Written by Shayda Windle | Photos by Jennifer Gray
Since launching her interior design firm and furnishings boutique in the Spring of 2019, Jennifer Gunn, owner of Southerly House, hasn’t looked back. The boutique, nestled on Federal Street in the heart of Middleburg, offers a little something for everyone.
From small-and-large-scale interior design projects, to custom pillows dressed in designer fabrics, elegant window treatments, and vintage heirlooms, she has always had one vision for Southerly House: to help her clients design a space from top to bottom that truly expresses their own style.
Gunn, a native southerner, came back to Virginia after moving eleven times across the country as a military family. With every new home, she incorporated her favorite design elements from the region while exploring the ins and outs of interior design. Along the way, she helped her friends and family make each home one their family would cherish, and found so much joy in the process.
After settling in Middleburg, Gunn says she decided “almost immediately” to open her own interior design business. She wanted to give back to the town she fell in love with by helping “bring out the best in everyone – starting with the sanctuary where customers spend the most valuable time of their lives – their home.” With that vision in mind, she opened Southerly House to provide a custom, curated selection of some of her “personal favorites that represent traditional Americana, with a gentle modern revival.”
It was important to her that the items available on her website could also be found on the showroom floor, tying in the authenticity of what clients and customers can expect when they visit the design studio. When clients enter Southerly House, they can speak with Gunn in a private space created specifically for meetings; one that’s “surrounded by an extensive design library full of fabric, trim and wallpaper memos, furniture finishes, catalogs, rugs samples, and more.”
“Our business is more than happy to work with the trade and other designers who may want to utilize that resource for their clients as well,” she adds.
Southerly House serves clients at any level, from those looking for a new furnishing piece, to others wanting a complete home redesign. Gunn says she enjoys “helping people with projects of all sizes that will represent them, their family, and their personality,” adding, “I want my clients to feel like their true self can be expressed without someone telling them what they ‘should’ have. There’s a reason that timeless elements never go out of style. Most of my customers become long term design clients.”
Gunn leans towards traditional design with a hint of contemporary flair. “My happiest moments professionally are creating design schemes that truly help define a client’s own personal style and make them fall in love with their home again, or for the first time!” she says, “It’s amazing how much a person’s life story helps when choosing fabric and wallpaper samples. It can mean anything from ruling out more delicate items based on activity level, to incorporating favorite colors, patterns and finishes throughout the home. Whatever it may be, our purpose is to listen to our client’s goals and make sure they love the end result.”
Gunn shares, “Do I have my favorites? Of course! Blue and white is one of my signature themes. A mix of antiques and new pieces gives a home a more established look, and a painted ceiling is almost always a good idea. That said, I don’t let my favorites influence what I know is something my clients will love.”
She continues, “Custom pillows in designer fabrics seem to fly out the door! Quality has always been a cornerstone of what I look for as a designer. All of our pillows, window treatments and other soft goods are made locally here in Virginia. American manufacturing is very important to us. Almost everything we have is made in the USA.”
While Gunn professes to be a traditionalist through and through, she says a mix of old and new is what really gives a space character. “I encourage my clients to invest in heirloom quality pieces that would only need to be reupholstered to give it new life as time goes on and can be passed down for generations. I try to combine form and function because people should feel like they can live in their house and not sacrifice style. I believe all good design is informed by the past. And perhaps most importantly, the smallest amount of patina is never a bad idea.” ML
Southerly House is located at 103 W Federal Street, Middleburg. Visit them online at southerlyhouse.com.
This article first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Middleburg Life.