Lifetime Texan Taylor Murphy moved from fine arts to interior design—and crafting wonderfully original wallpaper. We caught up with Taylor to hear about his inspiration and how he got started in design.
Where are you from?
Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. My wife and I now live in Austin. I’ve worked with Homepolish nearly three years.
How did you end up becoming an interior designer?
I went to school for fine arts, with a focus on photography and sculpture. My work became more and more interiors-based as I discovered my love for personal spaces, and how unique they can become.
I interned for three summers at my sister-in-law’s interior designer firm to really get a feeling if I wanted to pursue it. After I graduated I sent my resume to as many designers as I could find, and the designer I idolized the most returned my call. He happened to know the designer I had worked for and hired me as an intern.
Eventually I worked myself up to senior designer. It was a small firm, but we worked on very large-scale projects, so I was able to get my hands in to every part of the business. It was a blast. When the time came I knew I wanted to be on my own, so I launched Taylor Murphy Design Studio.
Tell us about one of your favorite projects.
At my old firm, I worked on a youth hostel called Native. The concept was to bring an upscale hostel much like you see in Europe to the states. The client, a group of local investors had had watched Austin grow because of what makes it so special—the musicians, artists, and creatives coming through. They wanted to create a space that was affordable, but would also cultivate creativity and community amongst travelers.
The building was a 1800s warehouse that had most recently been a lock and key repair service. The bones were already amazing, so the challenge was to keep the charm while making a functional, profitable space. We wanted the space to feel handmade, bohemian, and collected, without going in the extreme of any of those concepts.
We ran with the idea of tramp art. Tramp art was perfect because it conjures the idea of the illusive traveler and and all the folk history behind it. We created bar facades, door moldings, and even custom light fixtures inspired by tramp art. Much of the furniture was custom and needed to be modular to accommodate all the events and programming for the hotel. The owners wanted everything super durable, but still have that handmade/bohemian vibe—not an easy task. Using materials that only look better once they have some real life “patina” did the trick. Sourcing vintage art, accessories, and textiles really brought the project to life and made the custom pieces feel like they belonged. In the end, the hotel has a fantastic feeling when you are there hanging out with a cocktail!
What are your top 5 favorite products on the market right now?
The Workstead Lodge lighting collection sold by TRNK NYC
Anything by Sabin
My wallpaper, of course!
What is a trend you love right now—and which products do it well?
I’m a huge fan of the trend opposing the all white movement we have been having over the past five or so years. I am seeing a lot of dark and moody spaces and I am all about it!
Love the dark kitchens I am seeing in so many places right now. Cle Tile, Zellige, is kind of everywhere—but I love the charred cedar and the cindered olive color ways. The golden henna would also be amazing in a kitchen or bath.
I am also a big fan of the matte black plumbing situation. I know we have all seen it, but the Jason Wu for Brizo is really great in my opinion.
What, in your book, is your top piece of interior design advice?
Do what is right for the space and stay true to what you envision. I have learned over and over that you can’t make a space something it isn’t. A super modern townhouse will never be a French chateau, give it up. Always suggest the direction you think is right for the space even if It is a little outside the client’s comfort zone. That is what they are paying you for right?
What paint color do you love using? In what spaces does it work best?
I love using Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain. It is a really great warm gray and translates well from walls to cabinets. It looks great with both cool and warm tones and is a wonderful neutral. I like using it on exterior structures as well as small intimate rooms.
What’s in your design bag when you go on a consultation?
I carry a paint deck, just in case we want to jump the gun and go straight into paint colors. It’s also nice to have for reference when talking about different moods/inspiration a room may have right off the bat. A measuring tape for sure to get going on layouts and to double check the plans. I like to keep an iPad in my bag incase I feel like showing inspiration or looking at images the client has already put together. I keep a brightly colored moleskin for each client to keep hand written notes organized. Chargers, because it’s embarrassing when my electronics die at meetings. A water bottle and some sort of snack because I’m always eating! Tape, crazy glue, hand sanitizer, and a big knife—boxes don’t open themselves!
Last thing I like to have for new consultations is a quick bio of myself. I think it is helpful to start that connection to share a few personal things about myself with prospective clients.