Prior to becoming an award-winning interior designer, Nicole White was a journalist. She wrote for publications including The Village Voice, the Miami Herald, and Vibe magazine. It’s a skill that still influences her work as the CEO and principal designer of Nicole White Designs Interiors in Sunrise, Florida.
Editing, she says, is the most underrated part of decorating. “So many of us don’t understand that less is truly more,” explains the Jamaican native, whose recent renovation of a kitchen in Davie, Florida, graces the cover of House Beautiful’s 2021 Kitchens issue, on newsstands August 10th. “That’s a skill you develop with experience, but it’s so important that we learn to step back and not stay wedded to everything we purchased for a space!”
It was this shared passion for interior design and writing that led White to launch a blog, Live Laugh Decorate, wherein she shares behind-the-scenes details about her design projects, as well as tips on how to find the best affordable decor and musings about the latest interior design trends. It was nominated as one of the Best Renovation Blogs by Domino magazine in 2018. But as a designer, she has even more accolades: Nicole White Designs Interiors was voted one of the top 25 interior design firms by the South Florida Luxury Guide, and White herself was deemed “an emerging designer to watch” by the Black Interior Designers Network on two occasions. She also received the Z-Gallerie Design Award in 2013.
Best known for her renovation proficiency, White has served as a brand ambassador and influencer for companies including The Home Depot, Zephyr, and CITY Furniture.
When it comes to designing, White is often inspired by the colors and textures of the Caribbean, where she’s from, so she tends to incorporate those elements in her work. But she lets her clients’ passions guide her when decorating their homes, no matter what their preferred style is.
Tour the Florida kitchen by Nicole White that landed our latest cover, HERE.
Get to Know Nicole White
House Beautiful: Who has made the biggest impact on your career so far?
Nicole White: My son Xavier has had the biggest impact on my career. He is a true creative. Watching how easily he embraces his spirit, and how much fun he has doing so, reminds me to have as much fun as possible with our designs and just let loose. He also holds me accountable, and he’s only 9 years old! He’s always asking, “Mommy did you complete this task today? Did you follow up with the person as you said you would?” He keeps me on my toes in all things.
HB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
NW: A life lived in fear is a life half lived. An old friend told me this when I was in college in Brooklyn and used to walk home at night from school. I was often scared, even though the streets were busy and well-lit. I shared this one evening when he was in town visiting and saw how nervous I was and how much I wasn’t enjoying all that was around me. I never forgot that and it’s propelled me in many decisions including my decision to quit my corporate job in 2010 to pursue design full-time.
HB: How do you want your clients to feel in their space?
NW: I want our clients to always feel like we reached into their brains and pulled out all their design fantasies! Every layer of it, rich with textures, colors, and high drama and their personalities, but also very livable.
HB: What or who was your first design crush? Your current design crush?
NW: Candace Olsen and Kenneth Brown. They both had TV shows and I was blown away by how layered all their designs were. I also love Sheila Bridges. She’s a design icon and her Harlem Toile collection blew me away as a young designer. I went to school in Harlem, and loved toile, so to see a black designer merge those two loves was exceptional.
HB: What inexpensive decorating trick do you think has the most impact?
NW: A can of paint can utterly change your design life for as little as $20. Paint a ceiling, colorblock a wall, you name it—the sky’s the limit with paint. For a completely free design transformation, use your own art or your kids’ artwork as a feature wall in your home. No framing needed. Just use colorful thumbtacks to hang ‘em and voila! You’ve created a space to celebrate your family’s creativity for zero dollars.
NW: What’s overrated in decorating?
HB: Throw pillows! You seriously need as few as possible. (Yep, that fourth pillow is cute but it’s suffocating that poor sofa. It’s gotta go.) And they do NOT need to match. Trust me on that.
HB: What’s your favorite…
- Paint color? Sherwin Williams’s Eider White and Alpaca. Truly the best of the neutral palettes and my go-to colors when I plan to add splashes of color in other ways.
- Artist or piece of art? The Cuban art in my mom cave. I bought it from an artist at a Cuban market and paid him more than he asked. That painting spoke to my entire soul. Had to have it.
- Online store? Etsy. I mean, just dream it and there’s someone on Etsy who can make it happen.
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