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Nona Elle: From Lawyer to Designer, Her Inspiring Career Journey

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elle fanning
elle fanning

In this Article, Nona Elle isn’t your traditional interior designer. Before she founded Studio MRS in 2011, she enjoyed a successful legal career but always felt drawn toward design; upon moving to Brooklyn she pursued this passion full-time, creating elegant spaces with refined vintage elements for clients across the United States.

nona elle
nona elle

How She Made the Switch

Elle recalls loving design from childhood onward, often rearrangeing her bedroom furniture and collecting magazines for design-related inspiration. After studying law at Harvard and working as a corporate lawyer for some time, Elle never felt fulfilled with her work because she preferred its creative aspects such as contract drafting and negotiations deals.

She made the leap into design as she and her husband purchased a brownstone in Brooklyn. Although initially hiring a contractor for renovation work, she soon realized she knew exactly how she wanted the house to look and took over project herself to create something truly stunning that reflected her personal taste and style. Although challenging but rewarding overall, this experience gave her confidence to pursue design as a profession.

She enrolled in a certificate program at the New York School of Interior Design and began taking small projects for friends and family, while blogging about her work and providing design tips. Over time, she gradually developed both a portfolio and reputation – eventually leaving law for good to focus solely on designing.

What Sets Her Apart

Elle believes her design philosophy should create spaces that are both beautiful and functional, reflecting her client’s quality of life and individual personality. She enjoys mixing different styles, periods, textures and creation an eclectic and distinct look in each project she works on – particularly vintage pieces which add character and charm.

One of her signature projects is her Greek Revival townhouse in New Orleans, featured as one of two covers for April 2023 issue of ELLE DECOR2. She fell in love with its architecture, wanting to honor its history and culture through its design. To do so she preserved original features like fireplaces, moldings and floors while adding modern elements like custom wallpaper, colorful art pieces and contemporary furniture pieces – as well as keeping its historic charm.

She currently works on residential projects in New York, Georgia and New Hampshire and delights in working with clients from different backgrounds and locations, always trying to include elements that reflect their heritage and lifestyle in her designs. Her inspiration comes from everything around her – nature to art to fashion – and she believes she continues to learn and advance as a designer.

Her Advice for Aspiring Designers

Elle suggests that anyone interested in design should follow their passion and remain persistent. Although transitioning between fields can be challenging, taking hard work, dedication, and patience. Elle acknowledges having experienced many difficulties along her journey but never gave up her dream.

As she says, mentorship and having supportive peers in the industry are of utmost importance in design. She credits other designers both online and off for offering invaluable guidance and feedback that has led her to becoming successful designer herself. Furthermore, she endeavours to give back by sharing her knowledge and experience with other members of the design community.

She finds great satisfaction in witnessing the joy and satisfaction of her clients as they see their completed spaces, feeling honored to be part of their lives and help create their dream homes. Additionally, she hopes her work encourages other to pursue their passions and live authentically.

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