Style Secrets From a North Carolina Interior Designer
Meet Raleigh's Niki McNeill.
"I was born and raised in Raleigh, which seems to be a rarity these days," says interior designer Niki McNeill. "Both of my parents are from North Carolina too. My mom is from Mount Airy (home of Andy Griffith), and my dad is from Dunn, where everything is sweet potatoes, tobacco, and corn. I am thoroughly Southern; I can't shake it!" It's this innate down-home sensibility that shapes everything Niki does—from curating her lifestyle blog, Single Bubble Pop, to designing interiors across North Carolina and beyond. Here, the 33- year-old shares her tips and tricks for crafting timeless rooms and smart, stylish looks.
Dress: Sleeveless Fringe Front Shift Dress, $268; sailtosable.com
Jacket: Going-Out Blazer in Stretch Twill in Navy, $158; jcrew.com
Shoes: Louise et Cie Kyvie Peep-Toe Sandal in Blush, $129; nordstrom.com
My Go-To Fashion Consultant
"My mom has been my stylist my whole life. She'll look at something and say, "Niki, this would look good on you," and I'll say, "Oh, I don't think so." Then I'll put it on and realize she's totally right! I feel like my mom is more of a style risk-taker than I am. I tend to be a little more conservative, but she loves to play with lots of different pieces in unconventional ways. She might wear her pink jacket (a work staple) to brunch on the weekend in a way that I never would have thought of. I love that about her."
How Living in the South Influences My Interiors
"I'm always seeking that sense of community and hospitality at home because that's how we live here. We have monthly family dinners, and everyone will come—from my 89-year-old great-aunt to the youngest great-grandchild, who is 2. You want to have a space where your great-aunt can sit with a nice cushion, but with kids around, you don't want to have the most expensive silk or wool rug. Things happen, so I like to use materials that are beautiful but work for all ages."
How My Decorating and Personal Styles Are Related
"I view my style as uniquely personal, but when I look at a room, I'm also considering everyone who's going to be in it, and I'm thinking about community. But my room designs and outfits are similar in that I like for them both to have a twist. With my clothes, I tend to wear classic silhouettes, but I'll punch them up by adding some fun accessories or shoes."
My Daily Uniform
"I love a chambray button-down with a dramatic statement necklace and black leggings. When it comes to shoes, it's hard for me to choose between flats and heels. I wear heels a lot because I like to be taller, but they're often not practical for what I do. I have a pair of pink glitter flats with black bows from Kate Spade that are my favorite."
The Trend I Often Avoid
"I try to stay away from lots of big patterns, even though I love them! When I put them on my petite frame (I'm barely 5 feet tall), I tend to look like a toddler because I'm so short. I typically stick with smaller-scale patterns instead."
Jacket: Dion Gingham Trench in Pink/Ivory Gingham, $298; jcrew.com
Shoes: For a similar look, Sariela Pump in Heather Rose, $70; zappos.com
Earrings: Show Stopper Earrings in Onyx, $58; lillypulitzer.com
Leggings, her own
My Secret for Looking Fashion-Forward in a Flash
"About three years ago, I figured out that wearing monochromatic outfits works well for me. I could not believe how quickly it would make me look put together (or how many compliments I would get) from just wearing a single color. And it also makes me look taller, which I am always trying to do!"
The Closet I Covet
"I wish I could trade wardrobes with actress and model Tracee Ellis Ross. I just love her style. I think she kills it! She's so genuinely herself."
Niki's favorite places to eat, sip, and shop
1. The ZEN Succulent
2. Sola Coffee Café
3. Green Front Furniture
4. Father & Son
5. Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery
6. Elizabeth & Nichole
7. Level7 Rooftop Bar
8. The Pit Authentic Barbecue