Inside the Memphis home of Meredith Olinger, interior design combines a love of color and pattern and displays the same creativity as the homeowner’s mixed media artwork. As a visual artist working with paint, wallpaper, and collage, Meredith made the natural progression from creating artwork to decorating interiors. “I work with pattern and make wallpaper that I use in my practice as an artist, and this naturally led me into an interest in interiors,” Meredith says. “I began looking at interiors and the use of pattern, and when I got my own house and walls, I started playing with that in my own space.”
Interior design has become a hobby and a passion of Meredith’s, and she views it as an extension of her art practice. Her 1930s neighborhood home is a showcase of her original ideas, with the walls as a canvas for her art. Color comes to the forefront with a palette of bold shades and muted hues thoughtfully chosen by the artist to set the scene. She says, “In my art, I am louder, and I am really drawn to red. I tried to quiet that in my house, so I worked with greens and blues that exist as foils to the red.” She drew the color inspiration from her artwork to inform her interiors, and elements of her interiors influence her artwork. “They are talking to each other all the time,” Meredith says of her interiors and art. In the dining room, the walls are covered in a block-print wallpaper she created by hand. Over time, the wallpaper made its way into Meredith’s collage pieces and artwork, and she began titling her newer pieces in reference to her home.
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Though the space now reflects Meredith’s style, she is quick to note that the transformation didn’t happen overnight. She and her husband moved into the home six years ago, and only in the last 12 months has it started to feel finished to her. Meredith reinvented the interiors gradually, beginning with the kitchen. She added paneled walls, removed upper cabinets, painted the existing cabinetry, and put in new countertops. Most impressively, she painted the existing tile floors. Meredith understands the costs associated with redesign, and the quote for new tile flooring would have blown her budget. Instead, she painted over the existing tiles with cement paint to create a work of art in an unexpected place.
The front room doubles as an entryway and living space, where Meredith and her husband recap their days over beer and music. Because green is a color that makes her husband happy, she chose to coat the walls and ceiling in green paint, and abstract art offsets the more traditional elements in the room. The second living room is painted blue, but the art is the main feature in this design. Her artwork hangs alongside pieces by friends, mentors, and local Memphis artists, including Vanessa Gonzolez Hernandez, a former classmate of Meredith’s, and Beth Edwards, Meredith’s undergraduate teacher. “It is a real big deal to have one of her pieces, and it is meaningful to have your mentor’s work in your home,” Meredith says of the Beth Edwards painting that hangs above her sofa.
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Unlike some interior designers, Meredith doesn’t treat the art as a piece of furniture or a pillow. “Art is an investment, and it should be very meaningful to you,” she tells us. “Build your collection without thinking about how you will plan a scheme around it. I move my art around a lot; if you don’t, you will stop looking at them.” Instead, Meredith approached each room as a blank canvas and started with color or pattern to determine the design’s outcome — art was the final flourish.
Looking to London-based designers such as Rita Konig, Matilda Goad and Nathalie Farman-Farma as her muses, Meredith has determined that white, minimalist interiors don’t suit her personal style. Her decorating style and skillset continue to develop, and this is the first of many projects she plans to tackle. Next up? Meredith and her husband are moving again, so she will have another opportunity to personalize her space once more. “I love this house, and I thought we would be here until we busted out of it, but I am excited to take what I have learned and do things better, bolder, and quicker. Hopefully, the next house won’t be a six-year-long process.”
All photography by Stefanie Rawlinson.
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