Designer Spotlight: Meredith Heron
Today in our Designer Spotlight Series I'm excited to feature Meredith Heron - a Toronto based designer who went from working in the paint department at Home Depot, to hosting HGTV shows and establishing her own luxury interior design company. Meredith has a distinct trend-setting style, eye for color and strong point of view that sets her apart. Grab a glass of wine and get ready for some inspiration!
Q: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
A: It took me 15 years to be able to describe my own aesthetic without having to reference other designers who inspired me. My work features on the strong feminine. I am a modern maximalist but first and foremost I see myself as a professional story teller. I tell the stories of my clients using their home as my medium. These stories are rich and deeply personal - it’s how we ensure that each of our projects is distinct in style and execution.
Q: How did you get into design?
A: I was a school teacher when I finished university at the age of 23. I was poor so I got a part-time job at Home Depot making paint. I knew I had an eye for colour but I was surprised to discover that i didn’t need to use formulas to make paint, I just knew how to mix the different pigments. People began to call the store to find out when the redhead was going to be in next.
I received a notice in the mail about a continuing education program a local college that was offering in design so I decided to take the colour theory class and see if this was of interest. The program co-ordinator took me aside after the third week and said - you need to work on your exit strategy and leave teaching behind and pursue design full time.
I continued to teach, work at Home Depot and started to take clients on the side while I finished school (3.5 yrs in the evening). Just shy of my 30th birthday, I quit teaching and haven’t looked back since. Within six months of leaving teaching, I landed my first design show on HGTV - Love by Design (Date with Design in the US).
I went on to host two more shows, Design Match and Restaurant Makeover. Restaurant Makeover was the #1 show on the Food Network and lasted for 5 seasons. It continues to air in 121 countries around the world. Ironically, it was social media that really got my work noticed though….
Q: What’s your design philosophy?
A: More is more. Design is storytelling at its finest. Like any good biographer you are only as good as the research and information you obtain regarding your subject. If you are able to create trust, your subject will open up to you and this will yield the richest results.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: Drive or bike my son to school in the morning. We are a full time staff of six at my office including my husband who is my business partner. We have set office hours of 9-5.
I take an hour out of my day Monday, Wednesday and Friday to go and work out with my trainer - strong feminine requires I have muscles and take time for me and my health to ensure that it’s not just my opinions and point of view that are rooted in strength. In the summer months our trainer comes to our office on Fridays to train our staff.
Hiring staff has meant learning to hire my weaknesses in order to enable me to focus exclusively on my zone of genius. I spend most of my day sourcing, designing and developing the big picture for each project so that the vision can be easily communicated to my team and to the clients to make implementation happen!
I’ve been working on the creation of our new rug collection - completely designed by me. It’s been a tremendous amount of work and learning. It’s for sure like birthing another baby.
Q: Are you a morning or night person?
A: Neither. I’m optimal between 10-8pm
Q: What helps you stay organized?
A: I have an eidetic memory which is also photographic. I am ridiculously organized in that regard because I can see all my notes and I usually know where they are on my desk, unless someone touches the piles on my desk. Few venture to ever do that. My team all are super organized so I mostly let them tell me what needs doing next …. I have a very relaxed management style clearly.
Q: Are there any daily rituals or routines that you feel have really served you?
A: I’m not really a routine person, but that glass of wine at the end of the day might be called a ritual… that and taking off my bra. That never fails to cause an ahhhhhhhhhh
Q: What keeps you sane?
A: Sanity is overrated. Working with my spouse keeps my feet firmly rooted on the ground. He’s a nurturer and cooks and takes care of the day to day, which enables me to dream and be the creative that I am. Laughter is a great release and when those are not doing it for me, wine and gin are my go-to's.
Q: What do you usually start with when designing a room?
A: I look for a mood that we want to convey and then Iook to fabrics to set the vibe. We then look at architectural elements to really make a statement, lighting has to be exceptional. I know that I have my own rug collection and that I should probably start with a rug, but I tend to leave the rug designing until I’ve figured out the fabrics and often I wait until the room is installed because I like the challenge of having the rug unite the overall room.
Q: How do you come up with the color palette for a room?
