Shayla Copas is an award-winning, nationally featured interior designer, author and television host. She founded Shayla Copas Interiors in 1997 and has grown her business tremendously to encompass an entire lifestyle brand, Shayla Copas Lifestyle. “Southern Glam” is her signature style, and her easygoing personality is as charming as the hues she uses for her accessories.


We sat down with Shayla in the midst of a busy travel schedule for a one-on-one to catch up on how we can all freshen up our space a bit.


AY: Where do you look for inspiration when you’re designing a space you really love?

Shayla Copas: I really get inspired by travel and by fashion. I travel quite a bit, so I’m continually taking notes, snapping photos and dreaming while I travel.


AY: Speaking of visuals, briefly tell us about your new website,

SC: We started working on the site quite a while ago and it just launched in October. We’re now a lifestyle brand, so we’re not only interior design, but lifestyle, which includes interior design, product design and travel design.


AY: Where is your favorite place to travel?

SC: That’s really hard! It’s like choosing a favorite kid or a favorite purse. It changes depending on where I’ve been recently. I just got back from Antarctica, which was not a place on my bucket list when I went, but I became inspired in every direction I looked, and I had no idea it would be so amazing.


AY: Because fashion inspires you, what is your fashion must-have? What about your interior design must-have?

SC: From a fashion standpoint, your handbag is really your statement piece, and I collect them. I believe the handbag makes the outfit. It’s the finishing touch and the statement piece.

The outfit doesn’t feel complete until you have the purse and the shoes. It’s the same thing with the home. The layering and the accessories really make the house. That’s what finishes it off and makes it feel like a home. I think a lot of people forget to do that. They’ll choose their main pieces like their sofas and chairs, then they’ll forget to layer in artwork and lighting, such as a key chandelier, which makes such a difference. Make sure you leave room to accessorize, or the home will never feel totally finished.


AY: How can homeowners design a space free of clutter?

SC: One thing I see homeowners do too often is collect too many things – too many tchotchkes in the house. They display things from where they’ve traveled; they go to a home décor store. The problem with that is things aren’t going to be to the correct scale for the house, so that’s how you get too many things, and you get too much clutter. If you aren’t trained in what size something needs to be, then you’ll buy very small accessories, and you’ll never feel fulfilled. You’ll continually purchase things because you’ll want it to feel complete. When you hire a professional, we know the scale and the types of things that need to be in the room, and then you really don’t have to declutter.


AY: How do you keep things timeless with color?

SC: Beauty is all in the eye of the beholder. We can look at timeless on a grand scale based on what everybody else thinks, but what’s timeless to one person is not timeless to another. We really need to design the way that we live and the way that we love. It’s important for us to listen to clients to figure out what is timeless to them, meaning it will last a long time, to where they will love it and they won’t get tired of it.

For instance, people are really sick of gray right now because it was in for a really long time, and it’s going out. But then there are some clients who love gray, and it’s something that they gravitate towards, so it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need to go gray, it just means the rest of the world isn’t gravitating towards it right now. It’s timeless to them. And you can always layer in accessories with the hot colors right now that are trendier, but still keep it the way the clients like it.

To me, timeless is classic. I like a traditional design. But to another who likes a contemporary design, their timeless might look different from my timeless.


AY: How do you understand your clients so well?

SC: You have to interview clients and know what they love. It’s like when an actor starts to become their character in a movie. As a designer, it’s the same thing. We start to feel the way that person does in that home. You step right into their character just like you were on a set of a movie and stepping into a role. You really do get in tune with what the client likes as you step into that character.

We have an in-depth client intake that we do, and this interview process helps us to really understand the client, so we can make their home timeless and can give their design longevity, where they don’t get tired of it.


AY: What is your favorite color scheme for clients and for you personally?

SC: That depends on what day you ask! I’m always designing, so I’m always saying, “This is my new favorite.” We get kind of attached to some of the things we work on. I love a soft, glamorous palette for myself. It’s very lush and filled with texture, has some punches of color, but some places to breathe. What I mean by that is, you aren’t overstimulated by the room, and it just feels so serene when you walk in, and it almost feels like you’re a princess.


AY: What are some of your go-to accessories in the new collection?

SC: I design the things I like and the things I want to place in peoples’ homes. We have several product lines, and a lot of the products we design are go-to’s. We have a tray, the Copas Serving Tray in the Chelsea House line, that people like because there are some bright colors for those who are a little edgier, and then there are more neutral tones, like cream, as well.

We also have a lamp with Chelsea House right now that has an acrylic base with a gold detail at the bottom. It’s very nice, classic and so timeless.


AY: What are some clever ways to use a space practically while maintaining its beauty?

SC: We use really beautiful baskets quite a bit to store blankets by rolling them up and putting off to the side. There are some great storage options now for ottomans. They can be used as cocktail tables that open up and you can place blankets inside.

Really looking into storage-friendly options in furnishings in your hard surfaces like your cocktail tables, side tables and sideboards versus upholstery is key. When designing, storage is something that we always think about and where can the client store the things they love. We usually talk to them about it and ask how much storage they will need, because some will need to hide games or toys, so we might do a large sideboard under the TV that has quite a bit of storage to hide those things.


AY: Are there any tricks to making a tiny space appear more spacious?

SC: Scale is everything, and that’s why you want to hire a professional because we understand that. Color also makes a difference on how large a space looks. In my opinion, the lighter the color on the walls, the larger the room looks. If you’re trying to make it look larger and especially the ceilings look taller, you’re going to need to go lighter.

In a very small room, if you want it to look larger, you’re definitely not going to want to put a dark, deep red on the wall. But, if you wanted it to appear smaller, more intimate and cozy, then you would put that deeper color. Sometimes in a smaller space you want it to be cozy, and you’re not trying to make it appear larger.


AY: What is key to you for the best interior design?

SC: I think less is more, and accessories should be done by a professional. They should buy less and buy very, very good things, and then you don’t have to buy again for a long time, if ever. And when you’re happy with your space, just like your closet in fashion, you’re not continually buying. When you’re not happy with what you bought last week, then you continue to buy.


AY: Do you design very many closets, and what is the key to a cute closet?

SC: Yes! That’s one of my favorite spaces to design. Designing closets is an art. The key to a cute closet is making it look like a Neiman Marcus boutique. Incorporate spaces with glass doors to see inside and then glass shelves for heels and handbags. Also, some that are closed up because some things you just don’t want to see because they’re not as pretty or they’re transition pieces.

You really need a good mixture of open closet space to grab the things you need and you get to often, and then closed doors you can’t see through and everything is hidden. Finally, lighting inside to illuminate your handbags, heels, perfume and the things that are really special to you. Tape lights can also be used inside custom cabinetry, where no one can see it, but once turned on, illuminates all around the closet. If you have glass doors, it’s very, very pretty.


AY: What projects are you currently working on professionally and personally?

SC: We have several projects we are currently working on — too many to count! We do mainly luxury designs, so we’re working continually on the luxury projects and commercial projects as well. I’m also working on my own houseboat and completely renovating it, which is fun.


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