘style’ means. When I have new clients come to me, I tell them that I create collected, warm, layered, and reflective spaces. Ultimately, it’s their home – a place of significant importance, and their stamp should be all over the place. Our design is heavily informed by the function that the client wants out of the space and we support the function with the form.

 

Website Templates for Interior Designers | IDCO Studio

 

 

 

Photography: Amanda Marie

 

Do you have a favorite project thus far? Tell us about it!

Oh my—this is impossible! We have so many amazing projects in the works from coast to coast, spanning from new construction to full gut remodels to furnishing. I will say that while each project has its own unique qualities, what makes me love them all is the excitement the client has for their new space.

We are working on an amazing retreat home in Idaho and one of my favorite aspects of that project is the way we’re using natural materials to blend effortlessly to the mountain landscape. We have a furnishing project for a historic row home in DC, so we have the opportunity to look at the architecture and history to inform our design. Oh, and we have a really fun kitchen and mudroom renovation project where we’re transitioning a characterless builder-grade 90’s design into a thoughtful, timeless, and mega practical space.

 

Photography: Spencer Albers

 

We love that you’re never afraid to mix the old with the new. Where does that come from?

I really couldn’t think of designing any other way! Before settling in Minneapolis, we lived abroad for several years. While living abroad I collected meaningful objects and art, so when it came to designing my own home in the US, it was a no brainer to incorporate all of my beloved, collected objects.

I’ve always approached design with the mindset that our homes should be a good mix of meaning from the past and new elements. As I get deeper into design work, I am so drawn to vintage pieces that instantly add character and beauty. However, I firmly believe that a balance is key—a balance of old and new, mixing styles/eras, and price points will be a winning combination every time.

 

 

Photography: Amanda Marie

 

We know you’re a major fan of Etsy and supporting small businesses. Tell us why you prioritize this in your sourcing process.

I am! Small businesses are the lifeblood of my business. It makes me endlessly happy to be connected to the person or team that made an item that I source. My love for small businesses was born out of a combination of my experiences living abroad and my past career in social work.

Living abroad, I saw the positive impact of supporting small businesses. Quality is also critical to my sourcing process and I’ve found that smaller businesses tend to have a significant investment in their product, unbridled creativity, and excellent customer service. I’m all about women empowerment and try to seek out as many women-owned or run businesses as possible. There are a million reasons to support small businesses, but it boils down to this: supporting small businesses directly supports communities and families, and I’m all in for that!

 

 

Photography: Amanda Marie

From where do you draw design inspiration?

Everywhere! Seriously! I’ve solved some design dilemmas after I’ve gone for a run and saw some inspiration in nature. I derive a lot of my inspiration from designers in different countries. I have a bit of Nordic influence in my work and am obsessed with design coming out of Australia. I’m also very inspired by the small makers and craftspeople I partner with who know their materials and craft so well!

What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?

Too many to count! Here’s a few I’m loving lately: Handelsmann + Khaw (@Handelsmannkhaw) out of Australia, Kitchens and Beyond (@kitchenandbeyond.se) for all things simple cabinetry and kitchen design, Studio Giancarlo Valle (@studiogiancarlovalle) for pared-back French design, and Studio Esteta (@studioesteta) out of Australia just crush textural and neutral spaces.

 

 

 

Photography: Amanda Marie

 

When you aren’t working, what would we find you doing?

I love interior design, so a lot of my free time is spent reading textbooks on trim (seriously!) and catching up on design blogs and my favorite shelter magazines. Otherwise, I’m the mom to two small boys, and you can usually find me wiping up a spill, mediating fights over Matchbox cars, or reading an endless stack of library books! If I can squeeze out any other time in the day, I love to run, host friends, listen to podcasts, and I’m currently addicted to the show Indian Matchmaker on Netflix—it’s so good!

Tell us about your favorite space in your own home. 

When we renovated our 1920’s Colonial home, we added an eat-in kitchen and a large screen porch connected in with a large white oak stacking slider door. During the warmer months, we can open the stacking slider for a completely open indoor/outdoor space. Living in Minnesota, I relish the warm months, and adding this large door plus attached screen porch makes me happy every single day!

Tell us a favorite recent trend. How about a timeless one?

I have fully jumped on the bandwagon of softer rounded shapes in furniture and cabinetry. I love that we’re seeing different shaped islands and kitchen cabinetry. As for a timeless trend, I am all for the use of natural materials whenever possible. I think natural stone, leather, wool, and wood will always be timeless. The closer a material is to its natural state, the better!

 

Featured Image Photography: Amanda Marie Photography


 

For more industry interviews, check out these posts:

 

IDCO Studio is a full-service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help brands built around beautiful living elevate their digital presence to represent the physical spaces they design. Our recently launched limited-release website templates are the perfect way for interior designers to get a luxury website on a budget. These templates allow designers to maintain control of their content. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.

 

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