Inherited and Inspired: 9 Designers (plus me) Express Gratitude for Mom

Maybe they’re born with it. Maybe it’s an acquired skill. Whether nature, nurture, or an enviable cocktail of both, many designers credit Mom with influencing their decision to work in the world of interiors and their ability to succeed. Whether they run/ran a professional design business or are/were deft decor hobbyists, the importance of creating a special at-home experience and the joy in doing so was clearly communicated. On the near eve of Mother’s Day, 9 designers (and one editor) share gratitude for those matriarchs who helped shape and catapult their careers.


Libby Langdon, daughter of Mary Ann Luedtke

I cannot imagine moving into the design industry without all of the guidance, support, confidence and insight that my incredible Mom gave me in the beginning and still shares with me today! She helped set my path as an interior designer that creates warm, comfortable, inviting rooms that people love to live in, because that’s what she does! I have a lot of moving parts with my business ﹘ the client design projects, the media and makeover TV element, and the product design and licensing partnerships. When balancing it all becomes overwhelming or daunting, I think back to some of the best advice my mom gave me on managing things. She said, "You eat the elephant one bite at a time." This helps me step back, take a deep breath, just dig in and start chipping away at the tasks at hand. It’s as if my mom is there whispering in my ear, "You can do this. It will all eventually get done." And she’s so right!

(Barclay, left, Karen and brother Brendan at the opening of Barclay's Corona Del Mar showroom)

(Barclay, left, Karen and brother Brendan at the opening of Barclay's Corona Del Mar showroom)

Barclay Butera, son of Karen Butera

I think the most important influence my mother has had on me is the power of work ethic. When I first began working at her design firm I learned from the ground up; there was no room for error. We were always 100% prepared to meet clients. Paperwork and presentations always in impeccable order; manners, promptness, and professionalism required at all times. I am grateful to her for instilling these principles in me at an early age, as these qualities have always served me well. Big shout out and thanks to my mother Karen Butera!


Bunny Williams, daughter of Bruce Boxley Blackwell

All my mother’s friends would kind of ask her to come and help them with her house. She had a great flair. She loved her house.

(adapted from the podcast    Million Dollar Decorator   )

(adapted from the podcast Million Dollar Decorator)

Shay Geyer, daughter of Beth Rafferty

My mom is an interior designer, started her business when I was about 2, so I was exposed to the Dallas Design Center and Dallas Market Center at a very young age. My mom would bring home fabric samples and I would make outfits and matching bedding for all of my Barbies and Cabbage Patch. It was really early on that I was exposed to it, and I think it was always a part of me. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized it really was a big part of me. When I graduated, I moved back to Dallas and worked under my mom for some years until I built up my own clientele. We still work on projects together. We love the creative side of the business, and any chance to work together, we always have a lot of fun. It really is a blessing to be able to work alongside my family every day.


Grant Gribble, son of Alice Gribble

My mother, Alice, was and is known for being pretty. But there is a lot of pretty that you don’t see: PRETTY Sweet, PRETTY Smart, PRETTY Talented, and most of all….PRETTY Wonderful. She taught me the most important aspects of being an interior designer were to not only have talent, but also to get an education (because even though design is ever-changing, the foundational principles remain a common thread), to set yourself apart, and to uphold the highest of standards -- that the most important thing we can offer our clients is our honesty and our ability to listen to their needs and create environments unique to their lifestyle.


Jason Phillips, son of Julie Phillips

My mom is an amazing woman who I laugh with and learn from on a daily basis. She is where I inherited my creativity and humor. With a Masters in Architecture from Romania, she blazed her own trail in the United States over 3 decades ago and has been a major part of our company since its inception. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you very much.


Julia Buckingham (by the fire c. 1967), daughter of Audrey Henderson Buckingham

My mother never missed an opportunity to cast her 'Irish Magic’ spell on all that she encountered. This happy-go-lucky attitude permeated our lives, and I learned from her example that people skills were at the forefront of any and all businesses that I could one day hope to conquer. Aside from her lovely personality, she had an absolute love for home design and collecting ‘highs and lows’ to fill our home on the North Shore of Chicago. I came home many a day with dusty jeans and a head swirling with the concoctions that my mother painstakingly curated for our home. I must have somehow secretly loved it because no matter when she took off on one of her jaunts…I was always beside her holding her hand. Who knew that this would become my career…..

(Above image from    Fashion Click   ; Quote excerpted from    Iris   , a film directed by Albert Maysles)

(Above image from Fashion Click; Quote excerpted from Iris, a film directed by Albert Maysles)

Iris Apfel, daughter of Syd Barrel

I was very much influenced by my mother... My mother worshiped at the altar of the accessory. My mother could do tricks with a scarf that i never saw anyone else do.


Kate O’Hara, daughter of Martha O’Hara, founder of Martha O’Hara Interiors

When you are working with a woman as smart, confident, and generous as Martha O’Hara, the ‘challenge’ of also being her daughter transforms into joy. I have learned so from my mom, who is crazy talented, but who also has a marshmallow center. She cares so very much for everyone on our staff and every one of our clients. And I won’t lie – I delight in those moments when she says "Oh, ask Kate about that. She knows more than me."

Jane Dagmi