Chances are, even if you’ve never heard of Elizabeth Demos, you’ve seen her work. This uber-talented interior designer, stylist, writer, and producer has contributed her fresh approach to magazine covers, TV show houses, restaurants, and projects all over — often in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia. We caught up with Elizabeth to find out what inspires her, and how we can get a little of that Demos style in our own homes.
What is one of your earliest design memories? Were you always redoing your bedroom as a child?
My earliest childhood design memory is following my mother in and out of fabric stores. While we walked the rows, I would run my hands along with the bolts as she told me what type of fabric I was touching. The 6-year-old me was mostly looking for tiny calico prints for my wicker Barbie furniture. It is a miracle I remembered any of it, but to this day, I can touch textiles and guess the material.
How did your career evolve over the years, and what are the many hats you’ve worn in the creative world?
For 10 years, I owned a home furnishings store in Savannah. Within the first three years, an editor from Meredith Publishing “discovered” me. It sounds so cliché, but he was an incredible mentor and the real reason I ended up working for magazines. Once in the door, I moved from producing original content to styling interiors, food and lifestyle shoots, cookbooks, catalogs, advertising, and television. As I grew as a producer and stylist, people started asking me if I did interior design. And I would jokingly say, “not on purpose.” Fast forward, I’ve had the opportunity to design homes, restaurants, a country club, vacation rentals, a hybrid boutique hotel-Airbnb, and two sweepstakes houses for The DIY Network. I don’t have formal training in interior design, but I studied architecture and art history at college and apprenticed with several antique dealers. I love art and design of all kinds, and I have a passion for thrifting, estate sales, and antique fairs.
What are four words that describe your design style?
Layered, approachable, timeless, storied.
How does living in the Savannah area influence your designs and styling?
The aesthetic Savannah is most known for isn’t necessarily one I would say I’m influenced by. While I love old things, I don’t let them dictate the overarching aesthetic of my work. Instead, I try to keep things fresh with a hint of history.
A thriving hospitality industry here, combined with SCAD (and its graduates), has turned Savannah into quite a melting pot. Design and art-minded types are setting up shop and buying homes, which is changing the design landscape and will eventually freshen up the old-fashioned design aesthetic.
What are some of your go-to design sources — both online and brick and mortar?
Gosh, this is a tough one because when I’m styling for editorial clients, it is so different than when I work for a design client. I’m a big fan of thrift stores, estate sales, Etsy, and eBay. I’m also a fan of so many retail places: Serena & Lily, H&M Home, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, World Market, and Circa Lighting, among many others.
What has been your hardest project to date, and why?
Atlantic was the first restaurant I designed in Savannah. It was the hardest because it was for dear friends, and I wanted it to be perfect. When you hear about a dream for so long, and then you are entrusted to bring it to life, it puts another level of stress on your shoulders.
Who are some of your interior design idols and why?
Roman Alonso & Steven Johanknecht, Cortney & Robert Novogratz, Tara Mangini & Percy Bright, and Kate & Ben Towill. The why: These designers effortlessly blur the lines of interior design, architecture, and graphic design to create superb residential and commercial spaces. They have strong brand identities that are evident in their projects. Lastly, I love that they all came to the design profession from other fields of study or industries. Some are self-made, and some just fell into it.
What are some design trends you wish would go away?
This is such a Goldilocks response, but I cannot handle expansive empty spaces with zero personality. On the flip side, I don’t want to be suffocated by mountains of pillows, or blinded by color or frantic wallpaper. So, goodbye minimalist and maximalist; I’d like something in between.
What are two to three easy ways someone can update their home?
Nine times out of 10, when I have a client who wants a simple refresh, these are on my hit list: Lose the over-scaled furniture, change up wall color and swap out old light fixtures for something fresher.
If you could be a designer for anyone living, who would it be and why?
Anderson Cooper. I’m captivated by his classic style, wanderlust, social smarts, and distinguished lineage. He also has an amazing architectural taste.