A Look Behind the Curtains With Marianne Simon

I am very excited about starting a fun little new series of posts, or at least I hope to continue them anyways, it's called A Look Behind the Curtains. I am calling it that because it will be a little insight into a designer/or blogger that I am fond of, and want to get to know a little better. I have done Blogs I Follow and Designer Spotlights before but this will be a little more insightful with the designer/blogger answering some questions for me.

 It will be a little like looking behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz, where we get to pull back the curtains a little and see who is behind the pretty pictures and designs, and see how they got to where they are now.

Especially for someone like me that is just starting out blogging and trying to learn a little more about design, I thought what else would be better than to ask people whom I admire their work for a little advice.

So graciously, my first designer that has agreed to answer my questions is Marianne Simon of Marianne Simon Design. She is actually a local designer to me, just a short 30 minute drive away. (If you ever want to meet up for coffee sometime Marianne, just let me know!)

Here is what Marianne told me:


Where are you based?  Bellevue, WA (right next to Seattle)

How did you get into interior design? How long have you been doing it?  I started my design business in 2005 while I was working full time in pharmaceutical sales.  I guess you could say I moonlighted in design until I could afford to take a leap of faith and quit my lucrative sales job.  I finally kissed corporate America goodbye a few years ago and now exclusively run my design business full time.  Design has always been in my blood, I've been doing it since I was a child.

When and why did you start your blog?  I started my blog 3 years ago as an extension to my design business.  I thought blogging would be a great way to communicate with potential/current clients and other people who share the same passion.  I had no idea what an amazing network of talented people bloggers are, many I have even met in person.

Do you have any interior design education/ degree?  While I don't have a formal degree in design, I did graduate from the University of Washington.  I don't think you can be taught great design.  I think you either have it, or you don't.  I considered going back to school years ago for a design degree, but then I thought about all of the great designers I admire, not a single one of them has a design degree!

How would you define your style?  My style is timeless, classic and clean lined with a mix of antique and modern elements.

 {Marianne Simon Design}
What is your favorite room to design and why?  I'm not sure I have a favorite room to design.  I truly get excited about each new project and the possibilities each one holds.

What is your favorite paint color to use?  My go-to color is Navajo White by Benjamin Moore.  It's the perfect neutral shade and pretty much goes with any décor.

What is your favorite local décor shop?  I have a few local favorite décor shops that I frequent… Veritables, Great Jones Home and Haystack.

What is your most go to online décor shop?  Jayson Home is always a favorite.

What room in your own house is your favorite and why?  I love my kitchen.  I remodeled it almost 5 years ago and since I love to cook, it really brings me a lot of joy to be in there.  Plus, the kitchen is always the heartbeat to any home!  Everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen.

Who inspires you?   Darryl Carter and Steven Gambrel.  I was lucky to meet Darryl last May in New York, truly a dream come true!
Looking back, have you ever had a big design disaster? Or thought, “what was I thinking?”  I once used an upholsterer that came recommended and used them for a piece I was having reupholstered for a client. It turned out to be a major disaster!!!  I think a child could have done a better job.  It was awful and I didn't want to tell the client about what had happened.  Luckily, I was able to get my money back for the labor, but had to eat the cost of the fabric.  I took it to another upholsterer, reordered the fabric at my own expense and never told the client about it.  The piece turned out beautifully and exactly how it should have.  Lesson learned.

Best advice for someone starting an interior design career?   You must be passionate about design.  Gain as much knowledge as you can about the industry, intern at a design firm if you can afford not to be paid, read as many design books and magazines you can get your hands on and if you're switching careers or venturing out on your own, make sure you have money in the bank.  It takes time to grow your business and it doesn't happen overnight.

Best advice for new bloggers?  Post at least 3-4 times a week, leave comments on blogs you like so people know you're out there and don't worry about the followers.  Just because they 'follow' doesn't mean they're reading.  There are so many people that will read your blog on a daily basis that will never hit the 'follow' button.

Best advice for someone decorating on their own?  Buy the best quality pieces you can afford, even if it means you'll have fewer things, and never, ever buy a matching set of anything, i.e. matching sofa, loveseat, chair or bed, dresser, bedside tables.  

Thank you so much, Stacey for including me in your series!


Thank you Marianne! You are so kind! It was so fun reading all your answers, and getting your wonderful advice. How lucky are you to have met Darryl Carter? Very cool. I am also excited to check out those local stores you mentioned above! Maybe I'll bump into you there sometime.

Be sure to visit Marianne's website and blog to see more of her work.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Fun series and great questions. I always love to hear about disasters from professionals ... it's nice to know that even the pros run into serious bumps in the road from time to time.

  2. Thank you so much Stacey for including me in your series! If you're ever in the area, let me know and we can meet up for coffee sometime!

  3. GREAT interview. Love Marianne and think she is super talented. I love her clean fresh asthetic. I think we also have all had at least one major design disaster..how else do we learn! I also very much agree about having a certain design sense and think you are born with it or you are not, and it really can only be taught to a certain point. Excellent advice....and happy to discover your blog as well!

  4. Such great advice from one of my favorite bloggers. Happy to discover another SEattle blogger too!

  5. Marianne has fabulous style...I love everything she does!


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