A: Sometimes it is the client who has said I love “purple” that starts us down a path. Other times I look at what I haven’t done but want to do and go about collecting inspiration pictures that speak to the mood and vibe we want. Then I look to fabrics to fill that out…
Q: What do you do when you have a creative block?
A: I step away and I go look at something else. Often I will scroll through Pinterest for fashion inspiration or look on Instagram or revisit my stash of inspiration files to see if there is something I’m missing.
We recently were awarded a new commission to design this amazing beachfront property in Florida. The clients don’t want colour. I was stumped. I often start with colourful pattern as inspiration and this was just not happening. I ended up seeing a photo on Instagram that triggered a chain reaction that started in my forehead and travelled all the way down my body - it was the use of bronze and gold that just broke the dam and the ideas flooded in. I am so excited because I can now see the finished house in my head. I always see the finished project in my head before I can articulate it out to the client and it bugs me when this doesn’t happen immediately. This one took almost a month to find its way out.
Q: What's a design mistake you see people commonly make?
A: Where do I start?? I hate how uniform design becomes - the Instagram trend model of decorating makes my eyes roll out of my head and down the street. Everyone copying everyone else, some better, some considerably worse. There isn’t a lot of originality from what I see in decorating and people are actively racing to the bottom. Trying to recreate a boring neutral version of a big box store…. Less copying, more traveling. Travel informs so much of what I do and has been a huge part in helping my aesthetic become so personal and distinct.
Q: What's your favorite type of room to design and why?
A: We do exceptional bathrooms, not going to lie - our bathrooms are just works of art. I love it all…. I used to find dining rooms really hard but boy are our dining rooms something to behold now. I work really really hard to not follow convention or trends. You’ll not see a spec of shiplap in our projects. I set trends, I don’t follow them.
Q: Are there any design "rules" you like to break?
A: I always try and add a little bit of ugly to every room to avoid it feeling matchy matchy or out of a catalogue. We will actively mismatch a paint colour to a fabric or we’ll find something that really doesn’t fit a theme and include that because that’s what life is about - colouring way outside the box!
Q: What's something that clients are usually resistant to initially but then end up loving?
A: It’s going to cost significantly more than that….
Q: What's a color you never tire of?
A: oyster shell
Q: What's on your nightstand?
A: I have an iPhone/Apple watch charging station
Q: What's one of your dream home must-haves?
A: Heated toilet seats (seriously once you get a Japanese toilet, anything else is barbaric)
Q: What's your go-to pillow size?
Q: No home is complete without...
A: animal print
Q: What’s your favorite part about being a designer?
A: Being a designer is the most natural state of being Meredith there is. I get a physical lift when I slide into the zone. I routinely walk around the office or my house exclaiming what a (pardon my French) “fucking” genius I am, not because I’m arrogant or full of myself, but because I’m so proud to have solved a problem or put together something so unique that it takes my breath away. I’m sure really good cooks do the same when they’ve created something that just rocks their socks. I love that - I love when clients walk into a space and say “I fucking love this” - basically if I can make them swear I’ve done my job.
Meredith Inspired Picks
1. Go-to paint color: Full Moon from Benjamin Moore
2. Luxury candle: Kimpton Hotel’s signature scent
3. Flower: lilies - must be scented. They make me so incredibly happy.
4. Design book: ABCDCS by David Collins
7. Artist: Ellsworth Kelly
8. Travel destination: Italy
9. Restaurant: La Buchetta in Florence
10. Everyday outfit: something leopard, blazer, fur stole in the winter (it’s cold in Canada!)
11. House plant: the fake kind
12. Place to shop for vintage pieces: Palm Springs - shoulder season - end of September, beginning of October.
13. Apps: Pixelmator, Instagram, Weather app, Vivino - the best wine app there is!
14. Style Icon: Giovanna Battaglia, Taylor Tomasi Hill
15. Set design: Catherine Martin
16. Design tip: You don’t have enough layers, there's always room for more and for heaven’s sake add in another pattern or twelve!
17. No-regrets home splurge: Japanese toilet
Meredith serves residential clients throughout North America including Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico. To learn more about Meredith, visit her website and social media profiles: