Continuing our series in which we spotlight some of our favorite interior designers (click here for previous installments), today we are featuring Justine Sterling of Justine Sterling Design. A South Africa native and former hospitality designer, Justine now serves residential clients in the greater Boston area. Her work has been featured in various publications including Design New England Magazine, The Boston Globe, and Boston Home Magazine. She is based out of Melrose, Massachusetts where she lives with her husband, two children and feline friend.
Q: How did you get into design?
A: My journey began over twenty-five years ago in Cape Town, South Africa. I found a home in interiors due to my love of art, organization and the inherent nature of finding structure in chaos. I got my start in innovative commercial firms (a highlight being a 30-chalet game lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa.) When I moved to the Boston area and especially after I became a mom, my need for effective space planning went into overdrive. My passion for structure now finds its way into residential design.
Q: What’s your design philosophy?
A: I believe the key to a well-designed (and loved) home starts with guiding my clients on a journey of self-discovery. This method isn't for the faint of heart: I'm asking clients to bring our working relationship into a collaborative place of vulnerability and trust. But this unique approach allows me to intimately understand the design elements that will bring surprise and delight to their space.
For some, that means functionality and efficient space planning to ease their frustration with a lack of flow or storage needs. For others, it means finding a piece of art or furniture that reflects their life journey, heritage or favorite memories. Being able to combine both function and aesthetic is the holy grail of all designers. For me, a job well done is when I can create a balance of form, function, and feeling.
Q: What’s your favorite part about being a designer?
A: Being able to explore ideas and see them come to life.
Q: What do you do when you have a creative block?
A: Stop what I am doing and read my online “pile” of design magazines. Essentially going down the rabbit hole of the design world will always spark new ideas.
Q: What helps you stay organized?
A: Evernote! I switched from using an old school moleskin notebook to using Evernote from my iPhone, iPad and desktop, and it has literally changed the way that I organize my thoughts for home and work. Did I say that I absolutely love it and couldn't live without it now?
Q: No home is complete without...
A: ...an overriding story. Yes the spaces can be gorgeous and well curated, but people, and their stories found in art, new and old objects and colors define how they will live in their home.
Q: What's a color you never tire of?
A: White. I know, it’s not technically a color, but it allows me the opportunity to layer on a blank canvas. I have an uncluttered sensibility and white was the color that I chose for my own office to create some calm in an often chaotic scene of fabrics, paint chips and blueprints!
Q: What's your go-to pillow size?
A: 20”x20” with top stitch detailing
Q: What's one of your dream home must-haves?
A: A very long loose stone driveway
Q: Are you a morning or night person?
A: Neither really anymore since having kids. Lets just say I am my best once I have a cup of tea.
1. No-regrets home splurge: commissioned art by a favorite local Melrose artist Ellen Rolli
2. Luxury Candle: Maison Blanche Nectarine and Mint
3. Style Icon: India Hicks
4. Flower: Protea Pin Cushion (Proteas are the national flower in South Africa where I am from)
6. Guilty pleasure: Tea (Authentic South African Rooibos Tea, or Taylors English Breakfast Tea), cookies and Netflix
8. Travel destination: Cape Town, South Africa
9. Everyday outfit: In the Summer, anything white
10. Design tip: Measure twice
To learn more about Justine, visit her website and social media profiles: