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Living room with vibrant walls and abstract art frames on them, orange and pink couches with colorful cushions on an orange carpet, with a plant by the window

Courtney McLeod Says “Get Beyond the Beige!”

Interior designer Courtney McLeod

Interior designer Courtney McLeod says it’s time to “get beyond the beige.” Based in NYC, she showcases a variety of home and business interiors full of vibrant pinks, oranges, greens, blues, grays, browns, and yellows. 

Her work suggests that people are moving away from simple and subdued looks toward bolder interiors. 

In a November 2022 interview with Architectural Digest, McLeod says she’s “seeing an embrace of maximalism over minimalistic styles. Sofas drenched in color, pattern, trim, fringe, and pillows. Velvets continue to be a popular fabric choice, as well as bold prints.” 

Some of the interiors she showcases on social media include balloons, huge floral arrangements, intricate paintings on living room walls, and touches of whimsy, such as bananas painted over an entire hallway near a child’s bedroom. 

To McLeod, there isn’t one singular look that screams “good taste.” The ultimate luxury, as she says, is the ability to personalize your space.

How Finance Prepared Her for Full-Brained Design

Courtney McLeod’s business handles a wide range of projects, from an interior decor refresh for a client’s apartment to a full-scale commercial project, working in consultation with architects to design a building from the ground up. 

The name comes from her concept of combining right-brain aesthetic sense with left-brain analytical concerns for detail, analysis, and return on a client’s investment. 

McLeod worked in finance for 15 years before becoming a designer, earning a business degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and becoming a leading portfolio manager in real estate private equity. 

She brings the rigor and logic she learned from that into her current line of work. Also, having managed finances for real estate developers gave her a sense of how to speak their language and provide effective assistance with staging commercial properties for sale. 

McLeod says that she’d have made the career transition into her true passion even earlier if she’d known how well her background would prepare her for entrepreneurship. She also suggests that other aspiring designers learn the basics of business accounting before opening their studios. 

Born and raised Creole in New Orleans, McLeod says her background has informed her taste, along with her extensive travels throughout Europe and Asia. Although she currently lives in Harlem, she says she’ll always be a Southerner at heart. 

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Professional Recognition

McLeod debuted on the Elle Decor A-List as someone who “does not fear a yellow wall or quake at the sight of an orange sofa.”

She received the Rising Star Award from Decoration and Design Building in 2022, was named an Emerging Designer To Watch by Luxe Magazine in 2019, and made the 1stdibs Top 50 Interior Designers List in 2022.

House Digest considers her one of the most inspiring Black interior designers to watch and encourages people to follow her on Instagram. NBC’s Open House NYC featured some of her interiors as part of a series on “homes that aren’t afraid to take chances.” 

Also, one honor that makes McLeod extremely grateful is her recent election to the Board of Trustees of the New York School of Interior Design. 
“I look forward to making the most of this opportunity to open doors in the industry for students and designers of color. A decade ago, an introductory course at this school was my first baby step into the industry and a new life. This is a true full-circle moment. I hope to make all those who have opened doors for me along the way proud.”

Bold, Bespoke Interiors

McLeod’s favorite clients are new homeowners and empty-nesters, people looking to move into a new phase of life. She loves to work with people in transition to create bespoke interiors that fit their lifestyles and reflect their personalities.

She explains, “We utilize a kaleidoscopic toolbox of texture, pattern, and color to create a singular and cohesive expression of each client’s unique personality and lifestyle.”

She encourages clients to get out there, take risks, and boldly express their personal styles.

McLeod says, “Pattern and color are such powerful tools to create emotional moments in your home—don’t be afraid to use them.”

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