By Keysha Drexel
While her training and years of experience as an interior designer give Libby Greene the ability to look at the big picture as she approaches different design projects, her clients say it is her eye for the details that sets her apart from others in the field.
Greene, a resident of Inverness, will be one of the featured tastemakers at this year’s Antiques at The Gardens, which brings together regionally and nationally known architects, interior designers and landscape designers to offer style tips and ideas.
And for her client Sally Lineberry of Mountain Brook, Greene is the perfect person to dole out that advice.
“I really think Libby’s signature is her attention to the details. She thinks of everything when she’s working on a project, and that determination to make it just right shows up in her work,” Lineberry said.
Greene said her perspective as a designer when she first walks into a room can be both a blessing and a curse.
“I always try and look at a room as a whole,” she said. “However, I can walk into a room and know when something is missing–usually a small detail to most, such as a beautiful lampshade, pillow or unique hardware–that when added just completes the room.”
Greene said no matter how wonderfully a room is decorated, it can seem incomplete without just the right finishing touches.
“I think of it like this: No matter how great your dress is, you wouldn’t leave the house without your earrings and your jewelry. It’s the same thing in interior design–the details matter because they pull the whole look together,” she said.
It is her big-picture thinking with an appreciation for the power of details that make working with Greene a lot of fun, Lineberry said.
Greene has done several projects at the Lineberry home, including a redo of 17-year-old Morgan Lineberry’s bedroom, where the designer added a built-in day bed and bookshelves for the book-loving teen.
“That daybed was a dream come true for Morgan. She loves to read, and Libby really made her room into a place that is perfect for curling up with a good book,” Sally Lineberry said.
Greene also decorated the Lineberrys’ master bedroom and the foyer downstairs and is in the process of finishing up a decorating project on the family’s new bedroom and bathroom addition on the first floor.
“I think Libby’s style would be described as traditional with a flair, and it works for our house,” Lineberry said. “I have been blessed enough to inherit some beautiful pieces from my mother and grandmother, and Libby understands that it is important to incorporate those into any changes we make.”
Greene said she is a traditionalist at heart and describes her personal style as classic and timeless.
“I have an obsession with beautiful fabrics, gilded old mirrors and pretty antiques,” she said.
While she has an appreciation for the finer things and historical pieces, Greene said she never wants her designs to feel staid, stuffy or uncomfortable.
“I’ve learned over the years that mixing the old and the new give a room character and warmth,” she said.
To weave the old and the new to create something unique for each client is her ultimate goal as a designer, Greene said.
“I feel like every job and client is different and unique in their own way,” she said. “I like to put a distinctive touch in all my work, blending my traditional classic view with the specific style of each client. That’s what makes each client’s home special and personal.”
During the planning process for each project, Greene said she likes to have lots of conversations about exactly what the homeowner wants and doesn’t want.
“It’s great when people have strong ideas about what they want because that gives us a clear direction right off the bat, but it can be challenging if they aren’t willing to compromise on some of those strong ideas,” she said.
But ultimately, her job as a designer is to listen to the needs and ideas of her clients, Greene said.
“Sometimes you have a relationship with a client where you can just say, ‘No, that won’t really work in this space,’ but sometimes you have to cave to their requests, even if it means leaving the ceiling fan in a room. For some reason, husbands really love their ceiling fans.”
But whether a home includes ceiling fans or not, Greene said there are five things every well-decorated home should have.
“Pretty fabrics, good lighting, timeless antiques, comfortable classic furniture and a wonderful rug that pulls the space together,” she said.
And for Greene, that last part–a wonderful rug that pulls the space together–is often a starting point in the design process rather than a finishing touch decision, she said.
“For some people, choosing paint colors is the first thing they do when they start a project, but I like to start with a great rug or unique pillows,” she said. “For me, it’s about finding that one piece that really inspires you and building around it.”
But that one key building block piece is not just something that Greene loves and is inspired by, she said.
“It has to be something that really speaks to the client, something that becomes personal for them,” she said. “You always have to remember that these are not just rooms in a house that you are designing–this is where people will live their lives.”
That responsibility of being a part of people’s lives is something Greene said she takes seriously.
“I obsess over things, over every little detail, because I want it to be perfect for my clients,” she said. “I want every project to turn out even better than imagined and know that my clients will be able to enjoy the results every day.”
Greene said her love of design was formed at an early age when she would travel with her grandfather to some of his contracting jobs.
“I can remember being with my grandfather when he was drafting plans for houses, and my mom recently found these paint charts that I made as a child for my pretend clients,” she said. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a designer.”
After high school, Greene attended Auburn University and earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design. She worked for a local design firm after graduating from college and in 2005 struck out on her own to form Libby Greene Interiors.
When she’s not busy giving her clients the rooms of their dreams, Greene enjoys hanging out with her husband, Chris, and their two sons, Will and Jack, at their Inverness home. The couple has been updating the house since they bought it about 10 years ago, Greene said.
“My own house is a mess right now because we’re in the middle of a huge renovation,” she said. “I mean, right now, my refrigerator is sitting in my living room, but we’ll get there, eventually.”
That patience to work through a project until it is just right is a virtue in the design business and a key to her style, Greene said.