Interview With Designer Hattie Sparks
The New Orleans-based designer curates engaging rooms that sparkle with elegance and eclectic notes
Wovn Home: Your path to interior design was a bit winding, but with your education in art history and architecture and your experience as a shop owner, it seems like a perfect place to use both. What made you take the leap into design full time?HATTIE: I had two retail shops and after seven years, I decided to make a move. The retail landscape had changed, and e-commerce has secured such a prominent foothold. It was exhausting as well, and frankly, I was burned out and wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I then started consulting for retail brands that were considering opening up a store in New Orleans, and I helped with the shop designs as well. Then I went into interior design full time.
How did you go about setting up your business—did you have some projects in the works before going all in?
One reason I had the nerve to go start my design business was because friends had started asking me to help with rooms in their homes, so I already had some clients, and then I got a whole house project, and I felt like I was ready. I have always loved design and studied art and architecture in undergrad and grad school. I love it so much that if I could go back to school, I would definitely study interior design!
How would you describe your decorating style? What is your overall aesthetic?
My decorating style is traditional/modern, and I’m fairly eclectic. I like to layer and pair antiques and vintage pieces alongside more contemporary styles. I love color and pattern so I would probably never decorate an all neutral home!
What design elements can we expect to find in one of your projects? Do you have any signatures?
I love the color green and use it throughout my projects—especially a dustier green/gray hue—I think green is warm and inviting. I love rich woods and vintage rugs, and wallpaper. I adore wallpaper and use it in every design scheme.
What do you think makes a room successful—both beautiful and comfortable?
I think a client said it best. We did a kitchen makeover—new banquette, lighting, and window treatments. After everything was installed, she said “It feels like its always been here.” I want things to blend in seamlessly in every space and feel authentic. Design should be approachable and livable, but nothing should be too precious that it can’t be enjoyed every day.
How do you approach the beginning of a project?
As I start to source for a project based on a list I’ve put together with the client about what is needed, I usually discover a special piece that feels like my client. Then I begin to build around that piece. Sometimes it’s a sofa or a vintage rug with a wonderful color or texture. I take a room-by-room approach in every project, and the initial inspiration for the scheme varies depending on the space and its particular needs.
What do you thinks completes a room?
I think art and window treatments make a space come to life and are the final touches that make a room feel totally pulled together. I like to layer in art towards the end of the process unless the client has particular pieces they want to use in particular locations. I find holding off on the art provides more flexibility in where pieces will go and you can experiment. And I also encourage all my clients to include window treatments in every project—they are functional and decorative, make a room complete, and bring a welcome softness to walls whether its Roman shades or panels.
Tell us about your experience using Wovn Home.
I really like the palette and choices from Wovn Home—classic and very curated, so you are not overwhelmed. Everything is beautifully made, and you’re guided throughout the whole process with very accessible service at all times. When they are installed the incredible quality is so apparent, and Wovn products are well priced for the lovely results.
Do you use a lot of custom pieces in your work?
I do, but it also depends on the budget, but I plan for one per room if I can. Custom pieces make the home such a personal statement for the client and keep a design scheme from feeling homogeneous—sometimes it’s a sofa or window treatment, but a custom piece can be transformational.
Tell us how your adopted city New Orleans inspires you?
New Orleans is such a historic, layered, and textural city with vibrant colors, and it often informs my aesthetic. And there are a so many enticing places here to hunt for special pieces!
What artists and other designers inspire you?
I’m drawn to the work of artist RC Hagans—he’s creates these wonderful layered collage-type pieces. His work brings a strong visual element to any room. The photographer Frank Melle’s work is so inspiring—it’s very moody and engaging. He photographs at night in the bayou with illuminated old oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Another artist is Butch Anthony—he works on these elaborate, detailed paintings and then he white brushstrokes on top on them—with a skeleton or words—quirky and cool. As far as interior designers, I admire the work of Lauren Hood of Progeny Interiors for her superb mix, interesting touches, and happy attitude throughout. Heidi Caillier has this wonderful signature look that does not feel cut and pasted, and she started her business at 35 and I started mine at 33, so I like to follow her story. And Meg Lonergan, is a master at really sophisticated layering—elegant but not too stuffy.
What else inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration when I travel—every place has its own vibe whether it’s frenetic or tranquil, and I love going to new hotels and restaurants and taking in the atmosphere. Surprisingly a recent trip to Las Vegas proved inspirational! The scale of everything and the attention to detail is powerful.
Tell us about a favorite recent project.
I’m working on an 1840’s two-story apartment in the French Quarter with a client who lives in Los Angeles but loves New Orleans. It’s the oldest house I’ve worked on, and the architectural details are just incredible. The prior owner had a lot of large-scale antiques that distracted from the innate beauty of the place. We lightened it up and chose furniture with lower profiles and now the architecture is the star.
If you could cast an eye on the future, what would be the first thing you would design under your name—fabrics or wallpaper or something else?
I’m obsessed with wallpaper! I can sit and look at wallpaper books all day long so that would be the first area even if it’s just a few designs.
Hattie answers the Wovn Home Questionnaire
- An ideal Saturday would include… Spending the day in the backyard with friends over, cooking, and watching the kids play with some sort of game on TV. I feel like I am non-stop during the week, so weekends are really focused on not doing too much and just slowing down.
- If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be I wouldn’t change anything at this point, I’m very content and feel like I’ve hit my stride personally and professionally.
- When and where are you happiest? Colorado during the summer. I spent 10 years of my childhood living in the mountains outside of Aspen and it’s such a happy, peaceful place for me. I’m lucky enough to get to spend a lot of time up there during the summers.
- Name three dream dinner party guests you would include at your table if possible (deceased and/or living) I’m going to pick four—both sets of my grandparents. It would be amazing to see all of them one more time.
- Name five things (food items, beauty, décor, fashion, etc.) that are essential to your well-being or you dread being discontinued. Sunday Riley “Good Genes” lactic acid face cream, Adidas Ultraboost running shoes, Boy Smells “Slow Burn” candle, Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, Mother Denim “The Looker” jeans
- If you weren’t in the interior design business, you might be . . . A travel show host
- If you could only take three books with you on a journey into space, what would they be? The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer, S is for Style—the Schumacher Book of Decoration
- If you could live anywhere, where would it be …… and why? Colorado, in the mountains. It’s where I feel the most at home.
- What was your most memorable meal, where was it, and who was with you? Core in London, a Michelin star restaurant for my 34th birthday, celebrating with my partner Rebecca
- What do you feel is your greatest achievement so far? My children. Nothing I’ll ever accomplish will top the achievement of bringing them into this world.
- What do you do to relax and recharge? Exercise, hot tea, and TikTok! It makes me laugh so hard, and I’ve also learned a lot of useful information from it!
- Your favorite hotels and why. Amanera in the Dominican Republic, Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, The Little Nell in Aspen. The hospitality, attention to detail, and locations cannot be beat!
- If you feel like indulging, what is your food of choice? A buttery steak and red wine
- If you could be something other than human, what would you be? A Monarch butterfly--have you ever not been happy to see a butterfly?
- What are you three favorite movies of all time? You’ve Got Mail, High Fidelity, Pride & Prejudice
- Your musical tastes lean towards . . . Americana jam bands, bluegrass. Brandi Carlile, Dead & Co., Billy Strings are some favorites.
To find out more about Hattie's work, please reach out to her here!