A Muse for interiors

Lauren Muse came to interior design in a most natural fashion.

“My husband and I, in our late 20s, starting buying and fixing up houses on our own,” Muse says. “That was how I kind of got the bug.”

Though working in the advertising business in Manhattan, the Greenwich native was finding a real satisfaction in her avocation and realized she was “in love with the process.”

With a child on the way — and a desire for a job with less travel — Muse eventually decided to turn that passion into a career and went to the New York School of Interior Design.

“I always thought I was going to go work for somebody,” she says.

But soon, she found herself tapped, through friends and word of mouth, to do a bedroom here or a living room there.

“It kind of organically grew,” she says, to where she formally launched Muse Interiors in 2000. Today, Muse heads up a staff of six in the Greenwich-based firm.

“Every job gets a designer and a project manager,” she says. “Project managers handle the execution of the job.”

She remains, she says, aware of giving each client — residential work is her specialty — plenty of attention and not overbooking her schedule.

“It’s a partnership when you do someone’s home. It’s very personal.”

With an iPad filled with thousands of images, plus a wealth of swatches and samples, Muse is ever ready to show clients all the options as they discuss the work. She’s even been known to take a client to sit on a couch that she thinks will be ideal.

“They’re spending a lot of money and they want to be sure it’s right.”

For Muse, she likes nothing more than exploring possibilities.

“We love very open clients,” she says, mentioning one in particular who also gave her business quite a boost.

She began working with Sue De Chiara, a design and lifestyle blogger (“The Zhush”) on her Pound Ridge home and stayed with her through a move to New Canaan.

“She has been such a big champion of our business,” Muse says, adding she relishes the opportunity to work with someone whose home is eclectic and approach “very daring.”

For Muse, every project, though, offers options to explore possibilities.

“We’ve done all styles,” she says. “We’ve done houses in the Hamptons. We’ve done houses in Florida because our clients have houses there.”

And as expected, when it comes to trends, Muse has observed quite a few in recent years. Most prominent is the way people now avoid the “cookie-cutter” approach.

“They want that customization and that individual look,” she says, noting she will often design furniture for a particular project.

“There’s a lot of ‘making your home a sanctuary,’” she says, adding the focus is on having surroundings that are approachable and accessible.

“I think that warmer colors are coming back in,” she adds. “It used to be about cool grays and whites… I think that pattern is going to come more into play.”

Mixed materials, she continues, are now more often considered. Kitchens, for example, are the ideal place to combine textures and finishes such as cerused wood, painted wood and stainless steel.

Across the board, Muse says clients continue to appreciate artisan goods.

“I think people want more things that are sustainable, green,” she says.

Today’s clients — though “more educated” thanks to shelter publications, design shows and online sources — continue to rely on her expertise.

“Clients trust us to bring them new ideas.”

To do that, Muse attends trade events ranging from the gift shows in Manhattan to the home-furnishing markets in High Point, N.C., where two years ago she identified the emergence of brass.

But, she adds, her company is “very cognizant of not getting too caught up in trends,” to avoid creating rooms that quickly feel dated.

Instead, Muse focuses on building a strong foundation to which trendier pieces — fur pillows, anyone? — can easily be added (or removed).

Muse, who has settled into her latest Greenwich home, still finds time to experiment.

“You definitely use your own home as a lab, to try out ideas,” she says.

So how would the designer describe her own style?

“I would say clean. I would say that I’m very serene in my color palette at home.”

But, she adds, that doesn’t mean boring. She might, for example, mix it up with an accent such as an agate stone lamp, as she likes “a little bit of organic, funky organic.”

Throughout the work, Muse clearly is still finding the satisfaction she did back in those early days.

“I really love design. I would do it even if I wasn’t paid for it.”

For more, visit museinteriors.net.

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