That's right! In partnership with REstyleSOURCE, I'm heading to Las Vegas to sit on the Best of the West Panel at market on July 31st. I'll join Nicole Davis, Brady Tolbert, Jeni Maus, and Caitlin Creer on a panel moderated by the guys of Consort Design to discuss rising trends and the enduring decor traditions that make Western design really stand out. So many of the native design trends of the American West are ones that I implement in my own home. Think: light-filled, breezy spaces and funky antiques with lots of character. What's more, the inspiration behind tasteful Western aesthetic comes from a similar place as The New Southern. It's comfortable, not stuffy. Stylish, but definitely not forced. And it's such an amazing example of how the Southern look and lifestyle translates across the country! I'm excited to share my unique point of view as a photographer (perhaps the first on this panel ever!), as there are tons of styling tricks you learn as you're looking at a space behind a lens. PLUS, it's my first time at market, so I look forward to seeing what all the hustle and bustle is really like. See you shopping!!! Xx
From coast to coast, strong female voices are making waves in the design industry, particularly in the South, where a more modern aesthetic and outlook is replacing the stuffy, unapproachable interiors that used to be the norm. But what we love about Jordan Winston, design director at Tampa-based Oxford Design Studio, is her appreciation for the past and the innovative nature in which she’s connecting it to the present. “Traditional Southern style is what influenced me to become a designer,” notes Winston, “the over-the-top matching textiles and packaged furniture sets; I still hold onto that foundation as a designer.”
Winston is taking note of the push out of the unapproachable, like the formal living room, and instead “creating spaces that are livable,” she says. “I desire to create meaningful spaces where the atmosphere feels inviting and personable, while also establishing a level of sophistication. My Southern sensibilities inspire me to craft from local resources, repurposing when I can, and building for beauty and ease of use. Modern Southern style is about throwing away the rule book,” Winston adds, and feeling the freedom to mix pieces, old and new, periods and styles. “It’s an appreciation for the casual, and for the pieces that call for conversation instead of formality.”
Winston’s work is on full display at Tampa’s Oxford Exchange, a stunning mixed-use space that served as the catalyst for the launch of Oxford Design Studio. Here, we sat down with the firm’s design director to hear how Southern style is altering the way she works.
Alyssa Rosenheck: What are your favorite local design boutiques?
Jordan Winston: I love Antique Galleries of St. Petersburg; it’s the thrill of the find and I love sourcing one-of-a kind items for my clients. Of course, I love the retail store at Oxford Exchange. It’s my go-to place for accessorizing clients’ homes. There’s a large selection of coffee table books, unique vessels and accessories, and cashmere throws.
AR: Best shade of black and white?
JW: Alabaster and Black Fox by Sherwin Williams. Both of these avoid being too white or too black, and each color has the power to provide warmth and freshness to a space.
AR: What’s a color that sets a certain mood?
JW: For me, Carolina Blue. It seems to evoke calmness and sophistication while also having personality, and it plays well with other colors. There is an air of wisdom to that shade of blue. It can read traditional or modern, and it has an age and depth to it.
AR: Where do you go to get inspired?
JW: Easy, home. I grew up in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. There is so much rich, natural beauty there and the personality of the place is restorative. It’s also where I first experienced my love for humble design. I admire the beauty of aging—a place that has a story to tell through the dings on a piece of furniture or a well-worn leather seat that is at the right level of comfortable after years of use.
AR: How do you make a house a home?
JW: Homes need to have less rooms, and those rooms need to facilitate quality conversation. I always encourage flexible seating when designing a furniture plan. Flexible seating takes up very little room and can easily be moved from place to place. Usually these are vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces, so now not only are they functional, but they’re capable of eliciting a conversation of their own and add character to the space. It’s like saying, “Pull up a seat and let’s talk!”
AR: Life advice you’ve gotten that made all the difference?
JW: Be yourself and draw from where you came from.
AR: What about design advice?
JW: Take your time. I had a professor in college really emphasize the fact that good, thoughtful design should not be rushed. It’s OK to carve out room to think before you start drawing or selecting. In the end, your client appreciates the time you took to hone in on their wants and needs. It provides them with a design plan that truly reflects their personality. With so many options available at the click of a button, it’s easy to just jump in and pull together a room in a day. I must remind myself to slow down.
AR: What’s your advice for mixing old with new?
