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designer crush: atlanta’s GraysonHarris

September 1, 2015

H+G portrait

Robert Grayson and Andrew Harris have a keen eye for design. They also have a funny bone. The Atlanta designers work together to create relevant, timeless and personalized space for their clients – while providing a non-stop comedy routine at no extra charge.

Company: GraysonHarris Interiors + Design was founded in 2011. We had known each other for more than ten years, before we decided to join forces.

Backgrounds: Harris grew up in Anniston, Ala, and attended Auburn. Grayson is from Charleston, SC, and went to Clemson.
RG: Prior to landing in Atlanta, I worked for 16 years as an art director for a premier graphic design firm in Houston. Once here, I amassed another 16 years of experience doing a wide range of contract and residential installations from small residential models to large high-end law firms.

AH: I came directly to Atlanta and began my career designing exclusive country clubs. Over the last 18 years, I’ve worked on a wide range of commercial and residential environments including law offices, corporate headquarters, executive homes and vacation retreats.

First design jobs:
RG: I was asked to come up with a paint scheme/design for the façade of an amusement company (OK, pinball & poker machine joint) in North Charleston. It doesn’t get much more tragic than that.

AH: I selected a paint scheme for my parent’s basement in my first year of design school. I picked a canary yellow. Let’s just say you never felt like you were in a dark basement again.

Best way to quickly transform a room: Paint and reconfiguring existing furniture, art and accessories can completely change a space. Add to that an element that wasn’t there before or that is completely unexpected (yet appropriate).

Design pet peeves: Art hung on the diagonal. WHY?

Current design obsession: Mixing metals. We’re into living finishes on brass, copper, bronze and mixing those up with polished nickel and stainless.

Most important element in a room: Places of “rest,” whether it is where you physically rest your body or visually rest your eyes.

New or re-emerging design looks you like: We notice that Atlanta is really hungering for modern and contemporary (not always the same thing) design. Our projects that have gotten the most notice lately trend in that direction. We love it and happily embrace it, whether it is integrating modern elements into a traditional or transitional design or going full throttle.

Looks you are glad to see go: Rusty crusty everything. We’ve done it and done it well, but it’s DONE!
Most unusual design request: We were asked to design a “Hindu Courtesan Bed Room.” It was, however, an opportunity to use some crazy saturated colors and fabrics that aren’t in our normal arsenal.

Biggest design mistake we have ever made: Sacrificing design over a budget.

Biggest mistake homeowner’s make: Choosing paint colors before selecting the first fabric or floor covering. Our mantra is “paint is easy… paint comes last.”

Favorite room(s) to design: We particularly enjoy living and keeping rooms – creating places where people relax, entertain, converse, and read.

Hardest space to design: Kitchens and baths provide the most constraints, but can offer the greatest reward when carried out well. We’ve just completed a mid-century inspired kitchen for a client in an east Atlanta ranch that hadn’t been touched since the mid-50s. It’s fantastic!

Designer challenges: Mind reading. We have never been particularly good at it. Communicating with the client can sometimes be frustrating, especially when they aren’t sure how to tell us what they want (or don’t know). We’ve found that pictures can save a lot of time and money.

Favorite go-to accessory, chair, etc.: We would normally say we don’t have one, but we’ve grown quite fond of the Pirce Suspension light from Artemide. We’re now on project three with it. It is a beautiful sculptural form and provides a lot of bang for the buck.

Favorite local Atlanta home/design stores: ADAC (Atlanta Decorative Arts Center) is a wealth of resources. We particularly like (in no particular order) Jerry Pair, Ainsworth-Noah, Jim Thompson, Martin Nash, Donghia, Paul+ and the new R. Hughes showroom. We also utilize America’s Mart quite a bit. Lately we’ve been shopping Steve McKenzies for things from custom wall covering based on Steve’s art to pieces by regional artists.

Places for great (and unexpected) finds: We were recently in Miami attending Maison & Objet and spent a day shopping North Miami’s Mid Century Design District. It is several blocks of non-stop shops where you can pretty much find anything from Deco to Disco. It was a wealth of things that are particularly difficult to find here. We’re hoping to return with clients in tow.

Our personal decorating style:

RG: I tend to be drawn to subdued, relaxed interiors with lots of layers, texture and a bit of crust. It must be my age.
AH: I’m a complete advocate of the painfully restrained interior with a little surprise.

Household issue/item we are particular about:
RG: I love to cook and spend much of my down time in the kitchen, so I’m particular about appliances.

AH: I’m fanatical about efficiency, whether it’s time, space or function.

Favorite household possessions:
RG: I have an old painted plaster Buddha that a former co-worker brought back from a flea market in Japan. I didn’t realize how much I loved it until one of the cats knocked it off the dresser. It now has a few more character lines.

AH: I don’t have any attachments to my stuff. The only thing in the house I truly care about is my wire-haired dachshund, Daphne.

Latest project: Pulling together the final touches for another unit at the Mandarin Oriental. It’s going to be stunning!
Up next: Pitching a high-end retail development in Lafayette, LA.

Find GraysonHarris:
twitter: @GraysonHarrisID
instagram: graysonharrisid

.Mandarin room


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