Designer Q & A: J. Randall Powers

Randy Powers Designer Q & A

With an old-soul sensibility yet thoroughly modern eye, this Houston designer creates interiors that balance classic style with current appeal.

Southern Home (SH): When did you get your first inkling you would become a designer?

Randy Powers (RP): I think I’ve always had this innate sense when something doesn’t feel right. At five years old, I was already moving things around. When I was a teenager, my parents had a decorator who was pitching ideas, and as I was looking over her presentation, I thought, “That’s all wrong.” I was pretty vocal about my opinion, and I’m sure she absolutely loved that as she didn’t last too long. Talk about how to win friends and influence people! By the way, I call myself a decorator rather than a designer—it’s so old-school, which I like.

Designer q&A Randal Powers

SH: What makes a room feel right to you?

RP: When it’s visually beautiful, approachable, and comfortable. A room should have the essentials of balance, proportion, scale, and sentimentality. The balance comes from a mix of objects, symmetry, and a palette that moves from light to dark. Ultimately, a successful room doesn’t feel decorated—it looks collected.

SH: During the design stage, what do you consider when thinking about what is going to look both fresh and timeless 20-plus years down the road?

RP: One of the biggest things is that I use patterned fabrics very carefully. I believe that if the silhouettes of the furniture and the architecture are strong enough, they will often end up being the primary “pattern” for the house. If you’re collecting paintings and significant artwork, they should be the focal point. If you have extremely fine English furniture, then your upholstery needs to be quiet. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of printed fabrics that I adore. But I always look at something and think, am I—or more important, is the client—going to tire of this?

Designer q&A Randal Powers

SH: Will you name a few things you’ll never tire of?

RP: A John Saladino glass cylinder lamp. Sisal. White sheets, white towels, white slipcovers—there’s such a purity about them. Quality framing. Skirted tables—I love a tailored one, and sometimes the lack of pretension in a skirted table can be exactly what a room needs. I’m mad for a maidenhair fern or the sculpture of an orchid. And I’ll never tire of wall covering. It has more life and movement than paint.

SH: If you could hop into a time machine and live and decorate in any other era, which one would it be?

RP: I would truly have loved to have been of a certain age in California in the early ’80s as an apprentice for one of the groundbreaking designers such as Michael Taylor, Kalef Alaton, John Dickinson, or Louis Cataffo. They’re all idols of mine and influence my work. I often ask myself, “What would Kalef do?”

Designer q&A Randal Powers

SH: And what would Kalef (or Randy) do?

RP: For Kalef, everything looked curated, not decorated. That is a major design theme in my office. I preach it constantly.

You can find the entire Q & A session with J. Randall Powers in our newest issue of Southern Home magazine.

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