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DESIGN

Justin Q. Williams

INTERIOR DESIGNER 

“When you find out the why, the how will come.”


On a hot summer day in August, I had the distinct pleasure to sit down, and have lunch with Atlanta based interior designer, Justin Q. Williams. I previously met Justin on an annual loft tour that is held in Atlanta in October every year. Justin was nice then and remains truly authentic. As we shook hands, we exchanged pleasantries. We ordered lunch. I had a chopped salad with salmon and Justin had a kale salad with salmon, no additives. As the restaurant was playing some good music from the 80’s era, Justin and I ate lunch, talked about life, familiar places and an overall resounding theme of purpose. After lunch, we moved downstairs, to a quiet section of the restaurant, where I delved more into the life of Justin Q. Williams.

GJ: Who is Justin Q. Williams?

JQW: Justin Q. Williams is a fun, energetic person that loves love, loves people and loves design.

GJ: How long have you been designing?

JQW: I have been designing unofficially since I was thirteen years old, but professionally since I was about eighteen or nineteen years old, and solely since I was twenty-one. I am now thirty-one years old.

GJ: Where did you grow up?

JQW: I grew up in Atlanta; south of the city in Stockbridge, Georgia. I am originally from Opelika, Alabama.

GJ: What motivates you Justin to do what you do?

JQW: Every day I wake up to an alarm clock that says, “there are people living with bad décor, help them”. That is literally on my alarm every single day. I feel like that is my life’s work. In doing that, I feel motivated just by that alarm alone, but also by that simple phrase, “there are people living with bad décor, help them.” My motivation is to help people.

GJ: When did you realize that your calling was interior design?

JQW: That is a good question. I knew this when I was younger, around thirteen years of age. My parents were renovating the house and I always had this great adoration for architecture. My dad purchased a program called Chief Home Architect and AutoCAD. He told me to teach myself with using these programs. I looked on the internet to see what I could find. I used the tutorials to help me learn these programs. With Chief Home Architect, I drew the house in 2D and 3D. The contractor used those drawings to see what my parents wanted to do with the home. The contractor asked my dad which architect did he use to draw up the plans, and my dad said to him, my son. From that point on, I started drawing plans for that contractor, Mr. Robert Perry. During this time, I did not want to be an architect, but I really loved architecture. I was good at decorating and found so much love in it. At that time, I knew that interior design would be my gift. However, I did not think that interior design would be my professional gift.

GJ: When you were matriculating in high school or college, what courses did you take to sharpen your craft?

JQW: I did not take any professional courses in architecture or design. However, during some summer months, while working for a contractor, I asked if I could work alongside him. At first it was handing him a hammer, handing him a screwdriver, then eventually I was doing hands on work. I learned a lot of things with hands-on experience. In learning hands on, it makes such a difference. There are some colleagues that I have that went to design school, and there are certain things that they just don’t know, because they don’t have that hands-on experience.

GJ: How did you take your contractor experience, helping to build homes, and get into the inside of the home with interior design?

JQW: I have always been good at decorating. I had a love for architecture, but I have always been good at conceptualizing a space completed. I would do that a lot growing up at my parent’s house. It got to a point to where I asked my mom if I could paint my room and do some modifications. In modifications, I am not sure what she was thinking by giving me the go-ahead, but she told me to go for it. I painted the room with some paint that I got from Lowe’s. It was called “earthy cane”. I changed out the ceiling fan to a more modern one that came with a remote. I felt fancy. With the help of a contractor, I added crown molding to my room. This was a sign to my parents that I had an eye for interior design. After that experience, my parents did modifications to the entire house.

GJ: You’ve talked a lot about modern aesthetic. I have seen your work and it’s fantastic. Tell me what is your personal aesthetic?

JQW: My personal aesthetic is transitional. I love transitional work because it gives you a modern aesthetic, with the traditional comfort. I don’t like big bulky sofas, but I do like sofas that have clean lines and that are comfortable. I consider myself transitional and I do not like a lot of clutter, which is more of a modern aesthetic. I like the warmth of a traditional home. I like a home that rises to you when you walk in; a home that does not feel cold. A home must be functional. I focus on function first and fashion later. In doing that I feel like clients have a better way of feeling like this is my home and not a showpiece.

GJ: How do you balance what a client is asking for versus what you see and know about interior design?

JQW: A big part of my job is getting the client to understand. A lot of times there are certain determining factors. A big part is budget. Whenever I meet with a client, we go through a very detailed questionnaire, which immediately brings clarity to the client and sets expectations. From color, to style, to patterns and budget. All those different things help to bring clarity to the client. I am also better able to help the client based on the information that they provide to me.

GJ: What are some of the defining moments in your career as an interior designer?

JQW: The defining moments are moments where I have been published or featured. Also, moments where I have been asked to show homes and conduct tours. Also, when people ask to see more of me. It is a humbling experience.

GJ: Tell me about a typical day in the life of Justin Q. Williams. What does that day look like?

JQW: I have a pretty normal day-to-day life. A lot of that starts with my dog, Sir Alon, my poodle. I take him for a nice morning walk. I listen to music. I am a music lover. A lot of people don’t know this, but I started in music in middle school, playing the trombone. I was a drum major in high school. I went to Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida and played in the band. On a typical day, my assistant calls and she keeps me informed about the appointments that are scheduled for the day. My day could include home visits, staff meetings, quality assessments, installations, shopping for clients and dealing with vendors. My days are purposeful.

GJ: Every successful person has had moments when they’ve failed. Can you share with me a time when you failed at something and how did you recover?

JQW: There have been times when I failed, but I make it a point to learn from those life lessons. One of the biggest things is following up with contractors. There was one experience where I was using a contractor and they messed up a shower renovation. I had to have it torn down and rebuilt. It was my fault, because I did not follow up. I learned my lesson.

GJ: What are some words of wisdom that you would give to an inspiring interior designer?

JQW: I would tell them to do it with purpose. You must do it with purpose and good intention. The money will follow. Work with great people. There should never be someone working for you. They should be working with you.

GJ: What is next for Justin? Where do you see yourself?

JQW: I would love to be on television. An opportunity has come with Aspire TV. I have been filming with them on a show called Unboxed. It has been a fun experience. I can see more of this happening. I can also see a product line; designing furniture pieces.

GJ: Is there anything that you want to share that we have not talked about?

JQW: Anyone aspiring to become a designer or business owner, I believe they should operate in purpose. When you find out the why, the how will come.

GJ: Thank you, Justin!  

JQW: My pleasure. Thank you.

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