The Design Questionnaire with Charbonneau Interiors
In this edition of Love Happens’ Proust-style Design Questionnaire, join us for a peek inside the creative design mind of Nancy Charbonneau, founder of Charbonneau Interiors. Based in Houston, Texas, Nancy founded Charbonneau Interiors in 1999 with the belief that great interior design should always connect who you are to how you live. Since then she and her team have been expressing just that in beautiful customized interiors from Texas to Mexico to Canada, and many places in between.
Inside Charbonneau Interiors
As a child, Nancy Charbonneau would sit by her mother’s side listening to the whir of the sewing machine speed along beautiful fabric, and so began her passion for design and textiles. Thus, after receiving her BA in Interior Design from Georgia Southern University, Nancy’s first venture combined her eye for design with her love for sewing. The result was Woodlands Fabrics & Interiors. Today, her company has evolved into Charbonneau Interiors. A leading lifestyle and luxury design firm offering full-service design including custom, renovation, new construction, and custom textile services. Bringing beauty, function, and peace to her client’s lives through eloquent design is what drives Nancy’s visionary spirit—and the beautiful spaces that she creates.
Now for a Peek Inside the Fabulous and Inspiring Mind of Nancy Charbonneau with the Lh Design Questionnaire
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To me, perfect happiness is this place that is inherently peaceful. It’s this mental environment that is incredibly personal, where everything is in balance, purposeful, and fluid, not forced. Living on planet Earth, to seek this peace has to be a conscious decision. And ultimately that’s what I feel my purpose here is: to create conscious and intentional spaces that connect you to this place where you’re mentally able to seek peace and find joy. It’s in this place where I feel like perfect happiness resides, and where you can be your most authentic self.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Professionally, I feel our greatest achievement as a firm was completely restructuring our business after 18 years so that we could truly pursue the level of custom design that we’re living in right now. And it was hard. It was this incredible period of change we needed to make so we could start over with a clean slate. Putting one foot in front of the other to pursue this new business plan we believed so deeply in.
Over our 20+ year tenure in the industry, we’ve woven through retail, design, and now we’ve come to a place where we focus almost exclusively on custom design. And while we have a lot of exciting projects in the works in terms of growing our company, we’re able to do so on a more intentional path, which I’m very proud of and proud of our team for charging forth, too.
What profession does your alter ego have?
My alter ego is an artist, specifically a painter. I am, to my core, a visionary and a dreamer. And because of that, I find myself drawn to fine artists and the beautiful, creative, abstract works they produce. I love this idea of being an inherent, unfiltered, true artist. As an interior designer, I am able to access this part of me in some ways. But not to the full extent that I think my alter ego does!
The project you will never forget.
Our Meadow Brook project, for a family who is dear friends and a client, is one I’ll never forget. It was one of those projects where we were truly able to create a dream home for our client. And bring to life a place that would just make them happy and bring their family peace. It was a project that was very much so based on a feeling that they wanted. And we were able to be the visionaries to bring something that was so abstract into this physical realm and reality.
This client has a ranch property in the Texas countryside, which had always been their family’s epicenter. The place where they spent the holidays, had friends over, and where they just loved to be. So, we wanted to bring a piece of their ranch into this suburban family home. We did this by framing professional photography of their horses throughout the home and incorporating rustic materials. We opened the home’s design to be influenced by this family’s love of nature and being outdoors. It was truly one of those projects driven by passion, and really, happiness, which is why I’ll never forget it.
Your favorite business tool or resource.
Slack absolutely changed the way our team communicates with each other and with our clients. Because a lot of our projects at the moment are renovations, there are so many details and day-to-day correspondence that we have to stay organized with. Not only so we can execute the project in an efficient way. But also so we can keep the client updated with what’s happening in their home. I really believe we are a better team, and can offer better customer care for our clients, because of Slack and the incredible communication capabilities it offers.
The most timeless design.
To me, timeless design is anything that does not invoke stress or disrupt your peace with regards to maintaining it and growing alongside it. I don’t know that it’s a specific aesthetic. But rather a culmination of all of these things that can evolve over time. Pieces that can fit into imagery from a turn-of-the-century room and not feel out of place in a home in 2021. The first thing that comes to mind for me when I think about this is actually something I have in my own home—our 1959 Steinway piano. It’s timeless to me because I feel it’s equally as beautiful now as the day it was made about 60 years ago. It’s a classic piece that will always have a special place in my heart and my home. And I think that’s a true testament to any aspect of timeless design.
The biggest design faux pas.
While not anything specific (as interior design is such a personal, intimate, and unique journey for everyone), I think the biggest design faux pas is doing something that isn’t right for you. Whether the motivation is to impress other people or follow trends that won’t evolve with your family, I think it’s easy to tell when a home doesn’t truly reflect the essence of the family who lives there. I don’t think you should ever have to sacrifice who you are, what works best for your family, or what truly brings you joy in exchange for aesthetics. It should be a beautiful blend of everything, and when it isn’t I think that’s a faux pas.
Your design motto.
At the end of the day, I believe in our team as the visionaries to create spaces that make you a better you and open up new opportunities for your family to experience peace, joy, and maybe even a new perspective! This is why the phrase “eloquent design” truly embodies what guides me as an interior designer and what guides our design firm. It allows us to help those seeking a life that is beautiful, meaningful, and inspiring. Beyond specific styles or what’s trending in the industry.
If you were to design a room around one KOKET piece, which would it be, and why?
I chose four KOKET pieces, as I believe that all speak to being organic, timeless, statement pieces that I think tell a story as soon as you see them.
I’m a sucker for romance, and I feel that this is a very romantic, graceful piece. I love to incorporate this abstract concept of grace and elegance into any aesthetic of any room. Whether it be through soft materials, textures, or artistry. The flower details are so in line with everything I love about nature and bringing it into the interiors in a way that feels organic and isn’t overly contrived.
I love this piece because I find it sexy. It’s organic and naturally masculine, without necessarily having to be in a masculine space. I am so drawn to the movement and the flow, and this idea of creating fluidity out of rigid materials. It’s truly a piece of art and has all of these unique, artistic characteristics. All without sacrificing the function of what a console should be.
I always draw inspiration from the art nouveau movement in design. And I feel that this piece exemplifies that era, while still being organic and having those natural characteristics I love. It’s beautiful—it’s a multi-dimensional statement piece that’s functional, while still being a piece of art that I think could definitely inspire the aesthetics of a space.
I like this because it’s a piece of art—an unexpected, fun piece of art! There’s this inherent playful energy that I’m drawn to and could see in a variety of environments for a lot of different people. I love things that are unexpected and make you smile when you see them. I think this does just that.
Love happens when…
You’re open to new opportunities, possibilities, and perspectives. I think this is true in general, but especially in interior design. I believe that to create a space that you truly, unapologetically, inherently love to be in begins when you open yourself up to the world, your community, and allow forces of nature, both organic and inorganic to inspire you. It’s this cosmic force that you love, but can’t explain; you just know when you walk into a room and think, “this must be the place”.