The 2016 Southern Living Idea House: Meet Interior Designer, Margaret Kirkland.

In the months leading up to, and immediately following, the opening of the 2016 Southern Living Idea House in Mt Laurel, we’ve introduced you to the incredibly talented team that was tasked with planning, designing, building, and decorating the house. 5 interior decorators were purposefully selected by Southern Living to curate interior rooms and exterior spaces of the house. To date we’ve featured interviews with 4 of those designers—Mark Sikes, Amy Berry, Ashley Gilbreath, and Lauren Liess. This week, our series of team interviews comes to a close with our interview with Margaret Kirkland—an Atlanta-based designer whose classic and elegant southern interior designs have been featured in publications such as House Beautiful, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle, and Southern Living.

In our interview with her, Margaret told us a little bit about her personal style and experience transforming the dining room and outdoor terrace in the 2016 Southern Living Idea House.

ML: Tell us a little about your signature style?

MK: I love classic, timeless interiors and using color in designs. I love rooms with personality that have multiple layers to keep your eyes interested. More than anything, our firm believes in the power of pretty.

ML: Where do you find inspiration for your interiors?

MK: I seem to find inspiration everywhere! Traveling is huge for me, reading current shelter magazines and historical design books, and social media to see what inspires others in the world.

ML: What does Southern Living mean to you?

MK: Southern Living is all about hospitality and making people feel warm and welcome. Southerners also love the magical mix of old and new things together. They honor tradition by using things that they have inherited, which is why I included some antiques, silver, china, and crystal in the dining room along with new furnishings.

ML: What has it been like to work with Southern Living on this project?

MK: Southern Living is a dream to work with! The staff are so helpful and hardworking, supporting us in every step of the design and installation process. Southern Living’s staff are the consummate hosts, always making you feel special and welcome any time you see them!

ML: What era of Southern Living’s history were you given to inspire your room? *

MK: I loved working from archival photos of Southern Living from the past 50 years and reinterpreting classic Southern design. I really took inspiration from all the photos they gave us, including the elaborate window treatments from a 1989 issue and the incorporation of modern art from a 1976 issue. There were also several images of walls with trellis paper. We decided to update that look, using an appliqued trellis fabric under the chair rail as a type of wallcovering so the room would still feel very light and airy.

ML: What else inspired you when designing your room?

MK: I was given the dining room and outdoor terrace to decorate, and we envisioned a family using the spaces for everyday meals and entertaining friends and loved ones. We wanted the spaces to feel festive for special occasions, but also super comfortable and welcoming—emphasizing that those spaces are also meant to be used daily. I adore the large windows in the dining room that go all the way down to the floor, so we really made them the focus of the room by framing them with pretty window treatments.

ML: Did the Mt Laurel community influence your design?

MK: We fell in love with the Mt Laurel community the first time we visited. We love the natural surroundings, lovely stone walls throughout the community, and the friendly small town feeling of people waving to one another from their golf carts. We tried to bring a bit of that natural, outdoor feeling inside with botanical fabrics and even canvas trees in the dining room.

ML: What should people be most excited about when they visit the House?

MK: The Bill Ingram’s architectural details are all gorgeous, and Bryan Phillips and Town Builders did a great job building a beautiful house. I also love the way Southern Living curated a team of interior designers with different styles from all over the South, because while we all have different influences, the House still flows well together.

ML: Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about the Idea House?

MK: It has been an honor for Margaret Kirkland Interiors to be a part of this Idea House for the community of Mt Laurel, celebrating Southern Living’s 50th Anniversary right in their hometown of Birmingham. I hope everyone in the community can go visit the house and take a little bit of Southern decorating inspiration home with them.

If you haven’t already, start planning your trip to the 2016 Southern Living Idea House, so that you can see Margret’s beautifully designed spaces in person. The Idea House is now open to the public, and you can find all the details—from hours of operation to ticket price—here.


*In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Magazine, each of the designers was assigned a room in the house and given pages from past issues to inspire their designs.