Traditional home design is a timeless style that takes a certain level of skill to truly perfect. No one knows this more than Florida-based interior designer Gil Walsh.
Servicing clients in Florida, Martha’s Vineyard, and New York as well as the surrounding areas, Walsh and her team have earned a stellar reputation for their incredible eye for design, color and fabrics. This year, she expanded her footprint next door with a showroom for the new Gil Walsh Collection featuring printed and woven fabrics as well as furniture and hardware.
I recently spoke with Walsh about her path to becoming an interior designer, the evolution of traditional interior design and so much more.
When did you realize you wanted to become an interior designer?
While attending Chatham University in Pittsburgh, I designed all the sets and costumes for an avant-garde production of a play written by Pablo Picasso. I realized that creating the sets struck a passionate chord in me. It was a three-dimensional world that combined my love of fashion, art, and architecture. It was a world that my eye and brain understood. It was then that I sought out the next steps to begin my career in interior design.
How did you get your start?
My parents’ neighbors, Winnie and Arnold Palmer, were headed to the Firestone Classic in Ohio, and offered me a ride on their private plane to my first interview with Irvin and Company in Cleveland. While looking for an apartment there, I lived with Arnold Palmer’s agent, Mark McCormack, and his wife, Nancy. They introduced me to realtors and people at country clubs, including the Marotta Family (inventors of Mr. Coffee). They introduced me to their friends, and I was hired for my first big design project, as well as working on Palmer’s private home and country club.
How would you describe your style?
My style is developing my clients’ brands. It’s unique to them and reflects their personality and lifestyles. It’s my job to utilize my experience and expertise to bring their brand to life through colors, textures, and patterns.
What are some of your favorite elements of traditional design?
Some of my favorite elements of traditional design are the artwork, antiques, and architectural detailing in the home. The architecture creates the background that allows the furnishings to stand out.
How do you think traditional design has evolved in recent years?
Transitional style, a hybrid of traditional and contemporary design, has evolved into the modern-day traditional. Many of today’s traditional homes incorporate contemporary elements, such as modern pieces, bolder colors, and antique and vintage furniture.
Are there any elements of traditional design that have fallen out of favor you wish would come back in style?
Architectural millwork and the tailoring of upholstered goods are some elements that I feel should always be emphasized. Tailoring even transitional furniture makes it stand out like a piece of sculpture. I also miss the richness and saturation of colors in fabrics. Too many colors today are bland, including neutral colors. They all can benefit from more pigment giving them the rich tones of the past.
Why do you think traditional design has stood the test of time?
Traditional design is a timeless look that conveys easy elegance and comfort. It’s the go-to style for those who appreciate antiques, classic art, and design rich with history.
Where are some of your favorite places to source furniture and decor?
What’s a project you’ve worked on that you’re incredibly proud of?
My work on Fallingwater is the most memorable project. I have an eternal appreciation for having been chosen to replicate the design interiors in 1983 for Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece. Working alongside Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. to preserve the site was truly the highlight of my career.
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