Tastemaker: Elizabeth Ralls

Viyet tastemaker Elizabeth Ralls of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine gives us the latest on the design scene, and her secrets on creating the perfect space in every home.

Viyet: What has been your favorite Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles feature?

That’s like being asked to pick your favorite child! I would have to say that most recently, my favorite feature is the highlights in our September 2016 issue from our debut Southeastern Designer Showhouse, which features 27 of the South’s top design talents. To me, the issue is not just an ode to Southern style, but also a testament to its power and predominance on a regional and national scale.

Viyet: What designers are on your radar right now?

Jonathan Savage in Nashville, Andrew Brown in Birmingham, Tammy Connor in Charleston, Andrew Howard in Florida, and Amy Morris in Atlanta.

Viyet: How would you describe the Atlanta design scene to those not from the area?

Fresh, focused, and fun. There’s a sense of community, camaraderie, and support among designers here that I don’t see in many other cities. In the South, our homes are the equivalent of our designer shoes or handbags—it’s how we convey our status and upbringing. A love for all things domestic has practically been handed down by our parents at birth, so there’s opportunity here for designers of many different aesthetics to shine.

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Viyet: What are your favorite Atlanta sources for design?

The Galleries at Peachtree Hills for antiques (don’t miss Roebuck, Edgar Reeves, and Parc Monceau); ADAC for the most renowned fabric, furniture, and lighting showrooms in the Southeast; and Roswell Road in Buckhead for boutique stores with interesting art, accessories, and furnishings like Pieces, Noah J., B.D. Jeffries, and Huff Harrington. On the Westside, Bungalow Classic, Kolo Collection, and Dixon Rye are can’t-miss stops for locals and visitors alike.

Viyet: What are some of your favorite emerging design trends? 

Color, the movement towards makers (think highly skilled/specialized artisans and craftsmen—not Etsy), and customization opportunities for just about everything. Also, metallic, bling-like accents on textiles, whether hand-painted or threaded.

Viyet: What is your personal approach to design? 

Collected over time. My husband and I are fortunate to have inherited some great pieces through the years, from furniture and lighting to oyster plates and various works of art. We are very choosy when it comes to investments (we also have to put three children through college one day), so we’re not afraid to have a couple of blank walls or empty corners until we can give them the love and attention they deserve. Make a statement, or make it disappear!

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Viyet: How has your personal design style evolved?

My husband and I were both raised by parents with very traditional styles, so our challenge is to make the pieces we’ve inherited fresh for 21st-century living, which we accomplish by juxtaposing them with vivid color, upholstering with fresh fabrics, or by simply reimagining their purpose—as we have with an antique drop-leaf table that’s currently a breakfast table for our boys. I’m all about quality over quantity, which oftentimes equates to purchasing—and searching for—only older pieces.

Viyet: What are the challenges of running a magazine in the digital era?

Designers, architects, and landscape architects have gotten very savvy about having their work photographed, which also means they’re in a hurry to get that project published in nontraditional ways, such as on their website, or shared via social media. Few magazine editors, however, want to commit to a project that’s been “liked” hundreds of times on Instagram, shared all over Pinterest, or even published in a smaller, special interest publication. Similarly, designers (and product designers) looking to get maximum exposure are pitching to several editors on various platforms, which gets tricky when more than one editor commits to the same project or product.

Viyet: Is there a favorite season you are always looking forward to in terms of design?

Spring! In addition to annual home-and-garden tours through some of Atlanta’s most beloved neighborhoods, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles hosts an annual Southeastern Designer Showhouse in Buckhead, and our noted decorative arts center, ADAC, puts on a week’s worth of buzz-worthy programming, including the prized Southeastern Designer of the Year awards. We also photograph some of the city’s most beautiful, blossoming gardens in the spring, which are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

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Viyet: What is your most valued possession as far as furniture?

An antique carved pine credenza that has served as a media cabinet and linen-and-china chest in former residences. My children love opening its drawers with the cute little keys.

Viyet: When you decide to buy furniture, what are your tips or lessons you’ve learned?

I now keep a tape measure in nearly every purse. You never know when you might stumble upon a potential gem—or a great deal! Becoming friends with antiques dealers, or showroom owners is also important—that relationship might result in a phone call about new arrivals that pertain to your interests. When purchasing in person—ask lots of questions, open every drawer, and touch and feel the piece; when purchasing online—only buy from sites with curated inventory and a trusted reputation. It’s crazy to me that consignment sites like Viyet have return policies. Take advantage!

Shop Elizabeth Ralls’ Viyet Picks:

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Row One: 18th-Century French Tapestry, Chinese Planter, Louis XV French Style Dining Chairs

Row Two: Indonesian Mother-of-Pearl Inlaid Trunk, Louis Philippe Walnut Armchairs, Hand-Painted Coral Wallpaper Panel

Row Three: English Georgian Chinese Chippendale-Style Side Chairs, Hand-Painted Silk Wallpaper Panel, Set of Books-Gibbon’s Rome

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