JW: Do it. There is nothing that can replace the character of an older piece, whether it is vintage, a fine antique, or heirloom art. Incorporating an older element makes the new pop, feel more approachable, and invites conversation. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have a good balance of both and know your limits. Plan out your percentage of old and new based on the space and the wishes of a client. Sometimes just one beautiful antique chest is all the old you need to change the room completely.
AR: Tell us something we probably don’t know.
JW: I was a fifth-grade school teacher for 4.5 years before entering the interior design industry. Even while teaching, I found the design and layout of the classroom intriguing. Space planning was key in running a well-behaved class and keeping students interested and comfortable in their environment.
AR: Design book you’ll always have on your shelf?
JW: Art of the House by Bobby McAlpine and Susan Ferrier. The poetic language they use reminds me to keep defining and developing my design sensibility; it’s a reminder to keep mixing the fine and found, the new and old.
AR: What’s on your nightstand?
JW: Right now, vintage lamps I found at a local thrift store, a curated stack of coffee table books, and a long bone-shelled box. I utilize my nightstand so I don’t like to crowd that space. I’m also a big advocate for using covered boxes on nightstands to store items you tend to quickly set down before going to bed—phone chargers, jewelry, and face creams. When styled, it looks clean, fresh, and not too fussy.
I am a firm believer that beauty comes from inner confidence along with a strong daily practice of gratitude. It also comes from truly knowing yourself, what works best for you, and what keeps you happy and healthy. I’ve received a lot of love lately on social media regarding my day-to-day beauty routine, and I am so happy to start sharing my go-to tricks with you!
First up, let’s talk hair. As many of you probably know (and have the prom pictures to prove it!) it’s very easy to go overboard with a curling iron. Over the years, I’ve found a handful of products that I love and a quick daily process that creates the perfect waves for any occasion. Whether I’m shooting and scouting in a t-shirt and jeans, or catching up with clients for a night out, here’s how I create easy, polished curls every day! Xx
After washing and conditioning my hair, I carefully towel dry my locks. I use a very affordable shampoo and conditioner: L'Oreal EverPure Volume Shampoo and Conditioner
Then, I apply BUMBLE AND BUMBLE INVISIBLE OIL HEAT/UV PROTECTIVE PRIMER (shop it below!) Spraying 2 to 3 pumps into the palm of my hand, I work it into the ends of my hair. I don't love when products weigh down my hair, but I love this oil! It’s very lightweight and a little goes a long way. I have been using this for years!!
Before I blow it dry, I brush my damp hair and part it down the middle. Then, I use the absolute best hair dryer I have ever owned!! The DRY BAR ‘BUTTERCUP’ HAIR DRYER (shop it below!) is my favorite and cuts my dry time in half... no joke. It’s a little pricey, but completely worth it. This big, yellow mamma jamma goes everywhere with me. While maintaining the part, I get my hair about 90% dry.
The bigger the round brush, the better! Just like the old Southern saying goes... “the higher the hair the closer to…” you know. I take the brush ULTA LARGE BARREL BRUSH (shop it below!) to smooth out any fly-aways, especially with the top portion of my crown. I section off my layers (while still maintaining the part!) and dry with a round brush throughout. This smooths out my layers, gives a boost of volume, and keeps the frizz under control.
Next, I turn to an oldie but goodie. I’ve been using a HOT TOOLS 1.5-INCH CURLING IRON (shop it below!) for years, and it’s such a great tool that lasts. To achieve that beachy waves look, I break up each side into thirds and curl each section away from the face. I start the curl towards the root and leave about 2 inches at the end uncurled. This ensures a more natural look—and less like I am on my way to a dance recital circa 1991!
Step 6: The most important step! This next product is literally a unicorn in a bottle—not kidding, it’s pure magic and every women needs to own this. It’s called BUMBLE AND BUMBLE DRYSPUN (shop it below!), and it’s a super light texturizing spray that’s the perfect finishing touch. Think: Victoria’s Secret model mid-runway type volume! After each curl, I spray a little bit of this at my root. And when I’ve completely curled all the way through, I spray a little bit more again, only at the root. After letting it set for a minute, I run my hands through my tresses to loosen all the curls... and that’s it.
“Worlds are colliding, in the best way,” says Leanne Ford, an interior designer based between her homes in Pittsburgh (where she was born and raised) and Los Angeles, of the way cultures, eras, and regions are merging more than ever before. Southern is no longer confined to the South, nor is a nautical aesthetic reserved for homes that reside on the coast. “I’m just thankful that genres can mix, and thanks to the internet and affordable means of travel, people can see more of the world and bring everything they love together into their homes,” Ford adds.
