Got it covered: At home with Nina Crawford

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Nina Crawford says her favorite room in her own home is the sunroom. "It's a large room for seating and dining with views of the mountains," she says. Photo: Amy Jackson Nina Crawford says her favorite room in her own home is the sunroom. “It’s a large room for seating and dining with views of the mountains,” she says. Photo: Amy Jackson

When it comes to designing a room, often the advice is to start with something you love (a rug, a piece of art—anything) and work from there, layering pattern and texture to achieve a dynamic space. But every project is different, says Nina Crawford, and no two clients are the same.

“My favorite customer is one that trusts in my judgment and isn’t afraid to take some chances,” Crawford says.

The designer took over local firm MSS Designs in 1998 after graduating from Arcadia Academy and working in the industry for many years in New York. In addition to full design services, the business specializes in window coverings-—blinds, shades, shutters and draperies. We asked Crawford to tell us her dream movie set, her most treasured possession and what she’ll never DIY.—Caite White

Antique or modern?

Neither one. I’m more known for an eclectic style.

City or country?

In my early years, being from New York, I would say city. Since I have relocated to Charlottesville it would be more country.

Which colors do you gravitate toward?

I tend to be very fickle about color. Black and gold are always a go-to. Purple is one of my favorite colors, though I’m not always able to incorporate that in homes.

Which materials or textures do you frequently use in your own home?

I like working within the same color palette and using many textures, like velvet, chenille, tweed or linen.

What is your favorite interior design-related word?

Function.

Does your home look like the one you grew up in?

There are some elements that are similar, but for the most part it’s much different. Each room took on its own feeling based upon artwork from my grandmother. Since my grandmother was a decorator, she, like myself, didn’t spend too much time decorating at home.

What’s one thing that can really transform a room?

Without sounding trite, an interior decorator. They can be really beneficial to the homeowner to help navigate through all the choices and decisions.

Favorite designer?

I can’t say that I have one favorite designer but right now I’m favoring Matthew Williamson (a British fashion designer and bespoke furniture purveyor).

Which design blog, website, TV show or magazine do you peruse religiously?

Architectural Digest.

Design rule you like to break?

Most of them.

What is your most treasured possession?

My grandmother’s artwork. She was a very competent woman and was not afraid to tackle any challenge. Birthday presents were always a little bit of a challenge, so my parents gave her a paint set for her birthday at the age of 55. That’s when she started painting. She continued well into her 80s and had sold several pieces.

What do you wish you could do without?

The computer.

What are you afraid to DIY?

Tilework!

Have you ever had a change of heart about an object or a style?

Not so much a change of heart, but I often have a desire to update.

If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?

Versailles.

On what movie set would you like to live?

The Great Gatsby.

If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be?

A chaise lounge.

What is your first design memory?

Having a continual need to move furniture to create a new space in my room as a child.

Nina Crawford says her favorite room in her own home is the sunroom. “It’s a large room for seating and dining with views of the mountains,” she says.

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