For those in the world of architecture and design — Marie Flanigan, owner of Marie Flanigan Interiors, needs no introduction. While her homebase is in Houston, Texas, her full-service interior design firm has made its way to commercial spaces and luxury homes across the country. Rooted and educated in commercial architecture, she has a signature edge that finds a way to remain simplistic and elegant. This award-winning interior designer has always gravitated towards visual expression and her success in the space shines through her internationally published work.
As an interiors and architectural photographer and stylist, the root of my own success stands on thinking outside the box, leading from a place of vulnerability, collaboration, championing my clients, and creating meaningful daily content. Marie is carrying the same torch — uncovering and inspiring beauty within the homes and lives of her national clientele alongside a team of nine other creative women. By turning her passions into a way to serve others, she is fulfilling her own desires while inviting people home to an environment that they can love. Her sophisticated use of color and texture contributes to her idea that The New Southern is about ‘creating meaningful impact through contrast’. Slowing down, celebrating unique stories and doing more of what speaks to her heart is what makes Marie’s design work so distinguished.
The New Southern embraces risk takers that not only dedicate themselves to their passion projects but bring light and lift the souls they cross along the way. Marie is one of these New Southerners, delivering a tasteful blend of connection and imagination to the business. Full of taking risks and exquisitely marrying architecture with design elements — she’s a design maven worth mentioning and I’m so happy to have her with us!
Alyssa Rosenheck: Tell us about yourself…
Marie Flanigan: I live in the Heights neighborhood of Houston with my husband and two little boys, John (age 4) and William (9 months). I grew up in a small Texas town and was blessed with a very creative family — my brothers and sisters are musically talented, and I’ve always gravitated towards a more visual expression. I earned my Bachelor of Architecture degree and began my career at an architecture firm shortly thereafter. It was only once I transitioned to a firm that managed both architecture and interior design projects that I discovered my passion for interiors. I was delighted to be stepping out from behind the computer to connect with families and develop solutions that would enrich their home experience. The work remains technical, but it feels so much more meaningful to me. Over the years I also grew to love the strategy and marketing techniques that ensure growth for smaller businesses and decided to pursue a Masters in Business Administration. In 2010, with my MBA in hand, I married my two passions and opened the doors to Marie Flanigan Interiors. Today, we are a team of nine women connected through creativity and service, helping clients across the country uncover the beauty of home.
AR: How are you modernizing / updating Southern style when you design?
MF: Modern Southern style pays homage to historic sensibilities in fresh, unexpected ways. It is thoughtfully curated and exquisitely restrained, creating meaningful impact through contrast. The union of old with new, raw with refined, and ornate with streamlined creates timeless, richly layered interiors that will remain authentic for generations to come.
AR: What innovative trends are you seeing with Southern design across the country?
MF: In a world where we are inundated with information and new trends magically appear overnight, I’ve enjoyed the steady shift towards doing less of what the latest style reports tell you to do and more of what speaks to your heart. This challenges us as designers to reimagine, rejuvenate and take risks. Slowing down and paying attention to every detail in order to celebrate its unique story is a decidedly Southern approach. In our clients’ homes, I definitely see an increased desire for reinvigorating formal entertaining spaces and embracing distinctive architectural details in lieu of removing them.
AR: What are your favorite hometown design boutiques?
MF: Houston is filled with inspiring showrooms and, with such a vibrant and diverse city, new places pop up every year! A few of our tried and true favorites are AREA, FOUND for the Home, MECOX, Chateau Domingue, and Vieux Interiors!
AR: Favorite shade of white and black paint color?
MF: White...Benjamin Moore Cloud White. Black...Farrow & Ball Pitch Black.
AR: What’s your life motto?
MF: Uncover and inspire beauty in the lives of others.
AR: The one shade that changes everything?
MF: White is color in its purest form. It is the pause, the blank canvas that restores a calming sense of balance. I turn to subtle, soothing whites when I want to quiet one element and in turn allow others the opportunity to be seen and heard.
AR: The place you go to get inspired?
MF: I am inspired most by people and travel. New places and different cultures help me to view familiar ones with fresh eyes. I’m also an artist at heart, so perusing a gallery or admiring another artist’s work always leaves me feeling refreshed.
AR: The key to making a house a home? What does a home need more of and less of?
MF: More intentionality. Less stuff. A home should be a curated collection of the items that bring beauty to the lives of the people who live there. We are the best version of ourselves in the spaces that ease and inspire us. Sift out the clutter and distill down to the essence of what you cherish most. The result will be an enduring and timeless environment that brings light and lift to those within.
AR: Life advice you’ve gotten that made all the difference?
MF: A mentor once shared that there are four quadrants of importance for the things we do every day:
Most of us fill our time with the third category of non-important yet urgent tasks every day. However, the items in the second category are often the MOST important, and they almost never get our time or attention. It’s so important to prioritize our days so that we are spending valuable minutes in the first two quadrants. Once I started viewing my to-do list within this framework, my life and business changed for the better.
AR: What’s the best piece of business advice you could provide for creative entrepreneurs starting out?
MF: Find a way for your passions to serve others. The work will come when you discover where a need exists and then provide a valuable service that fulfills that need. Also, as cliché as it sounds, don’t be afraid of what anyone else thinks. People are always going to have opinions, but staying true to who you are is essential to creating work that is meaningful to you and the outside world.
AR: Design book you’ll always have on your shelf?
MF: Style by Saladino by John F. Saladino. John’s exquisite approach to design sparked my passion for the art of mixing old with new.
AR: What’s your dream project/client?
MF: SO many dreams, so little time! To start, I’ve fallen in love with Nottingham Cottage where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be putting down roots. They share a warmth of spirit and classic sense of style that is so appealing. It would be a joy to collaborate with them to create a home that encapsulates their most treasured life moments.
As far as dream projects are concerned, I have my sights set on the development of an MFI furniture collection. I’m not sure when or how that will happen, but it’s a concept that I am very excited about!