Celia Barrett | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Celia Barrett

Photo by Courtesy Celia Barrett

Celia Barrett is combining New York style with Mississippi grace, one renovation at a time.

Recently, Barrett and her interior design firm, Celia Barrett Design, won four interior design awards, including one from the Intercontinental Hotels Group for a Holiday Inn Express hotel in New Albany. Barrett found inspiration in William Faulkner, who was born in New Albany, and gave the hotel a warm, cozy atmosphere with a fireplace, bookshelves and art featuring Faulkner quotes.

"I always like to find a local hook to give it a local feeling, and I think my clients love to do that," she says. "With Faulkner, I thought, what better hook?"

A hotel in Wiggins also won the International Interior Design Association Regional Recognition Award and the American Society of Interior Designers Silver Award for Excellence in Hospitality Design. Barrett spearheaded a kitchen makeover in Jackson that won the IIDA Top Regional "Recognizing Excellence" award for residential design and the ASID Silver Award for excellence in the tri-state region. The awards in Wiggins and Jackson are all regional, while the IHG award for her New Albany hotel design is a national award.

A native of McComb, Barrett studied at the Auburn University School of Architecture in Interior Design, one of the few schools in the country that had interior design in the school of architecture 30 years ago, she says.

Barrett's father was an architect, which is how she became interested in the field. "Seeing that he loved what he did, it got me interested," she says. "Of course, there was no HGTV at the time. But I loved art, and I used to play in the backyard creating rooms. I also loved set design and old art deco movies."

After graduating, Barrett moved to New York City. Throughout the '80s, she worked for architectural firms, doing mainly corporate design. She continued her studies at the Parsons School of Design, specializing in set design and antiques.

She also worked as a senior store designer for Macy's before starting her own business, where she and her team work primarily in hospitality and residential settings.

"I think what I like is that each one is different. I used to do a lot of corporate, but I enjoy hospitality and residential more than anything," she says. "I think they are probably the most fun to do. The concept becomes how to bring what they love into a physical space. I approach a design project with emotions in mind. 'How does it make you feel?' is the first question I ask."

In 1998, Barrett moved back to Mississippi with her husband, keeping an office in New York while establishing her firm her. The Mississippi Business Journal chose Barrett as one of the 50 leading businesswomen of 2011.

Celia Barrett Design's main office is in Fondren (3000 Old Canton Road, Suite 505, 601-354-0066) with satellite offices in McComb and New York City. Visit celiabarrettdesign.com or designer-diner.com for more information.

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