Welcome Home Room A-Listers Forbes + Masters
Since founding their Atlanta-based design firm Forbes + Masters in 2014, Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters have been making waves with their bold, eclectic, and layered interiors. Known for their unabashed use of colors, perfect pops of graphic patterns and full rooms decked out in luscious and vibrant wallpaper, they are masters at creating spaces that feel at once inviting and impactful.
Today, Forbes + Masters are darlings in the design world, with features in Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Domino, My Domaine, and other top shelter publications. And from the looks of it, they’re just getting started, with projects spanning across the country, from Florida to Texas to California.
We’re thrilled to have Forbes + Masters among our Decorist Home Room experts. Here, we sit down with the design duo to talk about their journey, embracing color, and finding inspiration in their vibrant southern city. Read on for our full conversation, and get their curated picks for designing a luxurious and layered outdoor oasis.
Your spaces have a bright, open-arms feeling that pulls people in right away. What is step one in your design process with any space?
Step one is to connect with the client and get to know them and their personalities and overall sense of style. We’ll ask a lot of questions to help them figure out what their style is, and then we use that information we've gathered to create a space for them that is indicative of them.
What are key elements that make a space feel like home to you? What makes a warm and inviting space?
It really is about a space that's reflective of the homeowner. The floor plan is huge in terms of creating an inviting space that functions well for conversation and for families and entertaining. Figuring how the space will flow for comfort as well as any custom elements, be it built-ins or a custom piece of furniture. We do our best to set the walls, whether it be with wallpaper or paint treatment or interesting ways to maneuver accent walls—because we’re kind of anti-accent walls people—and either raising the ceiling with a texture or a wallpaper or lowering it with some level of moodiness.
Color and pattern are foundations in all your designs, be they bold or subdued. What have been some of your favorite palettes and prints to work with?
We love all shades of greens—mixing that with terracottas and very very muddy reds and rust. We have been getting into a bit of yellow lately and that's kind of on-trend with the moods of people, as we’re all looking to feel safe and warm. We do go for graphic patterns and things that feel organic or painterly as well as tight patterns that have a very textured look. And also designs that feel collected and worldly, that have some cultural context, be it African or Asian, without it being robbed or appropriated.
Are there decor essentials you turn to time and time again?
It depends on the space, of course. You'll always have a bed, but with, say, nightstands you can put a bench on one side and a desk on the other for an asymmetrical look. A lot of the furniture pieces come from the function of the space. For example, in an entry, we try to use mirrors to expand the space and for a place to check on yourself before you leave, a console table with an inviting candle or diffuser so you're immediately met with an inviting scent and feeling. In living spaces, maybe two sofas facing each other versus a sectional and getting more seating in the room such as accent chairs, poufs, ottomans, and a bench—just to have a variety.
Define what a comfortable outdoor space means to you?
We love to design outdoor spaces like their indoor spaces. So layering textiles with patterns that you wouldn't typically see outside, adding pieces like mirrors, and using a variety of plants for centerpieces on the table—all of which just make it feel like an extension of your home. Also, pieces that make you feel grounded and connected to nature alongside throws and pillows that make you feel cozy, just like you’re in your living room.
How does living in Atlanta influence your work?
Atlanta has a huge art scene that’s very graphic and very bold and colorful if you were to walk the BeltLine and see all the murals there. And it's also very confirmed by nature—we practically live in a forest. Myself and Monet and many of our clients live right in the heart of the city and we're consistently surrounded by trees, so you get a balance of both a metropolis and a lot of nature.
How would you decorate a home to feel summery all year round?
I would say light textiles and some vibrancy with bold colors instead of a more moody palette. Make sure your windows are open and you’re not drawing your curtains all the time to let in the sunlight sign in, and add plants and a crisp scent, like lemon or ocean scents that feel airy.
Your firm has grown so much over the past few years. How do you feel the Forbes + Master aesthetic has evolved?
We started to become a little more minimal with our styling and really focus on more bespoke pieces now. Moments that call attention versus a lot of small things. We’re looking at the value of an iconic piece and allowing that just to take center stage. We also try to repurpose pieces when we can, and anything that's being cycled out of a client's home we try to make sure it doesn't go to a dumpster and is donated somewhere or upcycled by someone else. Also, picking quality materials—we want to purchase pieces that will last longer and does not have to be replaced. It’s just being more intentional about getting pieces that are made by craftsmen and companies that believe in sustainability and quality pieces.
Who are some people that inspire your respective styles? Who are your muses and what about them inspires you?
Kelly Wearstler because, you know, she's Kelly. We love that she’s always going to be bold and have this very playful aesthetic while still remaining very artistic and sophisticated. We love Brigette Romanek for her eclectic and very collected style. And there's just maturity in the way she designs as well as using things that are lasting and incorporating vintage pieces.
Do you have any advice for those looking to start their own design practice?
Trust yourself to make good decisions. Starting a business is really hard and starting a design firm isn’t always just about design. You have to want to be an entrepreneur and that's a different mindset. Owning a business is 80% logistics, accounting, and all the things that you did not think you'd be doing, especially if you're starting off on your own as a freelancer. So just be cognizant of that fact and get some business skills in project management, budgeting, and accounting. It will help reduce the stress and mitigate those challenges to allow you to create.
Between your design work, family, and friends, how do you find moments for yourself?
You literally just have to take it and be unapologetic about it. We don't work on weekends. That was a boundary we set years ago.
Monet: I love a domestic trip—just a weekend away to another US city. We forget that we live in a large beautiful country that has a lot of things to see, so taking a little trip away and going into nature going for hikes.
Tavia: Taking care of yourself via therapy, wellness, getting massages, facials, and getting into exercise and making sure there are no excuses. And there's a particular time when I go through a skincare routine—and the routine and the ritual in and of itself make me feel good, and it makes me wake up better in the morning.
What’s next on the horizon for you in design? Any exciting projects or ventures in the works?
We're working on quite a few full homes. Some with modern architecture, which we don't usually get a lot of in Atlanta, so we’re really excited about them and working with different architectural styles. We're also going to be on an episode of This Old House—we'll have a little cameo there. It’s been a long-running show so it’s an honor to be a part of it. And we will have another collection in our wallpaper line with Mitchell Black.