Written by Kaitlin Hill

Designers to Watch: Terri Pakravan

Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels believed, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” His words make a fitting tagline for Middleburg-based designer Terri Pakravan, whose imagination knows no bounds when presented with a new design project or an empty room. Her portfolio is brimming with unique, classic, modern, and funky projects that are testaments to her talent and obvious love of what she does. 

Terri Pakravan, photo by Kaitlin Hill.

When she isn’t busy with an installation, she’s at her Washington Street outpost, Atelier Design & Décor, where clients can shop everything from credenzas to skincare, all part of a Pakravan-picked collection that is as whimsical as she is. 

A native of Dallas, Texas, Pakravan credits her early interest in all things design and décor to her grandmothers. “My two grandmothers lived close by, and they were a huge influence on my creativity and design sense,” she says. “One was a florist, and the other grandmother owned a bed and breakfast. So between the two, I was always decorating a little bit.” 

Pakravan’s early influence encouraged her to attend the New York School of Interior Design. “After I graduated, I worked for an architect in the city,” she says. “We did a lot of commercial projects, big commercial projects. We worked on parts of Grand Central Station and an Armani boutique, things like that.” 

From Grand Central to down south, Pakravan moved to Florida and continued to build her portfolio. “I worked for a firm in Florida for a few years before I decided to branch off and start my own business,” she says. 

In 2016 she was named to the Luxe Magazine Gold List and has been featured in Huffington Post, DC by Design, DC Modern Luxury, and Opulence magazine.

“The best projects are those that I work in tandem with a client. When the client feels comfortable communicating, that is key in every project.”

— Terri Pakravan

In 2019, she opened Atelier Design & Décor in Middleburg after falling in love with the local landscape. “I discovered Middleburg and the whole Virginia countryside, which I really didn’t know much about,” she says. “But I was just absolutely enthralled, and I loved it. I knew this is where I wanted to be.” 

Atelier Design & Décor has a dual purpose, functioning as a retail hub and showroom demonstrating Pakravan’s eye for detailed design. 

“I really try to seek out unique things that you might not find everywhere,” she says. “We have great furnishings, but we also have wonderful skincare and little luxuries for people coming out to pick up a novelty item. I try to have a mix that is refreshing.” 

Her shelves are stocked with woven wood baskets, earth tone rugs, and tabletop topiaries, alongside bedazzled clutches, hot pink candles, and bold pieces of art sure to start a conversation. 

Blue display at Terri’s shop, photographed by Kaitlin Hill. 

Her little-bit-of-everything collection is also useful in igniting the imagination of her design service clients. “My clients come in, and they see a piece, and it kind of synthesizes an idea for them,” she says. “A [design] concept might be a little obscure until they see it.”

Though, perhaps a more important synthesis is the bond between designer and client when tackling a design project. “The best projects are those that I work in tandem with a client,” she says. “When the client feels comfortable communicating, that is key in every project. Then, my job is to push them a little and tweak what they say to find the secret hiding in there. At the end, it’s about giving them something they really wanted but didn’t know they needed, or they couldn’t imagine it. That’s my specialty. I have a gift of walking into a space and seeing what it needs.”

Pakravan’s partnerships extend to contractors and architects, as a liaison for her clients. “I have a lot of experience in new construction, space planning, and project management,” she says. “Something I really enjoy is working with the contractors and working with the architect. Again, it’s a partnership. I have the vocabulary to communicate what a client wants with the contractor or architect.” 

She especially enjoys the relationships she’s built in Middleburg. “There are really great resources out there, and it’s been really wonderful,” she says. “I’ve worked with wonderful craftsmen and carpenters, which is a dying breed. We as designers really need to support them.”

Kid’s room, photographed by Jane Beiles.

For Pakravan, having a designer link all parties is crucial to a successful outcome. “I think it’s really important to remember when you hire a designer, it’s not inexpensive, but it enables you to have confidence in how you are spending your budget,” she says. “And to have the confidence that the project will end up looking exactly the way you want it to.” 

The best part for her? The reveal. “The best feeling is the reveal,” she says. “I see the expression on my client’s face and how happy they are, and that is the fruition of everything I’ve done and all the hours put into a project.” 

Looking to the future, Pakravan plans to add more furnishings to the store highlighting American and locally made products. 

“I think one thing I am going to do is try to be more furniture-centric in the store,” she says. “There is a high demand for furniture that is in-stock and ready to take. But otherwise, I’m very content in my little home here.”  ML

To learn more about Terri Pakravan, visit terripakravan.com.

This article first appeared in the June 2021 Issue.