Fifteen minutes into her summer internship with an interior design firm based in Washington, D.C., Heloise McKee Mitchell knew she couldn't return to her job as a teacher that fall. "The way the designers talked about people's spaces, the trips to the [Washington] Design Center, the fabric samples everywhere—it was all so inspiring," she says. Just 10 months later, the Memphis-raised designer launched an online boutique, Mintwood Home (to see her style, follow @mintwoodhome on Instagram). What began as a small source for custom pillows has grown into an online interiors shop and design firm with clients from across the U.S., including Hillary Scott of the country group Lady Antebellum. "When we got the call to design her twin girls' nursery, I was one month pregnant," says Mitchell. "It was great because even though my husband and I weren't moving into our house for several months, I got to design an awesome nursery. I told Hillary, "You're saving me from my spending problem!"" Here, the designer and new mom to a baby girl shares her favorite inspirations and accessories for dressing up rooms and outfits too.
Morgana Earrings in Cherry, $128; sheilafajl.com
English Factory Waverly Navy Tee, $82; tnuck.com
White jeans, her own
Women's Seaport Penny Loafer in Platinum, $100; sperry.com
How My Mom Got Me Hooked on Design
"She was constantly changing the decor in our house or switching out a pillow here and there, and then we'd talk about it. Mom was always choosing new pieces of art, and I would go with her to the galleries. She was very proud of our home and did a beautiful job furnishing it."
More from Southern Living
"Nothing is too loud or out-there with my interiors. My taste is pretty classic and traditional, but I still like to have fun. That's how I am with clothes too. There's always an element in my rooms or outfits that makes you think, "Wait, what is that?" or "That's fun!" "
Childhood Style Icon
"My older sister, Katie. We're nine years apart, so she was my icon for everything. When I was 10, I tried wearing her clothes, but my mom said I had to change. I was devastated."
Current Style Icon
"Mark D. Sikes. His interiors make me want to get dressed up and go to a ladies' lunch or a nice cocktail party."
Mom's Best Fashion Advice
"When in doubt, always dress up and iron your clothes. It's about looking presentable when you leave the house. That is truly a Southern thing."
Heloise's favorite ways to dial up everyday ensembles and make blah rooms come alive
1. Heirloom Jewelry: "I love wearing sentimental pieces, like my grandmother's gold bangle."; Vintage Gold- Filled Bangles, from $150 each; levysfinejewelry.com
2. A Well-Made Purse: "Invest in a nice bag you can keep for years. Purses are a fab way to glam up any outfit."; Maria Tassel Shopper, $178; livefashionable.com
3. Statement Earrings: "These are my standbys for adding a little extra oomph. Jewelry helps pull together a look." Abacos Tassel Earrings, $42; baublebar.com
1. Coffee-Table Books: "I keep these treasures all over my home and office. You can flip through them to find inspiration."; Mother and Child, $85; assouline.com
2. Colroful Artwork: "Art is a fun way to add depth and character to your home. I make a point to collect local works when I travel."; Topiaries Print, from $38; inslee.net
3. Brilliant Lighting: "People are surprised by how lamps can make spaces feel cozier."; Blue and White Leaves Table Lamp, $165; mintwoodhome.com
Where to snack, sip, and shop in the charming riverfront city
1. Society Fair
2. Hank's Oyster Bar
3. The Majestic
4. Killer E.S.P.
5. The Shoe Hive