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designers in Atlanta: Julie Witzel

May 13, 2015

Julie headshot

Atlanta’s Julie Witzel chose interior design as a second career. And she has never looked back.

My company: Founded in Atlanta in 2010, j witzel interior design is a full-service interiors firm, specializing in modern, yet approachable, design.

Background: After graduating with a botany degree from North Carolina State University, I moved to California for work. While I loved science and my job in the biological sciences department at California State University at Los Angeles, I knew it wasn’t going to be creative enough to enjoy for the rest of my life. While living in California, I also discovered another love: modern design.
In 2002, I moved to Georgia to pursue a career in design, starting with a second degree from the Art Institute of Atlanta. Interior design felt like an excellent fit because it not only allowed me creativity, but also incorporated my highly technical side.

First design job: William Peace of Peace Design in Atlanta. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. I started as an intern and quickly moved up the ranks to project manager. I was able to work on high-end residential projects throughout the country. In 2010, I left to start my own firm.

My design style: Modest luxury that is classic and approachable; minimal without being austere

Career highlight (so far): I had clients who decided to work directly with a vendor on a custom piece of furniture without me, (thinking that they would save money), believing that the showroom would know how to execute their idea properly. It was a total disaster, and the day they called me saying, “We messed up,” I knew I had a client for life. I was able not only to negotiate a redo with the vendor, but the resulting piece of furniture is the clients’ favorite. They LOVE to tell the story of how they pretended to be designers once with tragic results, and how I saved the day. (In other words, their costly mistake did not leave them with sour grapes).

Best way to quickly transform a room: Well-placed and properly scaled artwork.

Favorite decor trick: Mixing materials instead of matching them for a more collected look.

Where should people splurge/where should they save: Splurge on pieces that will receive a lot of use (sofas, dining tables, rugs) and custom window treatments. Save on secondary and tertiary spaces that you don’t see every day.

Current design obsession: Unstained waxed or oiled wood, especially Claro Walnut, Spalted Maple and Wormy Chestnut — the more figured the better. I try to have at least one piece in each room that allows the beauty of the wood to speak for itself.
Design pet peeve(s): Furniture that is half on/half off a rug; bad lighting; and “karate chopping” the tops of pillows
Most important element in a room: Lighting! Even beautiful architecture and furnishings will look bad in an improperly lit room.

New or re-emerging design looks you like: I have always had an affinity for modern design, especially some of the mid-century designers like Vladimir Kagan, Hans Wegner and Milo Baughman, and I see more people gravitating toward this style. It’s even gained momentum in a traditional market like Atlanta.

Most unusual design request: A client requested we design a “Keith Richard’s Heroin Crash Pad” room. Not for drug use, just wanted that rock star vibe!

Design mistake most people make: Not looking at their home as a whole. For example, they design each space as its own entity. It makes going from room to room feel “disjointed.”

Go-tp Atlanta shops: Bjork Studio; Verde Home; Steve McKenzie’s; Stitch Modern; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; and Grey Furniture.

Unexpected finds in Atlanta: Chamblee Antique Row; Scott Antique Markets; West Elm (especially its new Handcrafted Artisan pieces); and Anthropologie House & Home (it has great hardware).

Favorite magazines: Elle Décor; Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles; American Craft Magazine; domino; and Wallpaper.

Favorite blogs/websites: Garden and Gun; Editor at Large; Design Sponge; and Design Love Fest

Favorites on Instagram:
• @marlene_fichtner
• @enyleeparker
• @amsullivan
• @nikoleherriott

Favorite go-to accessory, sofa or color: I have been accused of using “Julie Witzel Green” somewhere in almost every project (except for the few who don’t like the color green). It’s a green that is darker than avocado, but brighter than olive.
Can’t stop buying or collecting: Books: Novels, cooking, science, photography, art and of course, design.

Find Julie Witzel at:
• Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/jwitzel_design
• Website: http://www.jwitzeldesign.com

Dining roomThe modern dining room is in a house in Atlanta’s Toco Hills neighborhood. The family who lives here entertains often and wanted a formal dining room. The reclaimed cairo walnut slab table was made by California’s Taylor Donsker.

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