Interior Designer Megan Molten of Charleston, S.C., partnered with Universal Furniture on the Flower Magazine Baton Rouge show house, which debuted in November 2023. Below, she gives us the dish on creating the exotic space, plus her thoughts on the elements of a good design business.
At what moment, or in what experience, did you decide to become an interior designer?
After purchasing my first home, designing it and sharing it on social media, I quickly gained a following. Soon friends, their friends and eventually clients, began hiring me. Fast forward six months and I quit my 12-year career in medical sales and started my design business.
Tell me a little bit about your design firm. How long have you been in business?
I opened my doors on January 1, 2018.
Are most of your projects based in the South?
Most of our high-end design projects are in the Charleston area including waterfront homes in Mt. Pleasant, Sullivans Island, Kiawah Island and surrounding coastal towns.
How long have you been a customer of Universal Furniture?
From the very beginning of my design career. I recently saw photos from our first High Point market where we viewed the Coastal Living Collection. We source many of those pieces for our clients because they are perfect for our aesthetic being coastal, bright, and with lots of woven touches. The Coastal Living Collection matches our look and helps us stay within budget.
What makes Universal stand out among other furnishing partners?
Universal is unique because they have a variety of styles that mix and match so well together. Whether your client is coastal, traditional or modern you can find something to suit their style at Universal. Recently, I had the opportunity to curate products from their lines for the Flower Magazine Showhouse, showcasing the versatility and customizability of these items. We selected unique, rich upholstery fabrics and paired them with elevated case goods finishes. I achieved the perfect blend of luxury, modernity, and fun, just as I intended.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned while leading your own firm?
Mistakes are opportunities for growth. We’ve made a lot of them over the years as we are young and still learning. Each time we mess up we take a step back and learn from it. That’s one of the biggest contributors to our success in a short amount of time – a lot of mistakes!
Do you have any quotes that guide your business or your life?
Our core company values are kindness, honesty, respect and positivity. I’ve found that if I practice these principles in everyday interactions with clients, customers, vendors and staff I will always feel good about what I‘m doing.
What are the most important qualities to have in a vendor/business partner?
I respect honesty above all. When a vendor can be straightforward about what they can and cannot do and when they make mistakes, that shows true character and earns my respect.
Do you have some favorite lines or collections from Universal?
Miranda Kerr, hands down! I love all the clean lines, modern accents and brass touches. There’s also a lot of blush pink which is my signature color. We like using Miranda Kerr’s pieces because you can take them out of the showroom and put them in a space and they look completely different, but always elevated.
What is it that draws you to the Universal Furniture showroom at High Point Market?
The staff at Universal is always so welcoming! We know we can relax, hang out,get a drink and a bite to eat at their showroom. But most of all it’s knowing we are going to see something new each time we visit, such as collection additions, fabrics or a pop-up vendor. There’s always something new and exciting happening in the showroom.
How does Universal make your job easier?
One incredible tool on the Universal website is the ability to put fabrics on the upholstery pieces. Our clients must understand what their furniture will look like, which helps us sell the products. After the supply chain disruptions over the last few years, having 90% of the website inventory in stock is crucial as we try to return to more typical turnaround times.
Tell us about the Flower show house project.
The Universal team wanted to highlight their custom upholstery options. It was easy given I had the largest room in the house, the media room, and it needed lots of large, comfortable upholstery pieces. My design vision was inspired by the fabric selections I found at the Universal Design Center. I knew I wanted to incorporate lots of sage green and mauvy pink.
Help us visualize the room you created.
The media room came to life after we found the jungle wallpaper. We incorporated big, woven chandeliers, serpent side tables, porcupine mirrors and a large custom cheetah print rug. The stripes on the ceiling were influenced by the Beverly Hills Hotel and gave the space a jungle tent vibe. The Universal pieces stand up to the large room and fill it beautifully.
How long did the project take?
I started the concept of the space in April of 2023 and the installation was in October of 2023.
Beyond the Flower Show House, what’s your favorite project you’ve completed using Universal Furniture products?
I would say the primary suite makeover in my own home. When I saw a furry low-profile bed at Market I knew I had to have it. We added some funky wallpaper to the ceiling, modern lighting and the exquisite leather bench from the Erinn V X Universal Collection at the foot of the bed to give the space a new, elevated vibe. I love it!
Nightstands: Nina Magon x Universal (discontinued)