Recently we had the pleasure to ask one of Dallas’ talented designers and creative masterminds, Brant McFarlain, from R. Brant Design, a few questions regarding the inspiration behind his award-winning design at Dwell with Dignity’s Thrift Studio event. He partnered with Jean de Merry to create the largest and highest selling vignette in Thrift Studio history, earning him this prestigious recognition. Dwell with Dignity describes their annual Thrift Studio Pop-up shop as “an opportunity to celebrate beauty and creativity while helping others come home— in the truest sense of the word.”
McFarlain attended the University of North Texas where he acquired a Fine Arts degree, and went on to work as a designer for Leo A. Daly and Morrison Seifert Murphy before venturing off and starting his own company. He is best known for creating designs for high-end residential homes, national hospitality chains, and corporate clientele. See what McFarlain had to say about his vignette design and what inspires him in this one-on-one interview.
Q. What inspired your vignette design at Dwell with Dignity’s Thrift Studio?
A. Jean de Merry was our major sponsor for the event, so our ‘vision’ was stemmed from their immaculate collection. One of my favorite pieces we chose to put in our vignette was a JDM sofa. It was a gorgeous, masculine piece with rich leather and black lacquer. That masculinity became the foundation of our design as we developed our gentlemen’s bedroom suite.
Q. What inspired you to work with Dwell with Dignity?
A. This is one of those opportunities where I couldn’t say no – it was a complete yes from the beginning. I hold this organization in such high regard, and am inspired by everything they do for those in need. I’m not even sure I’d say I was ‘inspired’ to work with Dwell with Dignity, more like I was honored and humbled by doing so.
Q. What is your favorite aspect/key component of this design?
A. I immediately fell in love with the room layout and the way our defined spaces still allowed a connected feel. Our space was unique in that it was quite large, yet still felt intimate and cozy.
Q. What are some key points to keep in mind when designing a masculine yet warm and inviting space, such as this one?
A. It is about selecting key pieces that exude masculinity, while also developing a consistent backdrop that creates an inviting room. I created warmth by adding lighter colors, contrasting textures, rich rugs, and luscious throws and bedding.
Q. Where do you draw your overall inspiration from?
A. Italian modernism.
Q. With a neutral color palette such as this one, what design elements do you find are most important to keep in mind?
A. When the color palette stays neutral, it is critical to add variety through textures and patterns. A bit of the unexpected makes it playful and infuses your own personality into the space.
Q. What are your favorite ways to add texture and dimension to a space?
A. Unique art and accessories you wouldn’t find anywhere else! It’s all about developing the subtle layers that help give a space depth and texture.
Q. How would you describe your style? What do you want readers to know about you as a designer?
A. I’m a minimalist – less is more. A timeless aesthetic is what I strive for – modern, traditional, and everything in between. My ultimate design style is sleek and sexy, but also practical.
Q. What are three pieces of advice you would give to an aspiring designer?
A. First, I would say find a designer that you admire and respect. Seek out opportunities to learn and grow as a professional from them. Second, develop confidence in your design preferences and your skills as a designer. Have a solid foundation of who you are as a designer and what it means to you. Then, of course I’d say take what you know about the rules of interior design and learn when to bend those rules to create something unique and extra special.
Q. Currently, what are your favorite types of stone to incorporate into your designs?
A. I love using white marbles with limestones. The light, neutral tones creates a sophisticated, soothing timeless aesthetic.
Here are a few of Aria’s white marbles to inspire…
Q. What is your favorite way to incorporate stone into your designs?
A. For a very luxurious look, using slab material for floors and walls is great when budgets allow. This also creates a unique design with no grout joints.
Q. What factors do you take into consideration when selecting stone for a particular design?
A. The mood of an interior is set through multiple factors. I look at color, patterning and finish when designing with stone. The color of the stone for obvious reasons, the patterning in the stone is determined by the application of the slabs and tiles. If using a tile, I don’t like strong, heavy veining in marbles because it becomes very busy when the different tiles are applied. Finish is fun to play with as well in a space. You can mix polished and honed surfaces to create contrast or subtle interest. Honed spaces feel soft and understated where as polished can sometimes feel cold and formal.
Q. Any additional designer tips you can give our readers when it comes to selecting stone?
A. As a rule, minimize the number of different materials in one space. For example, I typically specify the same stone for both the counter tops and full height backsplash.
About Dwell with Dignity Charity Organization
Dwell with Dignity is a nonprofit agency dedicated to creating soothing, inspiring homes for families struggling with homelessness and poverty. Their mission is to help families escape poverty and homelessness through design; one household at a time. They empower families to lead their best lives and to thrive in a safe, functional and beautiful environment. By providing and installing home interiors that include furnishings, art, linens, kitchen supplies and food in the pantry, they enable families to become stable and create home lives they are proud of. Toxic stress levels are reduced significantly. Academics improve. Play dates are made. Plans are made for birthday parties, holiday gatherings, and family dinners. These homes have a powerful generational impact.