By Donna Cornelius
Janie Jones and Elizabeth Miles launched Hundley Hilton Interiors two years ago with a youthful, vibrant outlook.
They’ve rapidly earned a reputation for their fun, fresh perspective that happily blends modern and traditional styles – so much so that they have been asked to showcase their work at this year’s Antiques at The Gardens.
Hundley Hilton will be among the Birmingham Botanical Gardens event’s Tastemakers – designers who will curate inspiring and exciting spaces on display throughout the show.
Jones and Miles not only are creative, but also are young mothers and firm friends. They have another common denominator: Both have designing moms.
“My mom has always had a love for design,” said Jones, who grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. “She was always going to antique stores and doing something new in our house, like replacing wallpaper, much to my dad’s chagrin.”
After graduating from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, Jones moved to Washington, D.C.
“I was working for a senator and did business development for a law firm, but I had the desire to do something more creative,” she said.
Miles was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and then moved with her family to Charlotte, North Carolina, when she was 9 years old.
“I also lived for a short time in Virginia, so I’m East Coast born and raised,” she said. “I helped my mother. She did furniture, design and was an antique furniture dealer. She was an artist.
“I thought I might be an artist as a child. My parents thought I needed a liberal arts degree, so I did that instead of going to design school.”
Miles went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in graphic design. After college, she worked in that field for a short time and then for a large furnishings company. She lived in Australia and Colorado and moved to Washington, D.C., in 2004.
“That was a year before Janie moved there,” Miles said. “I worked in executive recruiting and did graphic design on the side. But I always wanted to get into something creative.”
Both women are married to men from Birmingham; Janie’s husband is Jemison Jones and Elizabeth’s is Tom Miles. They both ended up in Mountain Brook, where they continued their friendship.
“I was decorating my house in Birmingham, and my friends started asking me to help them find pieces,” Jones said. “I reached out to Elizabeth – she’s an artist, and I was drawn to her humor, laughter and energy.”
Miles designed the logo for Hundley Hilton Interiors, which is named for two other important women in the designers’ lives. Jones’ middle name is Hundley, and it’s also her great-grandmother’s maiden name. Hilton is Elizabeth’s great-grandmother’s maiden name.
“We didn’t want to name the company after ourselves, and we wanted a name that could grow with us,” Miles said. “Also, it honors our female role models. We’re inspired by women who worked and decorated.”
“Our mothers and mothers-in-law are such great, strong women,” she said.
The Learning Curve
The business’ first year was a busy one.
“We collaborated and did a lot of work,” Jones said. “We set up accounts with fabric houses and other places.”
Both women said they’ve found many great resources in Birmingham and think it’s important to support local businesses.
“Birmingham is an incredibly creative community,” Miles said. “It’s a unique city, and we take inspiration from that.”
They also have their own viewpoint when it comes to design.
“Birmingham is a city steeped in tradition and history, and a lot of designers capture that well,” Miles said. “We have an outside perspective. We tend to use more color and a mix of traditional and modern.”
Hundley Hilton specializes in residential design but recently took on a distinctly different project: a sailboat. They’ve been working with a marine interiors company in Newport, Rhodes Island, and said the job has been pleasantly challenging.
“That’s been a learning curve,” Miles said. “You have to think about moisture, the light, UV rays and flooring.”
The Hundley Hilton designers both have been involved with Antiques at The Gardens as volunteers. They said they love the opportunity to be a part of the show from the professional side and are looking forward to creating their Tastemaker space.
“Usually, we’re working closely with our clients to bring in their personal style,” Jones said. “This was an opportunity for us to bring in our own personal style. Elizabeth brings more of a textural, modern look. I’m drawn to fanciful, floral and traditional. So you’ll see modern and traditional and also a nod to The Gardens.”
Miles said she loves antiques but also mid-century and modern styles. Their Tastemaker display “was an opportunity for both of us to showcase our styles and bring them together,” she said. “At the show, you’re around such talent, such creativity. But that helps inspire us. It’s such an honor to get to do this.”
For more information about Hundley Hilton Interiors, follow the company on Instagram @hundleyhilton. And look for the company’s new website, hundleyhiltoninteriors.com, now under construction and coming soon.