Known for her collected, effortlessly chic interiors, and for being a powerful force in the movement of strong female leadership, Ford has built a design aesthetic all her own, growing from a base that has a distinctly Southern feel. “My style is a mix of old and new, shiny and rusty, found and saved for,” she says. “It is a curation of all styles together, which of course always has a touch of Southern in there. To me, that means it’s cozy, warm, and welcoming, with just the slightest touch of fancy.” We couldn’t agree more.
Here, get to know the person behind the designs, an artistic soul, she says, which is always creating. “A house, a room, a poem, a song, a photoshoot, art…just something.”
Alyssa Rosenheck: What are some of your favorite boutiques in Pittsburgh?
Leanne Ford: Weisshouse on Highland Avenue has the best new treasures, and go to Garden Style Living for the best beautifully shabby chic type of vintage. Tristate Antiques is my midcentury secret weapon.
AR: What’s the perfect shade of black and white?
LF: I am a white paint addict! My go-to for a pure white is Behr Ultra White. My favorite black is a warmer black, Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams.
AR: What’s your life motto?
LF: If you’re not making anyone nervous, you’re not doing anything special. During the design process, I even make myself nervous half the time. But those questionable creative decisions are always the ones that turn out to be my favorite parts of the design. Which reminds me of my other life motto: “the fear of failure kills creativity.” Albert Einstein said this and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t be afraid to blow it. If you are afraid to mess up then you aren’t pushing yourself or the boundaries. Failing at creative projects really isn’t failing at all. It’s just something you need to adjust to make work.
AR: What’s the one shade that changes everything?
LF: White is everything. It’s bright and cheery, it's warm and inviting, it’s the silence between the chords, it’s the poetry of the room. Can you tell that it’s my favorite?
AR: Where do you go to get inspired?
LF: Everywhere always. Just look up, it’s all inspiring—the way the light hits a room, the font painted on the window, grandma’s wallpaper. If you really stop and think about it, it all inspires your brain to think. Some of my favorite words or phrases that I write down as poetry are things that I misheard someone say. Design is the same way. You may pull out something entirely different from a space than it really is. Fine! That’s amazing. So, that, and Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ve been visiting it since I was a kid, and I swear, that place influences everything I do.
AR: How do you turn a house into a home?
LF: Personalize it. My number one rule about decorating for others is this: the client is first. Ignore the trends—what’s in, what’s out, what’s on the way in, what’s on the way out. It’s all irrelevant. What matters first and foremost is what the client wants, needs, have, loves, feels good in, feels attached to. Work with that first and then the actual space is second. Listen to your client, then listen to your house, it will tell you what it needs to feel good. And it’s usually texture, white paint, some personal treasures and incredible lighting.
AR: Advice you’ve received that made all the difference?
LF: My dad would always tell me, “don’t major in the minors.” It means, don’t worry about the little things, don’t stress about what’s not important, and don’t waste your time on something that isn’t part of your grand plan for life.
I was a smart kid growing up and got all As. It was easy for me in grade school and middle school, so when I got to high school I was planning on continuing to get all As. My mom saw how much kids struggled and missed out on enjoying their high school experience in pursuit of that perfect report card, and she said, “Leanne! Get a B early. That way you can relax and enjoy yourself in school.” I love her for that advice.
When I was 20 I graduated college early and moved to New York to get into fashion. When I was totally over hitting the streets, looking for a position in fashion, I told this older man at the restaurant I was working at about it, and I told him I was going to go into pharmaceutical sales instead. He looked at me and said, “Just remember, when you start climbing in your career and you get to the top of the corporate ladder, you better make sure you climbed the right one.”
AR: Any rules for mixing old with new?
LR: There are no rules in creativity, but an easy no-fail tactic is to keep them all in the same color story. This way the eye feels relaxed, no matter how much or what it is.
AR: Fill the blank, “my momma always said…”
LF: Put some lipstick on, Leanne! (I have yet to listen.)
AR: What’s currently on your nightstand?
LF: A big stack of worn, loved, and written-all-over books. And the prettiest light.
AR: Any advice for young entrepreneurs just starting out in a creative field?
LF: Just do it. If you have it in you to go at it on your own, then you have no choice and you’ll not rest until you do it. Do it now and enjoy the benefits of your youth and your freedom. Live poor if you have to, but live happy! I have noticed that once you set your mind, intentions, time, and brain to one thing, that very thing will become your source of success and happiness.